Product Review (August 2010) - DISH Network
ViP® 922 SlingLoaded™ DVR

By Kevin Nakano


ViP 922DISH Network raised the bar when they released the ViP® 622 and ViP® 722 high definition DVRs several years ago. These units provided DISH customers with an easy to use and stable platform for reliable standard and high definition content. They also offered the ability to receive local terrestrial broadcasts (ATSC) and record the content for time shifting, which added to the already powerful dual satellite tuner DVR system. Early last year at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, DISH Network unvieled the new ViP® 922. Since then, many have been waiting for this next generation DVR unit to be officially released. That time has finally arrived and appears to be worth the wait.

The new ViP® 922 is more powerful than ever and includes Sling capability (EchoStar Corporation, DISH Network's sister company, acquired Sling Media), which allows users to control and watch their live TV and DVR content from remote locations using a Broadband internet or cell phone connection. The new graphics-rich user interface makes it easier to navigate and features a Picture-In-Picture (PIP) functions in Solo PIP Mode. The ViP® 922 can also provide Internet-delivered DISH On Demand programming including 1080p content. The software is upgradeable via the satellite link.


Sling LoadedSlingLoaded
The SlingLoaded™ ViP® 922 DVR offers powerful capabilities not found on any other DVR that we know of. Not only can users remotely control their DVR programming features from a PC or mobile device, but now they can actually watch shows without having to be at home thanks to the integrated SlingLoaded technology
. This is ideal for those who frequently travel on business and don't have a chance to catch the latest episode of their favorite TV program. Content can be viewed on a standard PC or laptop, iPhone, iPad, or select Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and Droid phones. In addition, you can pause and rewind live TV thanks to the large 1 terabyte internal hard drive in the ViP® 922. The DVR has name-based recording and recorded events management.


ViP 922 FrontCapacitive Touch
Unlike other ViP series DVRs offered from DISH, the ViP® 922 lacks the tactile buttons on the front for controlling the unit, but instead features a new design with a set of capacitive touch buttons for Power, Menu, Jump, System Info, Mode, and navigation. Personally, these type of buttons have never worked well for me especailly when compared to the controls on the wireless remote. Several indicator lights for Solo PIP, DUO, TV1, and TV2 provide unit status.


Dish ViP 922Front Panel
The front left flip-down panel on the ViP® 922 reveals a SMARTCARD slot, a red RESET button, and a USB 2.0 interface. The USB port can be used to connect media including an external hard drive for additional storage. DISH customers are required to pay a one-time $39.99 "activation fee" for this service and is a small price considering that this feature benefits all the DVRs in the house. Once configured, customers won't have to delete their favorite shows from the DVR to make room for new ones. Instead, they can transfer the content to the external hard drive and play it back later. This capability already exists on their ViP® 722 and works well. Adding additional storage means high definition content, which uses substantial space can be moved off the internal hard drive.


External Hard DriveExternal Hard Drive
We recently tested this feature using an off-the-shelf USB 2.0 drive. The external drive can also be connected to the rear USB port. Once attached, the ViP 922 recognizes the storage device and it shows up on the menu screen. Transferring content to the external drive is easy using the My Media Transfer menu. The external drive shows up as External Device 1 on our ViP 922 system. Using the My Media Transfer menu, the user can choose to transfer from the ViP 922 to the external drive or vice versa. Once the content is moved, the user can select content from either storage device in the DVR My Media menu.


Installation
Our ViP® 922 DVR came preconfigured for this review, so there was little setup needed on our part to get the unit up and running. Similar to the other DISH ViP DVRs, we connected the ViP® 922 to our DISH 1000 triple LNB unit mounted on the side of our roof. This is the same dish we used with the ViP® 622 and ViP® 722 DVRs. we reviewed late last year and is a slightly newer version of the one that was installed with our ViP® 622 DVR receiver. The installer did a great job mounting and pointing the dish to the satellites in the Southwestern sky. The RG-6 cable was neatly tucked under the eaves to protect it from the elements. While only one Dish output was used with our ViP® 922 receiver, three additional outputs are available for other receivers, thanks to the built-in multi-switch. All three LNBs on the dish are enclosed into a single sealed unit connected to the arm of the dish assembly. Pointing the dish can be difficult especially for the multi-satellite units. Having a professional install the dish can save you a great deal of time and effort, especially for those lacking installation experience.


