Voice search is creeping into everything, so why not our TV? While itꞌs not the first, Dishꞌs new Voice Remote, available for Hopper 3 owners, lets you search for anything just by speaking. But this $30 remote has a few other features that make it a worthwhile upgrade for Dish customers.
The Dish Voice Remote is about an inch shorter than the standard remote that comes with the Hopper. Both have two rows of four buttons at the top for Home, Apps, DVR, Guide, Back, Options and Info. However, in place of the Search button on the standard remote, the Voice remote has a button that turns the touchpad below into an illuminated number pad.
This one feature eliminates the need for a dedicated number pad, as on the standard remote.
Instead of a four-way D-pad, the Voice Remote has a large touchpad to navigate menus and the like; it makes scrolling through the program guide much less tedious than repeatedly pressing the up or down arrow. However, itꞌs a little "loose;" the cursor would slide past the program I wanted to select.
On the left side of the Voice Remote are buttons for Satellite, TV, Aux and Input; the right edge has buttons for Voice Search, Record and backlight. I canꞌt tell you how handy the backlight is when youꞌre trying to find the right button in a dark room. The Record button is a nice addition, too.
Press and hold the Voice Search button, and a window appears on your TV screen, indicating that the Hopper is listening for your command. I found the remote understood me right away, whether I was searching for Law & Order, The Simpsons, Chris Hemsworth, Mila Kunis and pretty much anything else I threw at it. I also had my fiancée test it — her request was for Something Borrowed — and much to my regret, the Voice Remote brought up that movie, too.
In the event that there is more than one possible result for a search — say, Star Trek — an on-screen menu will appear on the right side of the screen. When I performed this search, a menu appeared with every Star Trek movie available.
Results for shows such as The Simpsons were organized by season, and not air date. As a result, it was hard to discover what episode was currently airing, versus what was on my DVR, and what was going to air in the future.
However, voice commands extend beyond just programs and people. Say "What’s On Now," and the remote brought up a list of shows currently airing. Saying "Game Finder" displayed every baseball game, as well as the score ─ pretty neat. You can also call up Picture-in-picture, settings, or nearly anything you could otherwise access with the traditional remote.
I was impressed with the accuracy and ease of use of the Dish Voice Remote; try as I might, it recognized almost everything I said. And you can use voice commands to search for just about anything, too. But while voice search is the most prominent feature of Dishꞌs new $30 remote, itꞌs the other things, such as backlit keys and a smaller, more hand-friendly design, that really make this a smart upgrade for Dish owners.