Review: EchoStar DISH Network ViP 622 HDTV DVR - Embedded.com

Review: EchoStar DISH Network ViP 622 HDTV DVR

EchoStar has long been called the other DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite) satellite company by some. Many people these days, however, believe that it might be even better than that other satellite company because of improved image quality overall (especially with local channels), and a line-up of more innovative set-top box satellite receivers as well. Within the past year, the other satellite company began offering stripped-down and featureless HD boxes. Happily, DISH Network takes the other road. Even though cable accounts for 70-percent of the viewing public, satellite continues to grow subscribers, which now totals about 25-percent of all U.S households. The rest of the people get their TV signals from over-the-air.

Introduction
The DISH Network HDTV DVR satellite receiver model ViP 622 is a high definition satellite receiver that is capable of recording approx. 25 hours of high definition or 180 hours of programming on a 250GB hard-drive. This is the replacement model for last year's model 942 HD PVR. While having similar features from last year's model, the 622 is now capable of receiving MPEG-4 video signals as well. What that simply means to the you — the consumer/end-user — is that it allows you to receive more HD channels including all of the VOOM HD channels (now totaling 15) than before. While older systems used MPEG2 encoding that takes up a lot of bandwidth, MPEG4 encoding takes a lot less thereby allowing more signals meaning more channels.

What really makes model 622 exceptional is the fact that it gives you multi-room capability via one satellite receiver without any additional wiring in your house. Who needs to re-wire anyway? Essentially, you get two receivers in one box so that you can watch TV in two separate locations watching two different programs on two different TVs at the same time. Each room has its own dedicated remote, but the 2nd room does not have a separate receiver. Cool! In the 2nd room, you simply set the TV to a specific channel (normally Channel 60), and you're done. The 2nd room's signals are sent via your house's coax cable wiring. An RF antenna is attached to back of the box for channel change and recording of programs. It could not be easier!

The box also features DISH's Video-On-Demand Service that provides the capability to 'pause' live TV, record any type of DISH Network programming, skip recorded commercials, and create 'instant replays.' Besides being able to 'pause' live TV, the Video-On-Demand service allows you to fast forward/fast reverse at four speeds ( 4x, 15x, 60x, and 300x), skip forward (30-second increments), skip back (10-second increments), and the capability to view shows in slow motion or frame-by-frame. It is sweet!

The model 622 offers several types of recording capabilities. It allows you to set TV1 and TV2, manual/auto event timers and also do quick records. It also allows you to record a 'live' program while watching another pre-recorded program from the hard-drive. If a program is broadcast in Dolby Digital, it will be recorded in Dolby Digital. Of course, to fully appreciate Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, you will have to use the digital optical output tethered to a home theater receiver or processor with the proper number of speakers (or have an HDMI-enabled A/V receiver). There are 50 automatic and manual event timers that can be used to program the 622 to record directly to the hard-drive. You can also automatically set the receiver to tune to a program at a desired time, e.g. ABC at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night for Lost, or to command it to record C.S.I.-Crime Scene Investigation on CBS-HD on Thursdays. You can watch one channel, and record two standard definition channels. Or, you can record one HD channel and a standard definition channel simultaneously.

To assist in model 622's recording capabilities, this unit features an extended Electronic Program Guide (EPG). Simply navigate the cursor over to the desired program to 'record,' and press the 'Select' button. It works in a similar fashion like TiVo or ReplayTV. Then, the system gives your several options regarding your recording from once, weekly, mon-fri, and etc. It is very simple and intuitive. The EPG features 14 days worth of programming, which is stored on the hard-drive for quick and easy access to all listing information. It is clear and concise, and very easy to read from across the room. The EPG is easily navigatable simply by using the cursor key ring, which is centrally located on the universal remote. To find your favorite programs, simply use the Search function, which can be accessed by the 'Menu' key. To access the EPG, simply press the 'Guide' button on the remote.

Outputs include 1 HDMI output 1 component video output, 1 A/V output, and 1 digital optical output. Clearly, to obtain the best images, use the HDMI or component video output. Besides the satellite antenna input, there is also an antenna RF input as well for over-the-air HD signals, which will allow you receive (and record) local high-definition channels also. There's also twin satellite inputs on the back panel of the receiver plus a USB port for unspecified future use, in-distribution jack for 2nd TV, phone jack, UHF remote antenna jack, and an accessory jack (for the attachment of VCR signal blaster).

Installation
Installation was very easy since EchoStar DISH Network has its own staff of installers. DISH Network has a somewhat different mindset regarding their equipment. You can call them, go to a kiosk at the Mall, go even to Radio Shack, or wherever. Instead of coming home with your gear, the retailer sets up an appointment for your installation. The day before your install, EchoStar calls to verify time and place. The next day the installer shows up with all equipment needed including your satellite dish and the set-top box satellite receiver that you've ordered. It takes them approx. two hours or so to get the dish up and working in conjunction with the set-top box. It could not have been simpler. Of course, you can go to any retailer that carries DISH Network products, and bring it home yourself (and even install it yourself ” if you so chose ” but why take the chance of falling off your roof). Although, I have to say that it's a heck of a lot easier to let them do it for you. I was happily surprised at how smoothly the installation went.

