My Hopper Go fiasco

Hopper Go

So when the Hopper Go was launched earlier this year I was already on board. If you are a DISH customer and haven’t heard of the Hopper Go, essentially it’s a device that lets you take up to 100 hours of content from your DVR on the go with you. You could already transfer recordings to your devices via the Dish Anywhere app, however you were limited by your device’s storage space. With the Hopper Go you can transfer 100 hours of content to the device and stream it to an iPad, iPhone, Android device or Kindle Fire tablet running the Dish Anywhere app.

The Hopper Go creates its own WiFi network that five devices can connect to at once and stream content from the device.

This all sounded incredibly cool, and when the device finally launched earlier this week I immediately called DISH and placed an order for the $99 device. It shipped that same day and arrived earlier today. Unfortunately it would take me several hours to finally get the device working.

Hopper Go

When I initially plugged the device into my Hopper, a message popped up saying the device needed to be formatted. This clashed with the setup guide that stated that I should see a pop up saying “HopperGO Connecting”, however I pushed ‘ok’ figuring it would do its thing and end up working. This did not happen. After the device formatted it showed up as a 5GB external hard drive to my Hopper. I thought for sure that it somehow formatted over the firmware, and pushing the hard reset button on the device didn’t help either. No matter what I did the Hopper only saw the Hopper Go as a 5GB external hard drive.

I contacted DISH support and spent a painfully long time (about two hours) chatting with them. For the first 15 minutes or so they didn’t even seem to know what I was talking about. Then for the next hour and a half they continually had to do “research” and asked a lot of questions that seemed to get me nowhere. Midway through hour two they finally came to the realization that the Hopper Go only works with the latest Hopper software, and for whatever reason my Hopper did not have that software (even though it’s always connected to the internet).

Eventually they pushed an update to my Hopper manually, and it spent a good thirty minutes trying to download and install the update. The process didn’t finish before support told me that they had done all they could do, but their ‘engineers’ would continue to work on the problem and push any necessary updates to me in the future.

Luckily, about twenty minutes after ending the two hour support session my Hopper finally took the update and recognized the Hopper Go. I’m now in the process of transferring a bunch of shows and movies to the device and everything seems to be running smoothly.

I’m traveling tomorrow so that will be the first true test of how useful the Hopper Go can be. If all goes well I’ll be able to stick the Hopper Go in my laptop bag and stream movies and shows to my iPad during my flight and layovers. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to charge the Hopper Go with an external battery pack as I’ve heard the battery only lasts about four hours, but I have yet to determine if that’s an option.

I’ll be sure to post about how the Hopper Go performs after I get settled in on the east coast this weekend. If you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer them. I’m just hoping that other early adopters of the device won’t have the painful experience I just had. Nothing’s worse than being excited about a new gadget only to have to spend hours and hours talking in circles to tech support. I’m just glad it’s working now!

Advertisements

A look at Sling TV (on the Xbox One)

sling-take-back-tv

So I should start off by saying I’m not a cord cutter, and I probably never will be one. I enjoy having a traditional “cable” service. We have DISH Network and enjoy it immensely. I love channel surfing and having a large variety of content, even if most of it I just leave on to fall asleep to (or leave on in the background). I also enjoy watching live sports, and so far it’s not very easy to do so outside of cable / satellite TV. MLB.tv and WWE Network are steps in the right direction, but the NFL is still locked down tightly (the only negative thing about having DISH is not having as much access to the NFL).

With that out of the way, you’re probably puzzled as to why I would sign up for Sling TV if I already subscribe to DISH (and pay over $100 a month). Well, I have to say I’m a huge fan of new ways to consume entertainment, and services such as Sling TV, Playstation Vue, HBO’s new cable free service and the forthcoming Apple streaming TV service are wonderful for all consumers.

These services are great for the college student who can’t afford cable, those in living situations where installing cable or satellite TV isn’t practical, and those who know exactly what they want and don’t want to pay for what they don’t watch.

Sling TV starts at $20 a month, and is completely commitment free. No contract, no extra fees, cancel any time. Heck, you don’t even have to deal with customer retention services to cancel, you can do so right from your account (though I haven’t tried canceling yet as I’ve just signed up).

The sign up process on the Xbox One was a breeze. I was signed up in a matter of minutes. Xbox One users are able to try out Sling TV for 30 days free. You can also add ALL of the add on packages ($5/mo each) for free for the first 30 days as well. Set up your package, enter your payment information and there you have it, you can jump right into watching live TV.

