January 09, 2012
| by Lisa Montgomery
At CES today Dish Network CEO Joe Clayton announced that the company will unleash a “whole new animal” in the world of home entertainment—as he strolled onto the stage with a live baby kangaroo in his arms. What’s a fuzzy little marsupial have to do with Dish and its new announcements? A lot as it turned out at the standing-room only press event at the first day the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “We are basically relaunching our company,” said Clayton.
The kangaroo—both in live, mascot, stuffed and graphic form—is Dish’s new mascot and name (the “Hopper” and “Joeys”) of its new whole-house entertainment system. The Hopper high-def DVR serves as the hub of the network, storing up to 2 terabytes (equal to 2,000 hours of entertainment) of high-def content for distribution to as many 3 Joeys (the super-small receiver boxes), which are installed in other rooms of the house. As Clayton put it, “It’s DVR that hops from room to room.” Clever. The main Hopper and each Joey can play something different (recorded or live), and as many as six shows can be recorded simultaneously, thanks to the three satellite tuners that are built into the Hopper.
That’s great, but by the time the Hooper hits the market (by summertime), Dish will offer 73 channel of music, plus access to Pandora, making it a real contender as a simple, affordable whole-house music and video system. A nice touch is the improved interface that displays the album cover on the TV screen as you navigate your choices.
Another cool feature is PrimeTime Anytime. Instead of pecking your way through a guide to select individual programs to record, this one command records to a single tuner all primetime programming on ABC, CBS, CBS and Fox every night for a week and stores them for eight days after they have aired.
The Hopper also provides users access to apps including Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, and a remote access app that lets users manage and control the Hopper from a smartphone, tablet or PC.
The content is distributed from the Hopper to the Joeys via coaxial cabling using the Multimedia Over Coax Alliance (MoCA) specification.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.