Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Hopper from Dish Network

We have had our new Hopper and two Joeys for almost a month now and it's time to update this blog with my opinion on this device. First, it has a lot more storage than our previous DVRs and I've had a DVR since my ReplayTV was new, a long time ago. A 2 terabyte hard drive with half reserved for a single feature, PrimeTime Anytime. One terabyte is still a lot more than my DirecTV or Comcast DVRs offer. I added a 1.5 terabyte external drive via USB since the eSATA port didn't recognize it, so that's even more storage. It's not just added to your other storage, which I'd prefer, you have to manually transfer media from the internal to the external drive but it's there if you need it. Secondly, every primetime offering from ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC are recorded onto the PrimeTime partition without you doing a thing. They're available for you to watch them 8 days or you can save them to the other partition of the DVR. I wish you could choose the networks to record with this feature since we watch very little from some networks and watch a lot of USA and Turner programming but it's still great. I don't know how they compress all four networks onto a single tuner but it will be handy this fall. One of the best parts about this is when you start playback you can choose to have it skip commercials for you (as long as it's not in real-time I think) and it's pretty good at doing so. This is even easier than skipping forward in 30 second increments. Third, you get on-demand and Blockbuster-on-Demand. Neither is half as good as Netflix but you do get DVDs by mail (you can return them in-store if you have one nearby), including games. That might be nice but I doubt we'll pay $10/mo for it. A feature they don't even talk about is one of the best in my opinion. You can connect to any DLNA device on your network and stream media from it. You can pause, fast-forward, rewind, and if you have Plex server you can even see the IMDB or other info about the program you're viewing. It is laggy and a bit inconsistent but it will probably improve. I have Playon, the old premium they no longer sell, and I can even stream Netflix with it. It's easier to use the Wii or a PS3 though. The last feature that I like is volume normalizing which keeps those pesky overly loud ads from blaring out at you. Congress has been working on this for years so I assume by 2020 or so this feature will be moot but until then it's one I appreciate. All in all this is much better than any other DVR we've had so far with features I'm still exploring.