Dish Network VIP922 Sling enabled DVR full review

I ordered the Dish Network VIP922 ( VIP 922 ) as soon as I read the announcement that it is available. The current upgrade price is $200, for existing customers, not sure how much for the new customers. The technician was half an hour late, not a big deal and the first thing he wanted to do was to check the dish placement and connections. It looks like, since my last Dish Network installation about two years ago they changed the installing codes and the guy wanted to see if everything is in order, expecting his supervisor to inspect the site later.

1. Installation:

Well it looks like what I considered a rock solid installation that served me well through heavy rain and winds was not good enough for them, in particular, the dish mount was missing a bolt (it still had the other 5). He wanted to uninstall and reinstall the dish in a different place (making another 6 holes in the process). I said no, I didn’t like the idea to waste so much time repositioning the dish just to have a VIP722 replaced with a VIP922 ( VIP 922 ) (which from the connections point of view should have been trivial – power cable, Ethernet, HDMI and USB for the external storage). I also didn’t want the extra 6 big holes to destroy my house. I started to think that this guy was a Dish Network contractor, not an employee and they want to perform extra work just so they can charge Dish Network more.

The technician seemed genuinely concerned about the code though, and he called his supervisor several time to confirm the decision. He also had me sign at the end of the procedure that I opted out dish repositioning…weird.

Anyway, with the idea of moving the dish out of the discussion, the technician insisted that the whole outside stuff it is also properly grounded. It was, linked together with my internet cable screwed to the electrical panel cover, but he insisted that the code requires them now to be separated. So he drilled another hole (still on the cover, one inch apart from the internet one) and moved the ground wire over there…weird #2.

All this outside play, completely unnecessary in my opinion took almost an hour, and he finally moved to do the inside work. Before his visit, I already had removed the old VIP722 and left the wires hanging, so that part took only 5 minutes. The technician then needed to restart and register the DVD to my account (another 20 min) and everything was up and going. This included a never before seen process (by me) of upgrading wirelessly the firmware inside the remote.

He walked me a little through the menus, showed me an interesting new feature to locate a lost remote (you can call the remote from the VIP922 ( VIP 922 ) menu and the remote control will produce a sound so you can find it more easily).

2. User Interface

The UI is a complete departure from VIP722 with nice graphic menus, and it feels like a 2010 design. It also finally takes advantage of the 1080p real estate, so HD doesn’t seem like an afterthought. The menu options have now suggestive images making the navigation much smoother. The programming grid finally adds TV stations logos. The navigation between menus and scrolling inside the Guide is noticeable faster than VIP722.

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3. Speed

The navigation is faster all around, with the menus popping up almost instantly. The Guide is also much faster than VIP722. However, when loading components outside the normal use such as Weather or Account Information modules, it takes a long time. I wonder how the plug-in system is implemented and if it is flexible enough to add an application store or at least more modules later. I guess time will tell.

4. Hardware:

VIP922 has a very modern look, with a blue front display and touch buttons (that I expect to never user). The look is 2010-ish though and will look really sharp in your entertainment center.

• Dual-tuner, one-TV receiver • Integrated SlingLoaded™ technology
• SD and HD output on TV1 • 1 terabyte (TB) hard drive
• Universal 32.0 UHF-2G configurable 4-component
remote control
• Capacitive-touch front panel controls

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5. Functionality

Menu:

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Guide:

The guide makes much better use of the area offered by HD TVs and it was obviously designed with that in mind. I didn’t try and don’t want to image how it will look on a non HD TV, altough the box supports them. Although initially my DVR didn’t display the TV stations logos, they eventually appeared several hours later.

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DVR:

The DVR functionality has improved significantly from VIP722. You can now organize your recording by folders (which you can create by yourself), the available space seems to be calculated more precise, indicating also the percentage of the disk used, and the recorded content also displays an image and the percent of the recording already watched. Much improved are the visualization options for timers, recordings, daily schedules and conflict resolution.

I had some shows archived on an external 1TB harddrive that I used with my old VIP722. VIP922( VIP 922 ) was able to see them and transfer them on the main harddrive, altough I did not see a way to play the shows from the external unit.

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Search:

VIP922 search for programs is amazingly fast and produces visual results while you are typing. Programming logos are also displayed in the search results making the navigation a breeze.

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Picture in picture:

PIP functionality offers the standard expected features, allowing you to position the PIP image in each of the 4 corners of the screen, side by side, it offers also two sizes for the PIP image (small and large) and allows swapping between the main and PIP image as well.

