Streaming from a DVR is a great way to watch whatever you want, wherever you want. Some even say that streaming might be the future of video. But there are plenty of times when a Wi-Fi signal isn’t available, and even the best cell coverage doesn’t include the whole country. Forget it if you’re in an airplane. Or on a boat. Or a deserted island. You get the idea. DirecTV recognizes that many people have hours and hours of entertainment stuck on their DVRs with no way to watch when they’re isolated offline.
The nomad ($150, available only to current DirecTV customers with an HD DVR connected to the Internet ) is a transcoder that takes the content on a DirecTV HD DVR, converts it to a file size compatible with mobile devices and PC’s, and then copies that file to up to 5 devices. So the whole family can get the same program. The nomad will only copy to the devices when they’re in the same home network as the DVR. That means you can’t wait until you discover your flight is going to be in a holding pattern to copy to your iPhone. But, advance planning pays off. You can store up to 20 hours of material on your portable device, and you can add storage to the nomad itself. It has 16 GB of storage, but you can add more through its USB connection. More fine print: you can’t transcode pay-per-view or on-demand selections and you can only store the content on your mobile device for 30 days. Gotta love the lawyers.
It’s not fast either. The transcoding takes place in almost real time, but transferring to your device is faster. So an hour-long show takes about an hour to transcode, and then about 10 minutes to transfer. However, you can set it up in advance to automatically transcode a show so it’s ready to push as soon as it’s done airing. Currently, the system works with PC’s, iPhones and the iPod Touch, but DirecTV is working on Android apps, and the iPad and Mac.
The nomad is a really cool way to finally get a chance to clear out your DVR. How many unwatched hours of programming do you have on your DVR? Book a nice long cruise and finally empty that thing!
Leslie Shapiro has been an audio engineer for 25 years, with experience in television, film, and the music industry. She is also a member of NARAS, which gives her the coveted privilege of voting for the Grammy Awards.