DISH Network Review, A Hands On Experience

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Updated July 5, 2022
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DISH Network is one of two of the major satellite TV providers here in the US.  Its competitor is DirecTV (read our DirecTV review), and if you can’t decide between the two you should definitely read our DISH vs DirecTV comparison.  For now, though, I’m going to examine the top 10 features that makes DISH Network an attractive proposition.  To be clear, this is just one of many Dish Network reviews we have on the site, but it is my most in-depth take on the provider.

1. DISH Hopper Review and Dish Anywhere Review

DISH Network Hopper Review
The DISH Hopper allows you to watch TV any where.

The Hopper, or the Hoppa’ as seen in the commercials, is not only a DVR but in essence a Slingbox.  Sling was bought by DISH a few years ago and if you’re not familiar the company, or in this case hardware, it allows you to watch and control TV from any where – this is known as DISH Anywhere – you’ve got an Internet connection; WiFi, 4G, LTE.  Needless to say your bandwidth will dictate the quality of the stream, but you probably already knew that.  And, yes, you read that right.  Even if you’re abroad, as in Europe, you can view TV, though last I checked Live TV was not accessible.

In order to take advantage of The Hopper’s DISH Anywhere feature you’ll need a decent Internet Connection at home and ensure that your Hopper Box is connected to your router, either by way of Ethernet or WiFi.  The latter part should be moot as your DISH installer should set this up for you, though if you’re more technical it’s a synch if you follow the onscreen instructions.

That said, you’ll want to  ensure you have a good “Up” pipe as you’ll be streaming from your home to machine.  If you don’t, the image quality can become poor and/or your stream will stutter making viewing anything but enjoyable.

If for some reason you don’t have an Internet connection while outside the confines of your home, and can plan ahead, you can also transfer your recorded programs from The Hopper to your mobile device or computer.  Again, you’ll need to plan ahead, as the process to transfer from The Hopper to another device takes time.  To be completely candid I’ve never had the patience to do so.  Nevertheless, it’s great if you plan to be on plane for a long period of time and you don’t feel like throwing money away on the Airline’s On Demand service.

And, last but definitely not least, the DISH app. It works with Android, iOS and your computer.  Just download it, punch in your credentials and you’ll have access to not only your Hopper’s contents and live TV, but an array of On Demand shows and films.  In fact, the UI and all together experience is better than that of the Hopper’s as things are intuitive and slick.  It’ll be interesting to see how they merge the app’s design into the Hopper.

Related: Don’t forget to check out our Dish Anywhere App review to see if it’s worth the space on your phone.

2. DISH On Demand

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To a large degree DISH has just about every new movie that you could wish for, provided it’s out and available.   There are a few occasions when something will come out on “DVD” before DISH, but for the most part they’ve got all the major motion pics to keep you satiated.  There are two types of On Demand to note, though.

There is On Demand that doesn’t require an Internet connection and is sent to your DISH box via the satellite connection.  The upside here is that movies are delivered almost instantly.  The downside is that there selection is limited compared to the Internet based offering.

The On Demand that delivered via your home’s Internet, has a far vaster selection.  Not only can you order new movies, but TV shows as well.

Your box will require that it downloads the show or film before it can start to stream, but if you’ve got a decent Internet connection it will largely be a moot issue.  I prefer to download the movie and watch it later, as it is saved to your box and you won’t experience any playback interruptions as it’s already been saved locally to the DISH box.  And one last perk here: if you pay for Premium Channels, such as HBO, you’ll be able to order those as well without any additional charges.

A few other things to note:

  • Some movies are offered in 1080.  They generally cost more, but the quality is discernible, especially on larger screens.
  • Downloaded movies, if you pay for them – some are free – will last up to 30 days but expire within 24 hours after you begin to watch them.  Again, this only applies if you’ve “paid” for it.

3. DISH Joey Boxes

DISH Joey Review
The DISH Joey lets you watch TV in many rooms simultaneously.

The Joey Boxes are smaller boxes that can be placed throughout your home.  They connect to the Hopper, or main box over your home’s Coaxial Cable.  What’s great about the Joeys is that they’re small and they work with the remote over RF.  That means you can hide them behind things, such as TVs and books, and they can still be controlled without a direct line of sight.  To me this last feature is key as I’m not graced with a massive living room.

For complete disclosure’s sake, the Joeys, while solid for the most part, they can be a bit laggy at times when trying to access On Demand or digging deep into the menus of the DISH.  If you’re looking for an upgrade, I’d suggest looking at the Super Joey box, which is more powerful and allows for more TVs to be connected to a Hopper.