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Sling:

This is where VIP922 ( VIP 922 ) excels. If you have an online Dish Network account, you can stream video right from the browser (IE and Firefox supported for now), and you also have full remote functionality. However, this future effectively killed the support for the second TV output, so you can only use VIP922 ( VIP 922 ) with one TV only. This works fine for me, but be warned that if you want to use VIP922 ( VIP 922 ) to feed two separated TVs the way VIP722 did, you won’t be able to. It comes with only one remote as well.

Like VIP722, you can also control your receiver from the Internet, scheduling recoding from an on-line guide.

The Sling access works usually well, but I have seen in several occasions an error message while communicating with the Slingbox.

Funny thing, the technician wasn’t able to show me the Sling functionality in the Web Page during his visit. As I figured out later, the reason was that my default browser is Google Chrome which is not supported at this time.

DLNA client: (named Home Media by Dish Network)

VIP922 ( VIP 922 ) has an embedded DLNA client. Curently, it only supports music and pictures only, no video (let’s hope the video support will come out later). You can play the pictures in a slideshow, altough I didn’t see any preview support. I have both PS3 Media Server and PlayON installed and VIP922 ( VIP 922 ) was able to connect to both and browse the feeds, altough, a  mentioned, it only displayed and played the music and the image content.

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On Demand: The On Demand menu was yet to be populated at the time of writing,  with only one available movie at $6.99. Nothing to write home about and from this point of view, you are better off using other streaming services (NETFLIX, VUDU, Amazon on Demand…take your pick).

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Account information:

The UI has menus to add/remove Dish Network services, view your bill, etc. Interesting and convenient, although not something that you’ll use too often. Also, the integration is performed in a weird way; it takes way too long to load this specific module considering how much functionality is involved. I think, especially if you have broadband, they should cache this kind of information in the idle periods so they can display it faster if needed.

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Remote:

The remote is nice and responsive, with a good layout (different than the one included with VIP722). I intend to use my good old Logitech Harmony 880 though, for daily stuff. By default, the VIP922 ( VIP 922 ) is not enabled to use IR (infrared) remotes, so if you want to use it with your universal remote, go to Menu->Settings->Remote->IR->Universal Remote: Enabled

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6. Conclusion

Dish Networks’ DVR VIP922 ( VIP 922 ) is a complete redesign over VIP722 both in hardware and software. It has Sling functionality, the navigation and day to day use is much faster and it really worth the extra $200 you have to pay for the upgrade. The hardware is also much slicker and better looking in your AV rack. With a 1TB internal storage, available external storage  and Sling functionality, it will become an important component in your entertainment system.

Update: (06/15/2010) I still love my VIP 922, but I experienced some annoyances. Once in a while there is a program that doesn’t record properly. It shows as recorded, but it doesn’t play and if you look at the details, it shows size 0. You can’t delete it by default, especially if you tried to play it initially. Rebooting the system usually solves the issue. I did expect some hiccups with the initial hardware, but I wanted to record WorldCup and two matches failed to record. Disappointing.

Update: (10/15/2010) Most of the issues reported are now fixed by various updates and the box is much more stable than at launch. Additionally, one of the software updates added DLNA Video playback support (read more here).

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  • hammerhead55

    Got mine installed on Friday.
    Installer spent 2h trying to setup the Sling functionality to work.

    He told me that he did not have a formal 922 tryning yet. Just a flier they gave him.
    Then gave up and called support.

    They asked me to reset my router, disconnect router, DVR etc. and reconnect in a special order…
    No success so far.
    Engineering is looking into it.
    I was told by support that they have 80 Support folks dedicated to 922 support.
    And they are still “working out the kinks.

    I have a 622 on a slingbox av solo.
    Works like a charm.

    Hope they will get their act together soon!

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com Sorin

    The technician that came to my house said he installed already 3 before my unit and everything went smooth. The only problem was when he tried to access the online streaming feature, as they don’t have a client for Google Chrome browser yet. Internet Explorer and Firefox users are fine though.

  • Jrad

    My 922 was installed last Friday. Multiple issues around the dvr. They said that the external hard drive could provide a bridge for the content from my 622. When I used the icon to transfer the media from the external drive to the 922, it appeared to work, but it put 92 events into a single file. Then the pause live TV, skip back/forward quit working. Working with over 6 techs at DishNetwork they told me I had to delete all my content on the 922 and reinstall factory defaults. Lost everything..and it still does not work!

    Now they are telling me I have the wrong version of software on my unit. No way to force the upgrade to occur.

    If you have content to transfer, I would not upgrade to the 922 now.