ViP 922 BackConnectivity
The rear panel of the ViP® 922 has four female F-connectors for the dual satellite inputs, home distribution output, and the remote antenna. The remote antenna connection is used with the small antenna provided for the RF remote control. The two satellite inputs receive signals from 1:2 splitter that is connected to the triple LNB DISH 1000 antenna. This allows the receiver to tune in two satellite signals simultaneously. The Home Distribution (Agile Modulated RF output) can modulate the baseband RF signal (Audio/Video) on a select number of channels for a second television connected to the unit. Standard A/V outputs (Composite video, L/R Audio) are also provided. The analog component (Y/Pb/Pr) and digital HDMI outputs support all available video rates (480i/480p/720p/1080i). The composite output for TV1 is inherently limited to 480i. The optical toslink output carries the digital audio to the preamplifier or receiver and fully supports 5.1 audio for those programs that carry it.

The ViP® 922 has a phone line jack that will display the caller ID (phone number and caller identification) from your phone company at the top of the screen when the phone rings. This is a great feature for those who cannot hear the phone when it rings. A calling history is stored for reference and can be cleared by the user. A wired ethernet connection also exists on the rear panel and provides DISHONLINE Video On Demand and Sling functionality.

The dual satellite tuner design allows customers to record up to two satellite shows at the same time or watch one recorded show while recording two others. However, if you happen to live in an area like we do where terrestrial broadcasts are available, it gets even better.


Dish Network - MT2 OTA Tuner2 OTA Tuners in 1
The ViP® 922 can be fitted with the optional DISH Network MT2 Over-the-Air (OTA) Module allowing users to connect a terrestrial antenna for local digital television reception. The MT2 includes two full HD digital tuners, which are based on a pair of Broadcom BCM3517 (ATSC/VSB Digital Cable-Ready DTV Receiver) chips. Once installed, users can view local, digital over-the-air channels directly through their ViP® 922 satellite receiver by integrating the available OTA channels into the Program Guide, making channel selection and programming simple. In addition, having two satellite tuners and two ATSC (OTA) tuners gives customers more options when programming and viewing material. For example, it is possible to program one OTA channel while watching another. There is also a modulated Channel 3-4 TV1 output for another television (albeit Standard Definition).

Dish ViP 922 - Over The AirMT2 OTA Installation
Power must be removed from the ViP® 922 before installing the MT2 OTA Tuner module into the unit. Once the MT2 is installed, local stations need to be scanned and stored into the memory. Scanning for local channels is initiated in the Settings and Local Channels menu. Our station scan resulted in 98 local channels in the Los Angeles area.

The ATSC antenna/cable input is designed to receive digital over-the-air or cable signals, which means local high-definition broadcasts can be received with an external antenna. We connected our large Terk TV38 terrestrial rooftop antenna and received a very strong signal from the broadcasters on Mount Wilson. Signal strength can be viewed on the screen for each of the channels that appear in the list. Most of the channels found by the MT2 OTA tuner registered 100% signal strength thanks to our large Terk TV38 antenna.


Dish ViP 922 - Over The AirLocal Channels
While DISH does provide local channels as part of their satellite service, there is a slight picture quality advantage using the MT2 OTA unit in my opinion. This is largely based on the compression differences used on satellite versus the terrestrial broadcasts. Don't get me wrong, both look spectacular and will undoubtedly bring a smile to your face when you see it, but there can be a subtle difference with fast scene changes that tax the compression algorithms. Even terrestrial broadcasts are not immune to compression artifacts and do occur from time to time. Of course, the big advantage with the MT2 OTA tuner is the ability to record more than just two channels at a time.


