While Dish Network’s press conference at CES this year lacked the polish and energy (and swag) of years past, there was no lack of news from the team responsible for one of our favorite video platforms. We’ve already posted about the new HopperGO device and Sling TV updates coming later this year. But the big news from Dish was the latest-generation Hopper 3.
The Hopper 3 is a significant revision of the Hopper home entertainment platform, including built-in support for UHD TVs and content. It will introduce new content service options offering 4K, a total of 16 actual tuners (no Prime Time Anytime tuner math here), a new 4-up “sports bar” mode that displays four HD channels simultaneously, and an updated processor to power it all that’s seven times faster than the silicon in the Hopper 2. And of course, the new box features the much-improved new Dish UI.
New 4K content options will include partnerships with Sony Pictures and the addition of Netflix and YouTube. This will bring 4K movies, shows, and videos to the new Hopper 3 and any of up to 6 connected “Joey” extenders. 4K content access will require an Ultra HD TV connected to either the Hopper 3 itself or a 4K Joey. A new universal search capability will make it easier to find content across your subscribed channels and these services.
Now you may be asking excitedly, in a raised voice, “SIXTEEN TUNERS?” Yep. Sixteen tuners. The intent is to just eliminate the need to worry about conflicts in a system with multiple extenders. Even with seven separate, active shows between the Hopper and six extenders and a few additional recordings at the same time, it’s unlikely anyone will need to worry about tuner conflicts.
Our favorite feature of this new box is the new Sports Bar Mode for Ultra HD TVs. This feature will use your TV’s full screen to display a grid of four full HD channels at full resolution and simultaneous motion. This is not like the jerky channel preview offered by some cable providers. You get to choose the channels, and you can easily decide which channel has audio and switch any of the channels to full screen. Think Sunday game day, weather/emergency/event reporting, or even election night.
Hopper 3 will be available in early 2016 to new customers and as an replacement for qualified existing customers at no additional cost.