Should You Buy It: Our Comprehensive Dish Network Reviews

While it may seem like a tv service provider you wouldn’t want to subscribe to, you should think twice. DISH Network has vastly improved over the course of cable competition and is a formidable adversary to the likes of DIRECTV or SLINGTV.

With some juicy perks that cost nothing in every plan, a great selection of channels, Amazon Alexa support, and having the best DVR that we’ve ever laid hands on a tv service provider, DISH Network has outdone itself by offering so much for the potential buyers.

But are those enough to make this a good buy for tv fans? Let’s find out.

Check out our other reviews on DISH Network’s competitions including SLINGTV, DIRECTV, and DIRECTV NOW.

If you need to know the best of the best, see our Top 5 Best TV Providers.

Let’s start with the plans and their prices:

Plans & Pricing

At first glance, you’ll notice that the starting price is $59.99 a month. Yes, that does tend to be an overwhelming basic plan but just look at what you’re getting: 190 top-quality channels, many of which you won’t find in any other tv service providers.

To make things clear, yes, all DISH Network plans are only up to 2 years on the contract, however, with these prices, you’re a saving a lot compared to DIRECTV. Why? Because it doesn’t have any other fees except for the 2-year contract itself.

Sure, DIRECTV starts at $40/mo on a 2-year contract but what they never told you about that $40 is that they’ll increase the monthly bill after your first year. And before you can even have access to their service for your household, you will need to pay up for their $19.99 activation fee.

Suddenly, that $40/mo DIRECTV plan became an anti-budget racket for your family. But for DISH Network, you don’t have to pay any of those at all.

Yes, every plan’s price per month for 2 years is guaranteed to be the same all the way until the contract ends. Each plan also gets the following:

  • HD for all available channels
  • 3 months of HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME, and its exclusive DISH Movie Pack (You must pay an additional $15/mo if you wish to keep these channels after 3 months)
  • Protection plan included 6 months: home security for your digital property and electronics for half a month with no extra cost
  • Free standard installation courtesy of DISH Network’s professional on-site technicians
  • Referral rewards when a friend orders DISH with your Referral Code, you each get a free Echo Dot, 12 free Pay Per View movies, or $50 in bill credits.

It all sounds good, yes, but you’re probably asking right now, “Where’s the DVR you were talking about?”

Here’s the catch: they have the best DVR, aka the Hopper 3 DVR, but you’ll have to pay for it separately on a monthly basis for $15 a month.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

For the Hopper 3 DVR to work on an optimal level, you will need to pay on ANOTHER separate monthly pay for its Joey receiver if you want to play the Hopper 3 anywhere in the house. You can choose from 4 models, each with its own quality:

  • Original Joey for $5/mo
  • 4k Joey for $5/mo
  • Super Joey for $10/mo
  • Wireless Joey for 5/mo

At least with the likes of DIRECTV, you may pay for an increased price midway through the 2-year contract but at any rate, you’re getting the Genie HD DVR with 1TB storage which is also the best DVR that any tv fan could have.

Does DISH Network suddenly look unappealing? That is not true at all.

Remember, no tv service provider is perfect and DISH Network happens to be one of those imperfections. But hey, imperfections make anything become better too.

Truth be told, DISH Network has the largest coverage in America and has been awarded multiple times for its competitive quality and reasonable prices.

The fact that it blends with Alexa now makes this one step higher than a lot of cable companies too. Its satellite reception is superb too, meaning wherever you live in America, whether in the major city in the metropolitan area or in a suburban town where the rural areas are, DISH Network has strong coverage.

Did we also mention that DISH Network’s plans are one of the easiest tv plans to understand without having to discuss any devil in the details? We applaud the service for its straightforward options and explanations that make it simple for casual tv viewers who don’t want any criticism in every detail.

Now let’s go one by one with the plans that make this one of the best TV service providers in the country. Let us now go over with DISH Network’s packages and prices, starting with the basic:

Starting at $59.99 a month, America’s Top 120 is the frontline plan of DISH Network. Boasting with 190 high-grade channels available in HD, this basic plan is a thing to behold versus other TV service provider’s starter kits.

This is obviously the budget-friendliest plan in the network and honestly, it’s not bad at all. You get top channels such as ESPN, USA, Disney, and E!

Other than those, you also get a large cast of delectable channels to choose from, which are good crowd-pleasers just from a basic plan at all.

