We may earn a commission if you purchase via our links (at no cost to you). Learn more

DIRECTV's Genie Receiver: Pushing the Envelope

Last updated: 11/23/2023

Throughout its history, DIRECTV has largely been recognized as a technological leader (its time with AT&T notwithstanding). From advanced on-screen guides to award-winning iPhone apps, that reputation is certainly well-deserved. When they launched the Genie whole-home DVR, they were going squarely after DISH's popular Hopper with Joey system. Here, we'll introduce you to Genie's key features and compare it to Hopper.

New features (never-before-seen)

1) Connect your entire home with ONE DVR

Thanks to Genie's RVU-Enabled technology, they were the first carrier to let you have one primary receiver turn every TV in your home into an HD DVR hub (where you can play, record, pause and delete programs). At the time, this was probably Genie's flagship feature. Nowadays, a whole-home DVR solution is pretty standard with high-end carriers.

vs Hopper - as discussed in our Hopper review, DISH requires one central DVR and accessory Joeys for each additional TV. They sync up and communicate with each other and you'll generally have to pay an additional charge for each Joey. Advantage: Genie

Update: to maximize connectivity under high broadband (or multi-recording) conditions, a Genie mini (wireless or wired) now gets connected to every TV in your home network. New TVs with "DIRECTV Ready" built-in (most of the latest Sonys and Samsungs) still don't require a Genie mini for each additional TV, however.

DIRECTV Genie 2 DVR (HS-17)
DIRECTV Genie 2 (HS-17, 7 tuners)

2) Simultaneously Record ANY SEVEN shows

Due largely to the RVU syncing, the Genie 2 lets you record up to seven different shows at once, all in HD. With nearly 2 TB (terabytes) of hard drive space, you can store up to 450 hours of HD programming, 1800 hours of SD. Solid stuff, especially if you typically only lean on cloud storage providers (ie, streaming). If the internet or cloud goes down, you're outta luck. Always nice to have on-board and local programming, whenever you want.

vs Hopper - thanks to a plethora of tuners, the max number of concurrent recordings Hopper can support is a whopping 16; each additional TV requires a Joey. Advantage: Hopper

Improved Features

3) 72 Hour Rewind: Automatically Access shows from a bunch of channels, all within 3 days

When it comes to personal recording, Genie gives you more options. It automatically recommends new shows based on your viewing preferences, much like Netflix. Even better, it pre-records them and keeps them around for up to 72 hours. You can watch them whenever you want, right away. There are currently about 50 channels included in the 72 Hour Rewind program.

vs Hopper - with PrimeTime Advantage, DISH was the first to introduce this type of pre-recorded feature but it's restricted to the top four networks (NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS) and only works during primetime (8-11 pm). Advantage: Genie

Want a Genie of your own?

Fill out the form below and find the best retailer in your area!

4) DIRECTV Restart: If you show up late, Start Over

This is a minor but potentially very helpful feature. Basically, if you show up late to one of your shows and didn't record it, Genie lets you start from the beginning (thanks to its auto-recording). Never be in the dark after missing the first few minutes of a movie again!

vs Hopper - DISH lets you do something similar but it doesn't cover as many networks as the Genie, so a smaller safety net. Advantage: Genie

Rival Features

5) Skip commercials 30 seconds at a time

Genie lets you skip commercials with one click of your remote; each time, you'll jump 30 seconds ahead. For what it's intended to do, it's not much more helpful than forwarding at 2-3X speed. Still, it can be convenient in certain situations.

vs Hopper - after the first commercial break, simply turn on the AutoHop feature and it'll automatically skip EVERY subsequent commercial for you. Other than the tuners, this is probably Hopper's biggest win over Genie. Back in the day, AutoHop didn't require ANY manual input during the first commercial break, but had to reach a legal middle ground with advertisers. Advantage: Hopper

6) Interactive Program Guide

With every update to Genie's core hardware and software, its program guide has gotten incrementally better. The pre-Genie menu was already pretty good, but the Genie's channel sorting, 1-touch recording and intuitive menu system is, in our opinion, simply unrivaled. Overall, the Genie's user experience and interactivity takes a solid DVR system to the next level.

vs Hopper - DISH has made major strides with its program guide, including the full integration of Netflix into Hopper's menu...in our opinion, though, it still doesn't quite keep up with Genie's layout and interface. Advantage: Genie

Bottom Line

Taking everything into account, when the Genie DVR originally launched, it considerably up'ed the ante in the high-end DVR race. Not only did it introduce or improve upon a handful of features, but it got it done with better aesthetics, both off and on-screen. When you're adding technology, that's tough to pull off. A good decade later, the Genie and Hopper have closed the respective gaps with most features. That is, while most folks still have a personal preference between the Genie and Hopper, it doesn't make or break the decision for most. So, unless you really dig one particular feature, we recommend you choose your provider based on price and programming lineup.


DIRECTV Gemini Mini Receiver The latest mini receiver option for the Genie 2, the Gemini enhances your DVR by giving you access to streaming apps, more 4K programming, a voice-activated remote and more. You need a Genie 2 and at least one regular Genie mini to qualify for the Gemini. For most, the single biggest upside is access to your favorite streaming apps, all from the same remote and guide as your DIRECTV. There are currently over 1,000 apps in the ecosystem (Disney+, Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, etc), and that number is sure to grow over time.

The next biggest upside here is 4K. The Gemini (a 4K mini receiver) instantly gives you access to a ton of 4K programming. So, every TV you connect to a Gemini has a ton more 4K programs, via streaming apps or DIRECTV's in-house channels. For sports fans, the Gemini also comes with a built-in Sports Guide/Zone, which showcases your favorite teams/games/channels.

If you want to upgrade to a Gemini (or check if you qualify), call the dedicated Gemini line at 800-578-4388.

The original Genie 1 (HR-54)

With 1TB of storage and up to 5 simultaneous recordings, this is the original Genie that stood the test of time for over a decade. It still gets the job done for most households but if you need more storage space, more concurrent recordings and an extra 4K stream, consider upgrading to the Genie 2. If not, the original Genie will continue to deliver your favorite programming, issue-free (DIRECTV no longer issues this model but will likely support it indefinitely).

DIRECTV Genie (HR-54, 5 tuners)
Find more TV providers in your area
Subscribe to the newsletter
Choose a provider.
Please check your inbox to verify your email address.
Oops, something went wrong. Please try again.
Speak with a DIRECTV specialist: