Dish Already Wins CES 2016: 4K Hopper 3 with 16 Tuners, Quad-View, HopperGo Mobile Drive
No other TV service provider comes close to Dish’s new Hopper 3, featuring 16 tuners, amazing four-way multiview “sports bar” mode, 4K content, Netflix search and lots of love for the custom channel.
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CES 2016 has not even begun, and Dish Network has already won the show. The company’s new Hopper 3 leapfrogs the competition and Dish itself, which postponed the launch of its 4K Joey because customers would have been really ticked off if they bought one of those when they could have had this.
Here are the highlights, which were revealed in a pre-CES teleconference with the trade press.
- A whopping 16 tuners: Never fight over DVR recording again.
- Sports Bar mode: Splits a TV into four separate screens – watch four simultaneous HD streams on a 4K display. No need to invest in a separate (expensive) black box. How amazing is that?
- Better Search: Netflix is integrated into universal search.
- HopperGo: Nothing like it in the market, nothing better on the planet: a little hard drive that plugs into your Hopper. Drag your shows onto the drive and enjoy on-the-go.
When this last feature – the HopperGo – was announced, I was on the phone with Dish, ready to switch from Time Warner Cable. The thing is only $99 and there are no additional fees, and no DRM restrictions. Just put your DVR in your pocket.
During the conference call, I’m pretty sure I heard otherwise unexcitable press people gasping with each new feature. I busted out a few very audible OMGs in there.
Before Dish CTO Vivek Khemka took center stage in our teleconference, Dish “custom channel guy” Frank DeFilippis thanked us for joining the call and explained why the company was bringing a small group of A/V trade editors into Dish’s inner sanctum a few weeks before the show, when Dish had never done such a thing before.
DeFilippis explained that Dish had made a “genuine commitment to the custom install channel” and part of that commitment was a “two-way sharing of information.”
“We want to hear from you, but we always want to be sharers of information,” he said. “It’s important that you’re all included in press events.”
Dish Hopper 3: The Fundamentals
The new Hopper 3 is “built with some of the best basics,” says Khemka, who claims the “super-fast” Broadcom 7445 quad-core Arm processor makes the new box seven times faster than the current Hopper, seven times faster than DirecTV’s newest DVR, and twice as fast as the brand new TiVo Bolt.
“It gives us a very fast, snappy user interface,” Khemka says.
Hopper 3 comes with a new voice-enabled touch remote, and features upgraded connectivity with MoCA 2.0 (multimedia over coax), a gigabit Ethernet port and support for up to six Joey clients.
One Hopper plus six Joeys equals seven simultaneous streams to seven TVs. That could very well be a world record.
— Dish CTO Vivek Khemka
There’s a 2 TB hard drive on board, plus a USB 3.0 port, apparently making the Hopper the first DVR with such a port. Bring your own hard drive to create “almost unlimited DVR storage space,” Khemka says.
As if these new capabilities weren’t enough, Khemka conceded that everybody really wants to know how many tuners were on this beast: 16.
“That means you can record 16 shows at once,” he says. “I can’t think of 16 shows to record at once.”
Khemka says that in deciding to go with 16 tuners, Dish simply wanted to make TV viewing a “hassle-free, no-anxiety experience.”
Because, you know, families can crumble over such things.
“Nobody in in the market place even comes close to that kind of feature set,” Khemka rightly noted.
And the story was just beginning.
4K Content and ‘Sports Bar Mode’4-Way Multiview
Yeah, the Hopper 3 is a 4K machine, and it even comes with 4K content – 50 Sony titles at launch.
Recognizing that there’s not a whole lot of content out there, “We wanted to create some cool applications for 4K,” Khemka says.
And so they did. Hopper 3 has this incredible built-in multiview feature called “Sports Bar Mode” that splits the TV screen into quadrants, allowing four channels to play simultaneously in 1080p on a 4K display.
“It’s like your own sports bar at home. … I haven’t seen anyone else do it,” says Khemka, in what might be the understatement of the year.
You might spend a couple thousand dollars for an external box to accomplish such a feat.
Because Hopper 3 has the 4K processing built into it, you won’t need a house full of new 4K Joey clients if you choose to get this new box. For that reason, Dish delayed the release of the 4K Joey. It will now launch simultaneously with Hopper 3, in case you want to stick with your original box and enjoy a 4K stream or two around the house.
HopperGO: The Icing on the Cake
After all of this amazingness, Dish still had a surprise: the HopperGO. About half the size of an iPhone, this little 64GB hard drive plugs into the Hopper’s USB port, so users can download shows with no DRM restrictions and then watch them on the go.
But that’s not all. It charges while it’s plugged into the Hopper’s USB port.
And this: When you’re on the road, the HopperGO serves as a little Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five devices! Yes, that was worth an exclamation point.
As long as everyone has the proper app and credentials on their device, the whole family can watch shows from a single mobile hard drive. Unless you have a large family.
“My kids can watch Sponge Bob, I can watch Interstellar and my wife can watch ….,” Khemka noted. Now that's a vacation.
There is more. Dish now includes Netflix in its universal search engine. YouTube service is coming soon. And of course Dish continues to commit itself to the custom installation channel. The product now integrates with virtually all the major home automation systems, and some of the smaller ones as well.
Don't dare miss Dish at CES 2016.
Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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