Such are: a mix of ESPN such as ESPN2, ESPN U, and ESPN News, a delicious group of food and travel channels like Food Network, TLC and Lifetime or a more unorthodox news network like Russia Today.

Even if this is just a basic plan, we highly recommend it already. And a reminder that it has 3-months of HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME and Dish Movie Pack.

At least you won’t feel out of place when you’re friends are talking about Westworld because you had 3 months to keep yourself up to date with it.

It’s honestly a much better starter plan versus others, specifically with DIRECTV’s first two plans, SELECT and ENTERTAINMENT.

A slightly beefier version, America’s Top 120+ includes all the good stuff from its basic plan and adds more variations into its channel roster including regional shows and college sports.

Think of this as Top 120 ver. 1.5. There are just slightly more channels than its predecessor and nothing else. Honestly, you should only get this if you’re into regional stuff like MSNBC, CSN, Prime Ticket, and Longhorn Network.

Sports channels get a hint of buff too including added channels such as the NFL Network, PAC-12 Network, Big Ten Network, SEC Network, FOX Sports Arizona, FOX Sports 2, Fightbox, and a handful of alternate sports channels.

You get some nice additional perks too including 8,000 free on-demand titles and 70 SiriusXM music channels.

Other than those, that’s all there is to it.

You get the same 3-month HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME and DISH Movie Pack treatment, and everything else that makes America’s Top 120 already good as it is.

If you aren’t looking forward to those kinds of channels and is currently happy with the Top 120, just stick with that. Otherwise, if you feel like you need something much more, hold on to your seat as the next one is much better:

According to DISH Network itself, 61% of their subscribers have chosen America’s Top 200 for its well-balanced number of channels, great selection of sports channels and always something to watch for any viewer of any age. This is their best-selling tv plan.

What you’ll get is a collection of 240 channels, a lot of which are different forms of sports channels–something that families who are passionate about sports would get really into.

There are enough sports channels for any viewer to get into such as MLB Network, NFL Network, NBA TV, and college sports channels.

Kids also get the same treatment too with some new great channels such as Disney XD and Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon spin-offs.

General entertainment is abundant in here such as Bravo!, A&E and Sundance TV.

Of course, you get the usual 3-month HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME and DISH Movie Pack too if the likes of ReelzChannel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries aren’t enough.

With that, you can still be able to catch up on J.K. Simmons’ stunning performance in Counterpart on all 10 episodes.

More avid tv fans would want to get this thanks to its slew of great channels and the ever-outstanding network quality. Of course, you’ll want to have the Hopper 3 DVR especially for this to optimize your tv viewing pleasure.

For $79.99 a month, yes, this is a great buy. Just be mindful that if you want the Hopper 3 DVR included, you’ll have to pay an additional $15 a month.

If you happen to be a movie freak or just want all of DISH Network’s available 290+ channels, then look no further than America’s Top 250.

With great movie channels like STARZ Encore, Turner Classic Movies, The Movie Channel, and a 3-month subscription to HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME, and DISH Movie Pack, fans will be able to enjoy their favorite flicks on the small screen.

Besides the movie channels, you’ve got additional entertaining channels too such as History Channel’s H2, Nicktoons, and Nat Geo Wild.

Regional channels have been doubled up too as well as cooking channels. If you can’t get enough of tv that offers all kinds of niches, this is what you’ve been waiting for.

Local channels are still included here without having to pay for extra. We give DISH a round of applause for this one since local channels on satellite tv providers cost a lot just to watch some weather news.

Although, we have to admit, it’s a bummer that the HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME, and DISH Movie Pack are still only good for 3-months, though. This is unlike the DIRECTV PREMIER that offers all these (except the DISH Movie Pack, obviously) minus the short subscription span.

Is it still good? Come on, it’s $89.99 for 290+ channels. Of course it’s good.

Now that we’ve covered up all the plans of DISH Network, it’s time to look at the other channels it offers:

Other Channels

DISH Network has a plethora of awesome channels to be had. They also have under-the-table offers too only if you consult with them personally.

Its major channels are already included in their plans like all the great sports channels and HD movie channels.

There is no doubt that DISH Network offers so much sports channels in their plans, you wouldn’t need to go to a sports bar just to watch the latest and greatest in the field.

There may be no NFL SUNDAY TICKET in here but they do have the NFL RedZone as a separate package. It’s not as comprehensive as the former but it gets its job done for fans.

