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.
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.
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.
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
• Capacitive-touch front panel controls
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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).