DirecTV will release a new TiVo-powered high-def DVR in the second half of 2009, the company has announced. Unlike the last "DirecTiVo" model that was released in 2004, the new model will be able to receive DirecTV's entire lineup of digital and high-def channels.
DirecTV's original TiVo-powered DVRs were among the first satellite receivers with digital video recorders built in (rather than tethered external units). The HR10-250, in fact, was the first high-def DVR available anywhere. Unfortunately, two things happened that put that model on the fast track to obsolescence. DirecTV began utilizing MPEG-4 broadcasts for most of its HD channels--a format that wasn't compatible with the TiVo units. And secondly, the company introduced its own line of non-TiVo DVRs.
Those second wave of DVRs were based on technology from a British company called NDS. The NDS-powered models--such as the HR20 and HR21--were shoehorned into DirecTV's lineup soon after the satellite company was purchased by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. because NDS was a sister company in the Murdoch empire. But News Corp. sold off its DirecTV stake just three years later, in November 2006. With no more familial corporate obligation to NDS, presumably, the door was reopened to pairing with TiVo.
Beyond specifying that the new HD TiVo DVR would "support the latest TiVo and DirecTV features and services, including TiVo's Universal Swivel Search and TiVo KidZone," the press release provided few details about the new hardware. As far as our wish list is concerned, we'd like to see a faster, more responsive user interface (the HR10-250 was notoriously pokey, even by TiVo's less-than-jackrabbit speed standards) and the enabling of full TiVo network features (streaming media support, Amazon Unbox, Rhapsody, etc.). But given the decidedly mixed response that viewers have given the HR20/HR21 DVRs, even having the possibility of an alternative will likely excite many DirecTV subscribers.
If you're a DirecTV subscriber, what do you think: Is the announcement of a second-gen DirecTiVo cause for celebration? Or is the HR20/HR21 good enough?