Dish Hopper entire-residence DVR evaluation
A brand new DVR with a by no means-earlier than-seen function does not come round day-after-day, and if it is the type of amenity that works in each room of the home, with out compromise, then we simply have to evaluation it. What would make the record? Attempt the Dish Hopper entire-residence DVR, which may report six exhibits directly. In fact, there are specs and advertising claims, after which there’s actual-world efficiency. Is that this set-prime field every thing we might have dreamed of? There’s just one method to discover out: you will have to satisfy us previous the break and take a stroll by way of our full evaluation.
Dish Hopper entire-house DVR
- Constant expertise in each room
- 2TB of capability with an exterior storage choice
- PrimeTime Anytime is a good way to find new content material
- Unimpressive consumer interface
- Odd distant format
- No constructed-in over-the-air tuner
Though the Hopper gives some distinctive options you possibly can’t discover anyplace else, it leaves massive-sufficient holes to stop us from calling it our favourite.
Normal DVR disclaimer
Any time we write a DVR assessment we’ve got to remind ourselves that the world we reside in does not afford most individuals the posh of selecting a DVR. What we imply is that often DVRs and their software program are tied to particular suppliers, and thus aren’t out there to everybody. So our questions in a DVR evaluate are two-fold: would we change to a supplier who provided this DVR? And the way does it examine to third-celebration choices like Home windows Media Middle or TiVo?Hardware
The Hopper is an effective-wanting and solidly constructed field, with nearly each enter and output on the again you’d anticipate on a DVR. Solely a single coax enter is required from the satellite tv for pc, and there is an eSATA port for including exterior storage to enrich the 2TB of constructed-in area (half of which is on your use). Because it occurs, that inner drive may also be used to switch recordings out of your previous Dish DVR. There are each HDMI and element HD outputs right here, in addition to the previous-faculty pink, white and yellow for the Luddites. For no matter purpose, the designers caught two Ethernet jacks on right here. Lastly, as with most DVRs, the facility provide is inner.
General, the Hopper is strictly what you’d anticipate a DVR to be: about the identical measurement and weight, and adorned with a shiny end that may simply mix into your property theater setup. On one finish there is a USB port (with two extra ‘spherical again) and on the opposite is a door, behind which you will discover a sensible card slot and some important buttons like energy and reset. Lastly, two LEDs sit within the middle to point when the field is on or if it is recording. Fortunately, neither of those is distracting or loopy shiny. There are nonetheless a couple of hardware options but to be explored, like Bluetooth for headphones and Zigbee for distant management (presently that function solely works with the included distant). There’s an IR enter for legacy programmable remotes, however no HDMI-CEC to simplify setup or IP management to combine with house automation controllers. The opposite hardware function coming quickly is an non-compulsory over-the-air tuner, which we think about a requirement for anybody who watches PBS (Dish does not carry PBS HD in all markets, don’tcha know).
The little multi-room shopper, often known as the Joey, is simply what you’d need in a streamer: compact, light-weight and replete with numerous mounting choices. Its small detachable base has holes good for wall-mounting or to wire tie it to the again of an HDTV. The bottom might be hooked up to the Joey vertically or horizontally, and might be hooked up after the mount has been fixed to make the set up simpler. The outputs are far more sparse than on the Hopper, however whereas element HD outputs are lacking, optical audio, HDMI and Ethernet are all there. In contrast to the Hopper, the Joey has a wall-wart energy provide. The coax is used to stream content material from the Hopper for multi-room viewing, however an Ethernet connection to your community continues to be required for issues like DLNA, some video on demand providers and interacting with the smartphone and pill app remotes. If you cannot join the Ethernet, you should purchase the elective Hopper Web Connector to bridge the IP between MoCA to Ethernet because the Hopper cannot do it; commonplace MoCA bridges aren’t suitable. One final function value mentioning is SRS TruVolume (additionally provided on the Hopper), which helps spare you the ache of loud commercials.
We have by no means met a supplier distant we appreciated, and those belonging to the Hopper and Joey are not any totally different.
