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Clay Maynard: Dish has new Hopper, Joey and Tailgater
Dish's new Hopper was a "Best of CES" finalist and chosen for a Popular Mechanics Editors' Choice Award at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year.
The satellite TV provider is off to a great start since the new president, Joe Clayton, dropped "Network" from the former brand name of Dish Network and made it simply Dish. Good move.
At the main entrance of the 2012 CES, a giant teddy-bear-like kangaroo carrying a joey (baby kangaroo) in its pouch greeted over 153,000 attendees. You guessed it. Dish's new Hopper also has Joeys.
Of the cable and satellite companies, Dish made the only new product announcements at the show, touting their Hopper, Joey and Tailgater, all of which are now on the market. Live TV To Go was introduced in 2010 and can now be used with the new Hopper. See www.dish.com/technology.
Hopper is the newest addition to Dish's satellite DVR/tuner lineup and the first to offer a two-terabyte (2TB) built-in digital video recorder (DVR) that can record over 2,000 high-definition (HD) programs.
Just to give you an idea of how big a terabyte is, the Greek term "tera" means monster and, according to Microsoft, a terabyte could hold a 100-byte record for every man, woman and child living on earth today, including an index for the records. By comparison, the Hopper DVR holds twice as much.
The Hopper DVR/ tuner could be used as a standalone unit being connected to only one HDTV. However, up to three additional HDTVs can be added in different rooms by connecting each to a Joey. A Joey is simply a much smaller box that provides all the functions of a Hopper while being connected as a remote control via a thin-client cable.
With a Hopper and three connected Joeys, a customer could have the same program, or four different programs, on four different TVs, in four different rooms. The programs could be from satellite channels or the Hopper's hard drive. It is even possible to start watching TV in one room, pause, then continue watching it in another room. The system can also record up to six programs simultaneously.
PrimeTime Anytime is another feature of the Hopper that can automatically record all national prime-time HD programs on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox every day between 8 and 11 p.m. for playback any time up to eight days later.
Live TV To Go is an awesome feature that lets you watch live TV channels or DVR recordings anytime and anywhere in the world using an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android device or laptop/computer. You only have to buy a Sling adapter for $30, have a broadband Internet connection, and subscribe to a Dish HDTV program package with a DVR/tuner like the Hopper. There are no extra monthly costs for this service (see a dealer for details).
Live TV To Go works via the Internet. When you log into your Dish account with a compatible portable device, you simply go to Dish Remote Access, where you can access everything that is on your compatible Dish DVR/tuner. Yes, you can get all of your live and recorded programs while on the go.
Dish also has a host of other great features including the very useful SRS TruVolume technology that maintains a set volume level even when switching channels or using DVR playback. This also works with Dish's SiriusXM satellite music channels and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.
There are some standard features like picture-in-picture, caller ID, and compatibility with an external hard drive for storing additional programs. In fact, Dish recommends temporarily transferring all programs to an external drive when upgrading your DVR/tuner, and then transferring them back.
Last, but not least, the Dish Tailgater does something cable cannot do. It allows subscribers to take their HDTV and a satellite tuner, or DVR/tuner, to events or even on camping trips. The Tailgater is a portable enclosed dish antenna that scans the sky to get the best signal for the tuner. Prices vary but are generally less than $400. See www.dish.com/technology/tv-outdoors.
If you want to learn more, contact CSC (Celestial Satellite Communications) of Yuba City. They are an authorized Dish Network retailer providing sales, service and installation. Brothers Mike and Raj Bhangu, the co-owners of CSC, provided input for this article. They really know their Hoppers, and you can visit them at 1528 Colusa Highway or call 419-DISH (3474).
Clay Maynard of Yuba City is a technology consultant and chairman of the San Francisco Bay Area Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Vehicular Technology. Email him at ConsumerTechTalk@comcast.net.