What is the DirecTV Genie?

The Genie, a high-definition digital video recording system offered by DirecTV, allows you to record up to five HD television shows at the same time without having a DVR receiver in every room.

Traditional  DVR players record one or two TV program at a time, requiring you to get additional DVR receivers in other rooms if you want to record or watch your recorded programs. A DVR receiver also allows you to pause, rewind and playback live television, including skipping the commercials.

If you and your family are like most families, everyone has varied television viewing tastes. Family members often argue over who can record their shows, especially when there are recording conflicts. The Genie can resolve many of these problems. Since the device can record up to five HD shows at one time, it's less likely that anyone in the family has to lose out on recording a game or TV show.

There are some blackout restrictions that apply to some sports programs when using the Genie. In order for your TV show to record your shows in HD, it must be broadcast in HD.

The DirecTV Genie also recommends television shows you may like based on the types of programs you're watching. If you liked a program that Genie recommended, it's easy to record the entire series.

Not only can you record five shows at once on the Genie, but it allows you to watch two television shows at the same time on the same screen. Genie's Picture-in-Picture allows you to watch your shows side by side, or view one of them in the corner of your screen. It's important to note that the picture-in-picture capability is only available on the television that is directly connected to your DirecTV Genie.

The Genie offers 1 TB of storage, allowing you to record and keep hundreds of hours of your favorite programming. You are able to program the Genie to record shows up to two weeks in advance and catch up on past episodes of  a new television series you recently discovered by going as far back as five weeks. Even if you walk in the house 15 minutes after a show started, the Genie allows you to watch it from the beginning.

While you will only need one Genie in your home, you will need to purchase additional equipment to make other television sets compatible with the Genie. There also are additional fees. Each room will require a Genie Mini Client.

Dish Network offers a similar HD DVR player called the Hopper, a satellite receiver and digital video recorder that also allows subscribers to record  multiple programs simultaneously.

You can set your Genie to record shows from anywhere using your cell phone, tablet or computer. You can even watch live TV on your mobile devices or computer. If you connect your Genie to your high speed internet service, you are able to watch movies and programs On Demand.

The Genie retails at $299, but DirecTV has offered the service free for first-time subscribers. DirecTV subscribers will need to pay $20 a month for each Genie Mini Client ($99 retail value) that allows additional television sets to hook up to the Genie. In comparison, a HD DVR receiver costs $199 without any special offers.