Get More Out of Your DirectTV Remote
The TV remote control is, arguably, the most iconic representation of sloth known to man. We’re going to show you tips to get even more out of your remote and take your channel surfing to a whole new level. I’m going to concentrate on the DirectTV Remote as it is the one currently occupying my coffee table, but many of these tricks will work with other systems.
Getting Started With Your DirectTV remote
We all know how to turn the TV on using the remote included with the set, but did you know you can program your cable/satellite remote to also turn on your TV at the same time? One button push, two devices fire up! Sweet! Read How to Program Your Cable or Satellite Remote to Work With Your TV to see details.
The referenced article also shows how to program your cable/satellite remote to control the sound on an AV receiver when watching TV. The DirectTV remote can control up to 3 devices - in addition to the DirectTV receiver. The slide toggle at the top of the remote is how you switch between, and control, individual components. Remember to slide the toggle back to DirectTV after everything is fired up.
When I turn the Tube on, I either want to surf live TV or watch something I have recorded. By surf live TV, I usually mean surfing through the guide.
Let’s say you want to change the screen format for some reason. The Format button on the top will cycle through the different aspect ratio’s and zoom settings for the DirectTV output. This is different than the format function for the TV itself. This setting affects only the signal that the DirectTV box is sending to your TV. Make sure that both the TV and the DirectTV settings match. This has the potential for signal confusion and can cause problems with how your shows are displayed.
What to watch?
When I turn the Tube on, I either want to surf live TV or watch something I have recorded. By surf live TV, I usually mean surfing through the guide. There are some neat tricks you can use with the guide that aren’t immediately evident.
When surfing, instead of using a direction key to move a single line at a time, you can use the Channel Up/Down button, to skip one full screen at a time. This means that you can surf 5 lines with each button press!
When in the guide, in addition to using the Left and Right arrow buttons to move a half hour at a time, there are also short cuts for jumping forward or backwards in time. The Green button lets you skip ahead 12 hours at a time, and the Red button lets you skip back 12 hours. This is especially handy if you want to see what is on tomorrow or if you're deciding whether to watch a recorded show now or later. You can also use this tool to check which shows are set to record at any given time.
Pressing the Yellow button while in the guide screen will pull up a mini-menu. The mini menu lets you sort by category, jump to a specific date and time, change your favorite channels list, or see on-demand titles.
Sorting by category is a great way to surf sports shows, news, movies, etc. without going through all of the channels in between. This tool can be a great time saver if you know the category of a show, but not the specific channel on which it is airing.
The jump to a specific time and date option is great for when you see a commercial for a new show that piques your interest. You can pause the live TV at the point when the ad says the show will air, then use this search option to go to the proper place in the guide to record the show. When you get there, a shortcut for recording is to simply press the Record button on the remote, just like you used to do with your VCR – remember those? Pressing the Record button once will record only that show, pressing Record twice will set the DVR to record the series. Now press Escape, un-pause the live show and you are back to enjoying what you were watching.
Selecting Change Your Favorite Channels lets you edit the favorite channel screen. You can change where channels appear in the three by three grid, and add or delete channels. If you haven’t loaded any favorite channels to this screen, you can do so by simply pressing the Up Arrow while watching the channel you want to add, then select the position you want to put the channel in the grid and press Enter. The favorite channel screen lets you skip to one of nine pre-selected channels with a single button press. Once you have the favorite channel grid filled in, pressing the Up Arrow shows the grid. Then just move the highlight over the channel you want and press OK. Boom, you are on that channel.
The final selection in the mini menu lets you surf on demand shows. This is pretty self-explanatory.
The Blue button gives you a single line guide over the top of the show you are watching. This option is nice for casual surfing without the background show scrunching down to the tiny box up in the corner.
