Dish Network's Super Joey

Dish Network's Super Joey

Terabyte by terabyte, tuner by tuner, technology is chipping away at the hegemony of networks and broadcasters. Witness the latest incursion, Dish Network's Super Joey.

Dish has been a thorn in the paw of big broadcasters and studios for several years, incurring lawsuits and disdain. It recently settled one case brought by Disney over Dish's ad-skipping feature. But TV addicts have lauded such features, enthusiastically embracing such options as the ability to watch Dish channels remotely on a tablet or phone, regardless of location. The Super Joey exponentially ups the couch potato ante.

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The Super Joey acts as a second satellite set top box for another room in the home, with an additional two tuners. When combined with the standard Hopper home DVR, Dish subscribers can now record any five shows simultaneously. It's also possible to record up to eight programs, four prime-time shows that are automatically recorded by Dish, plus four of your own choosing. With all these choices, it means never having to sleep on the couch because you opted to record The Americans over Nashville. And with 2 terabytes of storage on the base DVR, there's room for 500 hours of HD recording (that's twice as much as DirecTV's Genie), so parents don't have to surreptitiously delete kid's recordings.

We've been going cross-eyed testing the Super Joey. In conjunction with Hopper's included Slingbox features for place-shifting, the total array of video viewing options can be downright dizzying. Not only can one watch all the various recordings in the home (and spy on what's being viewed on the other TV), but subscribers can also watch the DVR shows on an iPad or Android device, wherever they may be. We were able, for example, to watch an episode of The Blacklist that we forgot about but which Dish automatically recorded as part of its prime-time lineup. We even tuned into a live channel to catch a TV episode beamed from a Super Joey in Vermont to an LG Flex phone on an LTE network in New York City. Streaming a show over DSL to a wireless cellular network means the resulting picture is more standard than high definition, but it works. Faster Internet connections will yield a better picture.

The only limitation in Super Joey's all but limitless video options came when we wanted to download a recording to a tablet for later viewing on a plane. You can do that too, but with two restrictions: The video has to be compressed for the smaller screen, which takes some processing time, and to sideload a movie onto, say, an iPad, the tablet has to be on the same Wi-Fi network as the Hopper. In other words, you have to do it before you leave the house.
[$150; www.dish.com]