EchoStar has long been called “the other” DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite) satellite company by some. However, these days many people believe that it may be even better than other satellite companies because of improved overall image quality (especially with local channels), and a line-up of more innovative set-top box satellite receivers. This past year, the other prominent satellite company began offering stripped-down and featureless HD boxes. Fortunately, DISH Network takes the other road. Even though cable accounts for 70 percent of the viewing public, satellite continues to gain subscribers, who now total about 25 percent of all U.S households. Other users get their TV signals from over-the-air. Today we take a look at the new ViP 622 receiver which promises a lot more features and better quality video that previous receivers.
*Editors Note (By Ian Bell) 5/18/06 –
The second TV connected to the 622 will likely be using the coaxial connection if it is another room (although it will let you use composite connections if you can install it yourself), not an HDMI or component video connector. What this means is a couple things. First if you have a flat panel monitor without an integrated tuner, you most likely are out of luck since most monitors lack the coaxial connector. Secondly while the picture will look good, it will not look as good as the TV using the HDMI or component video connections, which means you are not able to view true high-definition content on that second TV. If this is important to you, buy a separate HD receiver box for your other TV instead of using the 622 for both.
Features and Design
The DISH Network HDTV DVR satellite receiver model ViP 622 is a high definition satellite receiver that is capable of recording approximately 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 means to 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 substantially less thereby allowing more signals (resulting in more channels for users).
What 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 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 broadcasted 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 into a program at a desired time, e.g. ABC at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night for Lost. 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 much like TiVo or ReplayTV. The system then gives you several options for your recording frequency (e.g. once, weekly, and Mon-Fri). 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, concise, and very easy to read. 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. In addition to the satellite antenna input, there is an antenna RF input for over-the-air HD signals, which will also allow you receive (and record) local high-definition channels. There is also twin satellite inputs on the back panel of the receiver, a USB port (for unspecified future use), an in-distribution jack for 2nd TV, a phone jack, a UHF remote antenna jack, and an accessory jack (for the attachment of VCR signal blaster).
Setup and Installation
Installation of the 622 was very easy because of EchoStar DISH Network’s staff of installers. When you purchase your gear, the retailer will set up an appointment for your installation (instead of bringing it home with you and installing it yourself). The day before your installation, EchoStar will call to verify the time and place. The next day the installer will show up with all the equipment needed (including your satellite dish and the set-top box satellite receiver that you’ve ordered). It takes them approximately two hours to get the dish up and working in conjunction with the set-top box. It could not be 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). It’s so much easier to let them do it for you. I was very satisfied with 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 want, including high-definition. DISH Network now offers 24 HD channels including 15 VOOM HD channels (see below for full listing).
Once the unit was properly installed, it was very easy to navigate. First I pulled up the EPG on-screen and just scrolled around the ‘Guide’ to get a feel for it. The cursor ring also serves as the 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 approximately four channels at a clip in one-hour increments. The upper right hand corner of the screen puts the viewed channel into a PIP-like box so that you don’t miss anything. To see a program description, simply touch the ‘info’ button on the remote. The top left-hand side of the screen always shows the time, date, and channel number. As I mentioned above, if you see a program that you want to watch later or ‘record,’ simply press the ‘Select’ button. This will bring up a sub-menu with various recording and/or watching modes, including a setting that switches to the desired channel a minute early. That’s pretty sweet!
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 also set up the timer to record a future show just as easily – even if that person is technologically-challenged.
Personally, I am really enjoying using the model 622. My son likes it because he can watch all of the EchoStar programming, including recording his favorite shows like WWE with ease on a Westinghouse Digital 40-inch 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.
The 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! New Jersey has never looked better than on The Sopranos on HBO-HD and on ABC-HD, LOST looked exceptional!
Editors Note (By Ian Bell) – There is one point that needs to be addressed, and it’s pretty major. The second TV connected to the 622 will be using the coaxial connection, not an HDMI or component video connector. What this means is a couple things. First if you have a flat panel monitor without an integrated tuner, you most likely are out of luck since most monitors lack the coaxial connector. Secondly while the picture will look good, it will not look as good as the TV using the HDMI or component video connections, which means you are not able to view true high-definition content on that second TV. If this is important to you, buy a separate HD receiver box for your other TV instead of using the 622 for both.
The model 622 certainly makes your life much easier, and to my mind, makes a lot of sense as it combines three good products in one box. This is what convergence is all about; combining the best aspects of two products, and making them work as one. To sum up, the model 622 is the 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. The cool thing is the 2nd room doesn’t need the receiver! Just remember, to get the best possible image quality, you have to use HDMI or component video for HD.
- Technologically advance
- Plenty of features
- Simple setup
- Second TV is limited to Coaxial hookup
- Can be difficult to get at times