Will I need new equipment for DIRECTV 4K?

Definitely. But we don’t know how much.

4K is supposed to be the future. It sure isn’t the present; even though DIRECTV offers a limited selection of pay-per-view movies in 4K, they don’t offer any live 4K broadcasts. Why? Because there aren’t any. It’s a safe bet that broadcasters are producing content in 4K to be futureproof but there are no live channels offering 4K programming. That could all be temporary — in 2005 there were scant few national HD channels — or it could be a sign that the public isn’t interested in 4K.

But let’s be optimistic for a second. DIRECTV’s new satellites have plenty of capacity for 4K programming if it ever comes along, and they’ve already released the C61K 4K-ready Genie Mini Client. So, step one, you’ll need one of those for every 4K TV.

What about the DVR? The recently shown HR54 Genie DVR doesn’t output 4K, but it’s rumored that it’s the only current product that will receive and record 4K broadcasts. That’s still a rumor, but it’s got some credibility. So add one of those to your list.

And the dish? It’s not set in stone yet but the most credible rumors say that you’ll need a special LNB on your dish for 4K programming and if you have more than just a Genie and clients, you’ll need a special external SWM too. That’s where it gets fuzzy, because everyone’s talking about this new hardware but no one is showing it. It’s probably a year away at least. This special LNB will let your dish receive a whole new set of frequencies that are rumored to be reserved for 4K. Again, rumored.

The one thing that hasn’t been rumored at all is a standalone 4K receiver similar to the current H25 but with 4K capability. You should take it as gospel at this point that DIRECTV is done developing the HR24/H25 generation of receivers and that all the new goodness is going to happen either on the Genie platform, or on whatever DIRECTV and AT&T engineers cook up after that.

If you are interested in being future-proof at this point, the C61K will work on a regular TV, but it won’t downconvert 4K broadcasts to regular TV. The HR54 will work just fine as a plain old Genie DVR until the time comes that you choose to upgrade.

Just be prepared to be patient, and be prepared to be wrong. The truth is that no one knows what’s going to happen except a select few engineers who won’t tell. If you remember the HD transition, there were quite a few wrong turns there and a lot of people spent a lot of money on the wrong equipment. There’s every reason to think that’s going to happen again, but if you want to be out there on the bleeding edge, hopefully you’ll consider your friends at Solid Signal when you make those purchases.

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.