We have by no means met a supplier distant we favored, and those belonging to the Hopper and Joey are not any totally different. It a minimum of makes for a expertise, although, because the similar distant works for each the Hopper and the Joey (labels are included within the field to assist distinguish them) and we love the best way Dish made use of the 2-means Zigbee RF management to keep away from IR and in addition to simplify the distant-programming course of. Right here, you will use on-display menus to save lots of your self from programming the distant by getting into codes on the keypad. This additionally is useful for serving to discover the distant, in case you misplace it. Talking of which, though the distant controls the Dish and Hopper by way of RF, there’s an IR emitter to regulate your TV, disc participant or AV receiver. That is the excellent news. The dangerous information is the format could not be any extra annoying. One oddity we’re unsure we will ever modify to is combining the up and down arrows from the D-pad with the channel up and down.
One other unorthodox contact are the quantity buttons, which are not stacked on prime of one another, however as an alternative sit aspect by aspect — and on the prime of the distant, of all locations. There are additionally two energy buttons, one for the TV and one for the receiver, though we’re unsure why anybody would use the Dish distant to activate one and never the opposite — one more reason we want it had HDMI-CEC. The transport buttons decide up the place the navigation buttons left off with separate pause and play buttons, despite the fact that the centrally situated pause button can be used to un-pause (or play, in case you favor). We would not go as far as to say you cannot get used to it, although, and because the distant resembles remotes Dish has issued prior to now, we’re positive present clients will really feel proper at house.
Now for the great things: the DVR button is entrance and middle the place different suppliers put shortcuts to their video on demand service (the Dish VOD button is on the button proper). That DVR button will toggle between recorded TV, timers, scheduled recordings and PrimeTime Anytime content material, so it is fairly useful. Only a bit above that, however nonetheless within the middle, is the search button, which makes it straightforward to seek for upcoming exhibits, in addition to issues which might be in the midst of airing or have been beforehand recorded. Talking of search, the standard on-display keyboard is current, however the quantity keys even have the T9 fashion letter labels so you should use that for search as an alternative.Consumer interface
When you beloved the Dish 922 information and consumer interface, then you are going to love the Hopper: it is principally the identical factor. For those who recall, the 922 was initially introduced to have a distant with a touchpad and whereas we have put it out of our minds, the Dish builders haven’t. What we imply is that the consumer interface is clearly nonetheless based mostly on it, however is navigated with a D-pad. The primary navigation menus and even the recorded TV display calls to thoughts Finder or Home windows Explorer. Want the record or detailed view? Robust luck.
Additionally like most computer systems, there is a cursor to point out what you are about to pick. You possibly can select the dimensions and the colour of it, however you possibly can’t select one other approach to spotlight objects. As for navigating, some DVRs use the left button to return, others have a again button, the Dish DVR has cancel. This is sensible, however in some situations it does not take you again the place you have been and it’s a must to use left as an alternative, different occasions it takes you again however not precisely the place you have been. This is usually a bit annoying at first till you determine which is which, and if that is not utterly clear, there’s additionally a cease button, that will not prevent from the spoiler window, to shortly cope with a recorded present you are carried out with. There are additionally a couple of hotkeys that remind us of an older Nokia UI, like menu+menu, to go on to system information.
Past primary navigation there are a number of different mentionable options that do not match within the following sections. There’s the power to regulate for over-scan in addition to a way to backup and restore some settings (however not recordings). There’s not an choice to move by means of the native decision of the content material except for 1080p24, although. Video on Demand is displayed each as channels and in grids. The grid is not a lot simpler to navigate than the competitors’s, sadly, however you at the least have a simple method to filter out the pay-per-view stuff. The simplest approach to discover issues is to make use of the search button on the distant. These searches can be utilized to seek out any and all media, simply issues from the information, or video on demand. You possibly can even search your recordings, or what’s on proper now (together with simply displaying stay sports activities). The underside line: there isn’t a scarcity of the way to look right here.
