DirecTV H21 high definition HD Receiver is a step up from the company’s previous model, the H20. This unit makes it easy to search for your favorite television show by person, title, keyword or channel, and you can search for shows up to 14 days in advance, which is fantastic. You can also customize the guide to show only your favorite channels.
The rear panel additions of Ethernet and USB ports give this receiver the ability to upgrade when new technologies will require these connections. In addition, the digital HDMI cables input now works seamlessly. The somewhat large size of the unit assists with internal cooling, thereby maximizing performance; the unit’s size is not excessive, however, and it should blend nicely into a home entertainment setup.
We enjoy taking full advantage of the ability to customize the on-screen features of the H21 unit. You can choose between multiple screen formats full screen, stretched, letterbox, pillar-box, or crop mode and resolutions, as well. In addition, parents will be thankful for the ability to dictate what content their children are watching by locking out inappropriate programming.
What this unit is lacking is a built-in DVR function. The H20 also came in recorder and non-recorder versions, but including this feature as a part of the standard package would make it far easier to recommend.
We also find some slight annoyances with this system. For example, when using the search function, any show starting with The will be listed under “T” rather than the first non-article letter, i.e. The Office instead of Office, The. The learning curve on this will vary from user to user. Also, pressing the Format button on the remote displays the presently selected setting rather than immediately changing to a new format; to do this, you have to push the button twice. These are minor quibbles, however.
The DirecTV H21 HD receiver gives the owner access to HD, standard-definition and local Direct TV programming. An additional benefit of this model is the ability to pick up off-air digital (ATSC) broadcasts (where available). This versatility earns the H21 a strong recommendation.
Pros: Additional ports allow owners to make the most of HD quality programming, every on-screen menu is customizable to ease interactions
Cons: The unit’s somewhat large size takes up component space, many features require additional equipment or paid services, does not have ATSC tuner
DirecTV H21 high definition HD Receiver
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