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com Sorin

    I had only 9 events on my external drive and the transfer worked fine, 92 events is a far cry from mine…I wonder what do they mean by the wrong software…they just released to box…how many versions are out there? I can’t imagine they have beta versions on some of them…

  • Joenhre

    Hey dish where’s the ESATA port? I hate USB 2.0, it’s too slow for external drives. SATA has been around for over 5 years now and is much faster for storage than USB. Why do you guys at Dish still refuse to move up from USB?

  • Joe

    So there is no way to watch events on your external hard drive like you can on the 722? I dont really want to loose that capability. Graphically does it display the shows recorded on the external hard drive similiar to internal or same huge list with no folder capabilites like the 722. I have over 100 movies on the external and scrolling through one long list which is slow to scroll is a pain.

  • Al

    … you have no idea what that technician has to go through if he is a contractor (or an employee for that matter). No, he does not get paid one extra DIME for bringing all the crap up to code outside. No, he REALLY didn’t want to do it. And YES, Dish Network is so draconian with their enforcement policies that it is almost irrelevant what the customer wants during their install.

  • Fred

    I second Al there. Dish or contractor he’s not making a penny more for the job then what Dish is already determined before he got there. So it’s not like he wants to do all that work, it’s that he’s afraid of getting caught not doing all that work. If he’s a contractor and your system is found to not be up to code after he leaves he loses money. That’s right, they take away everything paid to him from your job. That means he gave you all his materials used out of his pocket, all his labor for free and anything else. There is no “milking dish for more money”. That’s why what you call weird, (having you sign off on things) is him protecting his butt because you wouldn’t let certain things be done.

    Reading your review, it actually sounds like you had a good tech, who cared about doing a job right. Or at least was afraid of the “Dish Police”. Either way, he did the job the way it should have been done.

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com admin

    Reading your review, it actually sounds like you had a good tech, who cared about doing a job right. Or at least was afraid of the “Dish Police”. Either way, he did the job the way it should have been done.

    I agree here, I did have a good tech. He was very professional and efficient. It was just a very different experience compared to the past ones, and, for me it seemed that Dish started to care more about the code than in the past.

  • Hagetaka

    http://www.satelliteguys.us/installer-zone/210931-customers-point-view.html#post2181491

    We’re actually discussing your naivete about installers over here. Dish corporate has installers under such a vice grip that I’m not surprised the guy went into full-blown CYA mode.

  • Fred

    BTW: Thanks for the 922 review. Pretty thorough and informative.

  • Steve

    interesting how a website let’s “just some guy” do a review without posting his name or credentials. When you have a technician come to your house, and recommends changes that are a lot more work for him to do, and to cover his ass if an electrical inspector or a Dish Network quality inspectors comes and inspects his work, you call it….”weird.” If an electrical inspector comes out to your house and inspects the Dish job, and finds it doesn’t meet your local electrical code, the last technician on site is responsible for it, and will face the punishment and pay the fines.
    If a Dish Network quality assurance guy comes out to your house and inspects the job after the tech leaves, and finds that it’s not up to dish network standards, the tech faces consequences from the company.
    I don’t understand why a customer would complain or come accross in a negative way like the reviewer has, when a technician wants to take out your OLD wiring and equipment, and replace it with NEWER, better cabling, parts, and connectors? Even better, at NO COST TO THE CUSTOMER!
    Some people sure are hard to please. But I guess you can write whatever you want online, when you don’t have to put your NAME on it….

  • Sorin

    Steve,

    First, I called it weird because it was so different from the past experiences. Second, I am not sure why do you think the review describes the job in a negative way? Actually I was happy with the work quality and I said the technician seemed genuinely concerned about the code. My problem was that, the dish was already bolted with rather big bolts in the patio’s main stud and relocating it would have required another six big holes in the same stud weakening it. Dish Network code or not, this procedure would have made quite a big damage to the infrastructure, which I deemed unacceptable.
    Third, of course, the review reflects my opinion about the procedure, I think I am entitled to have an opinion. About “some guy” comment…probably this is a label that can be applied to anybody in various circumstances. I don’t think I need credentials just to have an opinion. Free speech still stands I think…

  • Bryan

    Thank you very much for the review. This is what I was looking for, because I have 1 622 & 2 722′s and not sure if it is worth the upgrade $200 plus the extra $15 per month. As I was told by dish you will no longer get the first box without the newer $15 per month charge rather all you boxs will from then on be charged a $15 monthly charge. And if this box is really only good for one TV I wonder if you can now get more than 3 Dish boxes in your house. I was told by Dish I could not have 4 HD dual tuner so one room would have to go with only SD and no HD. I am glad I don’t have a big house where I only get the 3 HD tuners as Dish said they have as a current household limit.
    Again great review and nice pictures.
    P.S. Steve I do not agree with you, great review!

