The Dish Hopper, the DVR that records up to six channels at a time and allows you to automatically skip network TV commercials, had a big coming out party at CES 2013. While most people have now heard of the company's controversial new DVR, Dish isn't slowing down and waiting for us to catch up.
Their second generation of Hopper devices steps up the convenience factor by adding Sling control as well as apps that will let you take your programing with you, even if you won't have an internet connection.
Sling + Hopper
Hopper is Dish's answer to other MSOs' whole-home DVR solutions. It made it's biggest splash last year when Dish announced AutoHop, an option that gives users the ability to automatically skip commercials on their recordings as long as they watch the programming after 1am the next day. They were quickly sued in court and while that battle still continues, users love their Hoppers. Paired with Joey extenders, you can watch your TV in any room of the home.
Now, not happy to keep you at home, Dish has added Sling to the second generation hopper. What does that mean for you? Quite simply, you can now view your recordings or live TV from anywhere you have an internet connection. On phones, tablets and PCs, Sling tunnels through to your home network and feeds your content directly to you no matter where you are.
Dish has built Sling service in to several of their other DVR set-top boxes but none of them also had the offering of the Hopper. Sling takes your media, recorded or live, encodes it and then pushes it to your location. All of this happens within the second gen Hopper itself so you'll no longer need a separate adapter in order to use the Sling service.
Along with building in Sling, the Hopper introduced at CES 2013 adds some other innovative features that users may consider worth an upgrade. First, Hopper Transfers. This new feature allows you to use the wifi in your home to transfer recordings to your iPad and watch them where no internet connection is available. If you're flying, driving in the country or camping, you'll never have to go without your favorite shows again.
This is one place where Dish can easily out maneuver cable companies. Because the Hopper is made in house, Dish can allow these transfers. A company like TiVo has never been able to truly move recordings since most cable companies protect their content and won't allow customers to take them along when they leave the house.
Dish has also added the Dish Explorer app which turns you iPad into a second screen while watching TV. Explorer connects your to social media, and will point you towards popular programming based on social interactions regarding the shows people are watching.
While I applaud Dish for moving forward in their Hopper development plans, we have to hope that it isn't all for nothing. All four major networks have pending lawsuits against the company due to AutoHop. Personally, I can't see why. We've been able to manually fast forward through commercials since the advent and home use of the VCR. AutoHop simply takes this to it's logical conclusion. Whether it's the "auto" part of AutoHop or the fact that Dish is no longer concerning themselves with keeping networks happy we'll probably never know.
No matter where the lawsuits lead, Dish has let the cat out of the bag and it's going to be hard for content companies to put it back in. Whether you skip commercials or not, the Hopper is a technology powerhouse in the DVR world and hopefully we'll see other companies following with similar products soon.