DISH Network Has New Set-Tops In The Hopper

While legacy television services continue to contract, I remain a subscriber (for now) and keep on eye on Dish as one of the most technically progressive service providers (and having personally been acquired, way back when). Now cable and satellite companies don’t iterate at the speed of retail-facing co’s, and generally with less fanfare when they do (not always), but apparently a refresh is upon us as DISH has three new Android-powered devices in the, uh, hopper.

Dish Joey 4

First spotted on the FCC and confirmed by DISH, the DISH Joey 4 (D35) would likely continue to function as a MoCA Hopper client in the hub+spoke model and features both Zigbee and Bluetooth for remote control. As you can see from the photograph above (click to enlarge), Ethernet, HDMI, and USB ports are present. Hopes springs eternal, so I’ll go ahead and assume this isn’t a successor to the non-4k Joey 3 but, rather, a higher-end alternative that replaces the 2015 Joey 4K as it ushers HDR into the mix.

Hopper Plus

First spotted on the FCC and confirmed by the USPTO, the DISH Hopper Plus (D25) is described as a “whole home DVR accessory.” I’d like to assume ‘accessory’ doesn’t really mean anything and this is truly another Hopper DVR hub. However, the initial filing references Bluetooth as the only wireless frequencies, making me wonder about its capabilities and how it might stack up against the Hopper Duo (non-4k, low tuner count, low storage) and the Hopper 3 (the whole enchilada). As you can see from the pic above (click to enlarge), Dolby Audio is confirmed and optionally delivered via the optical audio output.

Wireless Joey 4

First spotted on DISH and then confirmed by the FCC, the Wireless Joey 4 (D45) presumably shares the same feature set as the DISH Joey 4 … with the obvious addition of wireless capabilities. And, if I’m reading the regulatory reports correctly, we’re looking at WiFi 6, 802.11ax. As with the original wireless Joey, it’s safe to assume the additional networking will allow one to place the client set-top in locations without coax. But the Wireless Joey 4 frequencies exceed those of the Hopper 3 and the Hopper Plus accessory. Given SatelliteGuys Scott G indicates there is no imminent Hopper DVR refresh, this may simply be future proofing. And/or providing additional Internet app experiences.

Originally published 6/4/21. Updated 11/22/21 with photos.

22 thoughts on “DISH Network Has New Set-Tops In The Hopper”

  1. So when DirecTV and DISH inevitably merge in a couple years, they’re just gonna ditch DirecTV’s line of antique STBs and exclusively use the DISH equipment, right?

  2. I wonder how inevitable that is, though. They’ve tried multiple times, but regulatory issues prevent it from happening. And, while the landscape has changed, the core markets for both DirecTV and Dish are areas underserved by broadband, so they remain competitors in those markets, and the government may still conclude that the companies need to exist separately in order to keep prices down.

    On the flip side, the government originally required the creation of two satellite radio companies for similar reasons, but when they proved unviable as separate companies, they were allowed to merge into what is now called SiriusXM. I suspect satellite television is headed down this road as well, but it may mean the expansion of broadband services from companies like Starlink before it can happen. So, I’m not sure how imminent a merger between DirecTV and Dish might be.

  3. I don’t know how inevitable it is they make a run at it, but the parties could pretty effectively argue the competition is cable and online not one another at this point. I assume it’d sail through. Someone’s tech and satellites would prevail and that’d take money and time to transition…

    Scott G confirmed new Joeys on SatelliteGuys but posted that there will be no new Hoppers at this time. So what exactly is Hopper Plus? If it’s not a hub, like all other Hoppers, things could get a little confusing…

  4. We would switch in a heartbeat to Direct TV. Direct tv can’t put dish on house because of trees. Why they can’t put a dish where the Dish satellite is we can’t figure out. Want NFL Sunday Ticket

  5. Dish and direct use different satellites. Dish has the ability to use eastern and western arcs for line of site issues. Direct need more of a direct south los, so not all locations for dish work for direct and vice versa.

