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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.

Best overall

DISH Hopper 3

Price: $59.99–$139.99/mo.
Channels: 190–290+
DVR: 500 hrs.
Simultaneous recordings: 16
DVR fee: $10.00/mo.

No monthly fee

DIRECTV Genie

Price: $64.99–$134.99/mo.
Channels: 160–330+
DVR: 200 hrs.
Simultaneous recordings: 5
DVR fee: N/A

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

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

DIRECTV Genie

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 availability

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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.

DISH deals

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.

  • Free Multi-Sport Pack: Order America’s Top 120+ plan or higher and DISH will give you this 14-channel sports pack (regularly $13/mo.) at no extra cost. Offer expires November 15, 2021.
  • HBO MaxTM discount: Get ad-free HBO Max for $12/mo. (regularly $15/mo.). Offer expires October 27, 2021.
  • $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.

DIRECTV deals

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 Max: Another new customer deal gives you a free year of HBO Max. Expires August 21, 2021.

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

Top plans
DISH Hopper 3
DIRECTV Genie
Pricing HD Storage Simultaneous recordings Resolution Built-in streaming apps Details
$10.00/mo. 500 hrs. 16 Up to 4K View plans
Included in plan 200 hrs. 5 Up to 4K 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.

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

Top plans
Flex Pack*
Cheapest
America’s Top 120
Best for sports
America’s Top 120+
Best value
America’s Top 200
Most channels
America’s Top 250
America's Everything Pack*
Pricing Channels DVR‡ Details
$59.99/mo. 50 500 hrs. View plans
$64.99/mo. 190 500 hrs. View plans
$79.99/mo. 190+ 500 hrs. View plans
$89.99/mo. 240+ 500 hrs. View plans
$99.99/mo. 290+ 500 hrs. View plans
$139.99/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.

Heads-up: After a three-year absence, HBO and CINEMAX® are back at DISH.

America’s Top 250 ($99.99 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 ($89.99 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 $104.99 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

Top plans
Cheapest
America’s Top 120
Our pick
America’s Top 120+
Best value
America’s Top 200
Most channels
America’s Top 250
Pricing Channels DVR‡ Details
$64.99/mo. 160+ 200 hrs. View plans
$79.99/mo. 185+ 200 hrs. View plans
$89.99/mo. 250+ 200 hrs. View plans
$99.99/mo. 330+ 200 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.

DIRECTV’s CHOICE plan costs $69.99 a month for the first year and $122.00 a month in the second, making your average payment over the 2-year contract $95.99 a month ($0.52 per channel, whereas DISH packages cost $0.34–$0.41 per channel). Over the length of your contract, that’s a total increase of $624.12—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

Storage

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.

Simultaneous recordings

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.

Multiroom viewing

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
DISH Joey
DISH Wireless Joey
DISH 4K Joey
Supported TVs Price Additional fees
Up to 7 $5.00/mo. each $50.00 leased receiver fee over 4 devices (Hopper 3 counts as one)
Up to 7 $5.00/mo. each $25.00 leased receiver fee per device
Up to 7 $5.00/mo. each $50.00 leased receiver fee per device

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

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
DIRECTV Genie Mini
DIRECTV Genie Mini Wireless
Supported TVs Price Additional fees
Up to 6 $7.00/mo. each $49.00 activation fee per device over 4
Up to 8 $7.00/mo. each $99.00 bridge fee

$49.00 activation fee per device over 4

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

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.

Special features

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

Remotes

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.

Mobile apps

Speaking of the DISH and DIRECTV mobile apps, here’s what they can do and how to get ‘em.

DISH Anywhere
Android
iOS
DIRECTV app
Android
iOS
Watch live TV Watch on-demand Watch DVR recordings Downloads for offline viewing Set/manage DVR timers Set/manage parental controls Simultaneous streams
1
5

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

DIRECTV, obviously, is more generous with streams. But if you want to watch NFL SUNDAY TICKET, you’ll need a separate app, specifically NFL SUNDAY TICKET for Android, NFL SUNDAY TICKET for iOS.

DISH Anywhere has better parental controls, which is why we named DISH the best TV provider for kids.

Final take

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.

Methodology

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 Hopper 3 vs. DIRECTV Genie FAQ

What is better: DIRECTV or DISH?

We named DISH the best overall TV provider and best TV provider for kids in our guide to the Best TV Providers for its affordable pricing, two-year price guarantee, high channel counts, exceptionally powerful Hopper 3 DVR, and top-notch parental controls. DIRECTV, incidentally, is our best TV provider for sports.

Does DIRECTV have something like the Hopper?

DIRECTV’s DVR is called the Genie. It has up to 200 hours of HD storage, records up to five shows at once, and comes included with your TV package.

Does DISH have a Genie?

The Genie is DIRECTV’s DVR—the DISH DVR is called the Hopper 3, which is the best in the business. It stores up to 500 hours of HD movies and shows, records up to 16 shows simultaneously, and costs $10 a month.

Is DIRECTV Genie any good?

The DIRECTV Genie DVR is good, but it’s not the most powerful DVR out there. Its 1 TB hard drive stores up to 200 hours of HD movies and shows, can record up to 5 programs at a time, and comes included with your TV plan.

The DISH Hopper 3 and Cox Contour Record are more powerful than the Genie, but each comes with an extra monthly fee ($10 for the Hopper 3, $10–$30 for the Contour Record).

Disclaimer

DISH packages: for 24 months. Everyday Price $94.99–$119.99/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.