I’ve never quite understood the bad rap that wires get. I’ll take a straight Ethernet connection to WiFi anytime I can, I’ll almost always opt for a USB or hardwire networked connection for my music distribution over Bluetooth or wireless AirPlay for serious listening, and as much as I love the innovation coming out of the Wireless Speaker and Audio (WiSA) Association these days, I’m not likely to give up my fire hose speaker cables anytime soon. And yet, I’m still geeking out over the latest member of Dish’s Hopper family: a new version of its Joey multi-room DVR client that replaces both the coaxial and network cable connections with lightning-fast wireless technology. That only leaves you needing a power connection and an HDMI connection from the Wireless Joey to the display itself, pretty much anywhere in the house (or outside, if you have a TV that can withstand the elements).
The Wireless Joey isn’t, of course, alone in the wireless multi-room DVR client market. You’ve likely already seen commercials for the competition. And there are some similarities in the way they work: The Wireless Joey is enabled via the addition of an access point that connects directly to the main Hopper DVR, which creates its own proprietary network, completely separate from your home’s existing WiFi network. From there, you can connect up to three Wireless Joeys around the house, all of which have access to all of the TV-watching, channel-changing, time-shifting, commercial-skipping, video-on-demand viewing, and other capabilities of the Hopper system.
So, what sets the Wireless Joey apart? Mostly its use of 5GHz 802.11ac wireless technology, which gives you more bandwidth, more spatial streams, more speed, and—most importantly—much better range due to beam forming technology. What this means is that instead of sending its wireless signal in every direction equally, an 802.11ac access point or router recognizes other 802.11ac devices and sort of aims the wireless signal in their direction. The chip built into the Dish wireless access point is Broadcom’s, which features 3×3 MIMO capabilities—perfect for the three Wireless Joey’s it’s capable of supporting.
And again, it’s important to reiterate that you don’t need an 802.11ac router to take advantage of the Wireless Joey system. It operates completely independently of your home network, which should also greatly cut down on signal interference.
“Wireless Joey expands installation options where coaxial or Ethernet wiring is either difficult or undesirable, eliminating unsightly wire runs,” said Vivek Khemka, DISH Senior Vice President of Product Management. “You’re no longer forced to position your TV on the same wall or near a room’s coax outlet. Whether you’re in a new house, an older home or on a backyard patio enjoying a family cookout, Wireless Joey delivers television where you want it.”
The Wireless Joey is available now, and each one will add seven bucks a month to your Dish bill (plus a one-time $50 fee for the wireless access point that attaches to your Hopper). For more information, dial your browser of choice to Dish.com.