Product Review (January 2008) - Dish Network
ViP 722™ High Definition Satellite DVR

By Kevin Nakano


Our lives forever changed when we installed our Dish Network ViP622™ DVR into our A/V system. The new design leveraged from years of experience with previous generation DVRs and includes the latest advancements in video processing and storage technologies. So it was not too surprising when Dish introduced the new ViP722™ High Definition satellite receiver to complement their lineup. This new DVR receiver sports a black exterior not to confuse it with the earlier, yet still very worthy silver-colored ViP622™. Other than the color and the capacity (hard drive size) of the ViP722™, it is virtually indistinguishable from the ViP622™ in terms of functionality. The new ViP722™ offers storage for up to 350 hours of standard definition programming and up to 55 hours of high definition programming or any combination of the two.

The Dish Network ViP722™ DVR is capable of decoding both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 video streams, with the latter providing more efficient usage of the available bandwidth. In addition to spectacular high definition video produced by the ViP722™ comes the accompanying 5.1 audio (when available) that gets recorded on the DVR. The unit has two satellite tuners and allows the viewer to select from one of two viewing options, Single or Dual. The Single mode supports a single television for viewing content. In this mode the viewer can take advantage of Picture-In-Picture (PIP) and watch two live satellite programs or one terrestrial channel and one satellite channel. The PIP mode can have a small or large window or can have both pictures side-by-side. The position of the PIP window can be moved in any one of nine predetermined positions. Users can record two live satellite programs and one terrestrial channel while watching a prerecorded program. The Dual mode allows two TVs to be used with a single ViP722™ unit. One television can be a high definition unit while the other is limited to a standard definition (480i) picture. The users can independently view and record programming on the two televisions. The second remote included with the ViP722™ operates using RF (Radio Frequency) communications with the ViP722™, so it may be used in another room where the second television is located and still completely control the DVR features on the ViP722™. It is even possible to have both television viewers watch the same prerecorded program and have complete independent control of the content.

Having the ability to record up to three channels simultaneously (two satellite channels and one terrestrial channel) while streaming up to two prerecorded shows to two separate televisions (using the Dual mode) is an amazing feat. This technology has changed my viewing habits completely, as I no longer have to plan my schedule around program times nor worry about setting up a difficult to use video recorder. This technology completely obsoletes my old VCR and DVD-based recorder while offering superior audio and video quality. Furthermore, navigating through prerecorded programs using the ViP722™ DVR is very easy, especially when jumping forward through commercials or jumping back to a missed scene.

Installation
Our ViP722™ was installed and connected to the newer Dish 1000 unit mounted on the side of our roof. This is the same dish we used with the ViP222 unit we reviewed late last year and is a slightly newer version than the one that was installed with our ViP622™ 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 output from the dish was used with our ViP722™ receiver, additional outputs are available for other receivers, thanks to the built-in multi-switch. All three LNBs 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 big headache and be a great time saver, especially for those lacking experience.

Front Panel
The ViP722™ has front panel lights indicating the TV Mode (Single or Dual). A green light indicates TV1 is active and the blue light indicates TV2 is active. There is also a red light for each TV zone that indicates when a program is recording. A set of ten buttons are behind a closed door on the right flip-out that include Power, Menu, Navigation (Up, Down, Left, Right and Select), System Info, and Mode (Single or Dual). There is also a USB interface that we use with the AV700E PocketDish portable media player, which allows customers to take their recorded content on the road, but is limited to non-HD recordings.

Channel Locks
The ViP722™ has the ability to lock specific channels from the viewer using a 4-digit numeric password. This became an issue for me when my 8 year old daughter recently figured out how to use this DVR. Locks can be based on program ratings (PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, or NR/AO) or specific ratings containing Violence, Language, Nudity, or Sexual Content. Users can also lock out specific channels, Adult, or PPV (Pay-per-view) channels. The buttons on the front panel of the receiver can also be locked to prevent curious little fingers from changing the settings.

Connectivity
The rear panel has five female F-connectors, four of which are inputs and one that is an output. The two ATSC antenna/cable inputs are designed to receive over-the-air or cable 8-VSB digital signals, which means local high-definition broadcasts can be received with this unit using your outside antenna. We connected our large Terk TV38 terrestrial rooftop antenna and received a very strong signal from Mount Wilson. The remote antenna input on the back of the unit is designed to receive commands from the TV2 UHF Pro remote also included with the ViP722™. Since this RF remote works through walls, the second television can be commanded from a completely different room in the house. The two satellite inputs receive signals from the triple LNB Dish 1000 antenna. This allows the receiver to tune in two satellite signals simultaneously. Finally, the RF output can modulate the baseband RF signal (Audio/Video) on a select number of channels. Standard A/V outputs (Composite video, L/R Audio) are also provided for TV2 as well as s-video. Unfortunately, no digital or high definition outputs are available for TV2, although high definition content is downconverted. The analog component (Y/Pb/Pr) and digital HDMI outputs support all available video rates (480i/480p/720p/1080i). The composite and s-video outputs for TV1 are 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.

