DISH’s New Gear

A dead-eyed kangaroo mascot straight out of a third-tier baseball league fist-bumped me on the way in to the Dish press conference, inside a giant banquet hall, where the president and CEO of the company entered with a stampede of “joeys” and proceeded to tell a few dated jokes in a Southern accent. (He mentioned “power,” then: “No, not Austin Powers! Oh, behave!“) It was charming in that hokey, 15-second local commercial kind of way.

Then came the announcements. Dish’s goal is to make setting up your cable easier than it’s been, because it’s 2014, and it’s time we stop being slaves to cords and wires. But they’re also hedging their bets by improving on their current set-top box, the Joey. Here’s what they showed off.

DISH’s Press Conference

First, the Super Joey. The Joey, paired with Dish’s Hopper box, is a DVR setup that can record six shows at once. The Super Joey is mainly notable for being able to record eight simultaneously.

But more interesting are the totally new products, like the Wireless Joey, which uses Wi-Fi to connect your TVs to Dish where cords can’t reach. Meanwhile, Dish is offering apps to bring Dish to other devices: if you’ve got a PlayStation 3 or PS4, you’ll now be able to download an app and play your shows through that. If you want to take it on the go, you can already download your TV shows on a tablet or smartphone for offline viewing and set up recordings over the web. Now Dish has expanded that from iOS and Android devices to Kindle Fires, too. (The iPad version has a voice control option, which I’m on the record as disliking. But I’m mentioning it.) Also: it works with Google Glass, so if you’re in that tiny Venn diagram of people planning on using both of these products, there you go.

Maybe TV tech doesn’t have the same momentum as other gadgets, but this is the trend to watch from Dish and companies like it: a focus on helping people watch TV, especially when they’re not anywhere near an actual TV.