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Dish Serves Up 4K, 16-Tuner DVR, Hopper Go At CES

Dish came to CES to launch 4K VOD programming , a 4K Hopper DVR with 16 tuners, and the pay-TV provider’s first Hopper Go, a portable device that stores DVR content for on-the-go playback by Wi-Fi-connected mobile devices.

The 4K-capable Hopper 3 DVR, available in January for $15/month, is the company’s first Hopper to store and play 4K content, which will be available in January as VOD content. The VOD content will be downloaded overnight by satellite and broadband connection for storage on the Hopper’s hard drive.  The Hopper 3 also supports future satellite-delivered linear 4K content via the HEVC codec.

The company originally wanted to launch 4K VOD programming last September but delayed the rollout because of a lack of content, said Vivek Khemka, Dish senior VP of product management. About 50 downloadable titles will be available in January from Sony and other content providers.

Hopper 3 supports 60fps 10-bit 4K with high dynamic range, and it features HDCP 2.2 copy protection.

The current Hopper 2 will also download and store Dish’s 4K content. Hopper 2, however, won’t play back 4K content on a local TV. The DVR will pass through the content to the company’s new 4K Joey, which was scheduled to launch last year but was delayed because 4K content wasn’t available to Dish, Khemka said. The 4K Joey also features 4K Netflix.

Key features: Besides 4K playback, the new DVR also delivers faster operation, 16 tuners, onscreen display of four separate 1080p programs at a time, and a new universal search function.

Faster operation derives from a 1.5GHz quad-core 2100 DMips processor, which delivers 7X speedier operation than the Hopper 2 and DirecTV’s Genie DVR and 2X faster operation than TiVo’s Bolt, the company said.

The additional processing power also enables multichannel view, which divides the screen of a Hopper-connected 4K TV into four separate 1080p screens to display four programs simultaneously. Viewers can play back the audio of one program at a time. The four-screen capability doesn’t carry over to Hopper-connected Joeys in other rooms.

With 16 tuners to record 16 different programs simultaneously, consumers don’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts, and they can record all of a sports team’s future games without missing a game because of a conflict. Other pay-TV providers’ DVRs max out at six tuners, Khemka said.

The device also adds a Gigabit Ethernet port to deliver live and recorded video to up to six Joey thin clients at a time in other rooms for “conflict-free” viewing, he added.

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Storage has been upped to 2TB for 500 hours of HD video storage, said to be more than what’s offered by other pay-TV providers’ DVRs. The USB port goes to a speedier 3.0 to accelerate the transfer of content to the Hopper Go and to external storage-expanding hard drives.

A new universal search function lets users search for Netflix and Dish content, whether on demand or live. Universal search and voice search work with all existing connected Joeys.

Like before, a Sling Box is built into the DVR to let remote users stream Dish programming and DVR content over the Internet to a computer or mobile device.

On the go: Also for on-the-go use, the battery-operated $99 Hopper Go will be available in the first quarter  to store 100 hours of side-loaded DVR content. The content can then be viewed on up to five Wi-Fi-connected mobile devices simultaneously. Hopper Go features 64GB storage and four-hour battery.

Although Dish also supports side loading of DVR content direct to Android and iOS mobile devices, the new solution won’t take up storage space on mobile devices, Khemka said.

Hopper Go can also be plugged directly into an Android mobile device’s MicroUSB port to play Hopper Go video, though Hopper Go won’t be charged or powered via the Android device’s battery.

Hopper Go will transcode DVR content for mobile playback and optimize video for a small screen, Khemka said.