Full and honest opening disclaimer – I’ve been a dish network customer for more than 15 years.
The hopper is a new system that dish has brought out to compete with some of the many cable offerings in the DVR and whole home television space. Dish purchased Sling a few years back and this is an extension/improvement/next generation of the Sling Catcher technology. The Hopper acts as a “base station” or home rebroadcast system. This rebroadcast is sent to the “joey’s” that are connected via cable to the Hopper. By cable it’s the wired cable within the house allowing for a rebroadcast of the digital signal from one device to the other.
There are a couple of other interesting innovations that move the receiver high on my list – the first is the full integration of blockbuster on demand. That puts thousands of movies at your fingertips, the newer Pay-per-view movies and the BB on demand service. I suspect they preloaded mine with movies they knew I would like, so I downloaded and watched the horrible movies 1941. It’s a guilty pleasure to watch a movie that stupid that it is funny.
I haven’t tried dish remote access yet – will try that and post another review later.
Another new feature that is interesting is the “Prime time” feature. It lets you record all the shows on primetime (plus up to 3 more shows for a total of 6 shows at once). You can then watch the shows at your convenience. I like to record discovery (How the planet was made and Universe are two particular favorites) and the boys like to record myth busters. In the past we had more shows in some time slots than we had ability to record. Now we can record and watch what we want, when we want.
Overall my personal assessment is that the system is a nice improvement over some of the other existing systems out there. As we get more and more services from our entertainment systems it will be interesting to see how things progress. So far Dish has done a great job integrating two of their purchases – Sling and Blockbuster to produce a more robust and improved solution.