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Definitive DIRECTV Genie Review

We’ve spent dozens of hours analyzing specs and features on the DIRECTV Genie and Genie 2—here’s what we found.

DIRECTV Genie

Price: Included
Storage: 200 hours (HD)
Simultaneous recordings: 5

Package
ENTERTAINMENT All-Included
CHOICETM All-Included
ULTIMATE All-Included
PREMIERTM All-Included
Price (first year) Channels DVR storage Simultaneous recordings Details
$64.99/mo. 160+ Up to 450 hrs. Up to 7 View plans
$69.99/mo. 185+ Up to 450 hrs. Up to 7 View plans
$84.99/mo. 250+ Up to 450 hrs. Up to 7 View plans
$134.99/mo. 330+ Up to 450 hrs. Up to 7 View plans

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

CableTV.com uses paid Amazon links.

Is the DIRECTV Genie right for you?

DIRECTV has two DVR/receivers: the Genie and the Genie 2. There’s no monthly fee for either device, and you get to choose the one you want. The standard Genie stores 200 hours and has five tuners (simultaneous recordings). The Genie 2 has stronger stats (450 hours, seven tuners) and exclusively wireless connectivity—so no cable clutter. It’s clearly superior to the original; we recommend it for most users.

But we actually prefer the DISH Hopper 3 to the DIRECTV Genies. Unlike the Genie, the Hopper 3 isn’t free (it’s $10 a month), but it’s the better DVR, and DISH is the cheaper and better service in the long run (we explain this further down). Either way you go, let’s take a deeper look at the Genie and Genie 2 so you can form your own opinion.

DIRECTV pros and cons

Pros

  • No extra fee
  • Up to 450 hrs. of HD storage
  • Up to 7 simultaneous recordings
  • No cable clutter (Genie 2 only)

Cons

  • High activation fees for some equipment
  • No built-in streaming apps

Current DIRECTV deals and promotions

DIRECTV has two promotions for new customers:

  • Free premium channels for three months: Sign up for ENTERTAINMENT ($64.99/mo., 160+ channels) or higher and get three free months of HBO MaxTM, CINEMAX®, EPIX, SHOWTIME®, and STARZ®.
  • NFL Sunday Ticket: Sign up for CHOICETM ($69.99/mo., 185+ channels) or higher and you get the current season free.

Compare top DIRECTV plans

Price (first year) Channels DVR storage Simultaneous recordings Details
$64.99/mo. 160+ Up to 450 hrs. Up to 7 View plans
$69.99/mo. 185+ Up to 450 hrs. Up to 7 View plans
$84.99/mo. 250+ Up to 450 hrs. Up to 7 View plans
$134.99/mo. 330+ Up to 450 hrs. Up to 7 View plans

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

We think the best DIRECTV package is CHOICE ($69.99 a month, 185+ channels). It has a solid channel lineup, affordable price (for the first year, anyway), and it qualifies you for DIRECTV’s two best promo deals (listed above).

Compare DIRECTV Genie with the competition

Simultaneous recordings HD storage DVR cost Details
5 200 hrs. Included with package View plans
7 450 hrs. Included with package View plans
16 500 hrs. $10.00/mo. View plans
2, 6, or 24 250–1,000 hrs. $13.50–$30.00/mo. View plans
6 150 hrs. $14.95/mo. (plus $9.95/mo. HD fee) View plans

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Of the five DVR/receivers in this table, the DIRECTV Genie has the third-lowest storage capacity and third-fewest tuners (simultaneous recordings). But 200 hours of HD storage and five tuners will satisfy most users, and getting it all for free equals incredible value. Same goes for the Genie 2 (450 hours, seven tuners, and wireless-only connectivity), which works a bit differently than the standard version (we cover that in an upcoming section).

Unfortunately, the value doesn’t last with either Genie, since DIRECTV has steep 30–40% rate hikes—after the first year. That means you’ll pay at least an extra $360 over the second year.

By contrast, the DISH Hopper 3 rental fee will cost $240 over two years. That said, DISH offers a two-year price guarantee, so you’ll save money on your TV plan and get a better DVR.

If your heart isn’t set on DIRECTV, we recommend going with DISH and its Hopper 3 DVR/receiver instead.

DIRECTV Genie DVR options

Genie
Genie 2 (w/ included Genie Mini Wireless)
Genie Mini
Genie Mini Wireless
DVR service fee Other fees (due at signup) HD storage Supported TVs Simultaneous recordings Built-in streaming TV apps
Included N/A 200 hrs. 1 5 X
Included $99 bridge/activation fee 450 hrs. Up to 8 7 X
$7.00/mo $49.00 activation fee per device over 4 N/A Up to 6 5 N/A
$7.00/mo $99.00 bridge fee

$49.00 activation fee per device over 4
N/A Up to 8 Up to 7 N/A

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

DIRECTV automatically adds the Genie to most orders. If you want the Genie 2, just order service on two or more TVs and upgrade to wireless connectivity. Your cart will then update your equipment selections for you.

