DISH Hopper 3 vs. DIRECTV Genie
We’ve tested both satellite TV providers’ DVR/receivers, and we’re still convinced that the Hopper 3 is the best DVR around.
When you sign up for DISH or DIRECTV, you’re not just choosing a TV package—you’re choosing a DVR/receiver, which is your portal to all that delicious, mind-rotting eye candy.
Feature-rich and powerful, the DISH Hopper 3 is consistently named the best TV box in the biz. DIRECTV’s Genie is well-regarded, but not as mighty, and consistently second-banana to the Hopper 3. If you want more details, keep reading to see what we’ve dug up on both boxes.
DISH Hopper 3 vs. DIRECTV Genie pros and cons
DISH Hopper 3
✓ Up to 2,000 hrs. of storage
✓ 16 simultaneous recordings
✓ Built-in Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, and YouTube Kids
✗ Additional monthly fee
✗ High activation fees for some equipment
✓ 200 hrs. of storage
✓ 5 simultaneous recordings
✓ No additional monthly fee
✗ Limited streaming TV app support
✗ High activation fees for some equipment
DISH and DIRECTV deals and promotions
We all want to save a few bucks or get somethin’ free. Both DISH and DIRECTV have tons of deals and promotions—here are the best ones.
Most of these DISH deals require checking a box under the “Special Offers” section at checkout, but some are automatically applied.
DISH checkout screen with special offers expanded.
- $100 gift card: DISH will give you a $100 gift card with online orders (limited time offer).
That’s not everything—for more sweet DISH deals, including special perks for seniors, active military/veterans, health care workers, and teachers, read our guide to DISH Deals and Promotions.
You’ll be given the option to accept or decline most of these DIRECTV deals at checkout. Some, like the autopay discount, are automatic.
- Free NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX: New customers get the current season (2021) of NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX free (regularly $395.94). This one does not autorenew.
- Free HBO MaxTM, CINEMAX®, EPIX®, SHOWTIME®, and STARZ®: Another new customer deal gives you three free months of these top premium channels. Note: Except for EPIX, these channels are already included in the Premier All-Included plan ($149.99/mo.).
DIRECTV has more deals too—you’ll find ‘em in our guide to DIRECTV Deals.
Compare the DISH Hopper 3 and DIRECTV Genie head-to-head
Since the Hopper 3 costs $10 a month and the DIRECTV Genie comes included with your plan, you might think that DIRECTV is the better deal. Nope.
Yes, two years of the $10-a-month Hopper 3 fees comes to $200. But you don’t really save $200 by choosing DIRECTV and its free Genie because DIRECTV’s service prices jump dramatically in the second year of your contract (we’ll get deeper into that soon).
So, even with its additional monthly fee, the DISH Hopper 3 has more power and better features (another thing we’ll cover in more detail later on) than the DIRECTV Genie—and it’s even cheaper in the long run.
Packages and pricing
DISH packages and pricing
|Flex Pack*||$59.99/mo.||50||500 hrs.||View plans|
America’s Top 120
|$69.99/mo.||190||500 hrs.||View plans|
America’s Top 120+
Best for sports
|$84.99/mo.||190+||500 hrs.||View plans|
America’s Top 200
|$94.99/mo.||240+||500 hrs.||View plans|
America’s Top 250
|$104.99/mo.||290+||500 hrs.||View plans|
|America's Everything Pack*||$127.99/mo.||290+ (incl. premiums)||500 hrs.||View plans|
Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.
* Packages for existing customers only.
‡ Not included in packages. Requires additional free of $10/mo.
If you’re budget-conscious, America’s Top 120 is the cheapest DISH plan. Sports fans might want to go with America’s Top 120+, which costs an additional $15.00 a month for the same number of channels—except more of them have the sportsball you crave.
America’s Top 250 ($104.99 per month, 290+ channels) includes free premium channels like MoviePlex, STARZ®, and THE MOVIE CHANNELTM. It’s the beefiest—but not the best—DISH package.
We think America’s Top 200 ($94.99 a month, 240+ channels) is better because it has all the popular channels you need for $10.00 less per month. Then you can put the savings toward HBO Max ($15.00 per month) and get live HBO channels, on-demand streaming, and better content. Your total payment will be $109.99 a month, but Top 200 plus HBO Max is better value than America’s Top 250 alone.
Finally, DISH guarantees that its package prices won’t change during your 2-year contract. That’s something DIRECTV doesn’t promise.
DIRECTV packages and pricing
DIRECTV’s CHOICE plan costs $79.99 a month for the first year and $129.00 a month in the second, making your average payment over the 2-year contract $104.50 a month ($0.56 per channel, whereas DISH packages cost $0.36–$0.45 per channel). Over 24 months, that’s a total increase of $588.12—and even the $200 you’d save by not having to pay for the free Genie (compared to the Hopper 3) doesn’t help much.
So, while DISH and DIRECTV pricing and channel counts are similar, DISH is so much cheaper in the long run. But if you’re set on DIRECTV because of NFL SUNDAY TICKET, we recommend going with the CHOICE package. That’s the cheapest way to get DIRECTV’s awesome NFL SUNDAY TICKET and HBO Max promos—but remember: they disappear after the first year.
Specs and features
The DISH Hopper 3 has a 2 TB hard drive that can store up to 500 hours of HD movies and shows, which is a lot. If you’re a real TV lover who’s worn off the numbers on your current remote control, you want the Hopper 3.
