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DISH TV’S Hopper 3 DVR remains the most powerful and feature-packed DVR on the market. Competitors like the DIRECTV Genie and Xfinity X1 may be catching up, but they’re not there yet.
The Hopper 3 is a whole-home DVR system from DISH that allows recorded and live programming to be streamed or played back on up to seven TVs. Referred to by Wired as “the most ludicrously powered cable box ever,” the DISH Network Hopper 3 has garnered a plethora of industry awards, including “Video Product of the Year” in 2017. But is DISH’s Hopper 3 worth the hype? Let’s break down the details.
DISH has long been an industry leader when it comes to advanced technology and equipment, and the Hopper 3 is no exception. Its powerful technology is packed inside an unassuming, glossy black box with two front LED-lit indicators and a red band accent.
The whole thing measures about 11.5″ wide, 16″ deep, and just 2″ tall. A flip-down door on the front hides basic controls and ports.
In addition to a powerful processor that can drive up to four streams in 4K Ultra HD, the Hopper 3 has more ports and outputs than any other DVR on the market:
The Hopper 3 powers your main TV and its 16 tuners handle all the receiving and recording. But if you want to relay programming to other TVs in your home, you’re going to need some help. Meet the 4K Joey, DISH’s mini-client unit. The Joey connects wirelessly to your Hopper 3, streaming your recordings and programming to other TVs in the home without the need for additional Hoppers, which would be really expensive.
Each Hopper 3 DVR can handle up to six Joeys, which is just short of the eight connected TVs allowed by other competitors’ DVRs. but that’s plenty for most families. Plus, DISH’s newest version is 4K capable. The best part is that renting each Joey costs only $5.00 per month—much cheaper than renting another Hopper for $15.00 per month.
The new DISH Voice Remote makes controlling your Hopper 3 and Joeys a snap. The first thing you’ll probably notice about the Voice Remote is how small and clean it looks—the button layout has been simplified. But you may not need the buttons very often because you can control the Hopper by speaking into the remote, and that function works quite well. DISH provides a list of sample commands to get you started. You can also pair the DISH Hopper remote with Amazon Alexa for additional commands.
Other handy features of the Voice Remote include backlit keys for easy use in the dark and the ability to function as a universal remote for your other devices. Lastly, the DISH Voice Remote includes a handy locator function to help find which couch cushion it’s buried under. Just press a button on the front of the Hopper 3 and the remote beeps and flashes until you find it.
|DVR||Provider||Simultaneous Recordings||Storage||HD Storage (Hours)||Cost Per Month|
|Hopper 3||DISH||16||2 TB||500 hours||$10.00 per month with 2-year contract|
|The Genie (HR-44)||DIRECTV||5||1 TB||200 hours||Included in service|
|TiVo T6||RCN||6||1 TB||150 hours||$9.95 per month|
|X1||Xfinity||6||500 GB||100 hours||$14.95 per month|
Looking at the table, it’s clear why the Hopper is known as the most powerful DVR around. It crushes the competition on both simultaneous recordings and storage, effectively eliminating any conflicts you may face about what to use your DVR’s bandwidth for. To just record and watch what you want without thinking twice—that’s a thing of beauty.
Data effective 12/18/20
We’ve highlighted the hardware, so let’s move on to the software. What is the user interface for the Hopper 3, and what can you expect from your viewing experience?
In short, you’ll be impressed with how seamless it is. In addition to enabling you to watch 100% of your live and recorded TV from any device, anywhere, the Hopper 3 also provides seamless integration with your favorite apps—including Netflix and YouTube—along with some of the most-coveted and cutting-edge features on the market.
With the Hopper 3, you’ll notice some very specific changes to the classic hub of DISH’s interface. The old blue screens have been updated to reflect brand coloring, with an emphasis on black-and-white menus with red accents that are easier to read.
The guide incorporates nested menus that allow you to view and search easily according to genre, show, and actors, pulling information not just from the current programming guide but also from your recordings. The DVR’s guide also integrates popular streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, and Pandora, allowing viewers to quickly search for 4K Ultra HD programming across a wide variety of sources. However, services like Disney+ are not yet available on the DISH Network Hopper.
If you have kids, you’ll be happy to know parental controls are easy to set. They integrate ratings from Common Sense Media to help you make informed viewing decisions regarding issues like violence, sex, language, and educational value.
With over 2 TB (2,000 GB) of storage, DISH’s Hopper 3 is sure to keep any entertainment enthusiast happy. You can stuff your library to bursting with over 500 hours of HD programming and still have room for more with a USB 3.0 port that allows connection to external storage. That means no more deciding which shows to keep and which to delete, so you can watch your favorite episodes of Fixer Upper or Game of Thrones as many times as you like—forever.
And with the ability to record up to sixteen shows at once, recording conflicts are a thing of the past. Hit the record button on any show you like without worrying about what you might have to give up. If you’re used to less powerful DVRs, this is a total game changer.
Alexa integration is everywhere these days, and your DISH Hopper 3 is no exception. You can connect the Hopper 3 to Alexa and use your voice to control the DVR system totally hands-free. While the Voice Remote technically does this already, using Alexa means you don’t even need the remote nearby. It’s just one more level of added convenience. Check them out on Amazon.
DISH was the first to pilot the “auto-hop,” which allows your DVR to automatically skip through commercials. This feature has revolutionized recorded TV. Just like automatically skipping the intro on a Netflix binge, automatically skipping the commercials when watching DVR recordings is a huge time saver when every minute of your entertainment counts.
Multi-View is a DISH feature that allows you to watch multiple channels at one time. Also known as Sports Bar Mode, this feature is great for following multiple games at once. It’s also perfect for catching breaking news from several sources.
DISH Anywhere is the fancy name for the ability to watch DISH programming on nearly any computer or mobile device. The feature works on iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Amazon Kindle Fire tablets, and Amazon Fire TV Stick streaming devices. Just grab the DISH app for your device, sign in, and you’ll be ready to watch.
Like most TV providers, DISH charges a monthly rental fee for the Hopper. While some providers roll the fees into package prices, DISH opts to keep package prices lower and charge a separate fee for the Hopper 3 DVR. Current pricing for DISH customers includes the $5.00 monthly rental fee for the Hopper Duo, a less-stellar DVR, so for only $5.00 more a month, you can upgrade to the Hopper 3.
And if you need more receivers for multiple TVs, new customers who sign a two-year contract get a $2.00 monthly credit toward renting the Joeys.
Now that you’re all hyped up about the Hopper 3, let’s take a minute to look at the TV service that comes along with it: DISH satellite TV.
DISH is one of our favorite TV providers. It offers nationwide availability, so you can get it no matter where you live, and the prices are excellent. Here are a few of our favorite (and less favorite) things about DISH:
The ability to record sixteen shows at once all but eliminates recording conflicts, and useful features like Alexa integration and Multi-View enhance the TV-watching experience. As long as you’re ok with DISH as a TV provider, it’s hard not to recommend the Hopper 3.
Want to know more about what features to look for in a DVR? Use our Zip Finder to pull up packages and reviews for providers like DISH available in your area.