  • brian millar

    I got my 922 today and tried to transfer contact from my external drive. I went to the media transfer menu. It recognized my hard drive. But I got an error that the hard drive was connected to another account and therefore couldn’t be used on the 922.

    It was previously connected to my 622. There was no different account. Called Dish several times – but they don’t know what is wrong yet.

    Anyone have this problem?

  • Mike K

    For those who are familiar with using a Sling Box HD on a dish 622 or 722, what do you think of the Sling loaded 922 comparing quality? If I understand it correctly, since you have to use a web browser just to view in a different room within your home network, you are actually running two HD video streams and the same time, from the DVR out of your network to the Dish server and then back again. The old was was to load software on my home PC’s and send the video stream directly through the home network to the PC. The quality does not look as good to me, it was close to HD before, but not now, what do you think?

  • kevind

    I have had Dish for about 9 years. They will not upgrade my 722. I have called on numerous occasions (and wrote customer service – no response). The only thing I hear is ‘not eligible at this time’ and they will not provide a timeframe. Only thing I can think of is they forced my to take an upgrade (mpeg2 to mpeg4) on my 722 a few years back.

    Any ideas as to why they won’t allow an upgrade?

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com admin

    It doesn’t make any sense…the only reason that comes in my mind would be something related to the availability in your specific area. I had two 722 units, replaced one and had absolutely no issues – and had Dish for only about 4 – 5 years

  • Dave

    I’m assuming you mean that you weren’t eligible for a reduced-price upgrade. There are a lot of things that go into determining your eligibility for a promotion upgrade. (Hint: calling on numerous occasions does not help your chances.)

  • Jim

    I’ve had my 922 for a couple of months now and I’m not overly thrilled with it. I made heavy use of a stand-alone hard drive with my previous DISH DVR. When I ordered the 922 I specifically asked about the stand-alone and was told it was fully functional just as it was on my previous DVR. I made several phone calls to DISH inquiring about this and was told that I had been misinformed as to this feature. When I pushed for some type of restitution all I was offered was a refund of my initial $40.00 for the stand-alone activation. No one could provide a time frame when the feature would be fixed. My question was, why do you field a new piece of hardware like the 922 without full functionality? However the other day I noticed a change in one of the screens where I could now access my stand-alone. I thought “finally they applied the necessary software fix”. But NO! It’s only partially fixed. Now I can see the content of my stand-alone and transfer those contents to the 922′s DVR but that’s it. So now I’m waiting for the next set of modifications which will hopefully make the stand-alone fully functional. Another gripe…..why doesn’t DISH notify it’s users when an update to any of its functionalty has been applied. That’s just a good customer relations policy.

    Another gripe of mine revoles around the SLING option. I can rarely use this feature as my conectivity is frequently inoperable. I’m not exactly a computer geek so I lack much of the expertise necessary to diagnose some of these issues. Can someone tell me if I hard wire my router directly to my 922 instead of the transmission device DISH installed, will that solve my conectivity problem for my SLING?

  • Alison

    The VIP922 was something I was considering getting, but I’m glad I held off on it. I work with DISH Network so I waited for the sling adapter to come out. Hooks right up to my VIP722k and was only $99. I downloaded the free app from my android market and have been happily viewing my favorite live and recorded shows on my phone from anywhere! The sling adapter is definitely the way to go, it’s small, cheap and powerful! :)

  • Denise

    Alison, is the sling adapter from Dish? Or do you buy it elsewhere? This sounds like a good way to get the 2 TV plus Sling functionality that I need. I want to look it up to see if it would work with iPhone/Touch/Pad. Thanks

  • Tom Sommer

    I had Dish out today to upgrade me to the 922. What a joke. Nothing but problems trying to access the sling portion. The tech said they have had nothing but problems with it. After 5 hours of working on it the tech and I decided to just put the old 622 back. Well Dish customer support (what a joke) did not want to let me out of the 24 month contract. I said what are you talking about it does not work. Even the tech told them and they still said it was more complicated then that because I signed a contract. I could NOT BELIEVE IT. It took hours of phone calls to just cancle and put my old box back. Now I don’t even want to stay with Dish. I think I’m going over to Comcast. I have been a customer for over 5 years and paying $100 a month. Screw them and there useless 922.

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