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EchoStar debuts portable video player

Device can store and play video and audio content from various sources, including digital video recorders. Photos: Satellite TV dish in your pocket

EchoStar Communications on Tuesday announced a new set of portable video players.

PocketDish can download, record and play content from a PC or Mac, digital cameras, mass-storage devices, as well as from sources such as digital video players, camcorders and video cassette recorders, the company said. It is compatible with most television sets and consumer electronic devices currently available, EchoStar said.

In addition, customers of EchoStar's Dish Network can dock PocketDish to select DVRs, using a USB 2.0 connection for fast video transfers. An hour of Dish programming can be transferred to the portable device in about five minutes, the company said.

The announcement comes amid market speculation that Apple Computer, which leads the portable music player market with its iPod, is likely to launch an iPod with video-playing capacity.

The EchoStar device is available in three models--two portable media recorders and one portable media player. The video recorder with a 7-inch liquid crystal display and a 40GB hard drive is available for $599, while the one that has a 4-inch display and a 30GB hard drive is priced at $499. The 2.2-inch LCD media player, which has a 20GB hard drive, carries a price tag of $329. All the models come with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for up to four hours of video and 12 hours of music playback, the company said.

"More versatile than ordinary portable DVD or MP3 players, PocketDish makes it convenient for users to watch popular TV shows or listen to the latest music downloads anywhere," Mark Jackson, president of subsidiary EchoStar Technologies, said in a statement.