Pro tip: If the DIRECTV Genie or Genie 2 don’t interest you, you might find something you like in our guide to the Best DVRs.

DIRECTV Genie specs and features

Let’s run down the main features of the Genie and Genie 2: storage, tuners, whole-home TV, the DIRECTV app, and more.

Storage

The DIRECTV Genie DVR/receiver has 200 hours of HD storage (on a 1 TB drive). If you get the Genie 2, it stores 450 HD hours on a 2 TB drive. Again, 200 hours is enough for most people—so 450 hours will be plenty of storage for anyone. For instance, I have a DISH Hopper 3 DVR and I’ve used only 17% of its 500-hour storage capacity—and I’ve recorded a ton of stuff.

Tuners (simultaneous recordings)

The Genie has five tuners, which means it can record five programs at once. That’s a good amount because finding five programming conflicts in the same time slot should be a rare occurrence.

TBH, we’ve never used more than three tuners at a time. But if you’d like a couple extra simultaneous recordings, the Genie 2 can suck down seven programs at once.

Cool features

We really wish that the DIRECTV Genies had built-in streaming apps like the Hopper 3, but they don’t. They do, however, have a couple of cool little features that you won’t find on the Hopper 3.

  • 72-hour Rewind: If you forget to record a show, you can jump back up to 72 hours.
  • Mix channels: This feature allows you to watch up to six kids, news, and sports channels at once.

Multiroom viewing

Unlike the standard Genie, the Genie 2 doesn’t connect to your TV. It’s a wireless access point that beams a signal to a Genie Mini Wireless that’s connected to each TV. You get the first Mini Wireless free when you sign up, but extras cost $7 a month. So a three-TV setup with the Genie 2 would require three Mini Wireless boxes—but you’d pay rental fees for only two ($14 a month total).

DIRECTV whole-home TV options

Device
Genie Mini
Genie Mini Wireless
Price Other fees Supported TVs Simultaneous recordings
$7.00/mo $49.00 activation fee per device after 4 Up to 6 5
$7.00/mo $99.00 bridge fee

$49.00 activation fee per device over 4
Up to 8 5

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Unlike the standard Genie, the Genie 2 doesn’t connect to your TV. It doesn’t look like a traditional DVR/receiver—it’s a tall, slender tower instead of a flat, wide box—and it doesn’t work like one, either.

The Genie 2 is a wireless access point that beams a signal to a Genie Mini Wireless connected to each TV. You get the first Mini Wireless free when you sign up, but extras cost $7 a month. So a three-TV setup with the Genie 2 would require three Mini Wireless boxes—but you’d pay rental fees for only two ($14 a month total).

Where does the Genie 2 go?

Since the DIRECTV Genie 2 isn’t what you connect to your TV—that would be the Genie Mini Wireless—where does it go in your house? Here are our recommendations, based on how many TVs you own.

  • Single-TV homes: Place the Genie 2 near your TV. It doesn’t have to be visible to work, so you can place it in your home entertainment center’s cabinet or on a nearby shelf to keep things tidy.
  • Multiple TVs: To ensure that the Genie 2’s signal gets to your TVs, we recommend placing the Genie 2 in a location that’s central to your TV rooms.

You can use either the wired Genie Mini or Genie Mini Wireless with the standard Genie too. The same $99 bridge fee applies with the Mini Wireless, but you won’t get the first Mini Wireless free like you do with the Genie 2.

The $49 activation fees look pretty scary, but they kick in only when you get DIRECTV service on more than four TVs. (That applies to both Genie types.)

Parental controls

The Genie and Genie 2 have parental controls to help you maintain control over what your children watch when you’re not home. Check out all the ways you can exercise this control:

  • Block content based on ratings or your preferences
  • View more detailed ratings and content information so you can decide what to block
  • Limit watch time
  • Set spending limits for purchases (including pay-per-view)

DIRECTV Genie remote

While we’re talking about control, the DIRECTV Genie remote controls up to four devices and has simple, intuitive controls. It doesn’t have native voice control, but there’s a loophole if you have an Alexa device: the DIRECTV Alexa skill, which enables voice control of your Genie. It’s not perfect—especially if you have to buy an Alexa device only for this feature—but it works.

CableTV.com uses paid Amazon links.

