Should you use a DIRECTV-Ready TV or just a client behind the TV?

When DIRECTV launched its RVU TV initiative in 2011, the results were decidedly mixed. Trust me, I had one of those 2011 models and it was a little bit tough trying to use it to watch DIRECTV without a client box. But it’s four years later, so maybe it’s time to revisit the question.

There’s no doubt that DIRECTV Ready TVs have come a long, long way since then. The big issue, slowness, has long been addressed. I’ve seen demonstrations of the new TVs from Sony, Samsung, and LG, and “slow” is not anywhere in their vocabulary. They perform better than a C41 client in every way. Not to mention, a DIRECTV Ready 4K TV is the only way to get 4K content that’s already available on DIRECTV.

Many people ask if you can connect your DIRECTV Ready TV over Wi-Fi, and the answer is still “no.” The new TVs won’t even let you do connect unless you are using wired internet. This means you’ll need a DECA Broadband at the back of every TV to convert the coax to ethernet. This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine because it would probably take about $3 in parts to adapt the coaxial input that’s used for the over-the-air antenna so it could take the higher-voltage stronger signal that’s used for coax networking. That way you could feed the coax cable directly into the TV.

There’s also no real reason they couldn’t build in compatibility with DIRECTV’s Wireless Video Bridge, but they’ll never go so far as to let you connect using the TV’s built-in Wi-FI because it’s impossible to promise that your wireless performance at home will be up to the task. A smooth 10Mbps stream requires a pretty strong wireless signal and unlike Netflix or other services, DIRECTV does not use adaptive streaming to give you a good picture on lower-bandwidth connections.

Bottom line though, if you’re considering a TV purchase in the next year you really should consider a Samsung, Sony, or LG with DIRECTV Ready capabilities because it’s now the best way to connect, even with the wiring challenges.