CNET Votes DISH Hopper with Sling Best Of CES

Dave Zatz —  January 16, 2013 — 26 Comments

dish-ces-booth

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-sling

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.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

26 responses to CNET Votes DISH Hopper with Sling Best Of CES

  1. Yup CNET voted it the Best of CES 2013, unfortunately CBS wouldn’t let CNET give DISH the award so the CNET Editors had to vote for a new winner. :(

    Of course this snub by CES, not only got the attention of the CEA, but also by the worlds Media and already DISH has gotten more publicity out of this then if they were just given the award.

    Only thing this did for CBS is it gave CNET a black eye as now many folks don’t trust their reviews.

    Smart move CBS.

  2. Now Dish just needs to put “Voted best of CES 2013 by CNET” on their advertising for the Hopper. It is an accurate statement and would further stick it to CBS.

  3. When I saw the Sling Hopper last week, I had this vision of network execs heads exploding, Bugs Bunny style.

    This just blows TVE wide open in a way that no one was ready for. Because it’s going to be pretty tough to tell Comcast “no, your people can’t watch any of our shows on their iPads when they’re not at home” when Dish’s customers can do so when they’re not even in the US.

    The iPad apps are all pretty nicely designed too and if you want to know what the future of 2nd Screen looks like, it looks a lot like Dish Explore.

    Yes, there will be lots of lawsuits and we may finally get an answer on why Slingbox is legal. (I’m guessing it was too much of a niche product for anyone to bother pursuing a lawsuit before?)

    re: CNET – what Scott said.

  4. Assume you wrote the article this way on purpose Dave. Good on you. Agree with others–this has gotten Dish way more press than they would have got if they’d won the actual award. I dropped CNet from my daily rotation in retaliation. I think the black eye is not just to CNet though, I consider it a black eye for CBS in general, including CBS News in particular.

    Anyway, most of the people I liked at CNet are gone anyway, most to TWiT anyway, so no big loss. They’re dead to me now.

    BTW, did you see those new Nielsen numbers:

    http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/consumer/the-cross-platform-report-how-viewers-watch-time-shifted-programming/

    87-94% live? Really? What planet do these people live on? Is this swamped by all the TV in the background stuff we all assume Nielsen includes or something? Wow.

  5. Glenn, of course. Had to write up my Sling Hopper visit anyhow, may as well make a subtle point of some sort. Assuming anyone is paying attention. But we always prefer to focus our energies on compelling tech rather than the petty, boneheaded moves of some executive and an army of lawyers. I will say that the folks I know at CNET are stand up people and they’re probably as outraged (or more) than we.

    Regarding live TV… uh, guilty. I suspect some of it is background noise. But I also feel like many need the structure of appointment TV. Or just haven’t yet been reconditioned.

  6. I’ve quit 60 minutes as a result of this kerfuffle. No more Morley Safer for you suckers. Your loss.

    (I’m always unsure how to feel about these ‘the enemy of my enemy is my enemy’ situations. Don’t like what DISH is doing with the Hopper. Don’t like what CBS forced CNET to do with the awards. Can’t it be easier to find someone to hate in the situation?)

  7. @Chucky,

    You don’t like what DISH is doing with the Hopper? Automatically recording prime-time network shows and skipping all the commercials if like 7% of America you watch those recordings the next day or later?

    I can understand that this is lawsuit bait. Yup.

    Understand that you might be of the opinion that they’ll lose over this, either lose the lawsuit or lose the right to carry the channels or … Yup.

    Understand that Charlie Ergen is apparently an asshole and difficult to work with. Yup. Heard that too.

    But you don’t “LIKE” what Dish is doing with the hopper? Huh? Isn’t what they’re doing very consumer FRIENDLY?

    Please clarify.

  8. “You don’t like what DISH is doing with the Hopper? Automatically recording prime-time network shows and skipping all the commercials”

    Yup. Me no like.

    Turnkey auto-comskip for the masses is a very bad idea for the public good, IMHO. If widely adopted and uncountered, it would utterly destroy content production. Manual comskip avoids these issues, while still providing the benefits to those who care. My 30 sec skip button on my TiVo easily handles my needs without forcing a disastrous change in the content producers business model.

