The HR34 hasn't been around that long, but DirecTV is showing the replacement at CES, the HR44. The new box does just about everything the HR34 does, including record five HD shows at once to a 1TB hard drive, but in a smaller package. The small package also happens to be almost fan less -- there is an emergency fan that is designed to only turn on in extreme cases -- and has a faster chip. This speed improvement is noticeable on both the main TV in your house, as well as on the various clients. Speaking of which, in addition to the DirecTV C31 set-top box and 2012 Samsung HDTVs, the new 2013 Samsung and Sony HDTVs -- as well as the PS3 -- can also connect directly to the HR44 (and older HR34) and deliver the entire DirecTV Genie experience. Inside you'll find integrated WiFi, but no internal power supply. We're told that an external power supply helps keep the heat down inside, and you can see in the images below, there are large heat sinks either side and a heat pump to cool the processor. No word on price, but we'd suspect it'll be the same as the HR34 -- free for new customers, up to $300 for existing -- and we could only nail them down to "this year" in regards to availability.
In what could even be called a bigger change, is the new remote. A new simpler design, it fits perfectly in the hand. We have to say it is a sight for sore eyes to see a remote with less buttons, but we're sure more than a few people will complain about missing their favorite button. The volume and channel rockers are very small and notable. They actually click as they are pushed up and down proving great feedback, even when you aren't looking at it. We'll have to wait until we can use it for more than a moment before we're ready to say this simpler design is actually superior, but we like the direction they're going here.
DirecTV HR44 whole-home DVR hands-onSee all photos