If you’re one of those “everything in moderation” folks, you’d probably prefer the DIRECTV Genie. Its 1 TB hard drive stores 200 HD hours. That’s enough storage for most people.
The DISH Hopper 3 destroys DIRECTV’s Genie in this category, recording up to 16 movies or shows at a time. By contrast, the Genie records only 5 programs simultaneously. Where’s your magic now, Genie?
Then again, who can find 16 things to watch in the same time slot, even with hundreds of channels? If you can, please teach us your ways. But if you’re in the moderation crowd and think that the Genie’s 5 simultaneous recordings are just right—way to be practical, Goldilocks.
Both the DISH Hopper 3 and DIRECTV Genie are “whole-home DVRs,” meaning they can connect with additional receivers so you can watch your TV service on multiple TVs in your house. It’s a great option, for sure, but it can get expensive—especially at signup.
DISH Joey receiver fees
|Joey type||Supported TVs||Price||Additional fees|
|DISH Joey||Up to 7||$5.00/mo. each||$50.00 leased receiver fee over 4 devices (Hopper 3 counts as one)|
|DISH Wireless Joey||Up to 7||$5.00/mo. each||$25.00 leased receiver fee per device|
|DISH 4K Joey||Up to 7||$5.00/mo. each||$50.00 leased receiver fee per device|
When you sign up for DISH TV service with the Hopper 3 and add Joeys to your service, you’ll pay a monthly rental fee plus hefty, one-time, up-front “leased receiver fees (LRFs)” depending on how many—and which kind—of Joeys you add.
For standard Joeys, you’ll pay a $50 fee to hook up four TVs (one Hopper 3 plus three standard Joeys). But the fees for the wireless Joey ($25) and 4K Joey ($50) apply to each device you get. So a four-TV home with wireless or 4K Joeys will cost you $100–$200 in leased receiver fees due at signup, then $15 a month in rental fees. Yikes.
DIRECTV Genie Mini receiver fees
|Joey type||Supported TVs||Price||Additional fees|
|DIRECTV Genie Mini||Up to 6||$7.00/mo. each||$49.00 activation fee per device over 4|
|DIRECTV Genie Mini Wireless||Up to 8||$7.00/mo. each||
$99.00 bridge fee
$49.00 activation fee per device over 4
For both the standard and wireless Genie Minis, you’ll pay a $49 activation fee per device after the fourth . So a six-TV home would require six devices: one main Genie (included in your package) and five Genie Minis. That means you’ll pay $98 in cash-grab activation fees, then $7 per month for five Genie Minis (totalling $35 a month).
And, you guessed it: the Genie Mini Wireless has an additional $99 bridge fee due at signup.
Good grief, DISH and DIRECTV.
Built-in streaming TV apps
Oddly, the DISH Hopper 3 comes with built-in streaming TV apps like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, and YouTube Kids. You’ll need your own subscriptions to use the apps.
Somewhat inexplicably, the DIRECTV Genie has only iHeartRadio, Locast (streams local networks in certain markets), Pandora, and Score Guide (scores, standings, and game schedules for all major sports, including college sports).
So, in this category, the Hopper 3 provides a more well-rounded TV experience. But we do like the Genie’s local channels app (shame about the limited availability, though) and sportsball-enhancing Score Guide, which fits nicely with DIRECTV’s sports offerings.
What other neat tricks can the Hopper 3 and Genie do? Here are some of our favorites from each device.
DISH Hopper 3 cool stuff
- PrimeTime Anytime: Records all primetime shows on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC using only one of the Hopper 3’s 16 tuners.
- AutoHop: Automatically skips commercials in PrimeTime Anytime recordings from ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC.
- Quad split-screen: Displays four programs at once
DIRECTV Genie cool stuff
- 72-hour Rewind: Helps you catch shows you forgot to record
- Mix channels: Special kids, news, and sports channels that allow you to watch up to 6 programs at once
With the DISH Hopper 3, you get the DISH Voice Remote with Google Assistant. It has soft, backlit buttons and a remote locator feature. And if the remote locator doesn’t work for some reason, or your remote breaks, you can use your phone as your remote with the DISH Anywhere app.
The DIRECTV Genie remote does everything the Hopper 3 does (including using the DIRECTV app to control your Genie), but its voice control function is limited and requires a separate Alexa device to work.
Speaking of the DISH and DIRECTV mobile apps, here’s what they can do and how to get ‘em.
Didn’t we tell ya? The DISH Hopper 3 wins. It’s superior to DIRECTV’s Genie in storage, simultaneous recordings, streaming TV apps, bells, whistles—everything. DISH is also the better TV service with more affordable pricing, a two-year price guarantee, and a superior, full-featured mobile app with excellent parental controls.
But DIRECTV does have better deals and promotions. And NFL SUNDAY TICKET. So if all you want is a DVR that’s going to let you record tons of sports, DIRECTV’s Genie will grant that wish.
Our experts did dozens of hours of hands-on testing and crunched the numbers, rating the DISH Hopper 3 and DIRECTV Genie on bang for your buck, reliability, features, and customer satisfaction. Then we matched up the satellite TV titans head to head to give a clearer picture of their strengths and weaknesses. For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.
DISH packages: for 24 months. Everyday Price $104.99–$129.99/mo. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay.
DIRECTV packages: for 12 mos. plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee w/24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill req’d. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $9.99/mo. is extra & applies.