    So I genuinely hope Ergen gets absolutely annihilated in court, with extreme prejudice. He’s threatening my beloved Golden Age of CableCARD. If he’s successful, one possible resolution out of many would be to bring us down the road to unskippable ads.

    And I know that pretty much no one seems to have any love for the content producers, but I do. If you kill them one way or another, very bad consequences will ensue for content consumers. Content production ain’t cheap, and for non-premium channels, that gets paid for by ads, which a majority of folks with DVR’s don’t even bother to skip, believe it or not.

    (Didn’t like what CBS did during the kerfuffle either, but that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of mackerel.)

  9. Don’t worry, the product placements and logo overlays will offset the commercial skip. ;)

  10. Chucky, we have been through this before with you. And again like last time it was established that Automatic Commercial Skipping is NOT Illegal. The ReplayTV case proved this.

    If you read the lawsuit from the networks they are claiming that DISH is altering their programming and editing out their commercials. This is NOT happening. The program is never edited.

    Instead an XML like file is sent at 1am after the shows air which contains the times when the Hopper should skip over the commercials. Its no different then you hitting your 30 second skip button (which the networks also say is illegal… which I guess also makes you an outlaw like the rest of us.) :)

    In addition the Automatic skip function needs to be turned on for each and every show it is not automatically enabled for each show.

    TV needs to change the way they do advertising, last night I was watching CSI on CBS and thought it was funny how they built the “Truvia” sugar substitute into the show. What we are seeing is advertising is going back to the way it was in the 50′s and 60′s with product placement and mentions during the show. And honestly I like that better. Haven’t you ever laughed when watching a show and they have a soda, and pull out a big bottle that says “Cola” on it? Isn’t it more realistic to pull out a bottle of Coke or Pepsi? Take a look at American Idle, they have been doing this for years.

    Commercial skipping is where is going, and if its automatic or you have to hit a button on your remote its something that we ALL are doing (you included Chucky) and that is why the INDUSTRY must change.

    Look at the music industry, it was almost destroyed by technology and it wasn’t until they embraced it that they started making money again.

    Television needs to learn from the music industry.

  11. “Commercial skipping is where is going, and if its automatic or you have to hit a button on your remote its something that we ALL are doing”

    Well, no.

    Again, a majority of DVR users don’t comskip.

    “Look at the music industry, it was almost destroyed by technology”

    It wasn’t destroyed by “technology”. It was destroyed by folks getting stuff for free that they used to pay for – aka piracy. Which is a pretty good analogy to what the Hopper is trying to do to non-premium teevee.

    “it wasn’t until they embraced (technology) that they started making money again”

    They didn’t ‘fix’ the business by embracing technology. They ‘fixed’ the business by slashing their budgets in a draconian fashion, hurting artists, and thus hurting consumers.

    “Television needs to learn from the music industry.”

    You mean it ought to slash itself in size and quality in a draconian fashion, hurting artists and thus hurting consumers?

    Of course you do. I, on the other hand, don’t.

    Television has learned from the music industry, which is precisely why they are correctly fighting the Hopper as hard as they can, in as many ways as they can. And godspeed to them.

    As you note, we happen to have a fundamental disagreement on the merits of the path that Thermonuclear Ergen is taking. You’re fine with destroying the village to save it. For me, not so much.

  12. “Don’t worry, the product placements and logo overlays will offset the commercial skip”

    Kudos on the somewhat obscure, yet perfectly chosen screenshot.

    (I’m always fascinated by the similarities between that movie, and the director’s previous movie, Fearless. Structurally, it’s basically the same movie, with the only difference being that in the earlier movie, the protagonist must abandon his fantasies and return to ‘real life’ in the end. Whereas the subsequent movie flips the ending, which makes it more audience-friendly. I find the earlier movie better, largely for that reason, but they’re both pretty damn good.)

