Welcome to HDTV

Yesterday was my long awaited upgrade to HD on my DirecTV service. I had originally called in and asked about free upgrades to HD equipment and was supposed to get the HR10 which is the old TiVo HD unit. My understanding was that St. Louis wasn’t scheduled to get the new HR20 units until later this year. I figured I’d get the HR10 now, enjoy some HD service, then get an upgrade to the HR20 when they came out. One rep said it would be free, another said they couldn’t guarantee that it would be free, but I figured I’d take my chances.

So yesterday the installer came out, checked out all the rooms and existing equipment and went to work. Up went the new AT-9 dish. Once that was finished, in came the new DVR. I noticed right away that this was not an HR10. It was obviously a DirecTV model, but since the HR20 wasn’t available yet, I just shrugged it off and figured it must be some model I’m not familiar with.

Eventually, I started reading the manual and the box to see what the model number was. I couldn’t find anything. Finally I heard the installer call it a model 700 while he was on the phone with DirecTV to handle the activation. That confirmed it; the unit was an HR20. I asked the installer about it, and he said they just started getting them in, and this was only the third one they’ve installed. I have no idea how I managed to get one of these, but that’s fine with me.

I haven’t had a lot of time to play with the new box, but a few observations:

  • HD channels look great on the new TV. Watching shows like Lost in HD is incredible.
  • DirecTV interface is difficult to get used to compared to TiVo’s interface. Things seem to take twice as long to setup on this unit, but I’m sure I’ll eventually get used to it.
  • The HR20 is a bit buggy. I’ve had two software updates since the unit was installed. Have had the unit lock up on my a few times, requiring a reset to get it running again. Waiting to see if latest updates fixes or whether this is something IO need to call in about. The DBSTalk.com forums have a lot of reported glitches from people. Hopefully they get worked out fairly soon.
  • DirecTV doesn’t carry HD feeds for 9 (PBS), 11 (WB/CW), or any of the side channels (like 5.2 from KSDK) yet, but hopefully they’ll add them at some point. I would hook up an OTA antenna, but DirecTV hasn’t activated that feature on the HR20 yet.