Dish teams up with Amazon Echo's Alexa to let you channel surf hands-free

Dish subscribers can now turn their television experience into a lean back, hands-free experience—if they have the right Amazon Echo device, that is.

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Dish is getting serious about voice control. The company just announced that you can now use Amazon Echo’s Alexa to control any generation of a Hopper DVR or a Wally satellite receiver. That’s great news for Dish subscribers who missed out on the company’s homegrown voice control remote released last July because they lacked a Hopper 3 DVR. We first heard about Dish’s plans for Alexa during CES in January.

While you can have any generation of a Hopper DVR to use Alexa, you will need some specific Amazon hardware. Dish’s integration works with Alexa on the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Amazon Tap.

Subscribers with the appropriate Amazon hardware can use Alexa to change the channel, play, fast forward, rewind, pause or resume, as well as search for content. Dish says its universal search functionality lets you use Alexa to search across live TV, DVR recordings, Dish’s on-demand catalog, and Netflix.

That means you can tell Alexa to find House of Cards or Game of Thrones, and it will determine where to go to get that content.

Why this matters: It seems Alexa and Google Home get integrated with new services and devices every week. Dish integration, however, appears to be a notable milestone for Alexa. Dish says it is the first to offer “direct compatibility with Amazon Alexa.” Some Alexa users turn to a Harmony hub to control their TV set-up, but that’s not quite the same thing as direct integration. Hopefully, more providers will follow suit, making TV a hands-free experience for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant users.

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