How small can a satellite receiver get?

The first DIRECTV receivers were the size of two medium pizza boxes stacked one on top of each other. Remember this was a receiver, not a DVR, and it was only standard definition. Size didn’t play a part in early DIRECTV marketing; the receivers were definitely bigger than the cable boxes of the day.

Flash forward to today’s H25 receivers and C41 Genie Mini Clients and you’ll see quite a different story. Of course, 20 years of development have made a huge difference. These boxes are both the size of a paperback book and while one of them is a full-featured receiver, the other one, the smaller one, has DVR functionality including pausing live TV. That’s a staggering change if you think about it.

Could DIRECTV develop a line of receivers and DVRs even smaller? Absolutely, no question. Today’s DIRECTV Ready TVs essentially make the receiver invisible, and the programming for them resides on just a few computer chips. It wouldn’t be hard at all to create a dongle the size of a flash drive, similar to Chromecast or its competitors, that contained a full-featured DIRECTV receiver or Genie client. We may not even be that far away from seeing it.

So why not now? Why not today? Unlike Chromecast, DIRECTV gives away a lot of equipment. They have to manage costs more carefully. They don’t want to seem behind the times like the cable company, but they don’t want to pass along massive R&D costs to customers just to make a receiver an inch smaller or 10% faster. They only change receiver models when it makes sense and when there is a great benefit to the customer.

The next generation of receivers and DVR clients will probably be much smaller than the remotes they use and that’s a good thing, but DIRECTV will only take that step when it makes financial sense.

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 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.