DISH Hopper 3 vs. DIRECTV Genie
This is truly a battle for the ages. Today, we compare the two best whole-home DVRs on the market— the DISH Hopper 3 and the DIRECTV Genie. Which will come out on top in the battle of Hopper vs. Genie? Read on to find out.
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Data current as of 4/25/18. Pricing and features subject to change.
Binge-watchers should choose the DISH Hopper 3.
When it comes to raw DVR power, the Hopper 3 is still the leader of the pack. The huge storage capacity and simultaneous recordings make this HD DVR the best at the basics: watching and recording TV. The Hopper is also great for people that like to record shows or movies and watch them again and again—that extra-large storage capacity lets you go longer without needing to delete anything.
Sports fans should pick the DIRECTV Genie.
The Genie is just the ticket for sports fans, thanks to DIRECTV’s stronger sports programming and exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET, plus its ability to put eight games on screen at once. The Genie isn’t bad for regular TV watchers, either. It has a solid amount of storage, up to five simultaneous recordings, and a great remote. It’s just not quite as great as the Hopper 3.
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The DISH Hopper 3 has a whopping 2 TB of storage space, which equates to 500 hours of HD content—far more than any other DVR. The storage is also well-optimized for video content. What does that mean? Well, compare the 2 TB Hopper 3 to the 1 TB Genie. The Hopper has two times the storage capacity but two-and-a-half times the amount of content can be stored—500 hours versus 200 hours of HD.
In the real world, that means you can keep your content longer without worrying about sifting through it and deleting shows. It’s just more convenient.
The DIRECTV Genie offers 1 TB of storage, good for 200 hours of HD content. That’s a lot. In fact, it’ll be way more than enough for most families. Compare it to the Hopper 3, though, and it starts to seem a little lackluster.
The Hopper just demolishes the competition again in this category. Having sixteen simultaneous recordings sounds absurd. Who records sixteen shows at once? But that’s exactly the point: since you’re not likely to ever hit that limit, you’re also unlikely to run into a scheduling conflict. Anyone with a basic DVR can tell you how annoying it is to choose between favorite shows because they both air at the same time. The Hopper is one of the few DVRs to effectively solve this problem.
The DIRECTV Genie offers a reasonable five simultaneous recordings. Again, like with the storage capacity, that’s probably enough for most families. But it’s still within the realm of possible conflicts. Say you’re busy Monday, and you want to record a couple sports games, a couple movies for your kids, and a cool documentary that your spouse saw advertised. When you’re setting those up, you notice your favorite episode of Bones is airing at the same time. With the Genie, you’re out of luck. With the Hopper, you could record all those programs—plus nine more.
Most interaction with the DISH Hopper 3 comes through the channel list, or guide. For DISH service, that’s a modern-looking, black-and-red grid. DISH gives you easy-to-use filters for genre, show, and actor, and it includes your recorded programs in the filtered results. The Hopper 3 features access to some streaming services, including Netflix, YouTube, and Pandora, and these services are also included in the filtered search results, so the whole experience feels very cohesive.
Genie uses an interface similar to the Hopper 3’s but with DIRECTV’s signature black-and-blue look. Our favorite feature of the Genie’s interface is the way SD and HD versions of programs are grouped together. Most other DVRs separate HD channels into higher ranges, so you have to know the channel number to find the HD version of your show. With DIRECTV, everything is kept nice and neat. You can also aggregate content from your favorite sports teams, which is handy and goes well with DIRECTV’s other big sports offerings, like the exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET.
The DISH Hopper Voice Remote is seriously cool. It’s small, oddly shaped, and has a giant touchpad in the middle. And the voice control actually works (it’s rare we can say this). This is one remote we actually don’t mind using, which says a lot.
It also packs a few other cool features, like backlit keys for easy use in a dark room and a remote locator function. The latter works by pressing a button on the front of the Hopper DVR box. When you do, the remote makes a noise and flashes some lights, so you can find exactly which couch cushion it’s buried under.
The DIRECTV Genie remote is even more oddly shaped than the Hopper’s. It works well enough, but it lacks some of the nice features of its competitor, like built-in voice control and backlit keys (every remote should have these). You can control the Genie with your voice if you use the mobile app remote function, but sometimes we just want to put our phones down for a while and watch some TV.
Your fancy HD DVR isn’t of much use if you can’t connect it to your TV and other devices. Fortunately, the DISH Hopper 3 offers plenty of ports and connections.
The Genie also offers plenty of connections, but again, it falls short of the Hopper on raw specs. All the important stuff is there— there’s just less of it. That means if you have an advanced home theater setup or another non-standard setup, you may run into some trouble.
