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.
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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
& 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.
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.
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
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
DISH 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.
True 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.
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.
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.
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