As with each different supplier-issued field, what’s lacking are over-the-prime providers like Amazon, Vudu, Netflix and Hulu. We frankly do not anticipate any video service supplier to ever willingly put its competitors on a degree enjoying subject, however there are some DVRs that do, so it is an essential level to notice. That is to not say there are not any apps, as a result of there are a couple of like Fb, Pandora, MSNBC, NBC Sports activities, MLB and even a Twitter shopper. Apps are clearly a must have today, however the restricted choice and typical implementation makes them one thing we expect you’d simply overlook.Information
The grid information shows what’s on six channels for 3 hours and is oddly organized in descending order by default, however you’ll be able to simply right that within the settings. General, it is fairly snazzy, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a typical grid information with a non-detachable spoiler window within the prime left nook. There isn’t any record information to shortly look at upcoming exhibits on one specific channel, and there is additionally no shade-coding for sports activities, information and the like. The recording indicators within the information are a lot appreciated, and one thing no DVR ought to be with out. The channel numbers are listed on the left the place you’d anticipate them, together with spiffy logos sitting simply to the left. The HD channels are marked with massive, virtually clear letters behind the channel quantity.
Sadly, there isn’t any HD indicator on the person packages, however there’s should you hit the data button. The native channels have odd numbers like 003-000 as an alternative of simply three and the HD simulcasts of the SD channels share the identical quantity, the place the HD channel comes on in the event you direct dial it with the distant. There are pre-outlined channel lists to filter the information reminiscent of My Channels, My HD Channels and All Channels and you may customise 4 extra lists — any of which could be set to the default. One fascinating function that we have by no means seen is the power to break down channels into one sq.. That is particularly helpful for the seemingly countless music channels and sports activities packages like NHL Middle Ice — however the function is noticeably not an choice for the 100 channel one Dish Cinema channels. There’s additionally a mini information, which may be summoned by hitting the suitable button and lists what the subsequent two exhibits are approaching a specific channel.
Oh, and there is a new approach to uncover what’s on right here too. Hitting the left button brings you to a browse menu that permits you to select a theme, sub-theme, media supply or schedule. Primarily you possibly can return an icon listing of all of the reside golf occasions which might be on proper now, or all of the animated films which might be arising.Scheduling and managing recordings
Navigating the search outcomes and discovering your approach to a report button includes a bit extra clicking than we might like.
Navigating the search outcomes and discovering your option to a report button includes just a little extra clicking than we might like. One annoying factor is that the outcomes are usually not displayed in an inventory, and the outcomes flip up single episodes as an alternative of exhibits, so these lists are lengthy and considerably complicated. There are recording defaults, fortunately, however the all-essential new and rerun versus first-run-solely is not considered one of them. We’ll speak about PrimeTime Anytime later, however we’ll say this: with out it there are solely three tuners, which suggests you will in all probability run into some programming conflicts — particularly when you do not stay alone. The battle decision display just isn’t considered one of our favorites; actually, it took a little bit of research to even perceive what we have been taking a look at.
Why it is so onerous for DVR builders to offer a easy record of exhibits and allow you to verify any three is past us, however virtually no field maker will get this proper. You’ll be able to, in fact, set priorities to assist the Hopper mechanically resolve conflicts, and both verify the information or the listing of scheduled recordings to see what’s on deck. One factor you can’t do, nevertheless, is choose a present within the information or recorded TV and shortly discover out about upcoming showings. You can choose the present, hit the search button which routinely searches for that present within the information, which lastly returns the newest upcoming episodes for that present. It is not precisely intuitive, although. If there’s one thing you need to document, however you possibly can’t discover it by way of search, the Dish DVR equal of a wishlist or key phrase recording known as Search & Report, which merely data no matter your saved search turns up.
Sufficient about discovering stuff to document; it is lastly time to chill out and watch one thing. The quickest method to do that is to hit the DVR button on the distant and the display turns into crammed with a grid of icons representing what’s obtainable for playback. The purple, inexperienced, yellow and blue buttons on the distant supply fast entry to varied views to help find one thing to observe which incorporates the power to rearrange recordings in folders by title, style or customized folders.
