One of the somewhat annoying things about DIRECTV’s current 4K setup is that you can only watch 4K at one location at a time. It has to do with the limitations of DIRECTV’s wiring and the protocols it carries, which are still really designed for HD, not for 4K which takes up to 8 times as much bandwidth to execute. Future DIRECTV equipment will be designed for a lot more 4K, but today we have what we have. It’s not likely we’ll see new hardware in 2016 that lets you watch more than one 4K program at a time.
When you have multiple 4K clients or smart TVs and you try to watch 4K on more than one, you’ll get a very polite message like this one:
This is actually the message that your HR54 Genie gives you when you try to watch 4K, because look, we just don’t have more than one 4K client in the lab. But the message is pretty much the same. In many cases you’ll have the option to search for the program on a lower resolution, just like you see above, but you won’t be able to watch that second TV in 4K no matter what you do.
I know that it’s frustrating trying to be futureproof at this point. You want to put in multiple 4K TVs and have the ability to watch the way you want. The good news is that the C61K is a very good receiver just as it is, and provides excellent quality HD performance as well. You won’t lose anything by putting one into a 4K setup. (I would not use a C61K on a non-4K TV because it will give you “nag screens” telling you your TV isn’t 4K.) The C61K isn’t more expensive either, so there’s no reason not to put it in.
The question then just becomes “how can we truly be futureproof when we don’t know what the future holds?” You’re right, you can’t, not 100%. The roadmap for 4K still isn’t really set. In fact, it remains to be seen whether it will completely flame out like 3D or whether it will become the unquestioned standard like HD. DIRECTV and other providers are investing heavily in the technology, but without 4K content, it’s not going to work. DIRECTV has the first full-time live 4K channel, but it’s just one — (plus a second for pay-per-view and one more for special events.) The rest of the world really needs to step up before we really start to see the 4K revolution start to take off.
When it does, we’ll talk about what to do if you want to watch 4K in more than one place, but for now, it’s not like there are really two programs that you need to see live at the same time, right? Let’s talk again in a few months.