Remote
Vip 922 RemoteThe ViP® 922 remote (Version 32.0) is a 4-Component Universal Remote Control largely based on DISH Network's earlier DVR models in terms of layout and functionality, but has several new features. The design uses UHF-2G two-way technology that provides a claimed operating range of up to 200 feet (unobstructed) for the satellite receiver through walls and other obstructions. We used it at much closer range and never encountered any issues with good reception. There is no backlighting except for the four selectable (Sat, TV, DVD, and Aux) device buttons on the top of the remote. Each of the three additional buttons can be programmed to operate (via IR) other components in the system. We programmed the ViP® 922 remote to operate our Mitsubishi LT-52148 LCD television along with our OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray player. When programming, users can actually select the device by manufacturer and model number through the ViP 922 user interface without having to go through a manual search for codes. However, both options do exist for the user. Since the database is in the receiver, updates can be provided as newer equipment becomes available. There is a dedicated TV POWER button located just below the MAIN POWER button for convenience since this is a commonly used control. The volume button can also be linked to the television giving users complete control of their system from a single remote.

The ViP® 922 remote design is excellent and since we were familiar with the remotes from the ViP® 622 and ViP® 722 DVRs, it was an easy transition to the new one, which has the same basic layout. The ViP® 922 was very responsive to the commands and scrolled fast through the menu system when a button was held down. The Picture in Picture (PIP) function was also a nice addition to the ViP® 922.

Remote LinkTwo-way RF Link
Pressing System Info on the front of the ViP® 922 displays the System Information screen, which also has a button to link/unlink the RF remote as well as locate it in the event it is misplaced. When the Locate button is pressed, the remote will make a series of sounds thanks to the two-way interface. Remote firmware updates are also made possible with this data link. There is a battery level indicator on the screen that lets the user know when the remote is running low on energy.


ViP 922 Main MenuMain Menu
The Main Menu on the ViP® 922 is similar in functionality to the earlier ViP models offered by DISH Network but include a more glossy look and feel. The icon-based menu is certainly more attractive and makes navigating through the menu items easier. The speed and responsiveness of the ViP® 922 is much better than the previous generations of DISH DVRs.

The Settings menu is where users will make most of their choices. However, there is a wide selection of controls on this model. There is even a weather screen that provides up to date information on your local weather conditions.

ViP 922 Program GuideProgram Guide
The ViP® 922 has a new graphic-rich user interface that looks even better than the original ViP® 622/722 GUI, which has received a lot of good press. Each channel has unique content provider graphics for easy visual recognition. Up to 9 days look-ahead can be scanned and set to record. The user can select from All My Channels, All Available, or from four other custom channel lists that can be named. We labeled each one with the members of the household. Another nice feature is the ability to search for a channel based on the channel name.

ViP 922 DLNAHome Media
The ViP® 922 has many new capabilities including the ability to access your home network. We have a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device that is used for storing photos and video clips that can now be played using the receiver. The advantage here is that you can use the ViP® 922 to access and display personal content without any other hardware. This was a great addition to the design.


Sling Loaded
One of the great features of the ViP® 922 is the ability to stream content to a PC or mobile device using the built-in Sling Media system. Simply login to the DISH Network website and select the DISH Remote Access option. Depending on the number of receivers you have on the account there will be selection of compatible DVRs shown in the upper left corner of the display. The default identification is the serial number of the unit, but this can be changed to a user-defined name to make it easier to identify. There are three modes for streaming (Good, Better, Best/HD), each requiring different network speeds to operate correctly.

Slinging High Definition
Picture quality through the Sling Media system can range from mediocre to excellent depending on the network bandwidth and the performance of the PC being used to playback the content. The Good streaming mode requires about 3 Mbps of network bandwidth and looks okay if the window size is smaller. Going full screen in this mode will reveal obvious video compression artifacts. The Better mode provided a much better picture and increased the streaming speed to 8 Mbps. The Best/HD mode offers the best picture quality with the highest speed, but for some reason we were not able to benefit from this with our setup. Our home network and PC worked best with the Better setting.


iPhone SupportiPhone & iPod Apps
What would any product be without iPhone capabilities? The mind-boggling love for this phone has left virtually every consumer electronics company trying to figure out how to leverage from this handheld device. DISH Network offers an app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that allows users to control their DVR content remotely. Even if you forgot to program your favorite show at home you can still do it from your handheld device and never miss an episode. The user interface is simple, yet provides an efficient way to control your DVR.

iPhone Control

The SlingGuide allows iPhone or iPod Touch users to search and record shows from their DISH DVRs. The application gives users all the features of their DVR's remote control plus the seamless ability to browse, record or watch from anywhere data access is available.

