EchoStar/Microsoft unveil digital video recorder

FROM NAB CONFERENCE
LAS VEGAS — Heightening competition in the emerging digital video recording industry, satcaster EchoStar Communications and Microsoft’s WebTV Networks will release their DishPlayer satellite receiver to retailers in May. DishPlayer users will not only be able to record satellite programming through a set-top box but access the Internet as well.

The new receiver was demonstrated by EchoStar chairman Charlie Ergen and WebTV prexy Steve Perlman at the National Assn. of Broadcasters’ confab in Las Vegas Monday.

System integrates EchoStar’s Dish Network digital satellite television programming service with WebTV’s Internet TV service. Device can pause “live” TV programming for up to 30 minutes at a time, store video on a hard drive, features a searchable program guide, includes broadband data delivery and a digital video recording service and will allow users to download videogames. The digital video recording service is expected to be included with the receiver in late 1999.

Set-top boxes will also include a port for printing out TV listings and e-mail messages.

DishPlayer is expected to compete heavily with recorders from Tivo and Replay Networks, two companies that began shipping digital set-top video recorders this month. The Dish Network has more than 2.2 million customers; WebTV has over 700,000.

DishPlayer’s receiver is expected to sell for $499 and includes remote control and wireless keyboard. WebTV’s Plus service will be available for an additional $24.95 per month.

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