What’s the best alternative to GenieGO?

For about 5 years DIRECTV sold a product called GenieGO. It never really lived up to its potential, but if you liked what it did, it was great. Quite simply, it put DIRECTV programs from your DVR right onto your phone or tablet, so you could play them without paying for data. There were some limitations but it was great for travelers who wanted to catch up on their programming from home.

The thing is, it never really made a huge mark in the world, and maybe that’s because streaming got so much better since the product was originally released back in 2011. So, DIRECTV recently discontinued it. For a while, people with the product could still use it, but more and more people have been reporting that their GenieGO devices have stopped working.

If you’re looking for an alternative to a GenieGO device that stopped working, the best one I’ve found is this Tech Choice Video Grabber. Just like GenieGO, it’s not perfect. But in some ways it’s better, in some ways not as good.

The video grabber simply takes SD video from any device and lets you capture it into your computer. It was originally designed for people to move old video tapes to PC, but obviously very few people do that now. It’s a pretty decent replacement for GenieGO, though.

Connect it to your DIRECTV DVR’s RCA video and audio outputs (get this cable if it doesn’t have them) and install the provided software. It does take some care to install, as the instructions aren’t super clear. I’ll admit that. Then, whatever you play on your DVR will be captured into a file on your computer, which you can then move over to a phone or tablet easily.

The good: It’s not hard to use once you understand it, and unlike GenieGO, you can keep the recordings indefinitely. The quality is a little better than GenieGO and because you can use almost any media player app, you get better control of fast forward and rewind.

The bad: Just like GenieGO, the transfer is real-time; a 1-hour program takes an hour. You also have to play it on your TV while capturing it, which takes a little more planning especially if the goal is to load up on stuff you want to watch later. It’s perfect for “evergreen” programming like kids shows and movies, though.

DIRECTV says that sometime in the future, they’ll bring GenieGO functionality to their Genie DVRs and it will just be built in. That’s still a while off, though, and this low-priced alternative might be just what you need in the meantime.