Dish Network says it's revamping the company from the ground up in 2012 and to kick off their efforts they've come forward with two major announcements at CES. The first is a HD DVR system called the Hopper that includes a 2TB drive and is complemented by thin-client boxes called "Joeys" that can stream live or pre-recorded content from the Hopper to up to three additional rooms.
The Hopper itself includes three satellite TV tuners but one of them is reserved for recording all four major broadcast stations -- from ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC -- during primetime hours as part of a new feature called "PrimeTime Anytime". This essentially means users will have on-demand access to those station's most popular and most watched shows without having to worry about scheduling their set-top box.
When enabled, PrimeTime Anytime records network programming in high definition, where available, every night and stores them for eight days after they have aired (eight days gives viewers one previous episode). With the remaining tuners, Dish subscribers can record two more programs from other channels, meaning the Hopper can store up to six programs simultaneously during prime-time hours.
In addition, users will be able to access thousands of streaming titles from Dish’s Blockbuster service, which is being renamed Blockbuster @Home. People who don’t have broadband access or haven't connected their set-top box to the Internet can still download movies via satellite with a new feature called Dish Unplugged.
Lastly, Dish is also throwing in app support so you can access social networks, games, news, weather information and more. Subscribers will be able to access and manage the DVR through the web or through Dish's Remote Access App, and there's even a convenient "locate remote" button on the Hopper for those times you're going crazy looking for the remote. Just press it and your remote will beep.
The other major announcement involves a partnership with ViaSat to offer satellite broadband. The new service will provide up to 12 Mbps download and up to 3 Mbps upload speeds, bringing a broadband connectivity option to more than 8 million rural U.S. households that lack access to anything better than DSL.
Dish CEO Joe Clayton said an entry-level package of Dish plus Dish Broadband will start at $79.95 a month with a planned launch for the summer.