DISH Hopper 3 DVR Review
If you’re looking for a premium DVR that will change how you watch television, the DISH Hopper 3 is the device for you.
We’re giving the DISH Hopper 3 DVR five stars. That’s unusual for us. Most products have at least a few downsides, but the Hopper 3 really does stand out.
Available as part of the DISH Network satellite TV service, the Hopper 3 debuted a few years ago to critical acclaim. Since then, it has evolved into a central hub for TV streaming services, smart home assistants, and home security integrations.
Let’s get into the specifics about why we recommend this DVR so highly.
Note: We won’t cover all of the DISH television packages and costs in this review, but head over to our comprehensive DISH Network review for more details.
|DISH Hopper 3||Details|
|Storage capacity||2 TB|
|Expandable storage||USB 2.0 drive up to 7 TB|
|Learn more||View Plans|
*Data effective 10/19/2020. Price and channel inclusion vary according to location.
- Massive storage
- Speedy and easy to use
- Exceptional remote
- Could use even more apps
What are the DISH Hopper 3’s main features?
An affordable DVR that stands above the rest
The DISH Hopper 3 is a powerhouse, especially compared to similar DVR options from other satellite and cable television providers. Here’s what we like about the Hopper 3 right out of the gate.
Even though the DISH Hopper 3 is quite powerful, it’s not expensive. DISH includes the Hopper 3 for new customers who sign up for one of the TV packages at a cost of only $5 per month. You can add another Hopper 3 for an additional television for $15 per month. There’s even an option for purchasing the Hopper 3 outright for $389.99.*
*Data effective 10/19/2020.
Not many current-market DVRs provide so much storage as the Hopper 3. It almost feels unlimited at 2 TB. That translates into 500 hours of recorded programming in HD and 2,000 hours in SD. You can also expand the storage even more with the USB 2.0 port using external drives, adding another 7 TB for all of your movies and shows.
As hands-free as you want to be
You can talk to your remote, and you can pair your Hopper 3 with your Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled devices. Then you can talk to the Amazon Alexa bot or Google Assistant to change channels, search for a favorite actor, or even ask about the weather.
Ideal for home theaters
The Hopper 3 has 16 tuners, which means you can record multiple shows at the same time. That’s really important for households with several viewers who watch a wide variety of programs.
The video resolution is outstanding, supporting either 1080p or 4K content at 60 FPS and in 10-bit color.
There are ports galore—HDMI, component, composite, you name it—so it’s compatible with most home theater setups.
If you like details, we’ve got the full spec list at the bottom of this article.
What are the DISH Hopper 3’s most unique features?
Welcome to the most powerful DVR we’ve found
We’ve rated the DISH Hopper 3 at five stars, which, as we said, is unusual for us. This section will tell you how it earned those five stars.
Most products have a few dings against them, but the Hopper 3 seems to cater to the most high-tech gurus out there who have an almost insatiable appetite for recording shows and movies.
Here’s a rundown of its most outstanding features.
A central hub for TV and much more
What excites us the most about the Hopper 3 (and the inevitable successor, which will likely be called the Hopper 4) is that one device can serve as a central hub for all of your satellite television channels, TV streaming apps, and your connected home.
We’re living in an age when “one hub to rule them all” is not really possible. There are countless apps, from mainstream options like Disney+ and HBO Max to niche products for watching British dramas (e.g., Acorn TV) or sports (e.g., FuboTV). The Hopper 3 might one day allow you to load them all (here’s hoping it’s soon). For now, having Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube is a major step in the right direction.
Vast storage space
The most unique feature on the Hopper 3 is definitely the recording space. At 2 TB, we had a hard time recording enough new movies and shows to max out the Hopper 3. As a general feature, we liked how easily you can set the device to auto-record new episodes of current television seasons.
As part of our testing, we recorded the show Cobra, a new major television debut called Next, countless movies on the premium channels, and did a deep dive into sports. We recorded every Minnesota Vikings game, every recent NBA Finals game, and several soccer tournaments.
During our testing time, we filled up only about 20% of the space after completely deleting every previous recording. It feels like the Hopper 3 DVR sort of has the attitude: “What else can you throw at me?”