Pro tip: If you need to re-pair your DIRECTV remote with your TV, everything you need to know is in our How to Program Your DIRECTV Remote guide.

DIRECTV app

When you’re not home, you can use the DIRECTV mobile app (Android, iOS) to watch your Genie DVR recordings on your mobile device. Here’s the full list of features:

  • Stream live TV, on-demand content, and DVR recordings
  • Download movies and shows to watch offline
  • Set and manage DVR recordings
  • Set and manage parental controls
  • Stream on up to five devices at once
DIRECTV App

Final take

The DIRECTV Genie and Genie 2 DVR/receivers have enough storage and simultaneous recordings to satisfy most users, and they’re certainly worth the price (free with your DIRECTV subscription). But we wish that the Genies had built-in streaming apps, native voice control, and none of those pesky activation fees.

Ultimately, our recommendation comes down to DIRECTV’s plan pricing. It’s hard to enjoy the Genies, and to see their value, when you know that your plan payment will increase by 30%–40% in only a year.

If you’re set on getting DIRECTV—perhaps because you get the current season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET free when you sign up for the CHOICE plan or higher—you’ll be happy with the Genies. Otherwise, we suggest going with DISH for its even more powerful Hopper 3 DVR/receiver and two-year price guarantee.

DIRECTV Genie DVR FAQ

What is DIRECTV Genie?

The DIRECTV Genie is the DVR/receiver included with your DIRECTV subscription.

What is a Genie Mini?

The DIRECTV Genie Mini is a device that allows you to extend your DIRECTV service to the other TVs in your home.

What is DIRECTV’s best deal or promotion?

New customers get the current season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET free when they sign up for the CHOICE plan or higher. That’s a $395.94 value, so we think it’s a pretty awesome deal.

How much does a DIRECTV wireless Genie cost?

DIRECTV’s Genie Mini Wireless ($7 a month per device) allows you to watch DIRECTV on additional TVs in your home. But look out for the $49 activation fee for each Mini Wireless after the fourth—and the $99 bridge fee to set up wireless service. Both fees are due at signup.

Is there a fee for DIRECTV equipment?

There is no monthly fee for your DIRECTV satellite dish or for your first Genie or Genie 2 DVR/receiver. But there is a $7 monthly rental fee for additional receivers like the Genie Mini and the Genie Mini Wireless. You do get your first Genie Mini Wireless free with the Genie 2—but it has a one-time $99 bridge fee (for wireless service) due at signup.

If you get Genie Minis or Genie Wireless Minis for the other TVs in your house, there is a one-time activation fee for each Mini after the fourth. Read more about DIRECTV fees in our guide to the Hidden Costs of DIRECTV.

Does DIRECTV have wireless receivers?

DIRECTV’s Genie 2 is a wireless DVR/receiver, and it’s included with your DIRECTV subscription. To get it, order DIRECTV service for two or more TVs and select the option to upgrade to wireless connectivity. Note: the Genie 2 doesn’t connect to your TV—it sends a wireless signal to a Genie Mini Wireless device connected to your TV. The first Mini Wireless is also included (additional units are $7 a month).

How much does the DIRECTV Genie cost?

Unlike most other TV providers, DIRECTV does not charge an additional fee for its Genie or Genie 2 DVR/receivers. But if you’re interested in having DIRECTV on more than one TV, DIRECTV does charge $7 a month for each Genie Mini or Genie Mini Wireless device (but your first Mini Wireless is free with the Genie 2).

Can I watch Disney Plus on the DIRECTV Genie?

Unfortunately, the DIRECTV Genie DVR/receiver doesn’t support the Disney+ app—but don’t let that stop you from signing up for Disney’s popular streaming app. For more information, read our Disney+ review.

What is the difference between the DIRECTV Genie and the DISH Hopper 3?

The main differences between the DIRECTV Genie and the DISH Hopper 3 are price and power. DIRECTV includes the Genie in your plan, but DISH charges $10 a month for the Hopper 3. And the Hopper 3 has more storage, tuners, and built-in streaming TV apps than the Genie. See the table below to compare the Genie and Hopper 3 at a glance.

DIRECTV Genie/Genie 2
DISH Hopper 3
Price HD storage Simultaneous recordings 4K support Built-in apps Supported TVs Bluetooth Internal Wi-Fi
Included Up to 450 hrs. 5 Yes No Up to 8 Yes Yes
$10.00/mo. 500 hrs. 16 Yes Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, YouTube Kids Up to 7 Yes Yes

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary with location and are subject to change.

Methodology

In order to help you make informed buying decisions, our TV experts spent dozens of hours researching and testing DIRECTV satellite TV service and equipment. To learn more about our research and testing practices, see our “How We Rank” page.