I'd think the number with both would be fairly limited. The Hopper I think is a good solution if what you're mostly interested in recording is network prime time shows, plus a couple shows at a time outside of the network primetime. The HR34 benefit is that while it ends up being able to record one less thing, you can use the 5 tuners to record anything at any time.
You could say that the primetime network programming is the most important, as anything on cable generally repeats a few hours later.
DIRECTV will be able to support 4 TVs simultaneously if they ever ship their client boxes. Also you can use new Tvs like Samsung without the need for a set top box. This only works for new Tvs that will ship with DIRECTV support built-in.
The Hopper/Joey also supports 4 TVs with one Hopper in the mix. Though other than during prime time, one of them would either have to share a live tuner with another TV (not all that uncommon for 2 people to watch same show in different rooms), or a recorded event.
As noted above, the PTAT gives you one tuner recording of up to 4 broadcast stations during prime time with the Hopper and 3 tuners available otherwise. Slightly less flexible for those that don't watch/record prime time broadcast shows.
For 'cable' type channels, it really doesn't matter when they get recorded since they repeat virtually everything. But if you really want more recorded at 1st showing, then the Hopper wouldn't be as flexible.
I've researched extensively and looked at what I watch/record and found that for my household, a single Hopper with a single Joey could easily replace my 3 HR24s (or one HR34 and one Hx something) with no loss of shows that I currently am interested in.
I had DirecTV whole-home in the past and have Hopper now. It's still too early to compare IMO since neither system is complete (Dish still lacks OTA and Hopper/Hopper integration. D* still lacks RVU client boxes besides a few tv's). Both are very good systems. Tuner count per DVR is the biggest difference.
Here are a few observations about both systems, not necessarily whole-home specific and not necessarily pros or cons:
- D* has bookmarks, skip to tick, boolean searches, quick tune (9 fav channels popup), and youtube
- D* takes multiple steps to pause in one room and resume in the next (contrary to commercials)
- D* IR and RF remotes can't coexist on the same box, it's one or the other.
- D* has OTA and pandora today. Those are future features on Dish.
- D* can't schedule recordings on one DVR from another DVR
- D* doesn't have sling or remote DVR management besides setting timers. They do have Nomad where you can copy recordings to carry with you
- D* external drive isn't portable among other DVRs and replaces the internal drive entirely.
- D* whole home is more mature since it's been around longer, so probably has fewer bugs
- D* has more detailed program info and more sophisticated search options
- Dish has 4 channel recall
- Dish has portable external hard drives
- Dish has sling
- Dish can pause in one room and resume in the next. And multiple clients can watch the same tuner
- Dish has remote DVR management
- Dish has more PIP features
- During primetime, Dish can record 1 more channel than D*
- Dish IR and RF remotes can work on the same box at the same time (great if you use universals in one room and RF remotes in another). Dish also has learning remotes, whereas D* remotes can't learn.
- Dish initial equipment cost is much less than an HR34 and additional boxes
- Dish has folders
Well, I ordered a Hopper + Joey;
I agreed to extend my agreement for another two years and in return they gave me the Hopper + Joey for free and threw in a free sling adapter.
Installation is on April 5th, not because of technician availability, but because of my availability. They could have installed as early as today.
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