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DISH Hopper DVR System Review

by Jack Berkins on May 9, 2012

DISH Hopper System

In an effort to compete with DIRECTV’s multiple room DVR, DISH recently released their new whole-home DVR system, aptly named Hopper. Essentially, it consists of a primary DVR box with a variety of smaller “Joey” receivers for each of your TVs. From bigger hard drive space to simultaneous recording and playback, the entire system packs quite a punch. Here’s a rundown of its main features:

Whole-home DVR Capabilities

The single biggest perk with Hopper is the ability to control every aspect of your DVR network from ANY television. That is, you can record, pause and rewind live TV from any receiver in your home…and move around to different rooms and pick up right where you left off.

Right out of the box, you’re able to record up to six different HD channels at the same time (unless you have a large family, you probably won’t ever have six simultaneous recordings going, but it’s nice to have if/when). Specifically, you can stream up to four different channels on four different TVs, with another two recording in the background.

With their new PrimeTime Anytime functionality, you can watch nearly any favorite local show (on ABC, NBC, FOX, etc), whenever you want it. The convenient bit is it’s a real-time stream, so it doesn’t take up hard drive space. Hopper automatically saves local programs for up to 8 days after their original airing, so if you want to keep one longer, just make sure you record it.

Space Like Never Before

If you’ve ever maxed out the space on your DVR, you know how frustrating it can be to have to delete old shows (or worse, have the system automatically do it for you). It’s even more important these days with a larger percentage of programming being broadcast in the highest quality HD, that takes up GBs at a time. With the Hopper, you get an impressive 2 TB of recording hours. In our tests, the hard drive was very responsive, without a noticeable delay during heavy navigation and/or filtering.

Save Time with a Cleaner Interface

With all the new features, a completely new interface was a must and Hopper didn’t disappoint. With a gray and blue palette (not my favorite, but it’s integrated nicely with all the other elements), each screen is clean and fairly intuitive. My barometer with new on-screen displays tends to be whether I can immediately dive in without having to reference the manual. With Hopper, it took a couple minutes to get a gauge for the organization and hierarchy of things (not surprisingly since there are multiple boxes involved), but once I mastered it, I found the layout and buttons a breeze to use/understand. Kudos to their engineers.

Go Mobile with Sling

Sling is a standalone (and 3rd party) box that lets you access your TV from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection. Not all DVRs or equipment from TV providers are compatible with Sling, but DISH made certain their new system takes full advantage of it. You simply connect the small Sling box to the back of your Hopper and you’re fully mobile. It literally lets you control the Hopper as if you were standing in your living room with remote in hand – if you’re on the road a lot, consider adding Sling to get full access to your system 24/7.

Bottom Line

Over the past 5 years, we’ve used nearly every DVR series from each of the major TV providers. With each new edition, there tends to be a twist to a current feature and more rarely, a novel approach to the recording/management process. Hopper brings a lot of the latter and it’s quite a coup for DISH. It’s already won a few awards (CNET, CES, etc.) and if the buzz we continue to hear is any indication, it’ll be a mainstay for years. Not all DISH packages include it, so double-check before you sign up or explore the qualifying packages below.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Hunter May 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Of all the features mentioned the Primetime Anytime feature has done the most for my family. We used to have nightly arguments over what shows we wanted to record because the old DVR could only do 2 shows at a time which just didn’t work for the 4 of us. Now that we can record 6 shows at once we are more than covered. Now the only nightly argument is over what’s for dinner.

Johan May 31, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I have a VIP 722K and I recently got the Sling Adapter and I don’t have any regrets about it. I love how I can watch my TV no matter where I’m at. It’s easy to use, convienient when I really need it and I would highly recommend people try it out. I got it as soon as it launched and I haven’t had any issues with it thus far! As soon as it launched I was all over it and I’m not looking back!

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