The picture quality is great. I have a 50mbps connection and I can’t tell the difference between a channel on Sling TV when compared to the same channel coming through my DISH. There is some buffering that causes a subpar picture for a few seconds when first switching to a channel, but it quickly clears up (I imagine this could be worse or better depending on your internet connection).

10985858_10108383496323054_6457871706898998282_n

If you have a data cap, using a streaming TV service might not be practical if you watch a lot of TV. We have a 400GB monthly cap that I already eat into a good bit by downloading games and watching Netflix. If I tried to use Sling TV as my primary TV service I would easily blow through my data cap. I checked my bandwidth usage on my Xbox after using Sling TV for about twenty minutes and found that I had used 638MB during that period. I wasn’t downloading anything else, but I wasn’t watching the data in real time so I can’t say for sure how much of that was used by Sling TV. Still, it’s a pretty high number so you can imagine how much data you’d use in a month.

11070530_10108383496472754_1534896083400072775_n

The Sling TV interface is clean and easy to navigate, though I think the DISH interface is easier to navigate (though not as good looking). I like that when viewing a channel’s schedule you’ll see pictures for most of the upcoming shows or movies. However, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to see everything that is on all the channels without scanning through each one. I could be missing something, but I don’t see any sort of traditional guide.

Sling TV guide (xbox one)

 

sling tv xbox one

 

Sling TV’s base package includes a lot of high demand channels such as ESPN, TBS, AMC, IFC and Cartoon Network. With the $5 addon packages you can get even more content, such as the sports pack (ESPN News, ESPN U, Universal Sports Network among others), movies (four EPIX channels and Sundance), news and more.

So far I’m pretty impressed with the service. I’m excited to see if these services can affect the traditional cable services, possibly giving users more control over what they get for their money. We can only hope!

You can now watch Netflix through Dish Network’s Hopper

I recorded this video the other week and just got around to uploading it. In it I take a look at the new Netflix app that’s available on Dish Network’s Hopper. The app is a convenient way for many to access Netflix if they don’t already have a way of using the service (such as a Roku, Chromecast, smart TV or video game console).

Fox News removed from Dish Network

If DISH Network is your TV provider, you may have noticed that Fox News and the Fox Business Network no longer appear in your channel lineup. Just a few weeks after CNN, Cartoon Network and other channels returned to the air after their dispute, Fox has been pulled due to its own contract dispute.

Luckily this is only affecting the Fox News channels and not FX or FXX which I tend to watch every now and then. Personally I wouldn’t miss Fox News if it never came back, but I’m sure it’ll be back in a matter of weeks for those who are missing it. It’s unfortunate when these things happen, but they always seem to resolve themselves before too long (though CNN was gone for quite awhile).

 

Where’s my CNN? (Dish Network loses CNN and others)

CNN Dish network

Every morning I wake up and tune to CNN to get a quick look at what’s going on in the world. Sure CNN isn’t the best quality news, and I quickly tire of it and head to The New York Times to get a better look at the news, it’s easy to tune to first thing in the morning.

Today, however, I was met with a message saying that “Turner Networks has removed this channel from your lineup” because of a contract dispute. Other channels missing include Headline News (HLN), Cartoon Network, truTV, TCM, Adult Swim, Boomerang and CNN en Espanol.

CNN DISH network

I hate how this always seems to happens, and don’t understand why these things can’t get settled without all the finger pointing and putting the customers in the middle of the fight. I don’t doubt the channels will return in a timely manner, I just feel like it’s a childish move.

So if you were looking for CNN this morning on DISH Network I recommend Aljazeera America as an alternate. I feel like they offer the least sensational presentation, and they’re more focused on investigating the news rather than trying to capture viewers.

FOX and DISH Anywhere: Why I’m no longer watching FOX

One of the main reasons I subscribed to DISH Network was because of the DISH Anywhere feature with the Hopper. DISH Anywhere allows you to tune into live TV from anywhere on any device with an internet connection. The Hopper has Slingbox technology built in, so basically you can watch TV through your receiver over the internet.

Now that broadcast companies have succeeded in taking down a brilliant new technology with Aereo, FOX is already going after Dish Network in an attempt to put a stop to DISH Anywhere.

As a member of the military who uses DISH Anywhere to watch live and recorded TV anywhere in the world, I’m not too happy with Fox’s decision. I pay for DISH, and DISH pays to rebroadcast network television, how I consume those broadcasts is none of Fox’s business. The fact that they are so against technology making TV consumption better (especially for those often away from home) has driven me to the decision to no longer watch any Fox broadcasting.

I sincerely hope DISH fights Fox on this (which I believe they will) and I seriously hope another great technology is not killed by the hands of greedy executives who do not care for their consumers.