The DirecTV Plus HD DVR drew lots of scorn when first released, but several software and hardware improvements have turned this former also-ran into a powerful performer. The guide isn't as sophisticated as the TiVo's, but it is straightforward and easy to use. Essential features -- including dual tuners, the ability to pause and rewind live TV, and the ability to search for programs by keyword, actor and more -- are included, as is a feature that lets you record all episodes of a program.
The DVR has also gained Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) compatibility, so you can stream content from the DirecTV Plus HD DVR to a PC for viewing, or from your PC for viewing on your TV. Though not officially supported, you can also use third-party software such as PlayOn from MediaMall (*Est. $40 for the first year, $20 per year thereafter) to stream content from Hulu, Netflix, Major League Baseball and other Internet providers. The Whole-Home DVR feature adds multiroom capabilities, but you'll need a DirecTV satellite receiver at each TV to take advantage of that. Recording capacity is spacious at 100 hours of HD and 400 hours of SD. DirecTV charges a $200 lease upgrade fee for the DVR but waives that for new subscribers who sign up for two years. If you are a DirecTV subscriber interested in high-definition programming, the DirecTV Plus HD is your only DVR choice. However, the company has announced plans for a DVR using TiVo software.
Professional reviews of the DirecTV Plus HD DVR are fairly unflattering. However, they primarily address the DVR in its early form and have not been updated to reflect the extensive changes in software and hardware that have since been introduced. Because of that, the best feedback can be found at satellite-TV enthusiast sites such as DBSTalk.com and SatelliteGuys.us.
This forum contains tons of information about the DirecTV Plus HD DVRs, including enthusiast reviews of the latest versions. Discussions can get a little technical at times, but everyone seems helpful, so feel free to ask questions if needed.
Review: DirecTV HD DVR Discussion, Contributors to DBSTalk.com
This is another busy forum devoted to DirecTV, although not specifically to the DirecTV Plus HD DVR. Still, lots of information and opinions can be gathered here, and questions seem to be welcome.
Review: The DirecTV Forum, Contributors to SatelliteGuys.us
David Katzmaier reviews an early version of the DirecTV HD Plus and comes away largely unimpressed. However, this review does not address hardware and software changes that have since been introduced, so it is only of limited value.
Review: DirecTV Plus HD DVR, David Katzmaier, Updated Feb. 28, 2011
John R. Delaney says he is impressed by the DVR's potential, but he is disappointed by the operational shortcomings -- like missed recordings -- that plagued that model. Like CNET, this review covers an earlier version of the HD DVR, and much has changed -- mostly for the better.
Review: DirecTV Plus HD DVR HR20-700, John R. Delaney, Feb. 20, 2007