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Satellite TV Services' DVR Receivers Compared

So you decided that you are going to switch to Satellite TV and part of the decision is based on which DVR you get in your package. Which of the two nationwide services should you get? Dish Network or DirecTV? We are not going to include the specialty Satellite TV services that have mainly religious and/or ethnic programming. This article takes a look at your choices and the major differences in the current DVR offerings. We won't cover the various programming packages as there are too many packages and that information is outside the scope of this article. If you’re interested, Dish and DirecTV lay out their programming packages quite well on their websites.

The first decision you need to make is whether or not you need a High Definition (HD) programming package and in turn an HD dish and receiver/DVR or if you will view your satellite TV via standard definition (SD). At this point, both Dish Network and DirecTV offer one standard definition and one HD DVR each. Of course, you could go out and buy a used receiver from another user, eBay, etc. However, you should be careful doing this as there are several perilous usage and licensing issues that you should explore completely before giving up any of your hard earned dollars.

So, what are your choices? For SD programming, DirecTV offers the R15 (or as they refer to it, the DIRECTV Plus Receiver) and Dish offers the 625. For HD, DirecTV and Dish offer the HR20 (DIRECTV Plus HD DVR) and the ViP-622 respectively.

First of all, I should point out that the DirecTV and Dish receivers stack up really against each other, so they must have been doing their homework prior to releasing these models.

Let’s compare the SD DVRs first:

Standard Definition Models:

Both the R15 and the 625 models offer the following in common:

class="MsoNormal">Programming guides.
  • Dual tuners.
  • Monthly fees (just under $6) for having the DVR service. DirecTV waives it if you choose the Total Choice Premier package.
  • Interactive channel offering information like weather, horoscopes, viewing recommendations. Dish's gives you the ability to view and pay your bill.
  • Outputs including USB, S-Video, digital audio and the other usual inputs/output to connect to the rest of your AV equipment.
  • Parental controls.
  • 100 hour recording time.
  • On-screen Caller ID.
  • Here are the main differences:

    1. The R15 has a 14-day guide, while the 625 only has a 9-day guide.
    2. The R15 has the ability to mark spots in recorded programs (bookmarks) that you can return to later.
    3. The R15 has a 90 minute live TV buffer, while the 625 has only an hour's worth.
    4. The R15 has a search feature allowing you to search the guide by title, actor and channel.
    5. Both of the Dish models (the 625 and ViP-622) offer a cool feature where one receiver can drive two televisions, even if they are in different rooms.

    Now for the HD boxes:

    Common Features:

    1. The first four common features in the SD models (see above) apply in the same way to the HD models.
    2. 200 hours of SD recording or 30 hours of HD.
    3. Inputs/outputs: two satellite inputs, S-video out, HDMI, USB, Ethernet.

    Differences:

    1. The first four differences in the SD models (see above) apply in the same way to the HD models.
    2. The HR20 has a SATA interface, which is labeled 'for future use'. The obvious thought here is you may be able to expand the storage of this DVR by simply plugging in an external hard drive.
    3. Again, the Dish model has the two TV feature where you can view two different shows on different channels using PIP (Picture in Picture).

    Verdict

    Ignoring the price differences, both vendors offer comparable DVR boxes. The only major difference may be the ability of the Dish models to drive two televisions without the need for a receiver attached to each television. Of course, you may feel that the 90 minute buffer time, the bookmarking and search features in the DirecTV models are worthwhile. Either way, your life will never be the same once you have experienced television with a DVR.

    Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-6 of 6 | Latest Comment

    September 29, 2006 12:39 AM

    The 625 has Search features (hit the # button on the remote)

    The 625 has VOD and Interactive Features. 

    October 19, 2006 3:55 PM

    The Dish Network 625 has TWO hours of live TV buffer time, not one.

    December 4, 2006 8:39 PM

    No the R15's usb ports are for "future" use. Judging by how much the R15 has slowed down in the 2 months we had it, they forgot to automatically defrag the disk. I have been told that the only fix is to erase everything and reboot. We are slowly copying one program at a time to VCR, but it is a drag. There is no programmable playlist so 8 hrs at a time can be backed up to VHS. I plan to purchase a UIRT (Universal Infrared Reciever Transmitter) with girder software. The video will go to a capture card. Take that direcway!

    December 30, 2006 6:44 PM

    I haven't decided on a service yet, should I go with DTV or Dish? Thanks! Just got a new TiVo for Christmas, need all the help I can GET!

    View unverified member's comment - posted by IT Training

    View unverified member's comment - posted by IT Training

    Discussion:    Add a Comment | Back to Top | Comments 1-6 of 6 | Latest Comment

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