Like the other satellite company, DISH offers several programming packages based on the number of all-digital channels that you really want including high-definition. DISH Network now offers 24 HD channels including 15 VOOM HD channels (see below for listing).

Evaluation
Once the unit was up and working. It was very easy to let my fingers do the walking. The first thing that I did was pull up the EPG on-screen and just scrolled around the 'Guide' to get a feel for it. The cursor ring doubles as navigation keys with the up arrow bringing you to higher channel numbers, for example, and the left arrow going forward in time. The 'Guide' displays approx. four channels at a clip in one-hour increments. The upper right hand corner of the screen puts the watched channel into a PIP-like box so that you don't miss anything. To see a program description, simply touch the 'info' on the remote. The top left-hand side of the screen always shows time, date, and channel number, which was clear and concise. As I mentioned above, if you see a program that you want to watch later or 'record,' simply press the 'Select' button. It brings up a sub-menu with various recording and/or watching modes including setting to go to the desired channel a minute early. That's pretty neat!

To watch any recorded shows, simple touch the center-mounted 'DVR' button. This brings up a list of all of your previously recorded shows. Simply go down the list to the show that you want watch, and press 'Select' on the remote. Anyone can access these recorded shows. Anyone can set-up also the timer to record a future show as easily ” even if that person is technologically-challenged.

I have to say that I am really enjoying using the model 622. My son likes it also as it he can watch all of the EchoStar programming including recording his favorite shows like WWE with ease on a Westinghouse Digital 40-in. LCD TV with built-in DVD player (model LTW-40w HDC). We both found it easy to use, easy to record our favorite shows, and very easy to play back and skip commercials. Yes, image quality was excellent HDMI or component video on the new JVC HD-56FH96 HD-ILA 1080p HDTV. Images were superb and crisp especially those in high-definition. The VOOM HD channels looked spectacular!!! However, standard definition 480p signals from the SciFi channel's Battlestar Gallactica , for example, looked quite compelling also and clear of virtually free of all artifacts. Of course, New Jersey never looked better than on The Sopranos on HBO-HD. On ABC-HD, LOST looked exceptional, which for my money is the best looking HD program on TV these days.

The model 622 certainly makes your life so much easier, and, to my mind, makes a lot of sense to marry three good products in one box. This is what convergence is is all about combining the best aspects of two products, and make them work as one. To sum up, the model 622 is an ideal satellite HD receiver because it allows you to be able to watch and record standard and high-definition satellite TV programs in two different locations simultaneously via only one box. And, that's pretty neat! While the installation seemed a bit cumbersome for the installer, the end result is that I have two rooms with satellite programming. And, the 2nd room doesn't need the receiver, which is a neat trick. I liked that a lot. Just remember, to get the best possible image quality, you have to use HDMI or component video for HD.

Rating: 95

EchoStar DishDVR 622 Receiver

  • Dish Network satellite service
  • Twin satellite tuners
  • Integrated 250 GB hard-disk drive
  • 25-hour HD and 180-hour standard definition recording capability
  • “Live TV” Pause
  • 14-day on-screen Program Guide
  • DISH Home Interactive TV
  • Infrared Universal Remote (TV1)
  • UHF Universal Remote (TV2)
  • Optical Dolby Digital output
  • One-Touch 'Info' button
  • Software upgradeable via satellite
  • On-screen Caller ID
  • Dish Pro-Plus and Dish Comm compatible
  • 3.5″ high x 16″ wide x 13″ deep
  • 11 lbs.
  • MSRP: $699 (standalone)

EchoStar HD Channels
HBO-HD
SHOW-HD
ESPN-HD
ESPN2-HD
TNT-HD
UNIVERAL-HD
CBS-HD
DISCOVERY-HD
HD-NET
HD-NET MOVIES

VOOM HD Channels
HDNews – HD source for 24/7 news, sports and weather.
Equator HD – Extraordinary places and people on the planet.
Gallery HD – Stunning imagery and stories from the front line of the art world.
Rush HD – Life on the edge with adrenaline junkies of adventure sports.
Rave HD – Live music as a whole new experience in HD and 5.1 surround sound.
Ultra HD – The hottest fashion, styles and insight into the 'luxe life from around the world.
Animania HD – HD animation from the groundbreaking to the classic.
Monsters HD – The masters of movie horror in terrifying HD clarity.
Gameplay HD – Virtual worlds of video gaming for the first time in HD.
Treasure HD – Live auctions and original series for and collecting.
Worldsport HD – Live sports coverage from around the globe.
Family Room HD – Movies and entertainment for the whole family.
Film Fest HD – Movies remastered in HD.
Kung Fu HD – All martial arts movies.
World Cinema HD – Award-winning and top-performing movies without borders.

Plus Local HD channels (ABC, CBS, NBC & FOX), where available

For more information, you can contact EchoStar at (800) 333-DISH (3474) or www.echostar.com

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