UPDATED: Manufacturer codes for DIRECTV receivers

HS17-100. C61K-700. Everyone knows what the number before the dash means. It’s AT&T’s internal model number. In this case, HS17 is the Genie 2 and C61K is the 4K Genie Mini Client. but what about the number after the dash? Does it matter?

The number after the dash is the manufacturer code. Back “in the day” it was pretty important because not every manufacturer was up to the same product standards. Real dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts swore by one maker or another, and some still believe it’s important.

Why are there even different manufacturers?

In order to understand all of this, you need to understand some of the early history of DIRECTV.  Originally, DIRECTV was conceived as a do-it-yourself package. DIRECTV provided the service (along with USSB, a company later absorbed into DIRECTV) and manufacturers were free to come up with their own hardware.

The very first company to support DIRECTV was RCA. RCA was, at the time, part of the Thomson Consumer Electronics Group. Later, the name was sold to several different companies. Technicolor, the people who brought you color films in the 1950s, later took on the right to manufacture cable and satellite boxes from Thomson.

In the late 1990s, companies like Philips and Samsung sold DIRECTV hardware under their own names. Hughes Network Systems, which was part of the same group that owned DIRECTV at the time, also made their own.

And then came 2003

DIRECTV grew like gangbusters thanks to legislation called STELA that let them offer local channels. Adding all those channels, however, meant adding a lot more satellite capacity. With HD on the horizon, things would get harder not easier. Without special equipment it was going to be even harder for people to install their own satellite TV. DIRECTV started offering free installation and free hardware to compete with cable.

In order to give customers a better experience and make installs easier. DIRECTV started contracting with manufacturers. These manufacturers stopped selling equipment straight to consumers, and starting with model D10, all hardware was DIRECTV-branded.

However, those same manufacturers like RCA, Hughes, and Samsung weren’t out of the picture.

The need for codes

Originally, receivers from different manufacturers looked very different. As long as they worked the same, no one cared that this was a D11:

and this was also a D11:

but eventually DIRECTV got even more standardized.

Starting with the HR24 and all succeeding models, it’s practically impossible to tell the different manufacturer boxes apart. In many cases the outside parts are interchangeable. The insides, while all unique, are all very high quality. Still, you might want to know who made your DIRECTV box, so here’s an easy table to help you know:

  • -100 Technicolor (Thomson/Audiovox/RCA)
  • -200 Samsung
  • -300 Philips
  • -400 Hughes
  • -500 Humax
  • -600 LG
  • -700 Pace
  • -800 NEC

That “-100” is a little misleading, because you might think it applies to different manufacturers. In fact, in the last ten years the same factory has had all four different names. The company itself hasn’t changed but it did reorganize under one name.

Flash forward

Today, only Technicolor and Pace are still making DIRECTV hardware. Samsung was making hardware until a few years ago, but as far as I know they didn’t get in on the Genie 2 generation of boxes.