With the long-rumored video version of the hit iPod music player yet to materialize, EchoStar Communications is trying to beat Apple to the punch.
EchoStar, which owns the Dish Network satellite TV service, unveiled Tuesday a line of portable media players that can store video as well as thousands of MP3s and still images.
The PocketDish can download content from Dish Network digital video recorders (DVRs), enabling users to watch TV shows on the go. An hour of content can be transferred to the PocketDish’s hard drive in about five minutes.
The units can also download or record content from PC and Mac computers, digital cameras, and many DVD players, camcorders and VCRs.
Mark Jackson, president of EchoStar Technologies Corp., said PocketDish “makes it convenient for users to watch popular TV shows or listen to the latest music downloads anywhere."
The Pocket Dish comes in three varieties. A model that costs $599 and comes with a 7-inch LCD screen and a 40 GB hard drive. It can record both video and audio from external sources like camcorders, DVD players and VCRs. A similar version, priced at $499, comes with a 4-inch screen and a 30 GB hard drive.
A third version that can record only audio from external sources costs $329 and comes with a 2.2-inch screen and 20 GB hard drive.
All three models can download content from Dish Network DVRs via a USB 2.0 connection. The units do not have an output that can transfer video content, an EchoStar spokesperson said, so there is no limit (other than hard drive size) on the type or amount of programming that can be downloaded from DVRs.
Each unit comes with a rechargeable lithium battery, stereo headphones, and an assortment of cables and adapters.
EchoStar presently serves 11.4 million satellite TV customers through Dish Network.