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Dish Network Hopper Vs DirecTV Genie

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Since the early days of network broadcasting, viewers have sought greater control over their TV experience. The number of video content sources has increased dramatically in recent years, and the ability to capture programming for archiving or later viewing has become essential. In particular, the development of digital video recorders, or DVRs, has revolutionized TV viewing. A DVR digitally records video to a disk drive, flash drive, memory card or other storage format. It provides greater flexibility and higher-quality recordings than a VCR used to do. Most importantly, it allows viewers to watch TV on their schedules, and to access content from a variety of different sources.

Set-top DVR boxes for home use are increasingly popular. AC Nielsen reports that between 2006 and 2011, the percentage of US households with a DVR grew from just 1.2 percent to 42.2 percent. In 2012, two satellite service providers introduced novel new takes on home DVRs with the Hopper from Dish Network and the Genie from DirecTV.

Dish Network Hopper DVR SpecsDish Network Hopper

Dish introduced the Hopper in early 2012. Consisting of a central DVR box and a variety of smaller receivers, called “Joeys,” for each TV in the home, viewers can record, pause, and rewind up to four different channels on four different TVs with another two recording in the background. This allows viewers to move between different rooms and pick up viewing where they left off. The Hopper includes three tuners and a two TB drive, which is able to store 500 hours of high-definition (HD) TV or 2,000 hours of standard-definition (SD) TV.

A feature called PrimeTime Anytime automatically records every prime time show on the four major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC). Another feature called AutoHop enables viewers to watch programs without commercials, subject to time restrictions. The AutoHop feature attracted bouquets, brickbats and legal action; advertisers are actually taking Dish to court for bypassing their commercials.

DirecTV Genie

DirecTV Genie DVR SpecsNot to be outdone, DirecTV introduced the Genie in October of 2012. Its showcase feature is the ability to transmit content to TVs in any room in a home, even if they do not have smaller receivers of their own. Genie’s “remote view” (RVU) technology allows viewers to watch programming on TVs with RVU hardware or an adapter installed. The Genie allows five HD programs to be recorded at one time, and its 1 TB drive can store 200 hours of HD or 800 hours of SD.

A unique feature called Genie Recommends is a “suggestion engine” that recommends programming it thinks the viewer will enjoy based upon his or her current viewing habits. Another feature called StartOver allows a viewer to pick up the beginning of a program joined in progress, from any channel at any time of day.

Who Wins?

Reviewers particularly like the Genie’s RVU technology and the Hopper’s AutoHop feature. (With litigation pending, however, it is anyone's