Hello DISH Spokeslistener!

I have been a customer of DISH for a long time. They have a new place to submit comments. I’m currently waiting on a response to see whether they actually listen, or do my concerns¬† just go in a black hole somewhere?

I have had the Hopper 3 DVR for the past year or so. It is an absolutely fantastic machine but as with every piece of technology I have ever used it has its share of bugs and problems.

Today I have posted this, in multiple parts because their input form has a limit, at https://mydish.com/spokeslistener/. I’ll update this post if I get a response.

Hello Dish Listener,

This is a bug report with suggested fixes for the HOPPER 3. Please send it to the software development management. I have a background of several decades in IT so I have some understanding of what the hardware should be capable of, if it is programmed correctly. It is a fantastic DVR, the best I have ever used, but as with everything there is plenty of room for improvement.

There are major issues around what happens while viewing something that is also being recorded. Anytime I watch something live or delayed that also happens to be recording, at the end of it I am stuck at a paused screen. My wife is constantly complaining about it because of our specific use case of watching the 10pm news live on the local NBC or CBS affiliate. Here’s what happens.
– At 9:59pm she changes to the local channel which is just launching into the local news headlines. She immediately hits the pause button, and we take the opportunity to brush teeth and other “going-to-bed preparations.”
– At 10:02pm the Prime Time Any Time (PTAT) automatic recording ends.
– At 10:09pm we come back in the room and press the play button to watch the news which was just starting when we paused it.
– At 10:12pm the screen goes into pause mode (because PTAT ended at 10:02).
– The only way to get back to the news we were watching is to change the channel to something else and then back to the channel we were watching. This results in having missed whatever happened between 10:02 and 10:12. On a local news station that is basically everything that might have been interesting or relevant. We’re stuck in live mode with a lot of car commercials and teasers about the weather and sports reports.

This issue is not exclusive to PTAT channels. Here is another example. Suppose there are two shows we want to watch, back-to-back, on the same channel. We want to record the first show for repeated viewing later, but the second is not worth keeping but we will go ahead and watch it. Here is what happens instead: two minutes after the first program ends, the screen pauses because the recording stopped. Like the example above, we have to change the channel to something else and then back to this channel, meanwhile we missed part of the second program, possibly all of it if the phone rang in the middle of the first and we hit pause and never caught up.

It seems that the root cause is this: When the Hopper 3 is recording something, it will share the tuner with anyone wanting to watch that same channel “live.” While the concept of users at the Hopper and several Joeys all sharing a single tuner if they are all watching the same thing is a fantastic idea, having a recording of that channel also use the same tuner is not, because the “live TV” experience ends when the recording stops.

I know that there are workarounds for this, such as recording the local news in its own separate timer. We do this when possible, but there will always some other thing that we were watching “live” and decided it would be a good idea to record, then the next thing that comes on gets stuck until you do the change-channel-change-it-back trick and lose the buffer.

Bottom Line: There is NO EXCUSE, when there are up to 15 other tuners available doing absolutely nothing most of the time, to share a live viewer with a tuner that is recording something, even if they are the same thing. If there is an idle tuner available, USE IT.

I have detailed some fixes that take care of this issue and many other frustrations.

Proposed fix: Since the box has 16 tuners and can record 16 things at a time, let’s actually use those tuners, as follows.
– This is the most important part and fixes the major issue. Every recording gets a dedicated tuner. This tuner is NOT shared with any “live” viewer, even if that viewer selects the exact same program that is being recorded. This means that if a user tunes a local channel during Prime Time, a separate tuner will be launched even though Prime Time is being recorded by PTAT. It means that if I’m recording the show on NATGEO at 8pm and actually watching it at the same time, two tuners are in use so I can watch the show on NATGEO at 9pm without interruption because the timer ended.
– Again, I’m repeating the point for emphasis, DO NOT USE a tuner which is recording something to serve users who think they are watching “LIVE TV” under any circumstances except if all tuners are in use, present the user with a message “All tuners are busy but this channel is currently being recorded, do you want to watch the recording in progress?”

The above fix will take care of the major issue and make my wife happy. Here are a few other related suggestions that would make the Hopper 3 a lot better.

– If recording two programs back to back on the same channel, each recording gets a dedicated tuner so the end of one can overlap the start of the next *unless* there is a way in software to pad these recordings at each end without having to use two tuners to do it.

– It is OK to share a tuner with all the users who are watching the same channel “live” but again, DO NOT use that tuner for recording something. If a user initiates a recording of the channel they are watching, launch that recording on a separate tuner and leave the one the user was watching alone. If the user wants to record the whole show from the beginning and rewinds to indicate that, copy the buffer into the recording buffer before launching the rest of the recording from a separate tuner.

– A live user changing channels gets a new tuner, but the previous tuner keeps buffering the previous channel (up to however many idle tuners are available) This enhances the “recall” button as in this example: I’m watching program “A” – look in the guide and see something else I’d rather watch right now, program “B”. I can select it in the guide, but program “A” is still buffering so I can recall it. If I do that, program “B” is still buffering so I can switch back to it and rewind. If I then decide to watch program “C”, programs “A” and “B” are still buffering and they all appear in the recall list and can all be rewound to the beginning of their buffers if desired.

I hope you will seriously consider making these upgrades as they will make the user experience a whole lot better and relieve some of the frustration that happens when accidentally changing channels or watching something during a recording that ends and gets stuck. Please feel free to contact me for additional information if needed. I stand willing to test in beta any of this you decide to implement.

Thanks.
Jerry Locke Jr.
DISH customer since 2001

About jerry

Jerry is the owner of this blog, a Constitutional Conservative, avid fan of Doctor Who and Narnia, and enthusiastic about satellite TV and other technology. During the day he makes a living doing IT work.
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