As they do each year, CNET convened to determine the Best of CES. From Editor-in-Chief Lindsey Turrentine:
Last week, about 40 members of the CNET editorial staff met in the CNET trailer in the parking lot of the Las Vegas Convention Center to vote on our official Best of CES winner. [...] Ultimately, we chose the Dish Hopper for our Best of CES award because of innovative features that push shows recorded on DVR to iPads.
Of course there’s tons of compelling new technology at CES and whittling it down to a single show representative is quite challenging. Yet, having spent time with the DISH Hopper, we too came away impressed… as it’s quite possibly the most powerful and most versatile DVR ever produced. And it’ll surely end up in more homes than our CES favorite, the Lenovo Table PC.
The new DISH Hopper with Sling builds upon the success of their highly regarded first gen Hopper, retaining consumer-friendly features of automagically recording prime time network programming and then skipping commercials during playback — it’s got the studio’s panties in a wad and may cost DISH dearly when it’s time to renegotiate those carriage contracts. But they seem to relish a good fight. And perhaps that’s why they’re showing no fear in further risking the wrath of content providers by incorporating Slingbox technology… to beam both your live and recorded content around and beyond the home. If that wasn’t compelling enough, the new Sling Hopper also allows you to offload DVR recordings for later playback – covering those times you may not have a network connection available.
DISH Hopper with Sling is powered by the beefy Broadcom 7425. Integration has taken about a year, but unlike the SlingLoaded DISH ViP922, this chipset fuels onboard transcoding for video offloading and placeshifting. So, not only is it all substantially more powerful, it’s a straighter digital shot (that better manages the tuners). Imagine cramming a TiVo Premiere, TiVo Stream, and Slingbox into a single set-top, and you have a pretty good idea of what this Hopper is capable of. Also, speaking of TiVo, like their upcoming Mini extenders, DISH continues to offer “Joey” client units – extending the whole-home DVR experience to three additional televisions.
Beyond the upgraded processing power, 3 tuners, and 2 terabytes or storage, DISH incorporates wireless capabilities (!) making for much more flexible Sling Hopper placement and usage — both in terms of accessing Internet apps like Pandora or streaming your content beyond the box. Further, the new Hopper features a somewhat refreshed UI and perhaps that, combined with the new TV Anywhere functionality, will be enough for Engadget – who seemed to stop just short of declaring the original Hopper to be the single best DVR solution.
Availability and pricing details are expected towards the end of the month and I suspect the DISH Hopper with Sling will begin shipping in Q1 with attractive offers for new customers. For existing DISH subscribers outside an upgrade cycle, Scott Greczkowski of Satellite Guys tells me to expect the unit to land in the $200 – $300 range.