Should you get a wireless DIRECTV box or use the app?

So you have a spare room. You don’t want to have to run another wire throughout the home just so someone can watch TV there four times a year. I get you, bro. So what to do?

You could put in a DIRECTV Wireless Genie Mini. Or, you could just give your guests access to a tablet or phone with the DIRECTV app installed. Either way they would have access to your playlist, a lot of live TV, and a ton of on-demand content. But which option is best for you?

Wireless Genie Mini

This is DIRECTV’s wireless client. It’s only a bit larger than their regular client, and it’s quiet and uses only a tiny bit of power. Most people find it pretty darn satisfying because it acts exactly like the wired client. That’s the good part of it. If your guests can use a remote they can watch TV pretty easily.

On the other hand, you have to pay to get it, and you have to pay a monthly fee even when you don’t use it. You can’t just turn it on when you want. You also will find yourself on the hook for a Wireless Video Bridge which is another expense and you’ll have to hook everything up. [If you have a Genie 2, you don’t need the video bridge.]

So over the course of the first year you’ll be our about $300 for the setup and it will keep costing you money month after month, but you’ll be able to give your guests a good experience.


It’s hard to beat the DIRECTV experience on a smartphone or tablet. The app is free, you get over 100 channels of live TV, access to the DVR playlist, a full-featured remote and a ton of on-demand. It just might be better to hand your guests a tablet on their way in for the night.

The DIRECTV app runs on almost any hardware so it’s a great use for that iPad you haven’t touched in a year or if you prefer you could buy a $100 tablet and be done with it. [By the way, it’s against the rules to just install it on your friend’s phone, so don’t do that.]

You can also give your guests a choice of entertainment by installing Netflix or any other streaming service. You’ll look like a great host that way.

On the other hand, it’s not a true TV experience. You can connect most tablets or phones to a TV but then you don’t really get a remote control and there’s a wire between the two devices, unless your device supports some sort of casting. It also doesn’t give you ALL the channels and it’s not quite like a TV experience. That means it might not be best for older guests who want to find Matlock reruns.

So what to do?
Well personally I do have a wireless client that I bring into a guest room when I need it. But when it’s not needed there I use it in another part of the house, so it’s not like I’m paying for a client I don’t use.

The best part is that you have a choice. You can decide what’s best for you and do it. The DIRECTV app is free, and the client hardware is available now at

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.