The beauty in DISH Network is that you’re going to get ESPN on its basic plan–something that DIRECTV and DIRECTV NOW do not offer as they’re obviously capitalizing on the sports-hungry fans.

So even if you’re just getting their cheapest plan, there’s something to be had for sports fans anyway.

Couple that with the DISH mobile app and you’ll be able to watch the latest NBA season anywhere while the Mrs. is watching Food Network on TV while copying the exact cooking methods of Nigella Lawson.

You may only get 3 months worth of HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME and the DISH Movie Pack for any plan but if you want to keep those, you can. For an additional $15 a month, you can still keep them.

However, if that’s your plan, we suggest you lay off that and just go with the HBO NOW subscription since it costs the same minus all the annoying advertisements.

The DISH Movie Pack includes 15 different movie channels such as Sony Movie Channel, EPIX, and MGM HD.

Cinemax is also available and fortunately, it’s not part of the 3-month subscription. You can get it on the America’s Top 250 plan.

DISH Network is thoughtful enough to expand its demographic to foreigners who want to watch channels from their homelands.

By default, all of DISH Network’s plans have channels in Espanol but if you’re not of Latino blood, there’s more to be had on DISH:

We’ve already said that every plan has HD channels but that’s not all.

Everything else is HD including Video on Demand, Pay Per View and 4K HD Programming. Any other tv service provider will charge you more for such features but for DISH Network, it’s already included in the given price tags.

Feeling a bit naughty? Any subscriber who is 18 years old and up will be able to subscribe to their adult-oriented shows–from cheap thrills that you pay per 30 minutes to the monthly payment for more hardcore stuff.

We won’t go further into the details but just know that each channel will cost a lot. No really, it’s better off using the internet for free.

Now let’s move on to the equipment:

Equipment

DISH Network doesn’t hold back when it comes to equipment too. The Hopper 3 DVR and its Joey receivers may not be part of the package plans at all but they sure are quite the gear.

Another thing we should take note is that DISH Network is the very first tv service provider to have full Alexa support ready so if you want to show off to your friends with your Alexa and tv, you should totally get Dish Network.

Hopper 3 DVR

For a separate payment of $15 a month, the Hopper 3 DVR is nothing but a thing of beauty. With ultra responsive controls and easy recording, this makes it a formidable adversary to DIRECTV’s own Genie HD DVR.

As for storage, Hopper 3 can store an astonishing 500 hours worth of shows in HD. That means you’ll have enough recorded flicks and series for you to watch worth 3 months non-stop.

It is guaranteed to have no recording conflicts at all and you can even choose to make your recorded shows commercial-free.

It can also be used to display shows in 4k too if you want your quality to be UHD this time. Just be mindful of your TV’s 4K potential, however.

It’s also very lavish to look at too as if it’s something classy that NASA built.

Joey Receiver

Think of the Joey Receiver as a sort of Hopper by-proxy. Receivers function as remote control within remote controls that you can use to reach out to Hopper anywhere in the house.

It comes in 4 models:

  • Original Joey for $5/mo
  • 4k Joey for $5/mo
  • Super Joey for $10/mo
  • Wireless Joey for 5/mo

If you were to ask us which one to buy, we’d say any since they’re built for the same reason. It’s just a matter of your preference here.

DISH Anywhere

The DISH Anywhere app is free to use on any device. Just like modern tv service providers, the app functions as a streaming device to watch tv in.

Fortunately, there are no streaming limits here so that means anyone in the family can watch tv on different devices at the same time.

DISH Tailgater

If you want to camp, go on a road trip or want to watch TV outdoors, you better take with you the DISH Tailgater. It’s a tv antenna that is very compact to bring and easy to set-up.

You can have either of the two: The standard DISH Tailgater ($299, one-time payment) or KING DISH Tailgater ($350, one-time payment). The former is good for one tv and can be supported up to 1080i quality while the KING model is good for two TVs at once which is also 1080i-supported.

DISH UI

As far as UI goes, the displays are alright. Nothing incredible to see but it works just right. It’s still miles better than DIRECTV’s small-text UI that nobody likes.

And yes, you can adjust the text sizes too.

Alexa

As the first of its kind, DISH Network is proud to announce that Alexa can work well with what you’re watching. Whether you have the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Tap, or even the Hopper 3, it will sync with your DISH Network with ease.

Instead of just streaming music when nobody’s home or when you and your wife are in the mood and want to dim the lights, now you can order Alexa to change channels based on your preferences.

