Home / Articles / Dish Hopper vs. DIRECTV Genie | Review

Dish Hopper vs. DIRECTV Genie | Review


The DISH Hopper 3 vs. The DIRECTV Genie

As technology advances, so do our options for entertainment. No, we aren’t at the point where we can seamlessly inhabit virtual reality worlds like so many mediocre ‘90s movies promised us (yes, we’re looking at you, Lawnmower Man), but what we can do is watch HD cable television. A whole heck of a lot of it, in ways we never have before.
Two popular options for doing exactly that are the DISH Hopper 3 and the DIRECTV Genie. But which one is right for you? We’ll take a look at the features and capabilities of both systems, as well as their advantages and limitations, and help you make an informed decision. Whether you should use either one of them to watch Lawnmower Man, well…you’re on your own with that one.

Space and Storage Capabilities

DISH Hopper 3DIRECTV Genie
Storage2 TB1 TB
Recording hours2,000 SD/500 HD800 SD/200 HD
DISH Hopper 3
2 TB
Recording hours
2,000 SD/500 HD
1 TB
Recording hours
800 SD/200 HD

The DISH Hopper 3 (the third generation of this particular DVR) boasts 2 TB of internal storage. DISH says that this allows for 500 hours of HD programming to be stored on the device, or 2000 hours of standard definition recordings. Think of it like this: the entirety of The Office takes up just under 100 hours. In standard definition, you could fit twenty of those and still have a bit of room left over.
The DIRECTV Genie (also the third iteration of this DVR, model number HR54 for reference) offers 1024 GB of storage capacity, or just a hair over 1 TB. This gives users 200 hours of HD video storage, or 800 hours of standard definition storage. Put another way, those 200 hours of HD could hold every zombie-splattering moment from every season of The Walking Dead and you’d still have room for every single second of Game of Thrones—twice.

Simultaneous Recordings

What’s the fun in even owning a DVR unless you RECORD ALL THE THINGS? Simultaneously, preferably. All that storage isn’t going to fill itself, after all.

DISH Hopper 3DIRECTV Genie
Simultaneous recordings with main DVR only165
DISH Hopper 3
Simultaneous recordings with main DVR only
Simultaneous recordings with main DVR only

The DISH Hopper 3 allows customers to record a whopping sixteen different shows simultaneously. Can you even think of sixteen shows you want to record—much less all at one time?
The DIRECTV Genie offers users the ability to record five shows at once, less than a third of the capability of the Hopper. Still, maybe this is a blessing in disguise: who needs that much TV anyway?

Multiple Television Setup and Simultaneous Viewing

Sometimes, someone in the house wants to watch, say, The Bachelor, and someone else in the house wants to watch Anything That Is Not The Bachelor. If you want to watch different shows in different rooms at the same time, it’s not a problem because both the Hopper 3 and the Genie allow for this.
The DISH Hopper 3 can broadcast to sixteen different televisions, though only seven at the same time. It does so by using an optional, additional device called a Joey. It’s a good thing you recorded sixteen different shows. Now for your next challenge: getting a house with sixteen different rooms for those TVs.
The DIRECTV Genie, on the other hand, can provide programming to eight televisions. Like DISH, DIRECTV does this through use of optional, additional devices called Genie Minis. However, only four of those televisions, including the TV connected directly to Genie, can show live or recorded content at the same time.

Number of televisions that can be connected168
Number of televisions that can be broadcast to simultaneously74
Maximum number of DVR accessories6 Joeys8 Genie Minis
DISH Hopper
Number of televisions that can be connected
Number of televisions that can be broadcast to simultaneously
Maximum number of DVR accessories
6 Joeys
Number of televisions that can be connected
Number of televisions that can be broadcast to simultaneously
Maximum number of DVR accessories
8 Genie Minis

Watch Anywhere

Don’t want to get up and plop in front of the TV but have your mobile device handy? That works because both of these DVRs allow users the option to stream content anywhere.
DISH Hopper 3 offers an app called DISH Anywhere (Android | Apple) which, when installed, allows users to watch anything on their DVRs at home or live TV on a connected mobile device.
DIRECTV Genie offers the GenieGO app, (Android | Apple) which functions much the same way as DISH’s app. One major difference is that GenieGO only allows users to watch what’s already on their DVRs: no viewing of live content here.

