EchoStar, DirecTV Are Upwardly Mobile


Las Vegas -- Both EchoStar Communications and DirecTV Monday unveiled new “mobile dish” devices that permit consumers to watch their TV programming “on the go” -- either in cars or just about any venue, respectively.

At the International Consumer Electronics Show here, EchoStar rolled out its MobileDish in-car satellite service, a Dish Network programming package that incorporates antenna technology from RaySat.

MobileDish allows Dish customers to watch live satellite TV in their vehicles, even if they are in motion.

And DirecTV took the wraps off DirecTV Sat-Go, a briefcase-sized device with a receiver that permits consumers to pick up the direct-broadcast satellite service’s programming and watch it on a portable 17-inch monitor.

DirecTV plans to make that device -- which customers can bring anyplace, both indoors and outdoors -- available to its “A-List” customers in April.

As expected, EchoStar also announced that it was launching a download service, DishOnline, that will permit its subscribers to use their own broadband and Internet connections to download content such as HDTV programming, Hollywood movies and niche and international programming.

Mark Jackson, president of EchoStar Technologies, talked about the company’s new ViP HD digital-video recorders. The ViP622-1 model will have a 500-gigabyte hard drive, and the set-tops will be compatible to hook up with off-the-shelf universal-serial-bus hard drives.

At DirecTV’s press conference, president Chase Carey described his company’s plans to offer 100 national HDTV channels this year, saying it already sewed up deals with more than 70 of those, including CNN, FX, USA Network and TBS.

Many of those networks haven’t even formally announced their plans to offer HDTV channels yet.