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.