What are your options for SD video on a DIRECTV C61K?

I know how the minds of some of our Solid Signal fans work. You want to be futureproof. You want to get your install nailed down and you don’t want to change it if you don’t have to. The one thing you don’t want to do… put in a temporary fix and then have to change it again in a year or so.

That’s why I know that some of you have already put in DIRECTV C61K 4K Genie clients when you don’t have to. You’ll get the occasional nag message saying “This TV doesn’t support DIRECTV 4K Service” and you’re ok with that. But then… you run into another issue.

There’s like, no RCA outputs.

Older DIRECTV equipment was really full of analog outputs. Take a look at this HR22 DVR from about 8 years ago:

There are two sets of standard-definition composite video and outputs, plus a full set of analog component outputs for older HDTVs. There’s even an RCA coaxial digital audio outputs. Whomever was manufacturing RCA jacks back in the ’00s was getting rich off this baby, I’m telling you.

Starting with the H25 receiver and going on through all the HD Genie clients, DIRECTV boxes have a 10-pin connector that gives you composite or component – not both. Even the HR54 DVR has this connector. That’s usually not a problem for people. It’s a fairly thick cable, but it does allow for the boxes to be a lot smaller without all the real estate dedicated to RCA ports. It’s not a bad compromise.

And then…

This is the back view of the C61K 4K Genie client. There’s one RCA connector, but it’s for digital audio. If you were thinking of putting out analog video from this box, it’s going to be a disappointment.

The best choice, other than turning in the 4K client and going to an HD one, is to use an HDMI to composite converter. These devices can be almost as much as a Genie client! I understand the frustration there, believe me. You’ll also find that 4K content can only be displayed on a 4K TV, period. You can’t convert it to a lower resolution no matter what you do.

Two questions

If you’re still reading along, you’re probably asking yourself one of these two questions, possibly both.

1. How could AT&T do this to me?

There are a lot of reasons why the ability to output standard definition was taken away from the 4K clients. From an engineering point of view, this box is alread larger than the regular Genie client and it runs a lot hotter too. Putting in more hardware would have made both of those situations worse.

Really this is part of an ongoing trend, not only from AT&T, but from pretty much every electronics maker, to simplify and get rid of obsolete ports. When was the last time you saw a computer with a parallel port or a floppy drive? These obsolete technologies disappeared from computers when they got too expensive to put in compared to the number of people using them. It’s just the way of the world.

2. Who tries to connect a 4K client to a standard definition TV anyway?

Now hold on, pilgrim. There are plenty of ways to set up your own personal home theater and who am I to cast aspersions on someone who wants to do it his own way? This is Solid Signal after all, where people go to get the exact parts they need to make things work the way they want.

So I say if you want to be like this guy who connects his AppleTV box to his ancient tube TV, go for it. Let your consumer electronics freak flag fly. Do that weird thing that they don’t want to do and if you possibly can, do it with parts from SolidSignal.com. You’ll find everything you need to create the home theater that’s perfect for you without anyone else judging your decisions.

Just know, sometimes you have to do things that people don’t want you to do. It’s how things work, and isn’t that what makes things fun?

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 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.