Is it ok to leave your Genie Clients on all the time?

DIRECTV’s Genie Mini Clients are really a neat little piece of technology. They act as if they were satellite receivers but they aren’t. They’re really nothing more than a very specific kind of adapter. They take a signal from the Genie DVR and convert it to HDMI so your TV can display it. At the same time they take signals from the remote control and send them back to the Genie DVR.

AT&T chose to keep the Genie client looking like a tiny receiver because that’s what people expect. I talked here about how the clients could probably be smaller or just reduced to an app, but really keeping them the size they are keeps them inexpensive and reliable.

What’s the real difference between “powered on” and “powered off?”

When a client is “powered on,” the lights on the front light up and the Genie DVR continuously feeds programming to the client. Unless you are watching something recorded, that means that one tuner is devoted to that client. If you are watching something live, you can record fewer things. Usually that isn’t a problem.

There is practically no difference in power consumption when the client is “on” or “off.” Either way it uses pennies per month to operate.

Why would you want to leave the client box “on” all the time?

When you first turn on the client box, it makes a connection to the Genie DVR. This takes time, usually about 5-7 seconds. Depending on your TV, you may not even notice the delay. Many energy-efficient TVs take longer than that to start up.

However, in some cases, especially over long cable runs, it takes longer for that connection to be made. If the amount of time it takes to connect annoys you, you might tempted to leave the box “on” all the time.

There’s nothing wrong with this and it won’t really have any impact on your electric bill. You could cover up the lights with a bit of electrical tape if you so desired and then you’d never even notice.

There’s just one problem… logistics

Most people use the Genie remote. When you push the ON button it turns the TV and the client on at the same time. If you want to leave the client on at the same time as you turn the TV off, you have to get creative.

First, you’ll need to make sure power saver is off. This tutorial will take you through that process. If you don’t, the client box will turn off after 4 hours.

Option 1: Fancy universal remote

You could use a fancy universal remote. One of those that lets you program macros. For the “off” macro you would have it send only the “off” signal to the TV and not to the client. You might also have to reprogram the “on” macro so it doesn’t accidentally turn off the client when you turn on the TV.

Option 2: Old-school DIRECTV remote

If you use an old-school white DIRECTV remote, you’ll get the PWR button back. You can use that to turn off the TV by sliding the top switch to TV. Just don’t touch the ON or OFF buttons because those will turn both devices on or off.

If you use the older remote you’ll get other benefits like the STOP button and a separate button for PLAY and PAUSE, but you’ll lose the ability to hide the client box behind a door or behind the TV.

Option 3: Off, then On again

Here’s a little trick. The Genie remote communicates with your TV via infrared, and communicates with your client via RF. This means you can point the remote directly away from the TV and send commands to the clients. If you use the OFF button on the Genie remote, then you can turn away from the TV and press the ON button. The client will turn back on. The TV won’t, because you need to point the remote directly at the TV in order to have it work.