  13. Chucky again you are spewing garbage, where are your facts?

    “Again, a majority of DVR users don’t comskip.” You know this how? I just asked 10 people in my break room if they are watching something they recorded on their DVR how many of them skip the commercials. 9 out of 10 told me they skip commercials. The 1 who said they didn’t said they don’t because they always forget they can do it.

    Yeah I know non scientific but not a bad sample. DISH, DIRECTV and TIVO know how many people hit the 30 second skip button and I asked about this at CES and was told a majority skip commercials.

    Dave works close with Tivo maybe he can get us some numbers.

    “It wasn’t destroyed by “technology”. It was destroyed by folks getting stuff for free that they used to pay for – aka piracy. Which is a pretty good analogy to what the Hopper is trying to do to non-premium teevee.”

    And how is this piracy? Hell you yourself admitted you skip commercials. You have a skewed memory of what happened to the music industry. People wanted to PAY for their music electronically yet the music industry refused to sell it to them so people then pirated it. Finally the music industry came around and started selling their music and guess what, the piracy dropped down to almost nothing. How many people do you know today pirating music?

    “You mean it ought to slash itself in size and quality in a draconian fashion, hurting artists and thus hurting consumers?”

    Trimming the fat is good for any business. How many people in the music industry were just warm bodies collecting a paycheck. The music industry had to change and it did. Now the same thing is happening to the television industry and the same changes are needed. Why do I think that you collect your paycheck from the television industry?

    What DISH is doing might not be the smartest thing business wise. (And if you remember I said that I was shocked when DISH announced this AutoHop feature… I am one who things the programmers and delivery companies should be working together.) But if you look at the big picture DISH is just doing what the customers want.

    In the end its the consumer who decides what they want. And so far consumers are saying they want the Hopper. With over 2 million of them out in the field in less then 9 months shows me that DISH is onto something.

    The old motto is “The customer is always right” and here DISH is doing right by the customer. The television industry needs to remember that their licensees are to serve their viewers. Which makes their viewers their customers. Again THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT.
    The courts have already ruled in DISH’s favor that AutoHop is legal.

  14. “You know this how?”

    The bulk of surveys I’ve come across, both consumer reported and automated analytics, show that a majority of DVR users don’t comskip. Sorry if that differs from your own highly reliable personal survey.

    “Chucky again you are spewing garbage”

    Scott, the problem isn’t that we disagree on this topic. Disagreement can be informative and productive. The problem is that you are rude, seemingly lacking in basic interpersonal skills, and intellectually dishonest. Glenn asked me a sincere question, which I tried to answer in a sincere fashion. You, on the other hand, are a different kind of animal, and seemingly not worthy of engagement unless I just want to try to out-rude you, which generally, (but not always), doesn’t appeal to me.

  15. Ahh personal attacks instead of answering the questions. Now I really know your full of…

    I think its clear to see what “Chucky” says has ZERO merit.

    Thanks for proving my point.

  16. Can we please return to the topic at hand? Thank you. -Moderator

  17. Thanks Dave.

  18. Chucky,

    I guess I agree with you on the potential outcome of this if it is ruled legal. I’m not at all sure they’re going to lose the legal case though.

    As I tried to suggest of course there is another path for CBS et al if its ruled legal, which CBS has actually been pretty blunt about, that they won’t allow Dish to carry their channels anymore. That’s just a contract dispute, and I don’t see how legal/not legal weighs into it, and its certainly what Dish is risking in the long run. How long before that possibility comes up, and whether the media companies have the balls to try it, I’m not clear–wait for the legal outcome (years probably) or do it the next time the contract needs renewal (different for each channel/package)?

    I wonder if the current Aereo stuff plays into this as well, and that may be what Charlie is thinking of as a backup plan, e.g. some kind retransmission without contract which would let him at least provide over the air channels? Not that this would get him ESPN if ABC won’t sign on the dotted line, but it could drag things out wrt ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox anyway.

    Anyway, the fireworks should be interesting.

    BTW, I believe you are right about the stats on commercial skipping, but I’ve seen lots of conflicting data.

