DISH 211z or Wally, which should you pick?

Yes, it’s true. This blog talks a lot more about DIRECTV than it does about DISH. Yet, Signal Group, the parent of this blog, is also a DISH dealer. We’re proud to offer choice to our customers and if that choice is DISH, we can take care of everything you need. Just like our DIRECTV customers, our DISH customers get white-glove service and everything that they’ve grown to expect from Signal Group.

And, occasionally, that means a blog post or two.

DISH Equipment

Both DISH and DIRECTV have really focused on their server/client boxes in the last decade. For DISH, that means the Hopper system, which gives you an astounding 16 recording tuners and 8 client boxes in a simplified wiring system. However, there are cases where people don’t want or need that system. Just like we do for our DIRECTV customers, we’re happy to create custom solutions for every need.

Right now DISH has two choices of standalone receiver, and that’s led to some confusion as to which one you should pick. Both are excellent choices and both will do very well for you. However there are some reasons to choose one over the other.

DISH 211z

This is DISH’s ViP211z. DISH has used the ViP name for over 15 years. I’m sure one of our intrepid readers will leave a comment about why the “i” is lower case. For the life of me I can’t remember why; it’s just been like that forever.

The 211z is the latest version of a standalone receiver that’s been around for years. It’s solid and reliable, and offers the option to add an external hard drive. That turns this device into a simple, 1-tuner DVR. While the Hopper Duo is a better option for standalone DVR service, this little box does work in a pinch.


DISH’s Wally is the latest and greatest standalone receiver. It’s about the same size and shape as the 211, but it comes with a more advanced remote control. It’s designed to work in homes that already have a Hopper in place.

For those who haven’t figured it out, the name “Wally” is in keeping with DISH’s current naming scheme. They call their DVR the Hopper, and the client boxes are called “Joey,” meaning a baby kangaroo. Wallaroos are members of the same family as kangaroos, and are sometimes referred to as wallys. Hence, the name as something that’s like a Hopper but isn’t a Hopper.

The reason for both

Several years ago, DISH switched to a “hybrid” system for delivering TV to every room. The Hopper, Wally, and standalone boxes get satellite transmissions, but the Joey clients get signal only from the Hopper. This is similar to how DIRECTV’s system works. Doing all this meant a revision of the DISH distribution system from top to bottom. New “hybrid” LNBs were developed, and a new multiswitch was released that converts older systems to the new hybrid system.

Unfortunately, older receivers and DVRs are completely incompatible with this system, as are older standalone mobile and marine dishes. So, DISH kept the 211 series going in order to service those markets as well as customers who were happy with what they had.

If you have a new DISH install, you should definitely choose a Wally as it’s going to work well for you. If you have an older mobile or marine install, the 211 is generally the better option for you. However, if you don’t have new equipment, it’s best to call us at Signal Connect before you upgrade. We can help you figure out what’s best for you.

It’s easy to contact us. Just call 888-233-7563 during East Coast business hours. You’ll get an expert who knows how to take care of you. This isn’t some overseas call center. These are real professionals who understand DISH because they deal with it every day. If it’s after hours, just fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you, usually within one business day.

A word about new vs. refurbished

For over 15 years, DISH has provided its customers with boxes that could be new or refurbished. There isn’t even a distinction in their system for which is sent to the customers. All hardware is treated exactly the same whether new or refurbished. Customers who get a box that either doesn’t work or isn’t as attractive as they would like are encouraged to call their DISH dealer immediately. Usually it’s easy to get another box out to you.


About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.