There is also a Slinglayer Mobile application for iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and the Droid OS that works with the ViP® 922. We tested the capabilities using our HTC Incredible and had good results. Connecting to our DVR only took a few seconds and it was easy to use. When running the Sling Player application we found that the response time for a given button being pressed could be as long as 10 seconds, so if you are expecting immediate response you will be disappointed. Given that the command needs to be sent to the DVR and the video is compressed and delayed going back to the phone, the delay is not surprising. However, the content being played from a live channel or from the DVR worked great as long as there was adequate bandwidth available. A poor signal with reduced bandwidth will cause skips when watching content using the SlingPlayer application.

We were on a recent trip to Hawaii and the kids were able to program a Disney show and watch it an hour later from the DVR. All in all the system worked well and it was pretty amazing to see content from your home-based DVR showing up on your phone. DISH has done a great job integrating advanced portable devices with their DVRs and Sling Media technology. More amazing is that it can control the DVR in the background without disturbing the television picture being displayed on the TV at home when others may be using it.


Dish On DemandDISH On Demand
We could not pass up the opportunity to test 1080p on this box with DISH on Demand. We decided to rent the new Alice In Wonderland with Johnny Depp for $6.99 versus the non-HD version for $4.99. It is nice that DISH offers both versions for those who might not care about the HD picture quality. Downloading this movie took a substantial amount of time even at a bitrate in excess of 8 Mb/s. Our FIOS internet connection runs at 25M/20M (download/upload) according to speedtest.net, so we cannot say our ISP (Internet Service Provider) was a speed limiter. We watched another movie while we waited for the download. Once enough of the Alice In Wonderland movie had queued up on the hard drive, we were able to begin the movie while the rest finished transferring. There were no interruptions during this completion process. DISH also has dozens of HD movies available instantly, including titles in 1080p.

Dish On Demand in 1080pTrue 1080p Quality
DISH offers 1080p picture quality on many of their Video On Demand movies so we were excited to see if the picture improvement was real or hype. We watched the entire movie and the level of detail seen with Alice In Wonderland was phenomenal. The picture exhibited excellent resolution and color fidelity with no distracting artifacts. In many ways the picture looked like Blu-ray quality. We might put Blu-ray performance slightly ahead of this technology, but it was very close. Regardless, watching movies in 1080p significantly raises the bar when it comes to VOD (Video on Demand) picture quality compared to other content we have seen with similar systems. The 1080p capability is particularly useful for those customers lacking a high quality 1080i-to-1080p de-interlacing processor in their display.


Performance
A review would not be complete if we didn't run a series of stress tests on the ViP® 922 given that it has so many capabilities. The ViP® 922 review unit was tested with two satellite tuners and two OTA tuners (using the optional MT2), and we put it through some grueling tests during the course of this review. We recorded two high definition satellite channels at the same time while watching a prerecorded HD movie from the DVR. We then started recording two more OTA HD channels using the MT2 tuner and the ViP® 922 took our request and began recording the two additional streams. The question in my mind was how well does the unit handle recording 4 HD streams at once while playing back another HD recording from the DVR. This is serious traffic going to and from the internal hard drive. The results of these tests were amazing with no unpleasant surprises from what we have seen so far. It is almost hard to believe that this unit can do all of this, but it did.

Conclusion
The ViP® 922 is the most advanced DVR offered by DISH Network, fully integrating satellite-based programming, over-the-air broadcasts, video-on-demand content, remote access, along with internet and home media capabilities. The integrated Sling Media functions give users access to their content from virtually anywhere connectivity is available. Many customers have waited a long time for this DVR to finally be released and we have to say that the wait is worth it. The unit operated well without hanging up or rebooting during the course of our review. The ViP® 922 is a great design with excellent performance in multiple categories. The user interface is much improved over the earlier DISH DVR designs, but keeps much of the desired functionality customers have come to enjoy with DISH DVRs.