Works with popular smart home assistants and security systems
We decided to go hands-on with the Hopper 3 to test out the latest apps and integrations. Our goal was to see if the Hopper 3 can become that central hub we’re describing and meet our entertainment and home security needs.
We also extensively tested how the DISH Hopper 3 works with popular smart home assistants. The DVR supports either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, and you can speak into the remote so it hears you loud and clear. It’s a blast. We could find movies at will, search for obscure actors, and change channels by voice.
As a central hub for a connected home, the Hopper 3 performed well.
Special features for sports fans
Sports fans will be keen to know about Sports Bar Mode, which gives you four games running at the same time on one four-way split-screen.
The Game Finder, which shows up as a channel in the Guide, lets you search for your favorite team and then record all games in a season. It’s fantastic.
A cool remote
There are some cool little features about the remote we want to call out. You can press a button on the DVR to find the remote; it emits a chirping sound. The AutoHop mode lets you watch Primetime Anytime shows without commercials. No commercials and no lost remote can really make for a better family TV night.
Connecting to other DISH devices and apps
The Hopper can also connect with up to six other DISH Joey receivers in your home, providing all of the content for those connected televisions. You can even watch recorded shows and movies using the DISH Anywhere app on your phone or tablet.
What about the DISH Hopper 3’s content quality?
Content rules the satellite network airwaves
Our main impression of the Hopper 3 is that there is an abundance of content, especially in HD, and the selection and quality are only getting better and better.
Included streaming services and content
We wish YouTube TV was included only because it would augment what you can watch using the satellite television programming available. And we hope eventually DISH Network adds Disney+ and other apps to the DVR.
If DISH ends up adding more apps like Disney+ or HBO Max, or even expands to more obscure options like BritBox or FuboTV, you’ll have every show or movie at your fingertips.
Geared for HD content now and in the future
The Hopper 3 is well suited for the current age of HD programming. Almost every channel in our test account was in 1080p, and we had no trouble recording all of those shows and movies. We used up only about 20% of the space available. We never had any issues with quality and never bothered with SD content.
Our only minor issue here is not really DISH’s fault, and that’s the fact that 4K content has not taken the world by storm. For a while, 4K became a trend for sports, and a few events were broadcast at that resolution, then it all died down.
Though you can watch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video shows in 4K easily enough, I’d argue that 4K channels are not available right now in general, even from any of the main cable channel companies like HBO or EPIX. So while there is a limited selection of 4K shows available via DISH, I can’t fault them for this predicament.
We think that will change. 4K televisions are becoming more and more common, so eventually more premium channels and basic cable channels will broadcast in 4K.
Enough storage for an 8K world
Recording shows and movies is super easy with the Hopper 3, and our overall experience left us thinking there is never a shortage of things to watch.
As we’ve mentioned before, with 2 TB of storage (and the ability to expand to 7 TB), you can feel free to record that RV camping show, every episode of Lost ever made, complete seasons of your favorite football team, and really anything else that strikes your fancy.
Better yet, the Hopper 3 is well prepared for the future with all this storage capacity. With 8K video on the horizon, the Hopper 3 has the necessary space to record it available already.
Recap: Is DISH Hopper 3 worth it?
We love everything about this high-end DVR
In short, the DISH Hopper 3 is the best DVR out there from any company, including the cable giants and that other large satellite television provider (that would be DIRECTV). The price is reasonable as an add-on, and there is a ton of space for your recordings. You can easily find the remote and talk to the Alex or Google Assistant bots. We just want DISH to include even more streaming apps before we can call this the perfect DVR, but we’re still giving it five stars.
For the detail-minded readers, here are the complete specs we covered in this article:
|Storage capacity||2 TB|
|HD quality||1080p and 4K 60 FPS (10-bit color)|
|Hours of recorded programming||500 HD, 2000 SD|
|Ports||HDMI, component, composite, optical audio output, USB 3.0, two Ethernet ports, phone port, coaxial, coaxial jack for remote antenna, USB 2.0|
|Devices you can connect||Joey, 4K Joey, Wireless Joey, DISH Anywhere app|
|Expandable storage||USB 2.0 drive up to 7 TB|
|Learn more||View Plans|
What do you think?
Do you have DISH Hopper 3? What’s your experience with it been? Or do you like a different streaming service better? Drop us a comment below!