The thought of organizing content material by style is a superb one, however lacking from the genres is comedy and drama. As an alternative all of the TV collection are in a single folder. Sports activities, household and films are there, however the function solely has restricted usefulness so long as the primary classes are lacking. You’ll be able to manually transfer recordings into customized folders, although, separately or in batch utilizing the “Edit All” menu choice — the opposite edit all choices embrace delete, shield or un-shield. The opposite option to handle what exhibits up in customized folders is to configure the vacation spot when scheduling the recording. Customized folders are fairly distinctive for a DVR and appreciated, one other factor lacking that different DVRs do have is the power to show an inventory of recordings. That is particularly odd because it’s attainable to show an inventory of scheduled recordings or timers. One other factor we do not perceive is why this system that is at present recording is displayed on the prime of the grid of icons, no matter in the event you’ve chosen to type by DVR date, alphabetically or by score (view by score is a good way to make sure youngsters’ exhibits are on the prime, since youngsters’s programming is the bottom score).
Every sq. within the grid accommodates a present graphic, in addition to the identify of this system and a quantity to point what number of episodes are in that folder. If you drill down right into a folder, exhibits are displayed in an inventory with the small print of the present on the suitable that features each the recorded date in addition to when the present first aired. Every episode listed additionally exhibits a inexperienced bar to point in the event you’ve watched any of it, and in that case, how a lot. Choosing a present brings you to a context menu the place you will get much more particulars concerning the present, edit, delete or play it again at first or from the place you left off (you’ll be able to hit play as an alternative for faster entry to renew).
Enjoying a present is very similar to another DVR with the standard transport controls, together with cease, which does precisely what you assume, but in addition offers fast entry to a menu permitting you to simply delete the present, resume, watch some reside TV or return to the listing of exhibits (not the place you have been final, sadly). There’s additionally a 30-second skip function, which is what it feels like, and a “skip again” choice that returns you eleven seconds. In both case, hitting skip will not deliver up the scrub bar.
The play and information buttons additionally do not reveal your present level within the present; actually, the one solution to understand how a lot time is left is to pause or the quaint quick ahead or rewind. Talking of which, the quick ahead and rewind are very fast, 300x in reality, which is useful since there is no different method to shortly get to a selected spot in an extended recording — like TiVo’s skip to tick or chaptering on the Verizon DVR. The scrub bar does present how a lot time is left within the present, vs displaying you ways a lot you’ve got watched, which is identical factor sans some math. One factor it does not show, nevertheless, is the present time. So in case you are to know when you can end the present program earlier than it is time for mattress, you will have to press two buttons, pause then information.Watching reside TV
Consider it or not, most individuals nonetheless hit the information button earlier than the DVR button once they sit down to observe TV, so the stay TV expertise is as essential as ever. We have coated the information already, however there are a couple of notable issues about watching Stay TV on the Hopper or Joey. First off, you possibly can all the time shortly get to reside TV from with the devoted View Stay TV button. Altering channels, which takes about three seconds, all the time brings up a channel banner, however some channels have an annoying second banner on the backside.
The primary banner does embrace what you’d anticipate with the addition of the period of time left in this system. Apparently, urgent the data button does not deliver up the channel banner, as an alternative it brings up the complete display translucent information display, which incorporates shortcuts to report the present or create a collection recordings.
The transport buttons work precisely as they do throughout playback of a recording with the addition of the report button offering one press recordings. A second press of the report button provides you the power so as to add a buffer to the top, which is particularly helpful when you determine to report the remainder of a sporting occasion you’re watching (the stay TV buffer isn’t included once you hit the document button). Once more, Dish delivers with some distinctive options with reside TV, together with PIP — sadly PIP is exclusive lately — and a multi-channel recall menu. The PIP works as you may keep in mind and is the one option to keep twin stay buffers. You’ll be able to, in fact, transfer the smaller window wherever you need, change its measurement and shortly change between the 2 streams. You’ll be able to even select to observe one recording and one reside present utilizing devoted PIP buttons on the distant.
