With a load of features, the DISH Hopper satellite set top box may be one of the best digital TV recorders available today. It's a DVR that can record up to 6 shows at the same time. It can also record primetime shows on NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox every night so you don't miss recording any of your favorite TV shows. At home, you can start watching a show in one room and then continue watching it in another room. When you are away from home, you can watch live TV or any of your recordings on a laptop, smartphone or tablet. If that's not enough, you can stream Blockbuster movies from online, and watch video on demand. And for those people who don't have fast Internet, Dish offers satellite internet service that is fast enough to stream high definition movies.
What is a DISH Hopper?
The Hopper is satellite provider DISH Network's most recent set-top box model. It receives the satellite channels and has a built-in Digital Video Recorder (DVR) to record TV programs for you to watch whenever you want. The Hopper gets its name from the new DISH kangaroo logo. (The new head of DISH Network came from RCA where they had the black and white dog mascots—Nipper and Chipper—that were pictured in the logo with cocked head listening to a gramaphone.) Knowing where the Hopper name originates makes it easier to understand that the satellite TV receivers for the other rooms in your house are called Joeys (baby Kangaroos). The Joeys communicate with the main Hopper but are simply connecting to the Hopper to display anything you want to watch. The idea is that of a "whole home DVR," where you can start watching in one room then access the show from a TV in another room.
Many of the TV shows we want to record are shown on the major networks—NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox during the 8 pm to 11 pm primetime hours. The Hopper can record all of the TV shows on these four channels and make them available for up to 8 days after they have been recorded so you never miss a recent episode any primetime show on these channels (including those you didn't know you wanted to watch in advance).
If PrimeTime Anytime is not enough recorded TV, there is still room to record two more shows of your choosing during primetime (or 6 total shows at any other time of day). Plus, the Hopper's 2 TB hard drive can store up to 2000 hours of video.
AutoHop Past Commercial Breaks
If you wait until the next day to watch a recorded show, you may never have to watch a commercial again. Click "yes" to enable AutoHop when you begin watching a TV show, and the Hopper will automatically skip past all of the commercial breaks during the episode. This feature has been awarded the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show Innovations Award.
Slingbox and TV Everywhere
With TV Everywhere, you can watch your Hopper wherever you may roam using the DISH app on your smartphone or tablet, or on your laptop's web browser. Choose to watch live TV, any show recorded on your DVR, or available Videos on Demand. We were stuck in traffic and didn't get home from in time to see one of the Worlds Series Games, but passengers in my car were able to watch the game on my iPhone while on the road. Note that a device called a Slingbox is required to stream from the Hopper outside the home.
But Wait! There's More Features
In the six months that I have had the Hopper, many features have been added. There have been several apps added (like those found on a media streamer) including video clip apps for Access Hollywood, MSNBC, and NBC Sports. There are also apps for Pandora and the Weather Channel, and you can even Tweet or access Facebook from the Hopper. Another new feature is a listing of what's popular in TV and movies, accessed by clicking on "What's Hot."
Recent upgrades added Bluetooth capabilities so you can use your Bluetooth headphones to watch TV without disturbing others. But my favorite feature is one that has been available from the first day they put in my Hopper. There is a remote control locator. Press a button on the Hopper and the remote will beep so you can find where it is hiding under the sofa cushions or behind a chair.
With all of these features, you may wonder how well it performs and if it's easy to use. I'll review the Hopper and Joey's and give new users some tips in my next story.