    Obviously if those Nielsen stats I quoted above are right a vast majority of people watch their content live, meaning they CAN’T skip commercials. Neilsen says 87.2% of Broadcast TV is watched live. Not later that day, not T+3 or T+7, live live. Then there’s the question of what percentage of commercials are skipped when watching non-live recordings.

    Yet the last TiVo press release I remember:

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/emmy-gold-not-necessarily-a-silver-bullet-for-advertisers-according-to-tivo-60723657.html

    shows a great number of people watching shows non-live and skipping something like 2/3rds-3/4′s of the commercials.

    Which seems in direct conflict with the Neilsen numbers. Unless of course TiVo owners, being a small self-selected group, aren’t representative of the bigger market of people with clunky Motorola & Cisco DVRs they rent from their MSO. And THOSE people don’t use their DVRs as much as TiVo people do. Which seems possible, but unsure.

    I think the only problem I have with your argument is that its a bit elitist. Course that doesn’t stop me from agreeing with you.

  19. Hopper is nice for recorded shows, but what about live TV ?

    this iphone app lets you skip commercials on live TV! 



    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/commercial-break/id589327264?mt=8

    

It sends a message to your iphone when commercials are over.


    coooool!

  20. “As I tried to suggest of course there is another path for CBS et al if its ruled legal, which CBS has actually been pretty blunt about, that they won’t allow Dish to carry their channels anymore.”

    Yup. We’ve both thought of this before. If ruled legal, I certainly wouldn’t sell my broadcast programming to DISH. And if I were Disney, I wouldn’t sell them ESPN, even though DISH isn’t currently auto-comskipping that, all in order to protect ABC. Same thing for all NBC-Universal channels in order to protect NBC, were I Comcast. It’s an existential enough challenge for the content companies that they need to draw a line here.

    “I’m not at all sure they’re going to lose the legal case though.”

    I don’t claim to have the slightest bit of certainty here, but if I were betting at 50/50 odds, I’d take the nets winning the case.

    “I wonder if the current Aereo stuff plays into this as well, and that may be what Charlie is thinking of as a backup plan, e.g. some kind retransmission without contract which would let him at least provide over the air channels?”

    I continue to think Aereo has the best chance of actually winning a legal case here, given the public airwaves / OTA / rent a physical antenna / non-auto-comskip angles.

    But you hit the point exactly in that everyone but CBS has lots of additional properties they can deny in order to keep DISH from selling an integrated full-spectrum, turnkey auto-comskipping service, even following the Aereo model. (CBS and Viacom made a mistake in separating, IMHO, something I thought back when it happened.)

    “I think the only problem I have with your argument is that its a bit elitist. Course that doesn’t stop me from agreeing with you.”

    Obviously, as a competent TiVo user during the Golden Age of CableCARD, I do have a personal elitist interest in not seeing either programming or service radically disrupted.

    But on the non-elitist side, I actually think DISH’s strategy, if proved legal and somehow allowed to widely proliferate, would end up hurting all consumers. Either programming would dry up, or service would be provided in such a way to be an inferior experience even for folks running crappy DVR’s who don’t use them very much.

    —–

    “Neilsen says 87.2% of Broadcast TV is watched live. Not later that day, not T+3 or T+7, live live.”

    Back on the elitist side, I can’t think of anything I’ve watched live in many years, other than truly breaking news events. (And even for those, I’ll run them on 2 tuners so I can comskip by switching tuners.) Even for ‘live’ sports, I’ll wait until the necessary buffer has built up in the recording before I tip off the jump ball…

  21. Yeah, I also watch very little live. But as you know I think, we’re just not representative.

    I guess I’d ask you the obvious question… would you be willing to give up your TiVo to keep the “golden age of Cable Card” going? If cable companies could somehow get a ruling that DVRs were illegal, or if they simply forced cable companies to stop supporting cable card to accomplish the same thing would that be okay with you? In order to keep the market where advertising supports the content you want to watch?