Simultaneous Syncing

If you’re throwing a party and need to broadcast the same content to multiple televisions in different locations simultaneously, it’s not a problem. Both the DISH Hopper 3 and DIRECTV Genie allow you to sync simultaneously across all connected units in your home. This feature is great for, say, large parties where everyone can view the same video at once from multiple locations in the same house.

Skipping Ads

Commercials are one of those necessary evils: many broadcasters wouldn’t be able to produce content without the revenue they provide, and it’s important to the advertisers that viewers see them. The subject of more than a few court battles, DVR manufacturers have made some agreements and concessions regarding total and complete ad skipping to satisfy both sides.
The DISH Hopper 3 ad skipping capability is a bit complex: called AutoHop, it gives you the power to skip commercials in select recorded primetime programs on the major networks. This commercial skip feature is available at varying times, starting the day after airing, for select primetime shows on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC recorded with PrimeTime Anytime. During qualifying shows, answer a prompt at the first commercial break to skip ads.
DIRECTV does not allow built-in ad skipping, and those pesky ads have to be skipped manually. When watching a recorded show, viewers must fast forward through each ad to skip over a commercial break. Be careful not to skip ahead too far, or whoever watches TV with you won’t trust you with the remote!

Integrated Apps

Part of the fun of owning a smart TV these days is the apps, and DVRs are no different. Both the Hopper 3 and the Genie offer an array of apps that enhance the viewing experience.
Included in the DISH Hopper’s lineup of popular apps are Netflix, VEVO, MLBn Interactive, Pandora, SiriusXM, Facebook, Twitter, and more. It also allows third-party apps by independent developers that increase the productivity of the DVR.
DIRECTV Genie has the following apps integrated into the system: Pandora, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Scoreguide, and others like NFL SUNDAY TICKET. Sports fans may particularly enjoy an app that allows them to manage their fantasy football teams.

Fortune Telling: What Will You Watch Next

Amazon and Netflix pioneered the whole “based on this, we’d think you like this” concept on each of their sites. Those algorithms have trickled their way onto other platforms, including DVRs.
The DIRECTV Genie offers predictive programming suggestions based on viewing habits.
The DISH Hopper 3 has a service built into the channel guide called ‘“You May Also Like,” which makes recommendations based on what you’ve watched.

Pricing Comparisons

When it comes to price, there are many factors to consider, and some of them even change by region. However, we’ll lay out what we can be certain about for each of the DVRs.

TV packageStarting at $50/monthStarting at $50/month
Main DVR equipment fees$15/mo.$10/mo.
Add’l DVR Equipment Fees$7/mo. for each additional Joey$7/mo. for each additional Genie Mini
DISH Hopper
TV package
Starting at $50/month
Main DVR equipment fees
Add’l DVR Equipment Fees
$7/mo. for each additional Joey
TV package
Starting at $50/month
Main DVR equipment fees
Add’l DVR Equipment Fees
$7/mo. for each additional Genie Mini

DISH Hopper 3 charges a DVR equipment fee of $15 each month on top of whichever package you choose. DISH offers packages starting at $50 monthly for 120 channels ranging to $90 a month for 250 channels. Those rates are guaranteed for two years, but you can get each of the packages less expensively by agreeing to lock in your rate for only a year.
DIRECTV comes with a $10 per month DVR service fee. Plans start at $50 per month for 145 channels, up to $125 per month for 315 channels. With DIRECTV, these plans are locked in for one year. Depending on your area, these plans may include the service fee.
As stated above, prices can vary by region for both service and equipment. Check how much service costs in your area for DIRECTV Genie and for DISH Hopper.

