DISH Network ViP622 Hi-Def Satellite DVR

by | May 19, 2007 | Component Reviews | 0 comments

Dish Network ViP622 High Definition Satellite DVR

The evolution of consumer electronics has leveraged heavily on the relatively inexpensive mass storage devices know as hard-drives. While many predicted that mechanical hard-drives would become obsolete with the advances made with solid-state memory, few factored into account the huge increase in density needed for today’s electronic components. Looking back, my first hard drive was a bulky 5.25-inch, 30-megabyte drive that cost a whopping $700 back in the early eighties. Today, you can get more than 20,000 times the storage capacity per dollar with far better reliability and speed. With this technological advancement came a new breed of products designed to take full advantage of the quick access to mass storage. Feature rich Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) began offering amazing capabilities with intuitive and easy to use graphical user interfaces (GUIs) with integrated program guides. Ever since TIVO hit the market, consumers have come to expect the simplicity in programming, completely raising the bar for time-shifting programs. Now, only cave dwellers will opt for good old-fashioned VCRs.

 Dish Network has introduced their latest DVR™, the ViP622. This DVR is a cutting-edge design that is capable of recording up to 200 hours of standard definition programming, 30 hours of high definition programming, or any combination of the two. The ViP622 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. Alternatively, 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 ViP622 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 ViP622 operates using RF (Radio Frequency) communications with the ViP622, so it may be used in another room where the second television is located and still completely control the DVR features. It is even possible to have both television viewers watch the same prerecorded program and have complete independent control of the content.

As mentioned, the ViP622 is capable of receiving and recording 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). 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 pretty much obsoletes my old VCR while offering superior audio and video quality. Furthermore, navigating through prerecorded programs using the DVR is very easy, especially when jumping forward through commercials or jumping back to a missed scene or dialog.

The ViP622 supports two TVs and includes two remotes for independent operation. The TV1 remote is an IR design that requires clear line-of-sight to the electronics box. The TV2 remote has the ability to send commands using 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 way of moving through content. Additional control 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. Too bad the ViP622 doesn’t provide component video outputs for the second TV. Maybe they figured having two great pictures was just too much of a good thing. I did initially have a problem getting the second remote to respond to the ViP622, but it was quickly resolved by the folks at Dish Network. Apparently, some of the #2 remotes need to be married to the set-top box. It is simple to do using the setup menus, but it is a matter of knowing where to go.

The rear panel has five female F-connectors, four of which are inputs and one that is an output. The ATSC antenna/cable input is 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 terrestrial rooftop antenna and received a very strong signal from Mount Wilson. The remote antenna input is designed to receive commands from the TV2 UHF Pro remote also included with the ViP622. 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 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 comes in quite handy. Failure to connect the phone line results in an on-screen message that reminds the user to connect the line to avoid possible additional charges. A wired ethernet connection also exists on the rear panel, but it is currently not being used.

The ViP622 gets very warm and does require adequate ventilation to prevent overheating. We placed an ATM (Active Thermal Management) cooling fan with thermal sensors right next to the unit to prevent overheating. Although few customers seem to care about cooling, it is an important issue if you want to keep the electronics reliable over the years. High failure rates among DVRs is common and can probably be attributed to overheating for extended periods of time. The ViP622 has an internal fan to help keep the hard drive and electronics cool under normal use. While this certainly helps, we would still recommend additional cooling if it is placed in a closed cabinet.

Our ViP622 was used with several other components to produce a true home theater experience. The HDMI video from the ViP622 was selected using a Radiient Select-4 HDMI switcher and then fed to an outboard DVDO iScan HD+ high definition scaler. All 1080i content was then scaled to 1080p for our Mitsubishi HC5000 full HD projector. Video was projected onto a 100″ 16:9 Stewart filmscreen. The optical (toslink) output was sent to our Parasound AVC-2500u preamplifier for decoding and then to our Parasound HCA-2205AT five channel power amplifier. Our M&K S-150THX front speakers, SS-250 surrounds and a pair of MX-350THX MkII subwoofers filled the room with theater quality sound.

The unit 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 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 PocketDish portable media player. We have been told that Dish is beta testing the use of an external hard drive for additional storage using the USB port on this unit. We are excited to see this as it would allow users to greatly increase their storage capacity for the ViP622.

The video quality produced by the ViP622 was nothing short of spectacular when viewing high-definition content. Adding the DVR capabilities makes the Dish ViP622 our new best friend in our home theater system. Watching programs is fast and easy with excellent image quality. How often can you get all of that in one component? With access to so much content, all available for time-shifting, you can count on wasting a lot of hours in front of the screen. Unlike many of the earlier DVRs on the market, the ViP622 has been very reliable in our system and we have seldom encountered any anomalies with the operation of the unit. When selected, firmware updates can be automatically downloaded from the data link during odd hours of the night. This will keep the unit updated with the latest features and bug fixes, while not to disturb the user during primetime hours.

While resolution was very impressive on the ViP622, there were some subtle compression artifacts we noticed on fast action scenes. Overall we didn’t find them to be distracting while watching programs, even on the large screen. Standard definition was just that, standard definition, with nothing to write home about. The softness in the standard definition picture will leave you wanting all of your content in high-definition.

The rich selection of high definition channels offered by Dish Network made watching programs a wonderful experience. In addition to the Dish HD channels (also featuring VOOM channels), all of the local over-the-air digital channels (SD and HD) could be viewed using the ViP622. We recorded the Oscars in high-definition using this box and playback video was excellent, not the mention the DVR features. The only downside to using the over-the-air tuner was a lack of channel information in the programming guide. Customers can pay an additional $5.99/month for local channels through the satellite which would include the channel information.

We particularly liked the search feature that allowed us to find programs on various channels and select them for future recording. Events can then be prioritized to resolve program time conflicts. Programs can be recorded once or selected to be recorded each and every time it airs. The latter quickly fills up the internal hard drive.

Dish also offers DishHOME Interactive TV, which displays six channels at once and gives users access to on demand entertainment, games, shopping, news, sports, weather and customer service. It actually utilizes the phone connected to exchange data with the main office for full two-way interaction.

We have had our ViP622 installed for 4 months now and it has performed incredibly well for us during that time. My wife, who is a hard one to please when it comes to A/V equipment, agrees that this is the best component we have added to our home theater system in a long time. The overall design has been well thought out and delivers the ultimate in picture quality with full DVR capabilities. The easy to use interface makes the most of the limited TV-watching time most of us have by providing quick programming and intuitive DVR controls. A nice feature offered to Dish customers is the ability to take standard definition content (completely free of charge) on the road when using any one of the PocketDISH media players purchased from Dish Network. This has been great during recent business trips, where being away from home would normally prohibit me from seeing my latest Dish programs. If you have been considering a DVR and want high-definition content for your display, you owe it to yourself to check out Dish Network’s latest ViP622. The features and options available make it an essential component to any media room. It has been a great set-top box for us and it is here to stay.

– Kevin Nakano

Review System

Projector: Mitsubishi HC5000 Full-HD 1080p 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
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer
D-VHS VCR: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables
DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
HDMI Cables: VizionWare Hi-Wirez 15-meter Active HDMI Cable
Power Conditioning: Panamax MAX® 5510 ACRegenerator
Video Generator: Sencore VP300 SDTV/HDTV Video Pattern Generator
Color Analyzer #1: Sencore CP5000 ISF Certified All-Display Color Analyzer
Color Analyzer #2: ColorFacts PRO with GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Colorphotometer

Review – At a Glance

Dish Network – ViP622 High Definition Digital Video Recorder

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 (for future use)
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
2 satellite tuner inputs

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).


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

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

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