  6. Wonder if the Hopper Plus is something that adds capabilities to an existing Hopper DVR or Joey? Like additional DVR storage space and/or additional tuners? Perhaps DISH is going to move to a central headless server-based model like DirecTV tried to do with their Genie 2 (HS17) Server. If that’s the plan, maybe the new-model Joey (likely wireless, with 4K HDR output) would be placed at each TV with the Hopper Plus containing all the tuners and hard drive to serve the Joeys live and recorded satellite TV. In addition to the main DISH UI, the Joeys would also have whichever apps that DISH supports, like Netflix, Prime Video, etc.

    As for a hypothetical future merger of DISH and DirecTV (which I don’t foresee happening until at least 2023, after NFL Sunday Ticket leaves DirecTV), yeah, I think it would likely sail through. My guess is that new dish installations would be pointed at the DirecTV sats if possible, but the older DISH sats if not. And in either case, the dish would be connected to the much better DISH line of DVRs/STBs (which might have to be tweaked to be compatible with both satellite fleets). I’d think they would standardize on one brand name and one set of channel packages, although who knows what that might be. There would still be lots of existing customers who would continue using their old DirecTV-branded receivers until the whole business folds at some point down the line. Would make absolutely no sense to spend tons of money to essentially re-install half their existing customers to get everyone on one fleet of sats and one set of equipment.

  7. I’m thinking Hopper Plus add more tuners to the Hopper Duo and maybe even the Wally line of DVR’s, and even added “standard” storage for recordings but not as “Archived” storage that currently requires an external powered USB HDD provided by the customer.

    I wonder, even with its higher cost to Dish to build, if the Hopper Plus may include 2 built-in OTA tuners because Dish sees increasing numbers of subs who choose to cancel LIL (Locals delivered via satellite) services/costs, and just use the current “subscriber pays one-time for” external USB OTA 2 tuner module, and it also acts as a fallback if broadcasters won’t renew re-transmission rights provided people are capable of receiving OTA signals. In the past, Dish even provided the 2 tuner OTA modules and antennas and installations of them for FREE in cities that had broadcasters cease retransmission’s rights to Dish, and local broadcasters are a HUGE and ever increasing cost of the programming, and locals keep demanding more and more and more $$$, and built in OTA tuner (like in older Dish boxes) could be that INSTANT solution for broadcasters taking down their channels from Dish. On that same line of thought, a Hopper Plus could even come ready to stream Locast, and possibly even RECORD the stream–which would be legal, IMHO–however imperfect Locast maybe, it could be a solution for those who have no ability to receive OTA signals.

    I can’t see Hopper Plus adding more tuners to the Hopper 3, but it might still add more storage and OTA tuners and ready to stream and record Locast. Of course, all of the above is pure speculation. I can hardly wait to find out what the Hopper Plus offers.

    Yes, I agree, let’s hope the Joey 4 is the new UHD (4K) Joey, and lets hope that the Joey 4 can do Sports Bar Mode by providing any 4 channels as Picture-in-Picture–or even just 2 channel PIP, just like the Hopper 3 DVR itself, but currently is NOT available at any of the current Joeys.

    My Joey 2 is slow with my Hopper 3 (a local retailer got the job to install from Dish, and they only had Joey 2’s left), and I had been considering getting the Hopper 3 for its speed, but I am glad I waited, and I will wait until I see what the Joey 4 can do.

  8. Yeah, I’m starting to get behind the idea of a box with possibly more tuners and/or storage. But with without WiFi, I don’t know about Locast and other apps.

  9. Laurie – because Dish has satellites in a different direction and MUCH higher in the sky. That’s why.

  10. I would think that all streaming/app-based stuff would reside only on the boxes directly plugged into TVs. If the Hopper Plus is a headless box (whether a central server or just an add-on extension to a regular Hopper), I don’t see it handling any streaming duties. But it would be interesting if it had one or two OTA tuners built into it.

