Back at CES, EchoStar announced the TR-40 ATSC digital converter with an expected MSRP of $39.99. That would make it free after the $40 government coupon. Then it appeared to be rebranded as the DISH Network DTVPal, which launched with a $59.99 MSRP.
To muddy the waters a bit more, DISH Network is now offering the TR-40 CRA for $39.99 – free with a coupon. And it looks like the TR-40 CRA is identical to the DTVPal, save for the labels. From the site’s FAQ:
What is the difference between TR-40 CRA and DTVPal?
TR-40 CRA is a special limited production version of the DTVPal. Offered at the government coupon price of $40, the TR-40 CRA includes the highly-acclaimed features and functionality of the DTVPal.
DTVPal has garnered much praise in recent months and is recommended as a “top choice” by CNET. DTVPal’s amazing features and consumer-friendly technology make it a great value at only $19.99 with a $40 government coupon.
So if you’re in need of a set-top box for the DTV transition you can get the TR-40 CRA free with a government coupon, and get the same hardware and features as the $60 DTVPal, which is $20 with the coupon.
Interestingly the NTIA list of approved set top boxes also includes the EchoStar TR-40 and a DISH Network DTVPal Plus, both of which are listed as approved, but currently unavailable. At first I thought the DTVPal Plus might be the EchoStar TR-50 ATSC DVR shown at CES, but it can’t be as having the TR-50s capabilities make it ineligible for a coupon, hence it wouldn’t be on the approved list. Curious.
Disclaimer: I work for Sling Media, which is owned by EchoStar.