Should you be worried about the DIRECTV NOW and Sling Cloud DVRs?

In 2018, when you think DVR you think huge. Today’s DIRECTV Genie 2 gives you 2 terabytes of space, which is enough for 450 hours of HD. DISH’s Hopper 3 claims 500 hours of capacity. Other DVRs give you similarly massive claims. Those numbers are truly massive, when you consider exactly how much we’re talking about.

If you watch TV for 4 hours a night, you might be able to watch 5 hours of programming. So what we’re saying is that if you filled one of these Super DVRs  to the brim you’d be watching for 100 days — over three months — before you ran out. Talk about your first world problems, but I just can’t imagine 500 hours of programs I’d like to record, and I can’t imagine having time to watch them.

Still, it’s a level of security. What you’re saying with these DVRs is, you won’t run out of space, period.

Streaming does it differently.

You can get DVR service with live streaming TV, just like you can with satellite. Sling TV offers a $5/month addon which gives you 50 hours of DVR storage. DIRECTV NOW gives you 20 hours for free, but the content expires after 30 days unless you pay $10 more a month. Then you get 100 hours and 90 days to watch.

To someone who has spent the better part of 15 years in pursuit of ever-larger DVRs, those numbers seem a little small. So small in fact, that it might make a person worry.

Relax, it’s 2018.

The whole idea of a DVR is sort of rooted in Y2K thinking. When DVRs first came out, your TV watching and recording was 100% on you. If you didn’t record it, it didn’t get recorded. Back in the old VHS days you could swap things, but with a DVR either you recorded it… or it didn’t get recorded.

Now, there’s this big streaming world out there. If you forgot to record something, it’s probably available on demand. If you are thinking about vintage TV, it’s probably available to stream. You don’t have to be this standalone island of recording ability anymore.

In fact, I would bet that between on demand and provider apps, about 90% of your recording needs could be covered. If you’re the sort of person who wants to stream live TV but also wants a large recording library, I’d agree with AT&T and DISH that believe it or not, those small capacity cloud DVRs will do it.

Remember too that these are “cloud” DVRs. You must be internet connected in order to use them.  If you’re not, you don’t have any TV at all. So if you are internet connected, you have access to the full on-demand library from your streaming provider, plus content provider apps. The only things you really “need” to record are local programs that aren’t available nationally (like the news) or non-prime-time shows that you can’t get elsewhere.

A different kind of security blanket

For many of us old-schoolers, the idea of a full DVR and a shelf full of physical media gives us a certain amount of security. We’re covered in case the internet goes down. I understand the feeling, but at some point you have to move along with technology. If you lose internet, you’ll probably lose power too, so you won’t be able to watch TV at all.

If you think about it, this is just a bigger part of a whole online life, and you’re probably so integrated into it that you shouldn’t have to be concerned with whether cloud DVR is going to be a problem. It’s totally ok if you’re not “there yet,” which is why DIRECTV and DISH satellite service is going strong, and will be for some time to come.

If you are looking to get set up with DIRECTV NOW or Sling, you’ll have your best experience by calling Solid Signal at 877.312.4547.

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 5,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.