Dish Network requires that the phone line be connected to the receiver and if you happen to have caller ID from your phone company, the phone number and caller identification is displayed on 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. Dish requires the phone line to be connected to monitor pay-per-view activity, so this is a feature that they added and surprisingly useful. A wired ethernet connection also exists on the rear panel and has recently been activated by Dish to provide DishONLINE Video On Demand services.

DishONLINE
Under the DISH on Demand services, Dish Network takes a bold new step for delivering media through wired broadband recently activated on the ViP722™. This gives DISH a big advantage over other set top boxes, allowing them to stream content through a high speed internet connection and opens the door for a huge selection of movies for its customers. The New Releases category has 19 selections, Dish Theater has 168 movies, and the After Hours (Adult Content) has a whopping 250 titles. Who needs to go to the video store when a large selection of titles are available on-demand. However, prices can be steep depending on the selection.

External Storage
Dish Network has a great new feature that allows its customers to plug in an external USB hard drive and transfer recorded content to it directly from the DVR receiver. Dish customers are asked to pay a one-time $39.99 "activation fee" for this service and is a small price to pay for a powerful feature. All DVRs on the account will have this feature enabled once activated. Once configured, customers won't have to delete their favorite shows from the DVR to make room for new ones. Instead, simply transfer the content to the external hard drive and play it back later. The transferred programs can be moved back to the DVR or played directly from the external drive. The user interface is intuitive and easy to use.

Setting it up
We connected an inexpensive 500GB drive to the ViP722™ receiver using the USB 2.0 interface on the back of the unit. We purchased this drive online for less than $120. Once the drive is connected, the DVR identifies it and asks the user to proceed. The user is required to format the hard drive (through the ViP722 box) to properly accept the encrypted files from the DVR. The formatting only takes a few minutes and requires the DVR to reboot once the formatting process is complete. This is all automatic after the formatting has been initiated. This feature is one of the best attributes of the ViP722™ DVR.

Remotes
The ViP722™ supports two TVs and therefore includes two remotes for independent control of the receiver. The remotes look to be the same as those provided with the ViP222™ we recently reviewed. The TV1 remote is an IR design that requires clear line-of-sight to the receiver. The IR output level of this remote is impressively high and has no problem controlling the receiver from virtually any location in the room. It bounces off surfaces quite well and doesn't seem to have a problem getting the signal to the receiver. The TV2 remote is a combo IR/RF remote and has the ability to send commands using both IR and RF (radio frequencies) so that line-of-sight control is not necessary. The remotes have full DVR control to quickly navigate forward and backwards through the prerecorded programs. The 30-second Skip Forward and 10-second Skip Back buttons provide the user with a fast and efficient way of moving through the recorded content. Additional controls include Stop, Play, Record, Forward and Reverse (4x, 15x, 60x, 300x), slow motion and frame-by-frame (forward and back) and up to 1 hour Pause each for TV1 & TV2. Unfortunately, neither remote is backlit or glow-in-the-dark, so you will be out of luck when the lights go out.

The TV1 output supports 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i video formats. The unit cross-converts all sources to the selected output rate. For example, SD content can be displayed using the HD outputs, but it will certainly not look like an HD picture unless the source is truly HD. The HD signals are output in the form of analog component video as well as digital HDMI. S-video and composite video are also available, but will not give you an HD picture. The TV2 output converts all sources to 480i (standard definition) and can output content as a modulated RF signal or a composite video signal. We were slightly disappointed that the ViP722™ doesn't provide a second HDMI interface for the TV2 output.

Setup
Our ViP722™ was used with several other components to produce a true home theater experience. The HDMI video from the ViP722™ was routed through an Octava 4:1 HDMI switch and then to an outboard DVDO iScan HD+ high definition scaler. All 1080i content was scaled to 1080p for our Mitsubishi HC5000 full HD projector. The ViP722™ fully supports HDCP through its HDMI interface and worked perfectly with our system. Video was projected onto a 100" 16:9 Stewart filmscreen. The corresponding optical (toslink) output is routed through the same switch and sent to our Parasound AVC-2500u preamplifier for decoding and then to our Parasound HCA-2205AT five channel power amplifier. M&K S-150THX front speakers, SS-250 surrounds and a pair of MX-350THX MkII subwoofers filled the room with theater quality sound.

Performance
The high definition video quality produced by the ViP722™ is absolutely gorgeous and is very easy to control with an intuitive user interface. This latest receiver is the flagship model being offered by Dish and it outperforms any receiver we have seen thus far. Watching programs is fast and easy with excellent image quality. No longer do customers have to waste time waiting for their favorite shows since the ViP722™ makes it so easy to record. Our unit has been installed for over a month now and has been very reliable in our system. When selected, firmware updates can be automatically downloaded from the satellite link during odd hours of the night. This will keep the unit updated with the latest features and bug fixes during off-peak hours.