4. DISH Network Joey Wireless Box

Dish Joey Wireless ReviewThis is fairly new to DISH.  And a necessity to remain competitive.  In short, the DISH Wireless Joey doesn’t require a cable coaxial connection and can be placed virtually any where in your home.  However, since it connects over your home’s WiFi connection you’ll need to ensure that it has a signal back to the Hopper.  Setup is fairly painless, though it will take a bit of back and forth, as I experienced, between the Hopper and where ever you setup the Wireless Joey.

5. DISH Network Image Quality

Yes, DISH provides an HD picture.  But it’s not true 1080.  But, and yes another but, you’ll likely be none the wiser if you’re watching your films and TV shows on a 60″ or smaller screen.  Toss it onto a larger screen and you’ll notice some of the pixelation.  That in mind, the blacks can sometimes be a bit overly compressed leading to a blocky image.

For the most part I’m satisfied with DISH’s picture quality.  I don’t care so much about television shows, and if I could change anything I would ask for the premium channels in full 1080p.  But alas, beggars can’t be choosers.

6. DISH Network Service Reliability

You’d think with satellite TV you’d get questionable picture quality and connection. Now, for full disclosure’s sake I do live in Souther California.  Which is to say we don’t experience much inclement weather.  So of course your mileage may vary depending on that.  But for the past 2+ years I’ve never had my service drop or go down – not once.

What I have had happen, though, is that I’ve had a few Hopper’s that have effectively died on me.  The first one lasted almost two years and then the hard drive stopped working.  Not a big deal as DISH immediately sent me a new Hopper in a few days.  The biggest caveat was losing all of my recorded shows.  The second one had a tech glitch with it and wouldn’t record shows.  So it was back to ordering a new one.  Again, the replacement Hopper showed up in two day’s time, making their shipping expertise on par with Amazon’s Prime Service.

Lastly, and very rarely, the On Demand doesn’t work.  The resolve is sometimes as simple as resetting the Hopper or its Internet connection.  Other times I’ve had to call and ask them to flip a few switches on the back end to get it running again.

7. DISH Network On Screen Displays, Menus and Navigation

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Now, that isn’t to say they haven’t tired.  Not too long ago, they added a Game Finder button.  Hit the blue button on the remote and you can view scores from your favorite teams and most importantly locate the channel and live feed of the game in question. It may not seem like much of a feature, but when you want to find the game and find it right away this is an excellent resolve.  You’ll just need to practice a bit of a patience as it takes 30-45 seconds to load.

All that in mind, ordering a show, film or changing a setting isn’t more than a few clicks or button presses away.  The biggest bottle neck is diving deep into the On Demand section, as there seems to be an endless array of shows and movies to choose from.  It’s effectively a rabbit hole that goes fairly deep, and much like Netflix (which is an app available on DISH boxes), you can spend more time trying to find something than actually watching it.

And of note, DISH recently integrated Netflix into the Hopper.  So you’re never too far from your streaming media.  And each respective Premium Channel’s On Demand menu is integrated into the “guide” such that you can easily access it.

8. Speed of Joeys and Hoppers

If you’re looking for the fastest possible experience, when navigating menus, calling up On Demand shows, then you’ll want to look to the Hopper or the Super Joey box.  Both are fairly fluid and fast, especially when compared to the regular Joeys, which at times can be slow to display icons and “call up” menus.  The biggest bottle neck that I’ve experienced is when trying to view the On Demand section, which for either type of box can take a few seconds.

9. DISH Network Customer Service

Read the comments on our DISH vs DirecTV piece and you’ll gain some insight to how people feel about any respective TV provider.  Which in my mind is par for the course.  Which is to say, no matter the consumer product, you’ll find an irate customer or frustrated consumer.

To that end, DISH has provided nothing but stellar customer service when I’ve had an issue with the box or service.  As mentioned, when my Hopper broke, they sent me one in just two day’s time.  And they included a built-in return label, which is to say all I needed to do was remove the previous one. The only thing they didn’t include was tape – ho-hum.

10. DISH Network Installation

Inviting what is effectively a random person into your house is always a disconcerting experience.  Fortunately, DISH installers, at least in my case, were not only competent but extremely professional.  They showed up on time, were knowledgeable about the installation process, as well as the tech that they were setting up.  There is no disputing that this could vary from location to location, but it would seem, based on my experience, that DISH goes to great lengths to ensure that the installers know their stuff, both about the equipment and codes that they have to adhere to when installing in a residential home.

11. DISH Network Reviews Conclusion

DISH may not be the only satellite TV provider, but there is no doubt that they produce an excellent product and service.  Their customer service is responsive, their installers are professional and knowledgeable, and they’re constantly pushing the envelope in terms of new equipment and features.

Keep in mind that DISH isn’t the only player.  Other options include DirecTV (their direct competitor), COX, Time Warner, AT&T Uverse (now DirecTV) and others.  To learn more about those satellite and cable providers check out our satellite tv reviews.

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