We talked about earlier that it’s a must to use PIP as an alternative of the extra acquainted recall button if you’d like twin stay TV buffers, which is just too dangerous due to the very cool multi-channel recall menu. It really works like this: you hit the recall button and as an alternative of immediately switching to the final channel your have been watching, you are met with a menu permitting you to pick from anybody of the previous 4 channels you’ve got watched — don’t be concerned, for those who choose, you possibly can set the recall button to fork within the typical means. One final notice value mentioning is that in case you occur to be watching reside TV when a scheduled recording is about to start out, you’re given a 30-second warning with the choice to cancel the recording or permit the DVR to vary the channel.PrimeTime Anytime
No doubt probably the most fascinating function of the Hopper is what Dish calls PrimeTime Anytime (PTA) — a function so cool our first thought was it was solely a matter of time till the networks file go well with. In short, its mission is to retool the DVR expertise in order that it requires even much less forethought. What we imply is that as a lot as we love DVRs, the planning and configuration required to benefit from it’s basically totally different from the historically passive expertise TV-watching is meant to be. That each one ends with PTA, which you activate with a single setting and which opens your present viewing choices to every part that aired on the large 4 broadcast networks prior to now eight days.
This is the way it works: Dish broadcasts the 4 main networks on a single satellite tv for pc transponder. This enables the Hopper to make use of a single tuner to seize all 4 streams on the similar time, whereas liberating up the opposite two tuners for different duties. Successfully this provides the Hopper the power to report six exhibits directly throughout primetime. As a result of these are the identical 4 networks that sometimes solely broadcast their programming as soon as, it is the time with probably the most DVR conflicts. It’s a single setting as a result of Dish units which channels are included (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) and defines the time itself. Monday via Saturday, the recordings begin at 7:fifty five PM and finish at eleven:08 PM; on Sunday, programming begins at 6:fifty five PM. This isn’t configurable in any method and you may’t set an additional buffer to cope with the CBS Sunday night time drawback — no CBS, nobody is anticipating 60 Minutes to start out at 7PM. PTA is routinely prolonged if the present runs previous eleven PM in accordance with the information, although, so within the case of an awards present.
All the PTA programming is accessible by way of its personal view that may shortly be accessed with a second press of the DVR button. This consists of all the identical folder choices we mentioned within the DVR part aside from customized folders and with the addition of the power to place in a folder by Community. The PTA content material is saved for eight days, until you choose a selected present to save lots of or selected to schedule a timer for a present, through which case all of the episodes are saved as in the event that they have been recorded with PTA disabled. An fascinating caveat right here is that the early begin and late finish buffers you could configure when establishing a collection recording do not apply if the present is recorded on one of many huge 4 networks throughout primetime, when you’ve got PTA enabled. This is perhaps an issue, however is considerably mitigated by the truth that if you playback a recording through the eight-day interval, when one present ends, the subsequent one begins mechanically with the one indication being the data display displaying totally different info. That is actually fascinating as a result of you’ll be able to truly watch each present from ABC, for instance, one night time again to again with out ever touching the distant.
When all is claimed and accomplished, we actually respect PTA as a result of it permits us to find exhibits anytime after they first aired, so should you study of an ideal new present whereas losing time on the water cooler, it is not too late to go residence and watch it or select to reserve it for a later viewing. It is a step in the direction of a future the place we will watch no matter we would like with out having to plan prematurely or seek the advice of an inventory to ensure our exhibits will probably be recorded. What else can we are saying? It simply works. We do want we might prolong the function past primetime, and document, say, each soccer recreation that is perhaps broadcast on the identical transponder.Entire-residence DVR
The Hopper gives some distinctive, fascinating options that you simply simply cannot get anyplace else.
DVRs with multi-room viewing have been round for an extended very long time. The truth is the ReplayTV 4000 collection featured the power to observe a recording on a DVR in one other room ten years in the past and TiVo has had it for nearly as lengthy. Even the older Dish DVR enabled customers to observe a present in SD on a TV in one other room of the home, however that is totally different. What makes this setup distinctive is that the expertise on the Joey’s is almost indistinguishable from what you will get on the Hopper. There is no transferring, no strolling to the opposite room to schedule a recording to resolve a battle. The consistency of the expertise is essential: ideally, TV ought to simply work it doesn’t matter what room you are in — like cloud providers, solely at residence. There have been different multi-room DVR experiences prior to now, with probably the most notable being U-Verse and Home windows Media Middle. However they’re both not obtainable nationwide or not simply accessible because of the required HPTC and residential community. Different suppliers are working in the direction of this nirvana as properly; in truth, we absolutely anticipate 2012 to be the yr of the entire-residence DVR with various suppliers unveiling comparable methods. These embrace DirecTV’s HR34, which is already obtainable, however dependant on the unavailable C30 for entire-residence motion, DirecTV’s reply to Dish’s Joey.
