Today at CES 2017, DISH Network debuted two new upgrades to its Hopper platform, Alexa voice control for Hopper DVR, and DISH Music.
DISH’s new Alexa capability, set for availability in the first half of the year, gives customers the ability to control their TV using voice commands. Users can pair a Hopper DVR of any generation with an Alexa device like the Echo or Echo Dot, and then can speak commands such as “Alexa, go to CNN,” “Alexa, play the Warriors game,” and “Alexa, find Matt Damon movies.” According to DISH, it is the first TV provider to announce direct compatibility with Amazon Alexa.
“We constantly evaluate emerging technology, like Alexa, and its potential to improve how people watch and control their TVs,” said Niraj Desai, DISH vice president of product management. “This allows us to design strategic roadmaps and deliver products that make TV more valuable, at no extra cost to subscribers.”
“Amazon is excited to be working with DISH to develop an Alexa skill that offers a hands-free television experience, expanding the ways that our customers can use Alexa devices like Amazon Echo to make their lives easier,” said Rob Pulciani, director, Amazon Alexa. “You no longer have to set down your popcorn to change the channel, or spend time searching for what channel the game is on—just ask Alexa to do it for you.”
DISH also announced DISH Music, a Hopper-driven feature powered by DTS Play-Fi technology that gives customers the ability to sync music throughout their home using one central control. DISH Music provides a complete, room-to-room music entertainment experience by enabling users to play content from popular streaming sources, such as iHeartRadio, Pandora, and TIDAL, via TV audio systems connected to Hopper 2 or Hopper 3 DVRs, and Joey clients.
“The Hopper is capable of serving as a household’s comprehensive entertainment hub,” Desai said. “Incorporating DTS Play-Fi technology into our offerings provides DISH customers with a premium whole-home music streaming option, in addition to the television experience they already love, at no additional cost.”
DISH Music turns DISH’s Hopper DVRs and Joeys into music streaming zones that are controllable from Android or iOS smartphones and tablets. Using the app, customers 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 set-top boxes. Hoppers and Joeys will display the metadata for the music being played, such as the artists, song name, and music service.
In addition to TV audio systems directly connected to DISH set-top boxes, DISH Music can wirelessly pair with DTS Play-Fi-enabled speakers connected to the same wireless network. Manufacturers of DTS Play-Fi-enabled speakers compatible with DISH Music include Aerix, Anthem, Arcam, Definitive Technology, Klipsch, MartinLogan, McIntosh, Paradigm, Phorus, Polk Audio, Rotel, Sonus Faber, and Wren presently, with products from Elite, Integra, Pioneer, Onkyo, Thiel, SVS Sound, and more forthcoming.
Music services available with DISH Music currently include iHeartRadio, Pandora, TIDAL, Deezer, Napster, and Amazon Music. Users must have accounts to access content from these services, when required. DISH Music will also play from personal libraries on mobile devices and is compatible with DLNA media servers.
DISH Music is currently rolling out to customers, and the app will be available on all Hopper 2 and Hopper 3 DVRs by February 2017.