What is the RES button on a DIRECTV receiver or DVR?

It’s like a conspiracy. They all have it. Take a look at any DIRECTV HD receiver or DVR and you’ll find this button on the front that says RES. What does that even mean? It’s not the reset button, that’s the red one on the side or hidden behind a door. Chances are you’ve never touched it… could be that you never cared.

The RES button stands for “resolution” and it lets you manually change the output resolution of your DIRECTV receiver. Back in the 2000s receivers didn’t have a “native” mode and some TVs couldn’t even switch effectively from one resolution to another. Super-picky videophiles liked to have control over this option, so you’ll find it on most 2000s-era pieces of equipment. DIRECTV’s carried it over (mostly unused) into the 2010s.

If you press the RES button, you’ll see a different light on the front panel (on most receivers) as your TV flickers and changes resolutions. Press it again and it will do it again, sometimes venturing into icky standard definition territory. For the most part, if you have a smaller TV and you don’t know which to choose, choose 720p — keep pressing that RES button until the 720p light is lit and the display on the screen says 720p. If you have a larger TV choose 1080p. Why? It’s the best possible quality.

What’s funny is that DIRECTV never provided a “RES” button on the remote… instead you have to use the “FORMAT” button to cycle not just between resolutions but display formats.