    BTW, how has DISH (alone among MVPDs, as far as I know) been able to strike carriage deals with Disney, NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS and Fox for their broadcast and cable channels without being required to carry those groups’ local broadcast affiliates as a mandatory part of their base packages? It’s odd that DISH give subs the option of dropping locals from any package and saving $12 or so per month. And by having OTA tuners that integrate with their DVRs, they make it even more appealing to do, assuming one has good OTA reception.

  11. It has to do with location of the satellites dish has 2 different sets they can use so they have more options. Not to mention DirecTVs contract with Sunday ticket expires next year and with the way they are losing subs they are more than likely no going to be able to get it back.

  12. OK, the Joey 4 and Hopper Plus look nearly identical, so it looks to me as if the Joey 4 (and Wireless Joey 4) are strictly upgrades of the Joey experience but faster processors for better performance and maybe handling apps better. However, it is the Hopper Plus that has the SPDIF (and the red strip around the box just like the big daddy Hopper 3 unit) and looks as if it’s purpose is to be the Hopper 3 advanced features experience at the secondary, tertiary, etc. TV’s, which likely means latest 4K support, all 2 and 4 channel Picture-in-Picture features, and I would speculate robust App performance and the SAME apps as at the Hopper 3 unit and even the ability to stream more than ONE channel from the EPG, which is the limit today. All in all, as if the Hopper 3 DVR unit were at that TV. And no, I don’t even think Dish is going “headless” as that did not work so well with DirecTV, but there is really no point in going headless when the H3 itself is quite capable of doing all the heavy lifting, anyway.

    This last live streaming channel feature relates to Dish moving towards opting to provide a channel to access its live STREAM (in high-definition) instead of the linear TV feed from its satellites including BNC and Stadium and some of the HBO/Cinemax channels available ONLY by live STREAMING while other HBO/Cinemax channels are provided by linear feed from the satellite all integrated in the EPG and assigned a channel number to access as if it were coming from the satellite. While SKIP BACK is available during live channel streaming (and SKIP FORWARD to catch up to LIVE), there is currently NO RECORDING these live streams for later viewing.

    So, perhaps the Hopper Plus provides additional live streams of channels throughout the network (working with the brains at the Hopper 3 DVR) including the Joeys (current Joeys can access a live STREAMING channel), or at least at the Hopper Plus ending the ridiculous current limit of only ONE live streaming channel per Hopper 3 network (TWO Hopper 3’s in the same domicile and on the SAME account that can “see” each other and access each others DVR recordings, can each access separately their own ONE streaming channel–and today, one can have a Joey change its link to the H3 DVR that is NOT streaming a live channel to allow viewing at that Joey and then change it back later, if desired).

    A multiple STREAMING channel upgrade would make sense once one considers how many live STREAMING ONLY channels Dish has added lately, and maybe the Hopper Plus can allow DVR RECORDINGS of the live channel streams. After all, it was Charlie Ergen who himself who said some years ago on a Quarterly Conference call, “If I were building Dish today, I would NOT be investing in satellites,” referring to the robust and less costly internet to deliver programming even years ago.

    The above is all speculation, of course, it is based on WHERE Dish has been heading with its TV service: co-existing with Netflix, and Amazon, et al. and YouTube by providing Apps on its STB’s for access to content and most recently live STREAMING only channels instead of uplinking those channels on its satellites. I think these new boxes are about increased robust performance and App performance, better Wireless performance than the 2nd Gen Wireless Joey, 4K & PIP features w/H3+ and more access to ever increasing live STREAMING channels on Dish with additional features, like recording them for later viewing.

    I really do hope Dish goes forward and releases this devices because a refresh is needed for both wired and wireless Joeys at the least, and whatever upgrades come with the Hopper Plus would likely be welcome.

