After a delay of several months, Dish Network will be releasing the DTVPal DVR in mid-December. The antenna-friendly HD DVR will retail for $250 (after a $50 instant rebate).
You may remember the DTV Pal DVR as the EchoStar TR-50. That's the name under which it was launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, where it garnered CNET's Best of CES award for the home video category.
The latest iteration of the DTVPal DVR is pictured above. While the name and look of the product have changed a bit, it appears that it retains its core feature set: the ability to record digital TV programming to its internal hard drive (30 hours of HD video or 150 hours of standard-def), a 7-day electronic programming guide, and--the big one--no additional subscription fee or contract. That last point is a big distinction from TiVo DVRs, which require a subscription fee above and beyond the cost of the hardware. Dish is also reaffirming that the device supports closed captioning, program search, and analog passthrough.
I know from my e-mail that there have been quite a few consumers looking for just such a device--an HD DVR for over-the-air programming that doesn't require a monthly fee. The question now is whether or not the DTVPal DVR will live up to its impressive specs, as well as to its excellent satellite-only predecessors such as the ViP722. Dish has promised us a review sample by the end of the month, so we should be able to share a full review soon.