DVR Report:Hopper's AutoHop vs. Genie's 30-Second Skip

A review of the advanced commercial-skipping features

If you ask me, unless it's the Super Bowl, there's little reason to sit through 5-10 minutes of commercials during every 30 minute program. Up until a few years ago, your best bet was manually fast-forwarding and hoping to hit play anywhere close to the start of the show (then jump around to find the exact start). In 2012, DISH shifted the landscape with the Hopper's AutoHop feature -- basically, it pre-records network, primetime shows FOR you, then automatically skips them during playback (you always have the option of turning it off).

Not a few months later, DIRECTV launched their response to the AutoHop: a one-click, 30-second skip. Only available via the Genie DVR, it manually lets you forward pre-recorded shows by 30 seconds. There are two types of 30-sec fast-forward options: the "slip" and "skip". The 30-second slip, which is the default setting on your Genie, forwards through 30 seconds in 1.5 seconds (so you can see what's happening). The skip instantly bumps you 30 seconds ahead. To activate it, search for "30SKIP" via your remote's search function and click "Done". So, which is better? Check out the table below for all the details...

Side-by-side Comparison

Category
Hopper AutoHop
Genie 30-Sec Skip
 
Feature launched in
March, 2012
(model XiP 813)
May, 2012
(model HR34)
Automatic 30-second commercial skipping (no remote-clicking required).
Yes, for certain PrimeTime shows on ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX (PrimeTime Anytime™ feature must be enabled). Auto-forwarding can be switched off on a per-show basis.
No, manual only.
Options
Auto-hop, per program - on your DVR page, click the small, red kangaroo icon for any recorded show. You'll be asked whether you want Auto-Hop turned on for JUST that recording. There is currently no global setting to turn off the Auto-Hop, but with all the program-level control, it's really not needed.
30-second SLIP - this is the default setting and quickly forwards through each commercial in ~1.5 sec; to re-activate, search for "30SLIP" via your remote and select "Done".
30-second SKIP - the instant, 1-click 30-sec forward; to activate it, search for "30SKIP" via your remote and select "Done".
Legal Stuff
When Auto-Hop first came out, there was plenty of legal backlash from the big networks (who get the majority of their revenue from primetime commercials). The issue is still mired in the courts, but a recent CBS licensing deal with DISH will now turn off Auto Hop across ALL their channels broadcast by DISH. If that's any indication, Auto Hop may be on the slow decline.
Since the skips are all manual, there's no legal issue (and never will be).
Ease-of-use
Excellent - with Auto Hop turned on, there's zilch you need to do to enjoy your show commercial-free. One less thing, right? :)
Great - have we reached a point where even one-click per commercial is too much to ask? For some, maybe, but it doesn't get much easier than this.
Our Overall Rating
(score vs similar features on all other DVRs)
99/100
Even after a few years, Auto Hop is still firmly ahead of the pack. Of course, the legal landscape is rapidly changing so it's anyone's guess whether the "auto" part of the feature eventually goes away. If so, its convenience and rating will pull back even with DIRECTV.
93/100
There are plenty of things we like about DIRECTV's remote: design, functionality, feel, etc. One of our favorites is the 30-second skip; it's quick, clean and relatively bug-free. If you have a low tolerance for repetitive commercials (and who doesn't? :), it's a neat feature, it just won't skip 'em for you automatically.

Auto-Hop FAQs

Does it cost extra?
Nope, all DISH Hopper DVRs come equipped with Auto Hop, by default. There's also no extra monthly fee (other than your regular DVR charge).
What if I like commercials?
Seek help :). With Auto Hop, you have two options -- before you playback a show, choose "no" from the Auto Hop pop-up or keep Auto Hop on and hit rewind after it skips the commercial block.
Does it work on other channels?
No, it currently only works for PrimeTime shows on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. It's extremely unlikely it'll be extended to other networks (mainly, due to a lack of correlation between hard drive space and viewership).
Will it work on my Joey TVs?
Yes, if you have multiple TVs connected via Joeys, Auto Hop will work just the same on each TV (no restrictions or lag).

Genie 30-sec FAQs

How long does it take to skip through a typical commercial block?
Assuming 5 commercials per programming break and the 30-sec SLIP, it'll take 1.5 X 5, or about 7.5 seconds. With the 30-sec SKIP, as fast as you can click the remote button.
Will it work on my Genie Mini TVs?
Yes. Just as with the Hopper Joeys, this feature seamlessly transfers to all TVs hooked up to your network via wired or wireless Genie Minis. In all our tests, there were no buffering or out-of-sync issues, even with wireless set-ups.
Every once in a while, when I hit the 30-sec forward it goes ALL the way to the end of the program. Why?
That used to be a known bug, but appears to have been squashed. If you're still experiencing it, try resetting your DVR by pressing the red button on the front of the box. If that doesn't do it, switch between "SLIP" and "SKIP" and try again. If still no joy, contact DIRECTV about possibly upgrading to the latest Genie DVR hardware/firmware.

Related Report:

Genie vs Hopper DVR Review - For a more detailed look at the Genie and Hopper Whole-Home DVR systems (including other popular features, hard drive space, max # TVs, etc.), check out this in-depth report.



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