DISH Network has once again rolled out a winner and with the integrated Sling technology, users will have additional capabilities when they are away from home. While some may find it nice to watch their media on a small portable device, I find it difficult to do for long periods and prefer a laptop or netbook while on the road. Either way, this is incredible technology that works well. I have absolutely no hesitation recommending the ViP® 922 DVR to DISH customers who will come to love the ease of use and powerful features.

- Kevin Nakano





OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Projector: Anthem LTX-500v Full 1080p High-Definition LCoS Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Blu-ray Player: OPPO BDP-83SE (Special Edition) Blu-ray Player
HD-DVD Player: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player with HDMI
Media Server: Sonos ZonePlayer ZP80
Remote Control: Remote Technologies Inc. T3-V Controller
HDMI Cable: Accell UltraRun 45-meter 1080p Cable
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables


Review - At a Glance


DISH Network - ViP
® 922 Sling Loaded HD DVR

Features

Rear Panel Connections

  • 2 satellite tuner inputs
  • 1 UHF Pro remote control antenna input for included antenna
  • 1 MT2 Slot for Optional OTA tuner for off-air digital/HD broadcasts
  • 1 telephone jack
  • 1 USB 2.0 port
  • 1 Ethernet port
  • 3-prong power cord

TV1 A/V Connections

  • 1 HDMI digital audio/video output
  • 1 set of Component (Y Pr Pb) video outputs
  • 1 set RCA-type audio/video outputs
  • TV1/TV2 stereo Agile modulated output
  • 1 optical digital output for Dolby Digital and PCM Digital audio

Additional A/V Connections

  • 1 set RCA-type audio/video outputs
  • 1 Agile modulated coaxial output to distribute programming to a remote TV location

Remote Controls

  • Universal two-way UHF-2G/IR configurable 4-component
    remote control can be programmed to operate up to 3 additional
    devices (TVs, DVD players, VCRs)
  • DVR buttons
  • Skip forward, skip back, stop, play, pause and record
  • Picture-in-Picture (PIP) functions to display, move, or swap
    the PIP image
  • “DISH” button for one-touch access to DISH on Demand
  • Colored “Hot Keys” are assigned to popular features and
    menu options

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 3.5" H x 16" W x 12.5" D
  • Weight: 11 lbs.
  • Color: Black
  • Display resolutions: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i (1080p for applicable Video-on-Demand)¹
  • Dolby Digital audio¹
  • View HD and SD programming²
  • Picture-in-picture (PIP) feature so you can watch two things on one screen
  • View over-the-air digital SD and HD broadcasts (requires optional over-the-air module)³
  • Supports External Hard Drives 5
  • Video-on-demand (VOD) so you can choose from thousands of movies titles or TV shows
  • On-screen Caller ID with history 4

¹Display resolution and audio quality depends on programming and may vary

²HD receiver that allows viewing of subscribed SD programming (channels)

³Additional authorization and/or equipment may be required before HD programming and/or over-the-air digital broadcasts can be viewed; additional fees may apply

4 Requires Caller ID subscription with local phone company. Phone line must be connected to receiver.

5 Current functionality allows transferring content to your 922 only.

ViP® 922 SlingLoaded™ DVR Product Brochure

ViP® 922 SlingLoaded™ DVR Quick Reference Guide

ViP® 922 SlingLoaded DVR (347 Kb) User Manual

ViP® 922 SlingLoaded DVR 32.0 Remote Control User Guide

MT2 - Over The Air Installation Guide


Company Information
Echostar Satellite L.L.C.
DISH Network
9601 S. Meridian Blvd.
Englewood, CO 80112

URL: www.dishnetwork.com


Any comments or questions regarding the LAAF Web Site should be forwarded to webmaster@laaudiofile.com

Copyright © 1985-2010 L.A. Audio File.