Last week, DirecTV subscribers (including me) received an email letting them know that a new guide interface would be rolling out in the future, but the email did not say when users should expect it. It was a tease, showing awesome new features and a slick new interface for your HD TV, but with no information about when you would actually be getting the interface on your receiver.
Luckily, a little Google searching on my part discovered a way that you can pre-load the new software onto your receiver, which I did. The new interface is as slick as advertised, and contains a plethora of brand new features that will change the way you watch TV. I’ll provide instructions later on in this post, but first let’s go over the new features and interface that DirecTV is providing in its new software update.
The first thing you’ll notice about the new on-screen guide is the overall look and feel. Before, the interface looked like something that was designed in the ’90s for standard definition TVs and never updated. The font was blocky and not smooth at all, the large amount of space and resolutions on HDTVs was not utilized, and it just looked… bad. With the new 1080p guide interface, that’s all changed. The new look is more akin to DirecTV’s iPad and iPhone apps, utilizing darker blues, grays, and blacks to create menus that are very very visually appealing. Gradients and shadows add to the interface and bring it up to par with other modern interfaces. There’s little to complain about look and feel wise.
There are plenty of other enhancements as well. Users will find that the process of scrolling through channels is much smoother and faster, there are better tools for discovery, and the new interface makes it much easier to access your recorded shows and on-demand content. Movie posters and TV show graphics replace text in the on-demand and recorded content interface, so it’s easier to scroll through your content and find what you want quickly, and you’re now able to find every movie (both on-demand and airing on movie channels) in one place, so if you want to watch a movie, there is an easy place to go to see what’s on.
Finally, DirecTV has finally moved its receivers onto the Web in a more complete way. With the addition of TV apps, you can use your receiver to do things like browse Facebook, watch YouTube videos, see scores of your favorite games, and even check the weather and the stock market right on your TV.
Does all this sound amazing to you? If you are as excited as I was to hear about this new interface and want to get it as soon as possible, follow along. The process of manually updating your receiver to this new interface is relatively easy, but there are a few things you need to be aware of.
How to download the new DirecTV software
First of all, you need an HD receiver or an HD DVR to get this update. SD boxes are not supported by the new interface. If you’ve got an HD box, these easy instructions are all you need. Downloading the new software can only happen during specific time windows. If you try to follow these instructions at any other time than the times listed, your receiver will “update,” but instead of the new interface, it will just be the current national release of the old version.
The time that you can download the new update is between 11:00 PM and 2:30 AM EST, on Friday and Saturday nights. If you are on the West Coast, that’s between 8:00 PM and 11:30 PM. Take a seat on your couch during this time, turn on your TV and receiver, and grab the remote.
First, you’ll want to restart the receiver. On your remote, press Menu and then go to Parental, Favorites & Settings -> System Setup > Reset -> Restart Receiver. Press the Dash (-) button to confirm the restart. From here, you’ll want to keep a close eye on the receiver itself and its LED lights.
The blue LEDs will turn off when the receiver has shut down completely. Once this happens, make sure you have your remote in your hand, as you will have to be quick to trigger the download. Once the LEDs on the front of the receiver come back on or the first blue screen is displayed on your TV, whichever occurs first, press the following buttons on your remote, in this order, with about a half second to a second in between each press: 0 2 4 6 8. Press the number keys deliberately, allowing about a half second per press. Do not hold the keys down. Make sure that you press only the five numbers, one at a time, and nothing else.
After a few minutes, once your receiver boots, you should be taken to a blue screen that announces and goes through the 10-20 minute download and verification cycle. At this point you just need to wait it out, and do not touch anything. Your receiver will download and reboot twice, and after the second reboot, you will be presented with your new guide interface. It’s that easy!
What if something goes wrong?
Since you are essentially downloading a preview release of this new software, its not guaranteed to be 100% stable and perfect. If there are too many bugs or you don’t like the new interface version, you can easily revert back to the older version. The process for doing this is exactly the same as the process for downloading the new version, only you have to follow these steps at a time outside of the windows posted above. So if you downloaded the preview release on Friday and don’t like it, follow the steps again on Saturday morning to revert back to the classic interface.
Over all, this interface is fantastic for me and a huge improvement over the older version. I updated a few weeks ago and have not even thought of going back; I’ve been enjoying the new slick graphics and better navigation options entirely too much. For more, here’s a video from DirecTV going over the enhancements.