Sports Coverage

When choosing a new cable package and/or television, remember that DISH and DIRECTV feature different ways for a sports fan to appreciate a game.
Hopper 3 offers “multi-view mode,” known casually as “Sports bar mode” to some. This feature splits the screen into four different 4K sections so you can keep an eye on multiple games at once. No more switching back and forth between games at commercials. DISH also offers an array of additional sports-centric packages for extra fees, covering everything from the NFL to the MLB to the NHL and even cricket.
DIRECTV is the only provider that carries the much-sought-after NFL SUNDAY TICKET, a sports package that broadcasts National Football League (NFL) regular season games unavailable on local affiliates. It carries all regional Sunday afternoon games produced by FOX and CBS. Besides that, it offers a wide variety of sports packages much in the same way that DISH does, including some soccer packages.
Check out the sports packages for DISH and the sports packages for DIRECTV.

TV Package Deals

In evaluating the TV package deals available for both formats, there are a few key differences.
DISH, at their lowest tier starting at $49.99, offers 190 channels, which includes 6500 hours of on-demand programming and 70 Sirius XM music channels. The highest tier offers nearly 300 channels, and in addition to the above includes 17 movie channels and some regional sports channels.
DIRECTV now offers six tiers of channel packages. Starting at $50 per month for expanded basic cable, they also throw in 46 movie channels at no charge for three months. A heads up for sports fans: ESPN1 and 2 are included in the second tier for an additional $5 per month. The highest tier offers 315 channels at $125 per month, which seems steep until you realize it includes the aforementioned 46 movie channels, NFL SUNDAY TICKET, 38 additional regional sports channels, and equipment fees for four rooms’ worth of equipment.
For bundles in your area, go to DISH’s site, or if DIRECTV is more your style, check out their bundles.

Customer Reviews

Like anything else, both the DISH Hopper 3 and the DIRECTV Genie have boosters and detractors. Some are huge fans of the Hopper’s storage capabilities, but may feel the price is too high for a sports package they don’t view as strong. Others love the overwhelming content that the DIRECTV Genie provides, but wish that the DVR itself had more flexibility when it comes to apps and storage.
As one might expect, many of the negative reviews are linked to package prices or rates. It’s always a good idea to carefully study the agreement you make with any cable provider to ensure there aren’t any fees built in of which you’re unaware, and to know (and stay on top of) rate increases when they inevitably come along.
Other negative reviews found online concern customer service. DISH Hopper 3 reviews are almost overwhelmingly negative, while DIRECTV Genie enjoys a number of positive reviews among the negative. It’s important to remember to take the information you read on review sites with a grain of salt, as consumers can be much more likely to write negative reviews as opposed to positive reviews.

The Big Picture

Having covered both the DISH Hopper 3 and DIRECTV Genie, we see that each has its positives and negatives. Ultimately, you’ll want to consider DVR storage space, the price for each package (as well as the add ons for additional programming), functionality in terms of being able to view the content you pay for remotely, and bundled apps.
The DISH Hopper 3 is more expensive (those Joey units really add up!), but it does offer a storage capacity and a simultaneous recording capability that more than doubles what the DIRECTV Genie offers. If keeping a lot of media on your DVR or recording multiple programs at once is important to you, DISH Hopper 3may be the way to go. It also scores some definite cool points for the third party apps and the (limited) commercial skipping ability.
The DIRECTV Genie is less expensive overall and includes Genie Minis for up to three extra televisions, which is a great touch. And while the storage capacity and ability to record simultaneously aren’t quite up to par with what Hopper 3 offers, we have to wonder how much it matters: 200 hours of HD programming is still a ton of programming, even compared to the Hopper’s 500 hours. On top of that, the exclusivity of the sports package NFL SUNDAY TICKET is hugely important to sports fans.
Given all of the above, it’s a close call, but for value for the basic customer, it looks like DIRECTV Genie is the way to go here.

  • Andrew Sullivan

    No mention of picture quality differences. Did you notice any?

    • http://www.reviews.org/ Trevor Wheelwright

      We venture a guess most people wouldn’t notice unless they were side-by-side.
      Objectively, DIRECTV has more HD channels, so they look better on more networks; subjectively, we’d say DIRECTV’s picture was higher quality, and most customer feedback seems to agree.