  13. Beyond their ecosystem roles and technical capabilities, I’m wondering about the scalloped indentations on the top – will they light up to indicate streaming or similar? Or have stickers embedded? Or nothing at all. Hm. :)

  14. The pictures don’t make much sense. The picture for the Hopper Plus seems like it should go with the wireless joey. I can’t see why the Hopper Plus would not have an ethernet port.

  15. Thanks for updating with these photos, Dave. OK, my guess at this point is that the Hopper Plus will connect to a Hopper 3 or Hopper Duo via USB 3.0. Unlike the Joey 4 and Wireless Joey 4, the Hopper Plus will not connect directly to the your internet router (via ethernet or wifi) but will instead get its internet connection through the Hopper DVR that it will be placed atop/alongside. (And like a Joey, it will also use the live TV tuners and locally stored DVR recordings inside the Hopper DVR to which it is connected.)

    The main thing the Hopper Plus will add is Android TV, with access to lots of apps — including 4K HDR-capable apps — via Google Play. Perhaps the overall DISH UI will be refreshed on the Hopper Plus, or maybe it will look the same as on the underlying Hopper DVR, just with the additional apps added in. (Android TV also features the Google Assistant, but the Hopper 3 already has that feature, with a dedicated button for it on its remote. Perhaps that feature will be enhanced, or faster, via the Hopper Plus.)

    If my guess is correct, then the user experience with the Hopper Plus would basically be the same as with the new Joey 4 and Wireless Joey 4, which would also run Android TV with access to that platform’s apps and Google Assistant. The main difference would be that the Joey units do not offer optical audio output. Perhaps the build cost is slightly cheaper for the Hopper Plus as well since it apparently lacks ethernet and wifi? I expect that the hardware rental costs will be different too, since Joeys are intended to extend service to additional TVs while the Hopper Plus would simply *improve* the quality of service on the main TV where you already have a Hopper DVR connected. All of those points might be reason enough to justify creating the separate Hopper Plus hardware model instead of just using a Joey 4 instead for the same purpose.

  16. The external Wireless Joey 4 (D45) pics just cleared the FCC today. It looks the same as the non-wireless Joey 4 (D35). The internal D45 photos show some additional, presumably wireless chips, and antenna leads – as we’d expect.

  17. NashGuys’s theories make sense, but I would have to add that the S/PDIF port on the Hopper+ would indicate to me that this module can be placed at a different TV than the Hopper 3 itself (perhaps providing a Hopper 3 experience with PIP at an additional TV), but can also perform the added features as a module to the network from that remote–as opposed to where the Hopper 3 is located–connection. The H3+ could easily use the MoCA network to send/receive data to process in concert with the Hopper 3, and, I would think, the H3+ would be using the much more robust 10Gbps MoCA 3.0. In fact in might even replace the current H3 MoCA 2.0 network and replace it with its own MoCA 3.0 network for all connected Dish “boxes” (the H3 and all the clients) allowing for advantages of more on-lines streams and more LIVE streaming channels that replace satellite delivery as in effect today, and whatever other enhancements to internet access for programming and robust performance. In other words, I think this module could improve the entire network of Joeys and a Hopper for an enhanced experience from any TV using the H3+ in any room of choice connected to its own TV with the, presumed, MoCA 3.0 network.

  18. Parents just ditched DirecTV after being subscribers since 1996. Replaced it with Channels-DVR – HDHomeRun for OTA local channels and everything else via YouTube TV. So far I’m beyond impressed – it’s what Tivo should have been. Yeah, it’s a little more fiddly to set up on a computer vs. plugging a box in, but my goodness does it stomp the crap out of any other solution out there. Might even mess with integrating PlayOnCloud with it to get Discovery+, Amazon and Apple TV shows integrated with Channels-DVR too. If you have decent broadband no way would I screw with any of the traditional providers and I feel for those who are still forced to rely on either of the satellite guys.

  19. Just had Hopper 3, Hopper Plus and a wireless Joey 4 installed. Having some minor connectivity issues bc we don’t have a mesh network, so still need to optimize everything. Not to mention get more familiar quickly with Google Assistant.

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