Dish takes pay-TV DVR wars to next level with 16-tuner Hopper

LAS VEGAS - Putting its stamp, at least temporarily, on the pay-TV industry's "Most Robust DVR" crown, Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) debuted at CES last week a 16-tuner version of its Hopper set-top.

The Hopper 3 features a Broadcom CBM7445 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, which Dish says makes it seven times faster than the legacy Hopper 2, as well as twice as fast as the new TiVo Bolt DVR.

The Hopper 3 also features a 2-terabyte hard drive capable of storing up to 500 hours of HD programming, as well as native 4K, HDR and HDMI support. A new partnership with Sony Pictures allows for a select number of 4K theatrical titles, such as The Amazing Spider-Man, to be downloaded. Netflix integration also allows the Hopper 3 to stream Netflix 4K titles.

The device can power up to six Joey client boxes and up to seven TVs. The box can also display four HD signals onto a single screen simultaneously, a feature Dish calls "Sports Bar" mode. The device also now has YouTube app integration to go alongside Netflix. 

For Dish, the introduction of such a robust set-top comes as it tries to establish an industry-leading position in the high-end, "custom" install market. 

It also arrives as the operator is not only looking to separate itself from satellite rival DirecTV (NYSE: T), but also a flurry of resurgent cable competition, which has, over the last 24 months, significantly upped its game in the level of video CPE technology and service offered to pay-TV customers.

"Goodbye, recording conflicts," said Dish CTO Vivek Khemka while introducing the Hopper 3 last week, noting that some customers complained that the six tuners embedded in the Hopper 2 were too few. 

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