If you ask Alexa to play something scary, she’ll recommend the best horror show currently airing. And if you’re into sleazy stuff at night, Alexa knows just what you need.

Or when you just finished watching Coco or Hachiko, you can always tell Alexa,

“This is so sad. Alexa, play Despacito on MTV.”

Customer Service

While DISH Network certainly has a great network quality, its customer service sucks. Period.

Calling the customer care takes a very long time, the representatives can be rude at times and the on-site visits may take a while before the technicians can get there.

Sure, it has some moments where the customer service actually smooth sails with you but most of the time, it’s your usual barely-par service that we’ve seen countless times from other companies.

Now the question remains:

Is DISH Network Good?

On the contrary of numerous separate payments for equipment, some channels and its customer care itself, DISH Network isn’t just good–it’s wonderful.

The prices really do seem intimidating at first but when you take a closer look, you’ll realize how much you’ll be able to save versus its higher competitors that have price hikes halfway through the contract.

It’s a cost-efficient way to have great satellite tv with all of its channels capable of HD support. The basic plan itself is already a great start and has enough shows for the whole family.

The Hopper 3 DVR may be on a separate basis of payment but it’s just worth every penny especially if you’re planning to purchase America’s Top 200 plan to sync well with your favorite shows.

Alexa users will be thrilled to know that you won’t need a remote at all too as the Echo will help you with your tv viewing all the time.

It’s these great reasons why DISH Network has received many awards and has been a household name for generations of tv freaks. But now it has further outdone itself.

PROS

  • Friendlier prices for budget-conscious tv viewers
  • Competitive quality networks
  • Every plan is worth buying depending on your viewing preference
  • Starter plan already includes some movie and sports channels
  • Every plan is HD-quality supported
  • Multi-language and international channels are available
  • Local channels are included minus the extra costs
  • Works well with Alexa
  • Hopper 3 DVR ha 2000 hours for recording and 500 hours for HD recording
  • No hidden fees
  • No mid-contract price hikes
  • No activation fees
  • Tax-inclusive
  • Strong coverage anywhere in America

CONS

  • Hopper 3 DVR is not included in the DISH Network package plans
  • Joey receiver is another additional payment
  • Poor customer service

FAQs

Is it easy to switch to another plan in DISH Network?

You can easily switch on-the-go whenever you want when you’re a DISH Network subscriber. Just wait for the on-site technician to come to your house to do it for you with no extra charge.

Which DISH Network plan is for me?

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to access high-quality shows in HD, go with America’s Top 120.

If you’re into niche channels and college sports, then the America’s Top 120+ plan is ideal for you.

If you want the best sports channels at a good price, America’s Top 200 is a bonafide choice.

If you’re a movie freak, America’s Top 250 has all the provided movie channel you need to binge all day and night with or without anyone to watch with you.

Is it necessary to buy the Hopper 3 DVR?

While it’s only optional to get the Hopper 3 DVR for $15 a month, it’s one of the best available DVRs in the market.

If you happen to be an America’s Top 200 or America’s Top 250 subscriber, it’s highly recommended that you get the DVR as it has a very high storage count in which you can optimize especially if your two favorite shows are on the same airing time.

It also has an Alexa function too and can be supported for 4K and even 3D viewing.

If you’re going on an outdoor trip with the DISH Tailgater, the Hopper 3 DVR is able to work well with the antenna too so you can watch TV in stunning resolution on the road.

Will DISH Network automatically charge me for the extra cost after my 3-month subscription for HBO has ended?

Thankfully, DISH Network is just going to tell you that your subscription to HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME, and the DISH Movie Pack has ended.

If you do wish to stay with the package, you will need to pay up $15 per month.

Can the 2-year contract be extended?

Once the contract ends, you will soon have to renew it. Fortunately, as you renew the contract, so will your perks–resetting your 3-month subscription to HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME, and DISH Movie Pack as well as your 6-month protection plan.

Sources

  1. DISH Network Plans, DISH Network TV Packages

  2. DISH Network Equipment, DISH Receivers & Equipment

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Sam Churchill
Sam Churchill
Sam Churchill is the founder and editorial in chief at Daily Wireless. He has spent more than 2 decades blogging about all forms of wireless communications.

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Sam Churchill
Sam Churchill is the founder and editorial in chief at Daily Wireless. He has spent more than 2 decades blogging about all forms of wireless communications.

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