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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.”

Wow.

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.

“It’s like your own sports bar at home. … I haven’t seen anyone else do it,” 
— 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.

Hopper 3 and HopperGO Press Release, next page.{pagebreak}

PRESS RELEASE

DISH Unveils Hopper 3 with Enhanced 4K Experience; Most Simultaneous Recording, Processing Power of Any DVR; Announces HopperGO for Offline Viewing of Recorded Content

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 5, 2016 – DISH Network L.L.C. today unveiled Hopper 3 and HopperGO, each packed with industry firsts designed to change the way consumers find, record, stream, watch and transport content. The next generation of the company’s whole-home DVR, Hopper 3, features 16 tuners, 4K content options including the proprietary “Sports Bar Mode,” and integration of Netflix into its universal search results. The pocket-sized HopperGO wireless flash drive stores up to 100 hours of recorded content for offline viewing on smartphones and tablets.

“Today we are giving consumers even more choice and control over their viewing experience by introducing the most advanced DVR in the world, while also redefining the mobile viewing experience,” said Vivek Khemka, DISH Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. “Hopper 3 is more than just a DVR; it’s an entertainment hub that supports and centralizes the various content types popular today, like streaming apps and Ultra HD, while engineered to adapt with the trends on the horizon, like linear 4K.”

Industry-leading 16 tuners create conflict-free TV experience

Hopper 3 contains 16 tuners, more than any other DVR in the world. The expansion makes it easy for viewers to watch shows in multiple rooms, view live programs remotely via DISH Anywhere and set multiple recordings, all at the same time and without the need to manage conflicts or cancel timers.

“Consumers may not spend a lot of time thinking about how many tuners they have, but they do care about being able to watch and record all the shows they want to see when they want to see them,” said Khemka. “Having 16 tuners enables us to give our customers a conflict-free viewing experience while also supporting advanced features like our new 4K Sports Bar Mode.”

Sports Bar Mode, content partnerships maximize 4K experience

DISH is the first pay-TV provider to offer the 4K Sports Bar Mode, a multi-channel view that divides the screen into quadrants, each with the ability to display a different program in 1080. The feature works by decoding any four different HD feeds and displaying them simultaneously.

To enrich customers’ 4K experience even further, DISH is announcing agreements with Sony Pictures, The Orchard and Mance Media to deliver movies and other 4K content directly to the Hopper 3 and 4K Joey. At launch, customers with these boxes will be able to rent on demand popular Sony titles such as “The Amazing Spiderman,” “American Hustle” and “Smurfs 2” in 4K.

“The affordability of 4K TVs has increased dramatically, and consumers are hungry for content and features that really showcase the picture and put the technology to work,” said Khemka. “With Sports Bar Mode, we wanted to replicate the fan experience of enjoying several games simultaneously for the home, and combining this feature with our new content offerings gives viewers a rich 4K viewing experience unavailable elsewhere.”  

Netflix now integrated into Hopper search

After becoming the first major U.S. pay-TV provider to integrate Netflix into a set-top box, DISH is taking the experience a step further by integrating Netflix into universal search results. With this new functionality, customers who search for a TV series will see a list that incorporates episodes from Netflix, DVR recordings, on demand options and future airings, depending on availability of each. Netflix 4K content will also be available for viewing on the Hopper 3 and 4K Joey, broadening the selection of Ultra HD content available to customers.

“The integration of Netflix titles into our search results is one more way we are making the Hopper a true entertainment hub, enabling viewers to easily find the programming they want to watch without having to run multiple searches across platforms,” said Khemka.

Netflix inclusion in universal search will be available on both Hopper 2 and Hopper 3.

YouTube integration brings popular videos to the TV screen

In the coming months, DISH will launch YouTube on Hopper 3, bringing viral videos and content from a new generation of entertainment stars to the TV screen via a set-top box. YouTube joins several Hopper apps and features that together bring a range of entertainment options to customers, including Netflix, Pandora, Vevo, The Weather Channel and Hopper Arcade.

“Our strategy with Hopper apps is tied to the variety of sources that consumers access for entertainment and information today, making the Hopper a one-stop source for popular content,” said Khemka. “The addition of YouTube fits perfectly with this strategy, bringing the videos dominating the Internet today to customers’ living rooms, all without the need to switch inputs or devices.”

