DISH at CES 2015: 4K UHD Joey, voice and gesture remote and more

When it comes to TV services this year at the 2015 International CES, all eyes were on DISH Network. The company announced its plans to become the first pay-TV provider to deliver a remote with touchpad and voice control, the first to launch a 4K Ultra HD set-top box, the first to offer streaming apps such as Vevo and the first to deliver a whole-home music solution.

“Since launching the Hopper in 2012, we have never stopped innovating, and today marks the next milestone in our journey to connect consumers with entertainment, including the latest 4K Ultra HD content,” said Joseph P. Clayton, DISH CEO and president. “We are making the Hopper user experience more intuitive than ever, while also making it a true entertainment hub through apps on the Hopper that connect consumers to some of their favorite streaming services.”

DISH launches industry first with 4K Ultra HD Joey

With the launch of the 4K Joey, DISH is the first pay-TV provider to offer a set-top box that supports all Ultra HD televisions equipped with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2. The ultra-thin receiver is small enough to fit behind wall-mounted 4K TVs and features picture-in-picture and native Bluetooth support.

“While 4K Ultra HD televisions have generated considerable buzz in the industry, 4K pay-TV solutions have not been universal,” said Vivek Khemka, DISH senior vice president of product management. “The 4K Joey expands the 4K ecosystem and enables consumers to select the Ultra HD TV of their choice and access relevant content, helping them better enjoy the most advanced picture viewing experience available today.”

The 4K Joey will be available in Q2 2015. It will connect to an existing Hopper and joins the existing “troop” of Joeys in offering a complete whole-home experience. In addition to the standard Joey, DISH offers the Wireless Joey, the Virtual Joey and the Super Joey.

New remote and user interface make using Hopper and Joey easier than ever

To enrich the overall customer experience, DISH is rolling out a new user interface (UI) and remote control designed to make interacting with the Hopper and Joey easier and more intuitive. The new UI, named “Carbon,” features a flat design, increased accessibility (including higher contrast for easier reading and customizable text size) and an innovative “home screen” that displays relevant programs that a customer may enjoy using data analysis based on past viewing experience, time of day, personal preferences and other factors.

To complement the updated UI, DISH is unveiling a new, smartphone-sized remote control named “Hopper Voice.” Developed in concert with the new UI, the remote features a touchpad for swipe and scroll navigation, a dynamic backlight that illuminates the entire remote, and advanced voice command capabilities. With 17 buttons–down from the 53 in the current remote–Hopper Voice makes it easier for customers to access frequently used commands.

DISH is also unveiling the “Hopper Standard” remote, which uses the same design language as Hopper Voice and offers a simplified experience without the touchpad, for those who prefer a more traditional experience. Hopper Voice will ship with all Hoppers and 4K Joeys, while Hopper Standard will be included with other Joeys. Consumers also have the option to purchase the remote of their choice for existing Hopper or Joey boxes, both of which are compatible with the new remotes.

“Consumers interact with the Hopper using two touch points, the remote and the user interface, and we designed both– the Hopper Voice remote and Carbon UI–with their needs in mind,” Khemka said. “We want consumers to get to the content they want without even having to think about how to get there.”

The Carbon UI, Voice Control remote and Hopper Standard remote will be available in Q2 2015.

Whole-Home music available directly from Hopper and Joey

Already known as a whole-home DVR, the Hopper is evolving into a whole-home music system to provide a complete, room-to-room entertainment experience. DISH is announcing an update that will turn Hoppers and Joeys into music streaming “zones” that are controllable from a new Android or iOS smartphone app. The app will enable users to select content from popular streaming sources such as iHeartRadio, Pandora and TuneIn, as well as their personal library. Using the app, they can choose to sync the same music across rooms, or play different content in each zone. The whole-home music feature can also be controlled directly from an app on the Hopper and Joeys.

“Our customers listen to streaming music on their smartphones and tablets all the time, but the best speakers and soundbars in the house are often connected to the TV,” said Khemka. “By adding streaming music capabilities to the Hopper, we are giving consumers a music experience that rivals pricey whole-home retail solutions, at no additional cost to them.”

Whole-home music will be available on Hopper and Joey during the summer.

Vevo App brings music videos back to TV

Further propelling the Hopper as a versatile entertainment hub is the addition of the Vevo app, making DISH the first pay-TV provider to offer Vevo on a set-top box. The Vevo app gives viewers access to a library of 100,000 HD music videos that can easily be searched, discovered and played. The addition of Vevo gives consumers even more streaming options following DISH’s announcement of a Netflix app last month.

“As customers watch more online content, we are making the Hopper an even more versatile hub by enabling customers to find thousands of music videos available for streaming from Vevo without the need to switch inputs,” said Khemka.

Vevo will be available at no additional cost on Hopper and Joey in Q1 2015.

Lyve brings personal photos and videos to the Hopper

Recognizing that one of the best ways to display photos is on high-resolution TVs, DISH is enhancing the Hopper with the addition of Lyve, an innovative new service that gives users the ability to collect and access their photos across multiple platforms. With Lyve, consumers can consolidate photos and videos stored on multiple devices (PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Kindle Fire) into one app, which they can now access via the Hopper or Joey.

“Between smartphones and cameras, we are taking more photos than ever, and Lyve gives us a way to share and experience our life memories,” said Khemka. “With the addition of Lyve, the Hopper system supports the full range of digital content, including online video, music and photos.”

Lyve will be available on Hopper and Joey in Q2 2015.