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Dish Unveils 2nd Generation Of The Hopper

LAS VEGAS – Dish Network will rollout at International CES 2013 the second generation of its controversial commercial-skipping DVR called The Hopper.

Dish CEO Joe Clayton said the new Hopper will hit the market later in the month.

The DVR/tuner will have all of the features of the previous version – including Primetime Anytime and the controversial commercial skipping Auto Hop function – plus more power and new features designed to expand the use of a Dish subscription both in the home and on the road.

Clayton said that despite pending legal challenges by broadcasters against the Auto Hop feature, “We’re going to stick with what’s in the best interest of the consumer.”

The latest Hopper is designed, in part, to let Dish subscribers view recordings on the living DVR on their mobile devices anywhere in the world.

“The world is shifting and we see this as part of our march to shift with the consumer,” Clayton said.

The new box is the same size and shape of the original Hopper, but with revamped internal components, including double the memory and double the processing speed.

At launch the new Hopper will be free of charge to new Dish subscribers and $100 more than the cost of the original Hopper for existing customers.

But Clayton said that “as we move the inventory down, it will be free, just as The Hopper is today.”

The new and improved Hopper also includes Wi-Fi connectivity and a built-in transcoder for Dish’s Sling technology.

Through a new feature called Dish Anywhere involving the Sling transcoder and a free “Dish Anywhere” app on a smart device, viewers will be able to see programs streamed from the Hopper to their iOS mobile phones or tablets.

There will be no extra service fee for the Dish Anywhere capability, the company said.

Subscribers will also be able to view other on-demand content that Dish has rights to on their mobile iOS devices.

Another app designed to work with Sling called “Hopper Transfers” will take any recorded file, transcode it with Sling and download it to a remote device for offline playback at a later time, such as on an airplane or in an area without an available hot spot.

It takes one hour to transcode a one hour show and between five to eight minutes to download the transcoded content to a mobile device, Dish said.

Each transcoded file will include Digital Rights Management protection, and will not be playable once a customer disconnects from Dish. The app needs to check in with the Dish service over the Internet every 30 days to remain active.

Also, different recordings will have different use restrictions and time limits, so for example, any show recorded from HBO will be playable for only up to 24 hours after transfer to remote device. Also, each recording may be transferred just once in most cases, Dish said.

Dish said the new Hopper was also designed to support second-screen uses while viewing a program on television. An example called “The Dish Explorer App” will help viewers “search, discover and control” what they play on TV. The app syncs to any program being viewed on TV and allows the viewer to call up information about the program, cast, director etc. on the TV screen. Other second-screen features include connecting to social network accounts to view what viewers’ friends are saying they are watching, keeps inventory of recorded programs, favorite programs on the air and even Blockbuster on Demand movies and TV shows. Viewers can also use the app to find and set programs to record.