Directv Genie or Dish Hopper: Which DVR System is Right for You?

When I was a kid, I used to have a collection of these things:

You might ask, “What on earth is this? What am I supposed to do with this?”

First, congratulations on your youth. Enjoy it, it doesn’t last forever. But to really answer your questions, this is a video home system (VHS) tape. If you wanted to watch your favorite movie in 1997, you had to use one of these. Or if your favorite movie in 1997 was “Titanic,” you actually needed to use *two* of these because the movie was too long to fit on one. And the movie’s length would also be extended by five minutes, as you would you have to rewind it from the last time you watched it.

Of course, you could also use these to record your favorite shows. And indeed, that is something I used to do. If I couldn’t catch the newest Ken Burns documentary, I would press “record” on my VHS player and watch it on tape later. And by “Ken Burns documentary,” I mean “episode of ‘Kenan & Kel.’”

Thankfully, this technology is long antiquated. And unlike, some technology of yesteryear, it’s unlikely to make a hipster-inspired comeback anytime soon. Even the champions of vinyl records recognize how inconvenient this system is.

Now if you really do want to record your favorite Ken Burns documentary, you simply have to press a couple of buttons on your remote to instruct your DVR, and voila! You’re done.

DVR technology has been the preferred method of recording television content for over a decade at this point. No one has been able to invent anything better, and frankly, it’s hard to envision anything significantly preferable.

This isn’t to say that DVR systems are interchangeable; that if you have one system, it’s top-of-the-line just like any of the others. That is not at all the case. Some systems hold advantages over others.

In this post, we’ll be examining two such systems, the Directv Genie and the Dish Hopper, and list out the distinct advantages that each holds over the other.

Directv Genie

Genie has been Directv’s DVR system since 2012, but it has undergone a multitude of upgrades since its debut.

The current iteration of Genie can store up to 1000 hours of recorded programming, making it about 998 hours better than your old VHS. Of those 1000 hours, 200 of them can be dedicated to HD programming.

Obviously, that’s *a lot* of television. It would take… hold on.

It would take over 41 days to watch everything you had recorded. I guess you could give up going outside for Lent next year.

It would not, however, take 41 days to fill up the space in the first place. That’s because Genie allows you to record up to five different programs at once.

While it would be natural, or at least most common to enjoy these recordings at home, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Recordings on Genie can be accessed from a multitude of locations. When you order a Directv package, you can immediately enjoy the benefits from the Directv app. One of those benefits is the ability to access recordings from you Genie. So if you’re on a lunch break, you can sneak away to a restaurant/cafe, login to your Directv account, and voila! All of your recordings on Genie are at your disposal on your smartphone/tablet.

As it happens, you also have viewing options within your own home. Wired or wireless miniature versions of the Genie can be installed on an additional seven televisions, so that all eight televisions are operating with the same system.

Unlike the DVR systems of the past, Genie is more than recordings. Genie comes with a number of fantastic applications already built-in. These apps include Facebook, Pandora, ScoreGuide, Twitter, and YouTube.

One of the most widely lauded features of Genie is Genie Recommends. That may sound like a Genie who makes your three wishes for you.

In fact, what Recommends does is not entirely dissimilar to Netflix: it offers program recommendations. Based on your previous recordings, Recommends suggests other shows you might enjoy. It actually goes even one step further, in that it records those shows for you. And before you make a gripe, those recordings DO NOT take up any of your allocated 1000 hours. They are stored in the same place where pay-per-view movies are stored.

Overall, Genie is a fantastic DVR system; one of the best on the market.

Dish Hopper

But Genie is not *the* best. It can’t be, not while Hopper is around.

Hopper holds several advantages over Genie. First off, there’s the recording space. You probably thought 1000 hours/41 days sounded like a lot. Hopper offers 2500 hours of recording space.

If you want to do the math, that’s over 104 days worth of television. That *might* be enough to cover the entirety of “The Simpsons.”

Of those 2500 hours, 500 of them can be used for HD recordings. Like Genie, that amounts to 20% of the available space. Because of the ample volume of allocated space, Dish allows you to record a whopping 16 programs simultaneously.

The one place where Hopper loses the numbers game to Genie is the amount of televisions that be connected. Genie allows eight televisions on one system. Hopper is limited to seven. Like Genie, each additional television requires a wired or wireless miniature version of the Hopper to be installed. If you’re upset about that one television discrepancy, just know that Hopper recordings can be enjoyed on the Dish Anywhere app. Anywhere you go, you can access your Hopper recordings on your smartphone or tablet.

Hopper also includes several already integrated apps. These apps include Facebook, Pandora, SiriusXM, Twitter, WeDraw, and more. What Hopper allows for that Genie does not is personal ingenuity. Hopper features a platform that allows you to create your own app that can be utilized within the Hopper itself.

If you’re looking for features unique to the the Hopper, the two most popular are AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime. Both serve a similar, appealing function, in that you can skip commercials on any of the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) during primetime hours.


If you are looking for me to issue a definitive verdict as to which of the two systems is superior, I would ultimately have to rule in favor of the Hopper. The storage space and the developer platform are the key factors in my ruling. That said, both systems are superb, and they both are stellar representations of the Dish and Directv brands.

And they *certainly* both beat ever having to see the “Be kind rewind” sticker ever again.