TIP: The Fastest Way to Change Channels With Your DIRECTV Receiver or DVR

Let’s put this right out there: DIRECTV doesn’t have the fastest channel changes. If you’re coming from an older cablesystem, you’ve no doubt noticed that the channel selection is better, the quality is much better, but the time to change channels is slower. Eventually you get used to it but you never quite forget it.

The long channel changes have to do with the technology behind the DIRECTV system. A DIRECTV system is looking at up to 6 satellite locations and hundreds of different transponders, each with several channels and modulated through one of four different systems and eventually placed on one of eight SWM channels. Multiply out all those possibilities and you might slow down in thinking about it too. Seriously though, it does take some time to find the proper channel to tune, especially since DIRECTV is constantly changing their layout to accommodate temporary channels or maximize signal strength.

Once the signal gets to the receiver, it’s then decoded using MPEG4 technology which, while groundbreaking in 2007, has its limitations when it comes to getting you video really quickly. Your receiver has to wait for up to three seconds until it finds a key frame and then start building a video stream from that.

Putting all that aside, there is a way to get the fastest possible channel changes from a DIRECTV receiver and you’ve had it all along: the {ENTER} key. Not the {SELECT} key, but the {ENTER} key, the one to the right of the zero.

When you enter in a number like “2” the receiver will wait to see if you really meant “2” or “22” or “201.” That wait just makes things worse when you want to watch something right now. You can make the receiver know that you’re done by pressing the {ENTER} button after you are done tuning. This can save you about two seconds in the tuning process, and that can seem like an eternity.

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.