Dish satellite Reviews
Whole-home DVR is a great idea. Instead of having a full-blown digital video recorder installed with every HDTV in the house, use a single storage device that can hold all the recordings, and use terminal devices to access them on different TVs. The Dish Network Hopper is the best implementation of this idea we've seen yet. It's a three-tuner HD satellite receiver that can support up to three Joeys (4.5 stars), which are smaller devices that can access the Hopper's tuners and DVR storage from other rooms via a coaxial connection. Reasonable pricing, copious features including 2TB of storage space, and a well-designed interface put the Hopper head and shoulders above the TiVo Premiere Elite ($399.99, 2.5 stars), and make it our Editors' Choice for DVRs.
About pricing: The Hopper is available at no cost as part of Dish Network's mid-tier programming packages, and subscribers who want a lower-end programming package can get the Hopper installed for $99. Each installation can include up to three free Joeys for a multi-room setup. Dish charges $10 per month for whole-home DVR with the Hopper, and an additional $7 per month for each Joey connected to a TV.
Design and Interface
Considering it packs three tuners and 2TB of storage space, the Hopper looks downright tiny. At 2.3 by 15.9 by 11.4 inches (HWD), it's barely larger than your average Blu-ray player and half the size of the Dish Network ViP722 (4.5 stars) while offering twice the storage and a much lower price. The front is a glossy black, with a flip-down door on the left side that houses controls including a navigation pad and a very handy Locate Remote button that makes the remote beep so you can find it easily. There's a USB port and the Blockbuster logo, denoting the availability of Blockbuster's video on demand service, on the right side of the front panel. The back of the Hopper holds the cable input, an HDMI output, two additional USB ports for storage, and an eSATA port for external hard drives.
The remote is large, slightly round, and heavy on the buttons. While most navigation can be achieved with the direction pad up top, individual buttons for searching for shows, loading the guide, accessing the DVR, recording shows, and navigating up and down pages can be found on the remote. You'll have to endure a learning curve to remember which of the same-feeling buttons do what.