Enhanced processing, storage and connectivity to power the whole home experience

Adding to the conflict-free viewing experience is Hopper 3’s ability to support up to six Joeys simultaneously, powering a total of seven TVs at one time. The DVR is compatible with the standard Joey, Wireless Joey and the soon to be released 4K Joey. DISH is delivering enhanced connectivity options to drive the whole-home experience, including MoCA 2.0 and Gigabit Ethernet. 

Hopper 3 is powered by the fastest set-top box processor available, the Broadcom 7445, a quad-core Arm processor, giving the new DVR seven times the speed of Hopper 2. It contains 2 TB of internal storage, enough to save up to 500 hours of HD content, more than any other pay-TV provider. Hopper 3 is the first DVR to use USB 3.0 connectivity for external storage expansion, which allows for transfer speeds ten times faster than USB 2.0. It features a sleek, modern UI/UX and is navigated using the Hopper Voice Remote. Hopper 3 will be available in early 2016.

HopperGO personal mobile video drive stores 100 hours of recorded content

A pioneer in delivering true “TV anywhere,” DISH has offered features like Hopper Transfers that give customers the ability to transfer recorded content to mobile devices for nearly a decade. Today the brand is announcing an even more revolutionary way to transfer, store and watch recorded content on the move, HopperGO. With HopperGO, every member of the family can take a favorite program with them on vacation.

The HopperGO experience begins by connecting the compact, lightweight device to a Hopper 2 or Hopper 3 via USB. The connection both charges the HopperGO battery (for up to four hours of viewing) and enables users to move up to 100 hours of recorded content from the DVR to the device’s 64 GB of flash memory.

HopperGO then creates a secure, private Wi-Fi cloud to play back different transferred shows on up to five devices at once, meaning several viewers can be watching a different show off HopperGO at the same time.

“We found that the biggest pain point for consumers in using our Hopper Transfers feature was running out of space to store movies and shows on their mobile devices,” said Khemka. “When taking a trip, often you want to have several entertainment options, and HopperGO gives customers the ability to transport a variety of content for every member of the family, without having to worry about running out of storage.”

HopperGO will be available late Q1 for a one-time cost of $99. There are no monthly fees associated with using the device.

Technical Specs

Hopper 3 is powered by a Broadcom BCM7445 quad-core ARM application processor at 1.5 GHz, 21K DMIPS. It contains a two TB hard drive for up to 500 hours of high-definition recording (or 2,000 hours of standard definition recording). For 4K viewing, the Hopper 3 can decode and output 60 FPS and 10-bit color. It supports H.264 and H.265 and is compatible with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2. It is the first DVR to support USB 3.0. Hopper 3 is compatible with HDR10/BDA 2.0 encoded streams.

HopperGO has 64 GB of memory and connects to Hopper 2 and Hopper 3 via a micro USB.

About the Hopper

Introduced in 2012, the DISH Hopper provides whole-home capabilities and includes innovative technologies like the PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop features, as well as an industry-leading 2 TB of storage. DISH introduced its Hopper 2 in 2013, adding Slingbox technology-driven DISH Anywhere functionality, making it possible for consumers to watch live and recorded content anywhere on Internet-connected tablets, smartphones and computers. The DISH Anywhere feature includes transfers, which makes remote viewing possible when no Internet connection is available. Hopper 3 is the most advanced version to date with 16 tuners, 4K integration, USB 3.0 compatibility, voice control and Netflix incorporated into search results. The Hopper is the center of the whole-home entertainment experience and connects to additional TVs via standard Joey, Wireless Joey and the soon to be released 4K Joey.

About DISH

DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH), through its subsidiaries, provides approximately 13.909 million pay-TV subscribers, as of Sept. 30, 2015, with the highest-quality programming and technology with the most choices at the best value. DISH offers a high definition line-up with more than 200 national HD channels, the most international channels and award-winning HD and DVR technology. DISH Network Corporation is a Fortune 250 company. Visit www.dish.com.

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
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Julie Jacobson:

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

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