Yes, DIRECTV’s HR54 DVR really does need 7 tuners

A word of warning for folks who choose to get DIRECTV’s latest HR54 Genie DVR: It really does require 7 tuners. The HR54 is the latest and greatest from DIRECTV, and it’s expected to be the only DVR that can record DIRECTV’s 4K broadcasts when they finally start up. It still won’t output that 4K content (you’ll need a C61K for that) but when content providers actually start doing 4K content, the HR54 Genie will be a critical part of the package.

However, for now, there is precious little 4K content out there other than pay-per-view movies. That’s expected to change of course, but no one knows when content providers will actually start delivering 4K linear programming. More than anything, that’s what’s holding this process up.

When that day comes, you’ll need the sixth and seventh tuners of the HR54 in order to get it in real time. It’s expected to take two full tuners bonded together to make that happen. In the meantime the HR54’s sixth and seventh tuners aren’t doing anything, but unfortunately you still need to account for them. If you have even one more DVR in your system you’ll need to move to a SWM-16 multiswitch and make sure that there are no more than 8 tuners on each leg.

Remember too, that the number of tuners is different from the number of boxes. Here’s a tutorial, but for a quick refresher, a regular receiver is 1, a regular DVR is 2, an HR44 Genie DVR is 5, an HR54 Genie DVR is 7, and a client is zero (all it’s tuners are in the DVR.) So it’s really important to plan accordingly to make sure that you don’t get onscreen errors telling you there aren’t any tuners available.

It’s true that it’s sort of a bummer that you have to make room for two tuners you can’t use, but you always have the option of going with an HR44 Genie instead, which has only five tuners. If your plan is to wait for some mythical “HR64” that will let you output 4K and possibly record multiple 4K streams, prepare for disappointment. The word from nameless sources out there is that the next step in DIRECTV’s evolution will be something completely different, and that the HR54 is the peak of DIRECTV’s Genie line for as long as it lives. There certainly will be something new, but it won’t be a Genie. It’s likely to be something quite different, especially since DIRECTV and AT&T will be moving toward shared equipment that will have to function for fiber-based and satellite-based equipment equally well.

It’s come to my attention that some HR54s are out in the field with “SWM-5” labeling. For now, all HR54s in the field have 7 tuners even though they are not labeled as such. They will only record 5 things, but for future compatibility you should allocate 7 tuners.

In the meantime, early adopters, it probably won’t be long until DIRECTV is completely ready to deliver 4K live TV to you… it’s just up to content providers to actually make some.