Gimmie Java!

The HT Guys love their Starbucks. If you want to say thanks, a cup of joe will do just fine! Starbucks-Donate

Watch the Videos



Podcast #736: DirecTV 4K Review

DirecTV has added 4K capabilities to some of it’s Genie HD DVR models and we are fortunate enough to have a listener who has upgraded to the new service. Ralph Smithers, good friend of the show, was kind enough to share his experience with the upgrade process and quality of the 4K content available.

Download this Episode.

Support the show with Patreon!

Listen to the show

Today's Show:



Amazon Prime:

Sign up for Amazon Prime and enjoy:

  • Free Two Day Shipping!
  • Instant Streaming of TV Shows and Movies
  • Instant Access to thousands of Kindle Books
  • The HT Guys gratitude!


DirecTV 4K Review

DirecTV has added 4K to some of it’s Genie HD DVR and we are fortunate enough to have a listener who has upgraded to the new service. Ralph Smithers, good friend of the show, was kind enough to share his experience with the upgrade process and quality of the 4K content available. Before we get to Ralph’s review here are a few notes:

What You Need

  • 4K Genie HD DVR - Model HR54 is required to view 4K Ultra HD channels.
  • 4K HDTV
  • ULTIMATE or PREMIER TV Package - $92 and $145 respectively

Review by Ralph Smithers

I have been with DirecTV a little over two years and became eligible for a free upgrade to 4K with a two-year commitment and wanted to share my experience.

The upgrade itself was pretty straight forward—three of my four boxes were upgraded to 4K equipment. I suspect those were all the boxes the installer had on hand. The old Genie Mini works fine with the new equipment and my 4K monitor is connected to one of the 4K Genie Mini boxes. None of the components of the dish (LNB) needed to be changed to support the upgrade.

While the equipment swap was pretty straight forward, the installer was friendly but admittedly not knowledgeable about 4K. I ran into a number of issues once the installer left my house. Two calls to DirecTV did not resolve the problems and for most of the first weekend of having 4K, I spent more time behind my TV than in front of it. Here is a summary of the issues and how I resolved them.  I think this information will be useful to other listeners and there is one outstanding issue where the listeners may be able to assist me.

The setup for my non 4K sets went without incident but there were significant issues with the 4K programming, specifically the special Master’s Tournament broadcast. I was able to get the Master’s 4K broadcast with the installer present but my first impression was that while the picture was pristine, it seemed choppy. Shortly thereafter, the channel went dark and a reset of my 4K Genie Mini box was required to get ANY programing. The Master’s programming simply would not work and when I tried to tune to the particular channel where it was playing, the whole system went down. DirecTV has another 4K channel that plays continuous programming and that channel worked great. Everything came to a crash when I navigated to the Master’s channel. I would also add that even the Master’s programming I recorded on my DVR was causing my system to crash.

I have a six month old Yamaha RX-V579 receiver that I use to switch my HDMI inputs that is HDCP 2.2 and 4K compliant. I have a Vizio M series 70 inch 4K TV that I purchased in November. My calls to DirecTV resulted in the technicians putting the blame for the issues on my equipment. Both of the technicians went out of their way tell me about people bootlegging content (which was annoying) and could not resolve my issues. Eventually, I was getting content protection notices on all channels and was starting to regret my decision to upgrade.

My setup before the upgrade was to route all of my video gear into my receiver and use the Audio Return Channel feature to send the video to my TV and get sound from Smart TV applications into my receiver. In my case, this was working inconsistently at best and not at all on the Master’s Channel.

After hours of frustration, I made a cabling change on the TV side that resolved my issue.   I noticed that one of my HDMI inputs (non ARC input) on my TV was labeled for 4K 60hz instead of 4K 30hz so I switched the output from the receiver into this port. “Presto” everything worked perfectly on the DirecTV side, as well as other HDMI inputs from the receiver. Had DirecTV been able to direct me on this item, hours of frustration would have been saved so I hope this might help other listeners.  The downside of this configuration is that I cannot get my Smart TV app sound into my receiver, even with an optical cable. If anyone can give me advice on this issue, I’d appreciate it but I can manually switch the cabling around if I want to use this feature.

So how was the 4K picture quality? Marvelous! The video was razor sharp, the colors were glorious the sound was excellent. I could read the logos and see the dimples on the golf balls on most of the putts. I could see the broken tees and the texture of the blades of grass on the greens. When I flipped over to standard 720p version of the broadcast, these details were obscured. I also noticed that when the camera was focused on the golf balls while they were in flight, they kept their round appearance. In the 720p version, the golf balls in flight had a slight oval appearance. Should note that my TV reported the DirecTV content as 2160p.

The other DirecTV channel that pushes out 4K 24/7 broadcasts are mostly nature programming (like the early days of HD). Details were crisp and clear like the golf tournament. My 4K monitor does not support HDR but I noticed a significant improvement in the contrast between dark and light colors. The brighter images are bright enough cause eye discomfort if I were stare at them too long. I wonder if this would be an issue with HDR.

I also downloaded some of the free on demand 4K programming. While it took a very long time to download, it played great once downloaded.  A full length movie would require several hours to download.

Finally, my observation is that there is no comparison between the 4K content on Amazon Prime and DirecTV. The Amazon Prime content I have viewed in 4K is hard to distinguish from 1080 content. I have not tried Netflix 4k.  My assessment is that the DirecTV 4K content is the “real deal.”

Overall, I’m glad I made the upgrade but I don’t think this is ready for the masses. This is a bleeding edge upgrade right now that will improve as the DirecTV technicians get up to speed with the technology. Some firmware upgrades might help. The impact of the content protection should not wipe out the ability to watch all channels. Most people who ran into the issues I encountered would have had to have someone come to their home to try to make the fix, possibly to no avail (since the installers may not be fully up to speed). I still haven’t resolved my audio issue to get Smart TV app audio back into my receiver but I’ll tinker with this more in the coming days.


Download Episode #736

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>