As we wrapped up the interview and concluded our hands-on time with the HR21, Bob, Lisa and I agreed that we pretty much shared the same opinions about the box. For them, the gripes are mostly minor, as the compelling advantage of DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package is the reason they’ve been long-time DirecTV customers. And, both had high praise for DirecTV’s customer service, never once having a bad customer service experience over the many years that they’ve been subscribers.
While the on-screen channel guide is quite thorough and offers picture-in-picture, changing channels is quite slow and can become a frustration for dedicated channel surfers. Only two user-customizable Favorite Channels lists are provided.
Do take advantage of the “Resolution” set-up feature and set the HR21 to match the native resolution of your HDTV. Then, the remote’s “Format” button becomes an aspect ratio only control.
Despite its quirks, the HR21 is nonetheless a decent HD DVR, providing essentially the same recording, time-shifting and rewind/ skip ahead features of its cable and Dish Network siblings. At $199, it’s a reasonable value, and is the obvious choice if you choose DirecTV HD service over cable, fiber or Dish Network.