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Dish's Hopper: Now with less TV-input switching

The ad-skipping DVR's latest software update also improves search to include all possible sources and puts the Dish On Demand options on shelves you can scroll through.

Dish's Auto Hop enable screen. Dish

Dish Network's Hopper prides itself on making it easy to go right to the content customers want instead of ads. The company's latest software update makes it easier to go right to the Hopper when customers turn it on.

The satellite TV provider updated its DVR with an HDMI-CEC function, which means the television can automatically adjust to the Hopper input as soon as a user turns on the box. For example, if you last watched a Blu-Ray on your TV, HDMI-CEC and this update will switch you back to your Hopper when you fire it up without having to switch the inputs manually.

HDMI-CEC is marketed under different names by different TV manufacturers. Panasonic calls it Viera-Link, Onkyo calls it RIHD and Toshiba calls it Regza link. Your TV manual should tell you how to enable HDMI-CEC.

The software update also creates shelves of movie and show titles to view what's in Dish's On Demand collection, including a "free for kids" shelf with only content appropriate for children, and an improved search function, which will look through all possible sources of content in the Hopper's universe, such as programming guide, recorded content and On Demand.

The Hopper has been the target of TV network companies protests since it launched. Broadcasters, including CNET's parent CBS, have filed separate suits against Dish over the Hopper's AutoHop feature that allows customers to automatically skip over advertisements.

The networks say the ad-skipping feature threatens to destroy the advertising system that supports their content and that Dish doesn't have the right to tamper with advertising from broadcast replays to enrich itself. Dish has argued that consumers have the right to privately watch shows anywhere, anytime. So far, Dish has fended off preliminary injunctions that would have shut down Hopper in some areas.