Ah, the venerable H24. First released in 2010 as a smaller and faster replacement for the old H21, it’s been on sale at Solid Signal ever since. Back in its day we marveled at the speed and size, the sleek touchscreen design, and the HD quality it brought. Of course we as a tech-loving people are fickle, and just like other hits of 2010 like the iPhone 4 and 3rd-generation Amazon Kindle, we’re less impressed as time goes on.
Technically, the H24 was replaced by the DIRECTV H25 in 2012 and the H24 went out of production. That wasn’t the end for the old H24, not by a long shot. The H25, you see, was a smaller but stripped down version of the H24 that got rid of the touch screen and more importantly, lost the ability to work with “non-SWM” satellite systems like older commercial installs and most RV and marine products. Since nearly every RV or boat out there with DIRECTV service still needed this “non-SWM” connection, the H24 found a new life in these niche markets.
The H24 is a well-built little beast, I’ll say that, and even though the last one was made about five years ago, they continue to soldier on. Every H24 offered today is technically a refurbished unit, meaning it’s gone through DIRECTV’s test facilities and passed every test they can throw at it. It’s cleaned up and put in new packaging and offered with the same warranty and guarantees as a new DIRECTV box. DIRECTV itself makes no distinction between a new or refurbished box, because they have confidence in their facilities and the way they refurbish.
Occasionally, it’s possible to get an H24 out in the field that just doesn’t perform, and you have to figure that at some point they will just run out of them. Even if 10% of the boxes fail per year, sooner or later the supply will just dry up.
When that happens, what happens to RV and Marine customers? Bars and restaurants can easily upgrade to SWM technology, but perfectly good marine systems could last a dozen years or more at this point and brand new systems are being sold without SWM technology. What can be done?
Will DIRECTV release a real successor to the H24, a receiver without the need for SWM technology? It’s very unlikely. The company line is that it’s up to the makers of marine and RV dishes to solve the problem and the good news is that the problem will be solved.
I’ve talked to representatives from Intellian, Winegard, KVH and all our mobile dish manufacturers about this problem and they are working hard to solve it. It’s part of a bigger issue that will see many portable and mobile satellite systems stop working in 2019 when the current MPEG-2 SD standard definition channels are slated to go off the air.
I can’t say for sure if there will be retrofits or upgrades or what, because I don’t think that final decisions have been made yet by the companies that make this equipment. I can say they are very aware of the issue, not only of the dwindling supply of H24s but also of the need to incorporate SWM technology into their products. It’s coming my friends, and I predict it will come soon enough that the increasingly limited supply of H24s won’t be a problem.