While resolution was very impressive on the ViP722™, there were still some subtle compression artifacts at times during fast action scenes. Overall we didn't find them too distracting while watching programs, even on our larger screen. The issue became even less noticeable on our 52" Mitsubishi LT-52133 1080p LCD flat panel. It was not that they were not there, but appeared rather insignificant.

HD Lineup
Dish Network currently offers a rich selection of over 70 high-definition channels that cover a wide variety of sports, movies, concerts, news, lifestyle and family entertainment. At this year's Consumer Electronics Show DISH Network's President Carl Vogel said they have plans to launch four new satellites in 2008. DISH's CEO Charlie Ergen added that the first of the four new satellites will be launched in the first quarter of the 2008, expanding DISH's HD channel capacity to 100. While consumers want more HD content, there is also a limitation on the number of HD channels currently available.

Local over-the-air high definition channels can also be viewed and recorded using the ViP722™ DVR thanks to the built-in ATSC tuner. Picture quality for these free local HD/SD channels is excellent. Customers who elect to pay an additional $5.99/month for local channels through the satellite will get the local channel information in the Electronic Programming Guide. While not necessary to watch local content, it makes it much easier to select programs for recording on the DVR.

Conclusion
We have had the ViP722™ installed for 2 months in our home theater system and it has performed flawlessly for us during that time. The ViP722™ will be a welcomed component for those of you with a spouse who often find difficulty operating the home theater equipment. This DVR has an effective user interface with easy navigation and program access. Selecting programs to record with the DVR is a simple process using the Electronic Programming Guide. The ViP722™ has been well thought out and delivers the ultimate in high definition picture quality with full DVR capabilities. Dish customers also have the ability to take recorded DVR content (completely free of charge) on the road when using one of the compatible ARCHOS portable media players.

DISH has set the bar high with their flagship ViP722™ DVR. The recent firmware upgrades (automatic through the satellite dish) give this already powerful receiver more capabilities than it had just a few months ago. The ability to store content (both high definition and standard definition) to an external hard drive through the USB 2.0 interface is a fantastic feature. In addition, the broadband Video On Demand service gives customers many more options for watching movies. If you have been considering a DVR and have been trying to determine which is the best for your high-definition display, Dish Network's latest ViP722™ is the best we have seen. This high definition DVR has become our family's favorite component.

- Kevin Nakano





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Review System

Projector: Mitsubishi HC5000 Full 1080p High-Definition LCD Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
Video Processor/Scaler: Anchor Bay Technologies DVDO iScan HD+ A/V Processor
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
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
Set-top Box: Dish Network ViP622 HDTV Satellite and Terrestrial Receiver with HDMI
Blu-ray Player: Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray Player with HDMI
HD-DVD Player: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player with HDMI
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer
DVD Player: OPPO Digital OPDV971H DVD Player with DVI Output
D-VHS VCR: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
Media Server: Kenwood Sovereign MRH1 Entre
Remote Control: Remote Technologies Inc. T4 Controller
HDMI Video Switcher: Atlona AT-HDMI41 4:1 HDMI Video Switcher
HDMI Cable: Atlona 5-meter Flat HDMI 1080p Cable
HDMI Cable: VizionWare Hi-Wirez 20-meter Active 1080p Cable
HDMI Cable: Accell UltraRun 45-meter 1080p Cable
DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables


Review - At a Glance


Dish Network - ViP722 High Definition Digital Video Recorder

Features

Rear Panel Connections

  • 2 satellite tuner inputs
  • 1 UHF Pro remote control antenna input for included antenna
  • 1 ATSC antenna input for off-air digital/HD broadcasts
  • 1 telephone jack
  • 1 USB 2.0 port (PocketDISH compatible)
  • 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 S-Video output
  • 1 set RCA-type audio/video outputs
  • TV1/TV2 stereo Agile modulated output
  • 1 optical digital output for Dolby Digital and PCM Digital audio

TV2 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

  • Can be programmed to operate up to 3 devices (TVs, VCRs, DVD Players)
  • One universal infrared (IR) 4-component remote control. Controls “TV1” (main TV location).
  • One universal UHF Pro configurable 4-component dual frequency remote
    control. Controls “TV2” (second TV location).
    • Controls the satellite receiver through walls and other obstructions (UHF Pro operating range of up to 200 feet unobstructed).

Specifications

  • Size (approx.): 3.5” H x 16” W x 13” D
  • Weight (approx.): 11 lbs.
  • Color: Black

 

ViP722 DVR Product Brochure


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

URL: www.dishnetwork.com


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