Will a Standard DirecTV Satellite Box Work With HDTV?

By Brian Flax

You'll need an HD receiver and satellite dish to receive DirecTV HD programming.
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As of November 2013, DirecTV offers six different receivers you can lease to view programming depending on your needs. DirecTV's standard receiver will work with a high-definition television but won't display content in HD. If you choose to lease a standard receiver, you won't have access to digital video recording capabilities, on-demand programming or the ability to connect your receiver with an HDMI cable.

Connecting to an HDTV

DirecTV's standard receiver will output video only in standard resolution, even if you connect it to an HDTV. The receiver can be connected to any TV with an S-Video input, composite input, coaxial cable or by modulator switch. The standard receiver cannot be connected to an HDTV via HDMI. The standard receiver features two stereo outputs, so you won't have access to digital audio or surround sound capabilities. DirecTV's standard receiver works best with a standard-definition television.

Additional Features

If you connect a standard DirecTV receiver to an HDTV, you'll still have access to the receiver's features. In addition to 100 percent digital television, you'll have access to an electronic program guide, parental controls, favorites list and real-time sports scores. By connecting your receiver to an active phone line, you'll have access to caller ID and call logs. Although you won't be able to record programs, you can set a timer to automatically tune to a channel during a scheduled time. You can also search the program guide by keyword, title, person or channel.

High-Definition Features

If you own an HDTV and want access to DirecTV's HD programming and features, you'll have to lease an HD receiver, DVR, Tivo, HD DVR, or Genie system. DirecTV's HD receiver will display content up to 1080i, depending on the capabilities of your TV. If you own a home theater, you can access Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound by connecting via HDMI or digital output. You'll also have access to the HD electronic program guide and 3-D programming with a compatible 3-D television and glasses.

Recording Programs

If you want to record programs, you'll need to upgrade to a DirecTV DVR receiver, Tivo HD DVR, HD DVR receiver or Genie system. The standard DirecTV DVR receiver will record and display channels only in standard definition. You'll need to lease the Tivo HD DVR, HD DVR receiver or Genie system if you'd like to record programs in HD. You'll also need an HD-capable satellite dish installed on the outside of your home to receive HD programming.