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PocketDish first impressions

PocketDish first impressions

I've been playing with the PocketDish AV700E portable video player that Dish Network announced a couple weeks ago, and it has its strengths and weaknesses. The $599 list device is basically an Archos AV700 (40GB) with the added ability to download and play back TV programs from Dish satellite DVRs. That part works fine: I loved being able to fill the device with a bunch of shows from my Dish Player-DVR 942. The AV700E's hard disk can store a massive amount of programming--40 hours--and during my couple of weeks with the unit, I've used it primarily to watch Dish TV. The convenience of being able to hook the device directly to my satellite receiver and record shows faster than real time (with the standard Archos, you have to record video in real time or download it from a PC) can't be overstated.

On the other hand, I wasn't thrilled with transfer speed via USB 2.0: it took 6 minutes, 24 seconds to transfer an hour-long show. Transferring the same file from my PC to the Archos took 1 minute, 12 seconds. Dish's rep blamed the slow transfer on the 942's processor speed compared to a PC's. Video quality was fine, about as good as real-time analog recordings, but the AV700E's screen appeared soft and somewhat washed out (the Archos review had similar complaints). I expect the screen on the smaller AV500E to look better. Look for the full review of the PocketDish in the next few days.