What is RVU? You’ll want to know

February 13th, 2013 · 10 Comments · Connected TVs, Digital Media Receivers, LED LCD Flat Panels, News, Plasma, Satellite TV

RVU final 580

We have all long desired to be able to hang a TV on the wall and watch our favorite programs without the need of a bulky set-top box sitting somewhere nearby.

Thanks to RVU, that day has finally come.

RVU (pronounced R View) is a software protocol that permits a source, such as a satellite DVR, to send television network programming to your HDTV without a cable. The only wire you’ll need to see your favorite programs on a RVU compatible HDTV is the power cord.

This year Samsung will offer this feature in all of its 2013 (F series) Smart TVs. Sony will be offering it on all of its 2013 “R550” series models. (For more on these, check out our Sony 2013 HDTV coverage).

How It Works

The system requires a RVU compliant source box (such as a DVR). This is used as a “server” to send your TV programming over your home network to a RVU-compliant TV. What makes it “RVU-compliant?” Specific software that turns it into a device called a “thin client” and emulates a source box’s functionality without a physical box. Once you acquire all the pieces all you need to do is plug the TV into an AC outlet.

RVU Alliance_RVU Open Network Diagram 580

What You’ll Need

DirecTV is the first (and so far only) announced program provider to offer RVU. Fortunately, DirecTV service is available nationwide. If you have/get DirecTV, you’ll need to also get one of the RVU-compliant DVRs. The current model is the HR34 Genie. It’s a 5-tuner DVR that allows you to connect it up to 4 RVU-compliant TVs permitting each to view any subscribed program via tuners 2-5. It sells $299 from DirecTV.

The DVR is set-up in any room in your home, connected to your home network (see diagram). You’ll need the DirecTV Cinema Connection kit, if you want to connect via Wi-Fi from the HR34 to your router (you can hard-wire the DVR to your network but obviously this requires an Ethernet cable). The kit is available from DirecTV and includes a Wi-Fi box that attaches to the HR 34.

A DirecTV representative told HD Guru they’ll begin rolling out a new Genie model in a few weeks called the HR44. It has the Wi-Fi built-in, a new remote control and faster menu changes thanks to quicker processing. The box itself is much smaller than the HR34, measuring a mere 12.5”x1.5”x9.5” (wxhxd).

Once connected to the satellite dish and home network (and activated), the DVR’s tuner and recordings can be accessed via a DirecTV RF wireless remote control when using an RVU compatible TV. The RVU software emulates the DirecTV user interface for seamless operation of all DVR functions including play, fast-forward, skip as well as guide and program information.

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Costs

While a TV’s RVU-interface is only software, its presence has not precluded DirecTV from creating a “virtual DVR” monthly fee of $6.00 per active RVU TV. As in, each RVU-enabled TV you want to use will cost an additional $6 a month. DirecTV also charges all subscribers  a single $8.00 a month per home DVR fee, as well as a $3.00 a month whole-home fee if any DirecTV DVR is networked to other DirecTV receivers. These monthly charges go on top of the DirecTV subscription costs. So, for example, you have the main DVR, three RVU-enabled TVs, all hooked up over WiFi, it will cost you $29 a month, on top of whatever programming/channel fees you pay.

For existing subscribers there is also a one-time installation fee of $50 for the Genie DVR and a charge of $25-$99 for the Wi-Fi DirecTV Cinema kit. The upcoming HR44 Genie built-in Wi-Fi does not require the kit. However DirecTV has not yet released the price of the new model.  New subscribers get all the hardware with the install for free with 2 year commitment, go to DirecTV for details.

Sony PlayStation 3

According to an RVUalliance.org press release, Sony plans an update of the PS3 this year to turn it into a “RVU thin client,” letting you control and watch your DirecTV DVR from the console. We contacted Sony press relations as to when the PS3 will receive the RVU firmware upgrade but to date we have not received a response.

More To Come

The RVU Alliance is an organization made up of program providers including Verizon and DirecTV as well as TV makers and equipment companies. A RVU spokesperson told HD Guru that their software is free to TV manufacturers, meaning it shouldn’t add to the cost of a Smart TV. According to the RVUalliance.org website and press releases, the following 2011 Samsung models are RVU-compatible: D6400 and D6420 Series.

Further HDGuru research has found the following 2012 and 2013 TVs are also RVU-compliant:

2012 Samsung LED LCD ES Series Smart TVs: 6550, 6580, 6900, 7100,7 150, 7550 and 8000-series

2012 Samsung Plasma E Series: 550, 6500-series

2013 Samsung LED LCD F Series Smart TVs: 6300, 6400, 6800,7100,7050,7450,7500, 8000, 9000-series

2013 Samsung Plasma F Series: 5500, 8500-series

2013 Sony R550 Series LED LCD

 

We’ve asked DirecTV for a sample of its HR44 and we’ll also get our hands on a RVU-compatible TV and publish a review soon after they’re acquired.

 

 

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • Victor

    I don’t understand why people complain about things but never do anything about it. I to was always trying to find ways to save money on cable and satellite so I got an over the air antenna subscribed to netflix and hulu-plus now I’m paying $16.00 a month and I get everything I neednand RVU sounds like it has alot of bugs still.

  • MikeM

    I was thinking the Extra cost was for the box. If they (Directv) are not providing a box then why should you pay the extra $6?

  • Francis Salzano

    Want to learn more.

  • kristi

    How do they know you are accessing with a RVU tv in the first place?

  • Tony White

    I have a Samsung F7550 and ordered the whole home package from DirecTV. It works very well, and the TV is REALLLy impressive. The connection to the HR RVU server when you first start up is slow (on the order of 15 sec.) – sort of like waiting for the tubes to warm up in the 60s. Also the 30-second fast forward and the 10-second rewind functions, used to zip back and forth through commercials, sometimes get confused and lock stuff up. A little foolin’ around usually deconfuses it, though. The sound can NOT be synchronized between TVs – there’s usually a second or two delay between two sets watching the same program. Aside from those couple of little surprises, it works well. The cost was a bit distressing, but DirecTV isn’t in the business to lose money. Competition should eventually drive down the cost. One can only hope.

  • Sue

    I just bought one of these TVs. I am getting ready to order Direct TV. I would have never guessed we’d still have to pay a fee for a receiver for that TV is it was built in. That’s interesting

  • William

    Direct TV = greedy scum

  • Rodney

    Paying the $6 fee is essentially the same as paying for an additional receiver each month except the receiver is built into the TV. You can’t really expect DirecTV to take the revenue loss because the ‘receiver’ is built into the TV already. If I replaced all 3 of my additional TV’s & receivers with SmarTV’s, they would lose money if they weren’t charging that fee.

  • Kyle

    It is completely unfair for Directv to charge for the RVU service. I bought the HR34 upgrade and then bought a TV with the RVU capability. I have already spent enough money to use free software. I already pay for Whole home dvr I should have to pay for RVU. Infact the whole advantage of using RVU was to not have to pay the extra fees to have a set to box. Directv needs to re-evaluate charging a fee for RVU we are already paying enough to have the capable technology. Just because someone created technology that gets around Directv’s normal ways of adding service to another channel doesn’t mean they should be able to exploit their customers $6.00/month is a joke.

  • Matt

    Do you think this will affect PQ with the wireless transmission?

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