Dish showed off their whole-home solution during CES earlier this year and they've now announced not only that the Hopper DVR and Joey extenders are available but that new subscribers can pick up this system for free! Current Dish subscribers will be required to pay the $6 DVR charge, a $4 multi-room service charge and each Joey will cost $7 per month.
The Hopper DVR is a three tuner device that can actually record much more than just three shows at once. The device offers what Dish is calling "Primetime Anytime" and allows users to record the four major networks during primetime hours and save those recordings for up to eight days. While you may not want every show it grabs using this feature, most people still watch ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox for the majority of their entertainment. Using the Primetime Anytime feature you'll never miss a show on a major network and because of Dish's tuner savvy, you still have a tuner available to you for recording and watching live TV during primetime hours.
Joey, which pairs with the Hopper via MoCA or Ethernet allows customers to extend their DVR viewing to other rooms of the home. Much like other whole home solutions, you can have a single Hopper DVR and multiple Joey extenders throughout your home on which you can watch live and recorded content. Being able to start watching a show in one room and finish it another is a great feature to have and it's good to see more providers add this service. It's something that Media Center users like myself have been doing for a long time and I can't imagine living without it now.
It will be interesting to see how Dish handles the installation of Hopper and Joey systems. MoCA is an option so one would assume that a standard installation would use this option as it allows technicians to use existing, or install new, coaxial cable in the home. The ability to use Ethernet is interesting though as you can use your home network to allow all of the device to communicate. If you've already done the wiring, I have no doubt you'll have a very happy technician on your hands.
Data transfer rates for either method are going to be enough as it doesn't matter which wiring you choose to run in your home. As well, either coaxial or Ethernet cable will be useful outside of the Dish application so if you ever cancel services you'll be able to re-purpose the wiring for other applications. My question is whether Dish will allow customers to choose their install method or simply stick with coaxial cable as that's what they've always used.
Whole Home Nirvana?
I honestly can't wait to get customer reactions to the Hopper and Joey whole home solution. If Dish can provide full functionality on the Joey units then they'll be doing better than most. Time Warner's solution doesn't allow the scheduling of recordings from client devices. With Moxi, you can't schedule or delete recordings from the Moxi Mate. With Media Center, you have no access to the streaming content from Netflix on extender devices. (Unless you use and Xbox 360 and have an Xbox Live Gold account.) Each whole home solution released so far has had major limitations placed on the extender devices. Hopefully Dish has learned from these past systems and won't repeat the same mistakes.
Full recording management, access to Blockbuster content and other features will be required if Joeys are to actually be successful. The fact that Dish is offering the new system for free to new subscribers is a great way to drum up business. Hopefully they can execute this new system in a compelling way that give subscribers new features and pushes competitors to fix some of the issues with their whole home offerings.
Source: The Digital Media Zone