DISH Anywhere & Sling
Though I’ve had a DISH Hopper with Sling since the beginning of 2014, until recently I didn’t use the Sling feature at all.
In fact, I wasn’t even sure what Sling was.
That changed a few weeks ago.
I wanted to watch the evening news on our park model patio, but I didn’t want to drag a large TV out there.
So . . . I knew enough about “Slinging” that I thought I could watch TV using my iPad and our Hopper with Sling.
Once the app was installed and both the iPad and Hopper were connected to the Internet, viewing live TV programs and recorded shows on the Hopper’s DVR was a breeze.
Some time was lost trying to figure out if my iPad was actually connected. However, almost as soon as I opened the DISH Anywhere iPad app, I could browse the Hopper’s recorded programs using the app’s DVR screen:
By the way, since we have two Hoppers, we can view and play recordings from each of the Hoppers.
Also, we can see live TV programs using the DISH Anywhere app’s Guide screen:
NETWORK SPEED & VIDEO QUALITY
Using DISH Anywhere, the image quality of a TV show or recording is dependent on the speed of the network you’re using. For example, if both iPad and Hopper have fast network connections, watching HD (High Definition) programs should be possible.
However, if one or both the iPad and Hopper are on slow networks like 3G, then even watching SD (Standard Definition) programming could be a challenge. For example, at low connection speeds, video can appear blurry and jerky.
When our Hopper is connected to our Verizon 4G LTE WiFi network with connection speeds up to 18 Mbps, the TV shows streamed to my iPad were seamless — high quality video and no “herky jerky” screen motion.
On the other hand, when I used a slower network, which was about 2 Mbps, video quality noticeably degraded.
SAME NETWORK / DIFFERENT NETWORK ISSUES
DISH Anywhere means ANYWHERE.
If the Hopper with Sling in your house (or RV) is connected to the Internet, then with an Internet-connected iPad (or iPhone or web browser) you can watch live or recorded shows streamed from your Hopper anywhere on the planet.
But there’s a catch . . .
If your Hopper with Sling and your iPad are on different networks, then you could potentially use a great amount of data while streaming programs to your iPad. If you’re using a cellular data network (Verizon, AT&T, etc), then you probably do not have an unlimited data plan.
When I streamed a 2-hour SD TV show to my iPad, I used over 1 GB of data from my Verizon cellular plan.
On the other hand, if a Hopper with Sling and the receiving device (iPad, iPhone, etc) are both connected to the same network, then no data is used.
Let me rephrase that . . . though the same amount of data will move from the Hopper to an iPad, this data will go directly to the iPad . . . so you won’t burn up valuable cell plan data:
SO SAME NETWORK = NO BROADBAND DATA USAGE?
Yes! (except for a negligible amount).
It took several phone and email conversations with DISH (and Sling Media) Tech Support staff + a number of network tests I performed to verify this — but it’s true:
- Same Network = No Broadband Data Use.
- Different Networks = Lots of Broadband Data Use.
What first led me to this was comparing the LAN/WAN data use by Apple TV AirPlay and by DISH Anywhere.
First, I already knew that Apple’s AirPlay technology streamed data directly from a home computer to an Apple TV without using any broadband data. For example, when iTunes streams a movie that is on your computer (not on the Internet) to a television that is hooked up to an Apple TV box, the movie uses your home network — not the Internet. So no broadband data is used. All the movie data is streamed over the home network.
Note that in order for AirPlay to work, the sending device (your computer) and the receiving device (Apple TV) must both be on the same network.
I figured this same principle applied to DISH Anywhere.
AirPlay only streams on a LAN, not a WAN.
Next, here’s what DISH Anywhere data streams look like:
Compare the Apple Airplay data stream with DISH Anywhere (Hopper with Sling and an iPad) on the same network — it’s identical.
Though the data speeds are different, both AirPlay and DISH Anywhere (when devices are on the same network) use a LAN to stream data. Broadband data is not used.
AN ACTUAL DATA TEST
Finally, I thought it would be a good idea to actually measure the broadband data used by DISH Anywhere.
I have two WiFi routers in my park model:
- CradlePoint MBR95 — connected to a Verizon UML290 with access to 4G LTE.
- Apple Airport Extreme — connected to 3G microwave radio.
These two WiFi networks allowed me to connect my Hopper to one network and my iPad to another. Also, of course, I could connect both Hopper and iPad to just one of the WiFi networks.
For the test, I used DISH Anywhere to stream a 2-hour movie: first with both Hopper and iPad connected to the same network. Then with Hopper and iPad connected to different networks. These data readings are from Verizon:
DISH Anywhere (Same Network): 106 MB
DISH Anywhere (Different Networks): 1,352 MB