The DISH mobile app is attractive and useful. It allows you to watch live TV anywhere on your phone or tablet, and it has good ratings on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer remote control functions. This is one of the few provider apps that doesn’t include this feature.
You can use the app to manage your DVR recordings, though, and the ability to watch on the go from any device is handy. DISH calls its app DISH Anywhere, and the name is certainly accurate.
The DIRECTV mobile app is one of the highest-rated TV provider apps available, with 4.7/5 stars on the App Store. The app offers up all the typical features you’d expect: you can watch on the go, manage your DVR recordings, and yes—even use it as a remote. This is especially handy with DIRECTV because it provides the voice control features missing from the DIRECTV Genie remote. It’s just a full-featured app that works well, so it’s our pick of the two.
Check out our complete review of TV provider mobile apps.
- Alexa integration: The Hopper 3 works with Amazon Alexa to allow voice control even without the remote. This is an immensely convenient feature many don’t know they need until they try it out.
- DISH Anywhere: DISH Anywhere is the company’s fancy way of saying that you can use mobile apps to view your DVR recordings on any device. This is especially handy for frequent travelers.
- MultiView/Sports Bar: The Hopper 3’s powerful processor allows you to watch up to four separate channels on one screen. The feature is sometimes called Sports Bar Mode, but it works with any channel, not just sports. It’s also great for following breaking news from several sources at once.
- Auto-hop: The Hopper 3 can automatically skip through commercials on recorded programs. While the Genie can certainly fast-forward through the commercials, Hopper 3 does it automatically and always lands in the correct spot—no more fiddling with rewind and fast-forward to find the right location. This killer feature can revolutionize the way you watch TV. Seriously, it’s huge.
The DIRECTV Genie has a few tricks up its sleeve as well. Many of the Genie’s special features revolve around sports, which fits in with DIRECTV’s reputation as the sports king. Here are a few:
- Restart live TV from the last 72 hours: This one is cool. Even if you didn’t record a show, many programs remain available up to 72 hours after originally airing, giving you a last chance to catch up.
- Mix Channels: This takes MultiView to the next level. Mix Channels are special sports channels that pull in up to eight feeds from different networks and put them all on the screen at once. This is a great feature for game day.
- NFL SUNDAY TICKET: This is less a DVR feature and more a provider feature, but it’s worth mentioning: if you go with the Genie, you get DIRECTV service, which has exclusive access to NFL SUNDAY TICKET, the most comprehensive football package anywhere.
- Genie Sports: This feature aggregates all your favorite sports programming into one spot. It’s very handy for sports fanatics.
- Picture-in-Picture: This isn’t a fancy feature on its own, but the Genie does it really well: it can display two channels side by side. This splits your screen in two, and it works with any two channels, not just sports.
- ENERGY STAR certified: It’s worth mentioning that DIRECTV is the only TV provider to earn the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year award for its television receivers. If being green is important to you, this is something to consider.
DISH is one of the largest satellite TV providers in the world, with almost nationwide availability in the US. It’s a great value for the money if TV is your primary concern. Although the channel count is a little low at 290+, DISH covers all the essentials. That helped push it to the number-two spot in our 2018 Customer Satisfaction Survey on Channel Selection.
DISH prices are also very affordable. Packages start at $64.99 per month and run up to $99.99 per month.
DIRECTV satellite TV is also an excellent value. It offers a little larger channel selection with 330+ channels, and it has more sports programming than any other TV provider, including the exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET sports package. DIRECTV packages start at $35.00 per month and go up to $110.00 per month.
DIRECTV is an AT&T company, so you can bundle AT&T Internet with your satellite TV service. AT&T 1000 is a fast fiber package for a great price, but availability is still limited. Check to see what packages are available in your area by entering your zip code below.
These are two of the most powerful and feature-packed DVRs on the market, and as a result there isn’t much to note in terms of issues. One thing to be aware of with both the DISH Hopper 3 and DIRECTV Genie is that DISH and DIRECTV are satellite TV providers. With satellite TV, there is the possibility for weather-related signal interference. It’s not a big deal most of the time, but it happens. If you live in an area where a lot of heavy precipitation is the norm, you’re more likely to run into issues here.
We have to say, this is a close race, and you really can’t go wrong with either of these powerful HD DVRs. But in the end, we have to give the nod to the DISH Hopper 3 for being the most powerful and useful DVR on the market.
What do you think? Do you prefer the DISH Hopper 3 or DIRECTV Genie? And which satellite TV provider is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.