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This is the fourth of 5 daily articles we will be distributing over the course of the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which runs from Jan. 5th - Jan. 8th. The information below is very brief and will likely be elaborated upon in a future article, or set of articles.


DirecTV has a new line of receivers hitting the market. Among them is an HD DVR with dual tuners, capable of buffering 90 minutes of live TV, or recording 30 hours of HD in MPEG-2, or up to 50 hours of HD in MPEG-4, or up to 200 hours of SD. This will be available "mid-year".

This new DVR will no longer use TiVo's software, but instead use DirecTV software. This new software will have a Series Link function, which will allow you to record all episodes of a particular series whenever they air. Search functionality will also be included.

As of right now, DirecTV is planning to offer a free upgrade to those who are currently invested in other hardware, but only when they start turning the MPEG-2 signals off, which will begin with the LA HD network feeds in mid-2006. Customers who wish to switch earlier can do so for $99.

The dish required is a bit larger, but not much. It still looks like the current 3 LNB dish from a distance, but in actuality the outer two LNB's are dual LNB's and are slightly oval instead of round. The orbital locations for these satellite clusters are 99, 101, 103, 110, and 119 degrees. The size of the new dish is approximately 29in x 26in. Not much bigger than the previous oval dish, which was 36in x 24in. The reason for the larger size isn't because it has to receive signals from two additional satellites, but rather has more to do with the fact that the proximity of the additional two satellites are within 2 degrees of each other and so the dish has to be larger to compensate.

Today's Trivia fact: It's also interesting to note, although this has nothing to do with HD per se, that DirecTV alters the power of its signal to compensate for areas of the country that have heavier or more frequent rain storms than others.

To support all this new MPEG-4 functionality and equipment, DirecTV is launching 4 new satellites. Two are already in orbit with the other two planned for launch in mid-2007. So by the end of 2007, all 4 satellites should be in their final orbital locations and ready for full service. All together these satellites will deliver more than 1500 Local and 150 national HD channels.

Current Local HD channels are available in 12 markets, with 24 more coming in the April/May time frame. With these 36 markets, DirecTV will have local HD signals available to 57% of households. I will publish this list of 36 as soon as I have it.

Posted by Shane Sturgeon, January 8, 2006 8:08 PM

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About Shane Sturgeon

Shane Sturgeon is the Co-Publisher and Chief Technologist of HDTV Magazine, an industry publication with HDTV roots going back to 1984, when Dale Cripps founded The HDTV Newsletter. Today, HDTV Magazine is a leading online resource for HDTV news and information and captures the eyes and imaginations of over 3 million visitors annually. Mr. Sturgeon has a background in information technology and has served in various consulting capacities for Fortune 500 companies such as J.P. Morgan Chase, Verizon Communications, Proctor & Gamble and Nationwide Insurance. He has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Wright State University.