The best way Dish’s entire-house works is you place a Hopper on one of many TVs in the home and the smaller Joeys at as much as three different TVs. The Joeys hook up with the Hopper by way of MoCA, which runs over coax so no particular wiring or networking expertise is required past what’s required for another TV service. The Joeys actually do exactly work just like the Hopper, with quick channel modifications, a quick consumer interface and a close to-similar function set. One of many few exceptions is that the Joey’s do not do PIP, which suggests you solely get a single stay TV buffer. The opposite distinction is that when you can be a part of one other TV’s session from any tv, solely the Hopper can take over a session, successfully altering the channel in one other room. To regulate this whereas watching a program, hit the purple button to tug up a TV viewing standing web page. Now you may be involved about the entire multi-room factor in case you have youngsters within the house and there are some issues in life they are not prepared for. Properly, because of parental controls per TV, not solely are you able to lock down what they will view of their room whereas not in your purview, however you’ll be able to even forestall them from seeing what you are watching in a unique room. One last merchandise value mentioning is that though you’ll be able to solely have three Joeys per Hopper, you possibly can have two Hoppers in the home, however every Joey needs to be assigned to at least one Hopper and the 2 Hoppers work utterly unbiased of one another.Net, smartphone and pill apps
After Echostar bought Sling Media, Dish has been on the forefront of place-shifting. In contrast to the 922 earlier than it, the Hopper requires an non-compulsory Sling Adapter to observe content material on moveable units across the residence or out and about. In contrast to the 922 and the 722, the smartphone and pill apps cannot management the Hopper or the Joeys, however we’re informed that function will are available a future replace. The power to schedule recordings or verify in your schedule from the web site, smartphone or pill continues to be there, as is the choice to stream from the Sling adapter with out making an attempt to render the Dish UI on the display simply to seek out one thing to observe, take over the first viewing expertise of the set-prime field or pay for separate Sling playback apps. Sadly, the Dish Sling has the identical drawbacks as ever, like the truth that it does not all the time play the present you requested for due to a battle. That is to be anticipated, besides that you simply’re not given any indication as to why it did not work — is an error message indicating the tuner is in use an excessive amount of to ask?Wrap-up
It is not each day that a DVR comes alongside that not solely delivers a sought-after function but in addition introduces a by no means-earlier than-seen perk. However lo and behold, that is precisely what Dish has carried out with the Hopper and Joey. There are a couple of quirks with the consumer expertise, like the lack to view exhibits in an inventory and a cursor that appears to overlook its non-existent contact display distant. The most important gotcha, although, is perhaps the truth that the Hopper solely works with Dish’s TV service, which is usually lacking a minimum of one key channel because of ongoing carriage disputes. Moreover, it does not carry HD variations of all the printed networks, like PBS, in all markets and it requires an extended-time period contract for the privilege of leasing hardware that may by no means be owned.
When you’ve got Dish already and may’t determine if it is well worth the improve, do not overthink it: this improve is a no brainer. In case you’re contemplating switching to Dish and also you’re frightened about not liking the DVR as a lot as your present supplier’s DVR, you even have an invalid concern, because the Hopper is nearly as good as any supplier-issued DVR we have ever tried. In truth the one individual we might even hesitate recommending this to is the TiVo evangelist or Home windows Media Middle fan, and even in these instances, we might make a robust argument that the Hopper has extra to supply. All that being stated, issues will get far more fascinating when different suppliers get on the entire-residence DVR recreation and begin to supply as many TV anyplace choices as Dish, however for now the Hopper presents some distinctive, fascinating options that you simply simply cannot get anyplace else.
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