The DVR: Watching recorded shows
When watching a show that you have recorded on your DVR, most of you know about skipping forward and backward with the >>| and |<< buttons. The Fast Forward jump button skips ahead 25 seconds and the Rewind jump skips back 10 seconds. You probably also know that you can push the button multiple times to add the fast forward or rewind jumps. I like to count the number of times to push the Fast Forward button to skip a series of commercials during a show I am watching. The next commercial break, I push the Fast Forward jump button the same number of times to skip all of the commercials at once.
The regular fast forward >> and rewind << buttons act just like you think they would. They increase the speed of playback or rewind the show. Pressing either button more than once will increase the speed of the FF or REW. Each additional press of the button will double the FF or REW speed. DirectTV lets you double the speed four times.
If you want to skip ahead or back faster than four times the normal viewing speed, there is a trick for this too. First press the fast forward button >> then, while the program is fast forwarding, press the fast forward skip button >>|. This combination will skip the show ahead fifteen minutes. This trick is handy for finding where you stopped watching (in my case, it’s usually to go to bed) and someone else continued watching a show through to the end. I use this trick to get close to where I left off and then scan using FF or REW from there. The rewind function works the same way, but with the Rewind and Rewind Skip buttons. The little bar that pops up at the bottom of the screen when you fast forward or rewind has little tick marks to let you know where the fifteen minute breaks are.
I usually go out of my way to skip watching commercials. The exception to this is during the Super Bowl. The ads during the super bowl are sometimes better than the game itself.
When scanning through your recorded shows in your list, you can also use the Channel Up/Down trick to skip down a page of titles at a time. When you select a show that has a lot of episodes recorded, you can use the same trick. If you are checking the episodes out and want to go back up a level to the titles, you can navigate to the title and press Select again or use the Left directional control button. Pressing the Left directional control will continue to take you up a level until you are all the way out of the List and back to the show.
The DVR: Watching live TV
I usually go out of my way to skip watching commercials. The exception to this is during the Super Bowl. The ads during the super bowl are sometimes better than the game itself. Skipping commercials is tough to do when watching a sports broadcast as it airs. To get around this, I will often watch something I have recorded, or another channel while the sporting event is recording. After about 20 minutes or so, I then switch to the recording of the game. This way I have roughly an hours’ worth of commercials that I can skip over. By the end of the game, I am usually just about caught up with the live broadcast.
Sometimes, when watching sports, I want to go back and look at a particular play. I sometimes pause the recording right at the point that I want to see if the foot is in-bounds, the foul occurred, etc. The problem is the status bar that pops up on the bottom of the screen. If you simply press Exit, the bar disappears and you can see the entire picture again.
Did you know that DirectTV has Apps? Pressing Right Arrow will bring up the DirectTV App menu. Note, Apps may not be available if you do not have your DVR connected to the internet. The Apps are Fantasy, ScoreGuide, Weather, What’s Hot and Life Shield (Home Security).
The Fantasy option lets you keep track of individual player stats while you are watching another program/game. Select this option, then load your fantasy players into the app. Now you can see when your quarterback throws a touchdown or your running back racks up big yardage.
The ScoreGuide does the same thing with game scores. Select this option, then select the games you want to keep an eye on. Now the scores will be visible on the right side of the screen.
The Weather option is pretty self-explanatory.
What’s Hot will give you the most watched channels in several different categories. You can choose from the geographic region you live in, National, Movies, or Sports.
Life Shield is a security service that has an additional fee associated with it. This service lets you access your security cameras through the DirectTV App or view them on-screen while watching TV.
The remote control allows us to relax in front of the tube in a way that couldn’t have been imagined back in the early days of television. Using all of the available features that are built in to today’s systems, lets us do so with style! Imagine the look on your buddies face when you bust out a slick feature that they didn’t know existed. Yep, you just went there!
About Brian Hill
Brian Hill is a home theater enthusiast who has an extensive background in sales. His interests include music & movies, F1 & NASCAR auto racing, hot rods (he has a '56 Nomad) and hockey — Go Sharks!
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