The reason I am posting this is because I remain astonished at the difficulty in obtaining this information. As established in Part 1, I’m a long time DISH customer and was interested in upgrading to the Hopper. I decided against the upgrade, but I thought I would share what I learned. Bottom line: DISH reps don’t have a clue.
The DISH Hopper is intended to be a whole home solution. Each Hopper has 3 tuners and can support up to three Joey’s in different rooms. The solution is designed for that a single receiver and provide HD programming to multiple rooms with local in-room control. The cable runs are as follows:
- Two coax connections from the satellite antenna to the cabling hub or Hopper.
- The cabling hub does not need to be co-located with the Hopper – a single coax to the Hopper is all that is needed.
- One connection to each Joey (up to three) from the cabling hub.
- The Hopper can connect to an HDTV via Component or HDMI.
- The Joey can connect to an HDTV via HDMI or composite. This is a notable difference with the DirectTV Genie system – its “Client” (Joey) supports Component.
The Hopper is newer than the DirectTV Genie. The two solutions are similar, but the Hopper has an additional tuner and larger hard drive. Feature-wise, the biggest difference is the Hopper/Joey solution allows you to select tuners from each TV. This means that if you are recording a show (recording consumes a tuner) – any TV can watch that show without consuming another tuner. The Hopper also has some channel skipping features with significant restrictions. I never tried the feature, but don’t expect it to last anyway.
Another nice thing about the Hopper/Joey system is the remotes can learn. You can have multiple remotes associated with the same Hopper or Joey. The older DISH systems had pre-programmed remotes so you had to hope they happened to include your TV. This has been a problem for me.
The reason I rejected the solution is because DISH is being a bit greedy with it. They impose some artificial rules on Hopper accounts. I had two problems. I currently have the cheap Welcom package which includes HD locals and the movie channels I pay additional for also HD. DISH requires Hopper accounts to have an HD package. The good news is you can downgrade after the installation. In other words, only activation requires an HD package, you can live out the two year contact with the Welcome Package.
The second issue was they require all receivers on the account to be HD as well. I own DISH’s original DVR (508) and it is setup on a separate DISH antenna with separate cabling. It has no DVR fees. This receiver can no longer be active on my account – and they want me to replace it with an HD receiver – a comparable one with DVR would be some $600 plus a higher monthly fee. There is no technical issue here, but DISH simply won’t allow it to continue – after talking to several reps I gave up on the Hopper.
It is also noteworthy that DISH now charges per “TV” instead of per tuner (this is the same with the DirectTV Genie). DISH charges a monthly fee for each Joey (or Client). Unless you have a way of distributing HDTV though-out the home, there may not be much of a choice here. But for me, my HD receiver is currently feeding 5 HD TVs (all on the same channel). The Hopper/Joey model is nicer, but it cost more per month.