    That’s my “elitist” argument–that you’re happy if you can skip commercials as long as the technology is such that most people can’t/don’t so things don’t fall apart…

    I guess if you forced me to answer this, I’d accept the loss of my TiVo or the loss of my ability to skip over commercials if I had to in order to keep the golden age going. But I wouldn’t be happy about it.

    I continue to expect that the MSOs are going to evolve towards cloud-based DVRs in the long run, and once they’ve gotten us all to give up those physical DVRs we hate so much, they’re going to start disabling commercial skip. So we may be getting there someday soon anyway…

    Course maybe they won’t do this given all the talk about “peak cable” lately. Certainly the pressure from cord cutters is going to intensify over the coming years before they can act on this.

  22. “That’s my “elitist” argument–that you’re happy if you can skip commercials as long as the technology is such that most people can’t/don’t so things don’t fall apart…”

    I definitely follow your reasoning. But I do think the key here is that folks have the freedom to comskip, as long as they’re the ones doing the work. I had to do research on TiVo and CableCARD in order to get a decent DVR, and far more importantly, I have to manually do the work of comskipping while I watch. The DIY aspect seems crucial to me on several levels.

    It’s similar to the reasoning that I’m in full support of my ability to rip a DVD or Blu-Ray for my own personal usage to create a video jukebox, as long as I’m willing to do all the work. But I’m not in support of a company being legally able to monetize that by selling an automated turnkey system to do the same thing.

    So, it’s definitely an elitist argument in a way. IMHO, tinkerers should have freedom to tinker, but corporations shouldn’t be able to monetize forms of piracy to the masses. But elitism aside, such an arrangement seems societally far better to me than all of the potential alternatives I can imagine.

    “I guess I’d ask you the obvious question… would you be willing to give up your TiVo to keep the “golden age of Cable Card” going? … if they simply forced cable companies to stop supporting cable card…”

    Well, it wouldn’t be the Golden Age of CableCARD without CableCARD, of course. And the only reason we’ve got TiVo’s and WMC’s is that the Federal Government mandates CableCARD for broadband wireline multicast. I’m sure the CableCo’s would do away with CableCARD in under a minute, were they allowed.

    And I most certainly wouldn’t be in favor of the CableCARD mandate being snuffed. It seems like pure Good Government to me. If anything, it should be enforced with more vigor. The IP backchannel should be mandated to get rid of tuning adapers. Free VOD avaiable to an MSO’s set-top should be available to a CableCARD set-top to ensure a level playing field. Broadband satellite companies like DISH should be brought under the CableCARD mandate.

    “I continue to expect that the MSOs are going to evolve towards cloud-based DVRs in the long run … Certainly the pressure from cord cutters is going to intensify over the coming years.”

    Of course, in the long run, we’re all dead. I continue to expect the current CableCARD / multicast regime to last far longer than everyone seems to think. I don’t think the investment in infrastructure necessary to deliver reliable individual-cast IP streams to every teevee turned on in the nation is going to be attractive for quite a while. I’m sure that’s where things will head in the long run, but I just don’t think they get there for quite a while. (And once we do get there, indeed there will be no comskip.)

  23. FYI, looks like CBS has amended their counterclaim against Dish and is seeking to terminate their carriage retransmission agreement. Seems to me like the supposed “breach” (hey, they didn’t tell us about Hopper and they should have) is a stretch, but whatever. If they’re willing to do this I think that whenever the current agreement ends–I couldn’t figure that out despite trolling through the linked counterclaim on Scribd–Dish’s ability to carry CBS at least will end…

  24. From what I remember DISH has had their autoskip patented for a few years before it was introduced on the Hopper last May.

    It should be also noted that DIRECTV has its own version of AutoSkip which they acquired from their purchase of Replay TV. I am told that this feature is actually included with the current Genie software but is turned off, but can easily be turned on pending the outcome of the DISH litigation.

    I personally thing DIRECTV is smart for letting DISH be the guinea pig in this one.

    But you can bet your bottom dollar that if DISH win’s DIRECTV will no longer be sitting on its hands.

  25. I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This piece of writing posted at
    this web site is really nice.

Leave a Reply

*

Text formatting is available via select HTML.

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>