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,
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:

  1. Programming guides.
  2. Dual tuners.
  3. Monthly fees (just under $6)
    for having the DVR service. DirecTV waives it if you choose the Total
    Choice Premier package.
  4. Interactive channel offering information
    like weather, horoscopes, viewing recommendations. Dish's gives you the
    ability to view and pay your bill.
  5. Outputs including USB,
    S-Video, digital audio and the other usual inputs/output to connect to the
    rest of your AV equipment.
  6. Parental controls.
  7. 100 hour recording time.
  8. 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.


  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).


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.