DirecTV effectively snubs TiVo users – again

As owners of DirecTiVos know, DirecTV has deliberately crippled the feature set on those units. Despite the hardware and software both being capable of supporting all of the standalone TiVo features – Music, Photos, HME, online scheduling, etc – DirecTV has deliberately disabled these features. And we know they work fine, because the software is still in the box, just disabled, and there are hacks to enable the features for the more technical users.

So, what’s new? DirecTV’s new HR20 DirecTV Plus HD DVR has a network port. They’re finally enabling it, but only to communicate with Intel Viiv PCs. You will be able to access music and photos from a Viiv PC on the DVR.

After years of not enabling features that would work with any PC *or* Mac (or Linux, BSD, etc) on the TiVo-based units, now they’re enabling a feature – only on their HD DVR, and only if you have a new Viiv-based Windows PC. Thanks DirecTV.

This really reinforces the theory that they’ve kept the TiVo-based units deliberately crippled because it would make their ‘Plus’ boxes look like a ‘Minus’ if they actually enabled the full feature set. The new DVRs are really a step backwards. While it is a long shot, their is a glimmer of hope now that Liberty Media is acquiring DirecTV from Rupert Murdoch. DirecTV switched to NDS based DVRs after Murdoch took over, mainly because he also held a large stake in NDS. Liberty Media is also an investor in TiVo. But there is a lot of momentum behind the switch, so it won’t be simple to switch back to TiVo even if Liberty wants to.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • chancelot

    yeah, I was shocked when I got a stand-alone TiVo after disconnecting my DirecTiVo for cable. We’re going back to satellite in the next few months, so I hope Liberty can bring DTV back to the light!

  • megazone

    You can use a standalone Series2 TiVo with an external cable receiver to get kind of the best of both worlds. But you won’t get dual-tuners, which most satellite DVRs have, or HD.

  • shadoh

    As a DirecTiVo user, I share your long shot hope. Unfortunately, I find that extremely unlikely. It looks like the TiVo/DirecTV relationship is a complex and hidden relationship. Just look at how poorly DirecTV is handling the current (major) issues DirecTiVo users are currently suffering.

  • buran

    Another reason to push for a switch from DirecTV to Comcast once I move…

  • anonymous

    Need help guys/gals.

    I need to buy a Tivo for my motorhome. I love TIVO and don’t even have one yet. I’m changing my front TV out for a HiDef unit, and am very confused by the latest TIVO models — it looks like a lot of them won’t even handle DirecTV. Here’s what I need:
    1. I’d like to have the DirecTV receiver built in to the TIVO unit to save space.
    2. High Definition TIVO for sure.
    3. I don’t want it to be obsolete in a year or two, what with all the rumors about some units being obsolete (cf. MPEG4) when there’s supposedly this big conversion on DirecTV that Tivo won’t handle.
    4. Obviously, in the motorhome it won’t be contiually hooked up to a land line, except when it’s first hooked up.
    5. I just need a model number recommendation from one of you knowledgable folks. I don’t even care if it’s a year old unit that I’ll have to buy on Ebay.
    You assitance and advice will be much appreciated.

    OBTW, while you’re at it, TIVO my boy Saturday night. The Shins will be on Saturday Night Live. Huge for a band from small town Albuquerque!

    Thanks for any help you can give.

    Jim Mercer

  • megazone

    There is only one model that is HD, TiVo, and integrated – the HR10-250. However, it will not handle the new MPEG4 HD channels DirecTV is rolling out.

    The only box that is integrated, HD, and handle HPEG4 is the HR20 – but that’s not TiVo-based.

    You can’t get it all in one box.

    For standard definition the R10 is the last TiVo-based box, it is being replaced by the R15 which is NOT TiVo-based.

  • plaidomatic

    Many users report that Viiv is not necessary (and lets face, it the DVR+ is not likely to be able to tell the difference), you only need to have WMP11 installed.

  • severoon

    I don’t get it…why do people buy DirecTV if it’s a well known fact that they’re actually spending revenue—which is your hard-earned dollars—to punish you for choosing to give them your business?

    Are the benefits of DirecTV somehow more important than the message you send to their business that treating customers this way is ok?

    It’s one thing if it took work to make the features available and they didn’t have the budget or something…but they’re actually spending money to cripple the box? When I find out something like that is going on, I get angry and withhold my business. Anyone out there in LJ land care to give me some insight as to why people would be willing participants in such an abuse of the business-customer relationship?

  • anonymous

    Why do I deal with DirectTV? I don’t have a choice. Probably %80 of my TV watching is sports. I want the NFL season ticket, the Superfan which gives me the games in HD, and I want MLB Extra Innings. DirecTV is the only place I can get those things.

  • megazone

    Well, as the other comment said, DirecTV has some exclusive deals for sports that makes them the only option for that content.

    There are also those who live in areas where digital cable is not available, or sometimes any cable at all, so satellite is their only option for many channels – which means DirecTV or Dish Network. Each offering has their own pluses and minuses. Some people have had bad experiences with cable, so they choose satellite instead.

    Personally I think satellite is less and less of a good deal as time goes on. Most people want broadband Internet access, and cable bundles tend to offer a better value. My cable service has been extremely reliable for as long as I can recall, my power goes out far more than my cable – I don’t think I’ve had a cable outage in years. So arguments about better service just don’t hold water for me. (I’m sure some people have terrible cable service.) With HD, satellite tends to compress more than cable due to transponder restrictions.

  • anonymous

    I need to replace my HDVR2. I haven’t upgraded to HD yet. So what is a Directv TIVO replacement for the HDVR2?

  • megazone

    You can still find the DirecTV R10 which is their last TiVo-based SD model. It works fine since they’re not making any changes to their SD programming. The R15 is the NDS-based replacement for that.

  • Brian A

    The thing most of you people don’t realize is that Directv no longer supports TiVo because:

    1) TiVo will soon be defunct because of the onslaught of HD (all of which will be MPEG 4 by the end of 2009 for all
    cable and satellite carriers)
    2) Directv and TiVo have split ways and no longer do business together. No Directv unit ill ever be manufactured
    with the TiVo operating systme/interface/hardware again . Directv and TiVo did not split amicably. This is public
    knowledge. Look it up.
    3) Rupert Murdoch, major shareholder for Directv has announced that he is still in negotiations to merge Directv
    and Dish Network (Also public record).

    Since TiVo will not be able to support HD local channels, unless they spend some seious money to upgrade all their
    systems, you might as well get used to the fact that Directv will corner the market on HD programming and DVR

  • megazone

    1. The vast majority DirecTV subscribers are still SD, and DTV will not be migrating SD to MPEG4. All existing SD receivers, including DirecTiVos, will continue to work for the foreseeable future. The HR10-250 HD DirecTiVo will not be able to receive the new MPEG4 HD channels.

    2. This is totally incorrect. DirecTV and TiVo extended their relationship out into 2010 and just announced plans to distribute a software update to DirecTiVos in early 2008, giving them some of the features currently on the standalone boxes such as online scheduling, Recently Deleted, and Overlap Protection.

    3. This is also totally incorrect. There are no ongoing efforts to merge DirecTV and Dish Network. Also, Rupert Murdoch/News Corp is selling their interest in DirecTV to Liberty Media, with the deal scheduled to close later this year. Rupert/News Corp will be completely out of DirecTV. Additionally, Liberty Media is a major corporate investor in TiVo and there have already been comments about a possible reconciliation under their control.