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Dish Network DVR-921 HD DVR Reviewed

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the more-dots-to-stare-at dept.

Television 109

cblount writes "The Dish Network DVR-921 is the first home satellite receiver capable of recording and time shifting HDTV signals both from satellite and local Over-The-Air broadcasts. The first comprehensive review has been posted at DBSTalk.Com."

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Re:GNAA: Unwrap a Nigger's Package! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803844)

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Re:GNAA: Unwrap a Nigger's Package! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803877)

of course. thats still a gay nigger

Re:GNAA: Unwrap a Nigger's Package! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803856)

I, for one, welcome our new gay nigger overlords.

ISR! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803882)

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In Gay San Fransisco (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803934)

In Gay San Fransisco YOU ARE a gay nigger overlord.

HE MAY NOT BE A NIGGER BUT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803891)

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Don't forget... (-1)

SCO$699FeeTroll (695565) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803813) pay your $699 licensing fee you cock-smoking teabaggers.

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803816)


hi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803818)


Goddamn Commies (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803830)

You better not be fast forwarding over the commercials, you fucking theives.

Tivo (4, Insightful)

drivelikejehu (601752) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803833)

There was an article in the local paper this morning about the troubles tivo has been having, what with all the cable & dish companies offering PVR's... I wonder how long it'll be til my lifetime tivo service is worthless :(

Re:Tivo (2, Insightful)

jeffkjo1 (663413) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803894)

But TiVO has teamed up with DirecTV, so I don't know how true that really is.

Re:Tivo (3, Informative)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803964)

They're teaming up with DirecTV but Comcast, for example, is not teaming up with TiVO [] . Since they're the largest cable operator in the US, it's a big deal.

Re:Tivo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803977)

TiVo has bigger problems than competition from cable companies. TiVo's have a serious cooling issue that is causing drive failures.

Search for "stuttering" on the TiVo community forum [] and you'll find scores of posts from recent TiVo purchases detailing the same problem. A lot of Series I owners don't seem to be having this issue, so perhaps it is unique to the Series II TiVo's. Anyhow, TiVo drive replacement kit sellers like weaknees [] are making an absolute killing.

Re:Tivo (1)

topham (32406) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804004)

I've had my Series 2 for a year and have NOT expierences any problems with it. (80hr Unit with 80G drive; standard).

In all my reading of the tivocommunity groups I haven't seen mentioned on an on going problem; although I have not been there for a couple of months.

Don't put the unit in a closed up tv standad and don't expect to be able tp upgrade the HD without dealing with excess heat.

Re:Tivo (1)

drivelikejehu (601752) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804095)

I wasn't talking about actual technical problems - I've had my series 1 for over 2 years now and have had no problems with it - i can only think of once or twice that it didn't record the program it was supposed to (other than the occasional time the cable company shows something else, but the tivo worked fine.) I've hacked it up quite a bit, with a turbonet card and a second hard drive, and have had no problems with cooling.

I was referring to all the competition these other services are cropping up, including the do it yourself options with capture cards and the free guide download stuff..

Re:Tivo (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804511)

don't worry, I am sure that if Tivo goes out of business, some one some where will figure out a way to hack the system in order to direct it to a free listing service. hell, maybe Tivo will be nice enough to do so when tehy go under rather than leaving its customer's high and dry.

Grrr (-1, Offtopic)

kewsh (655090) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803835)

Instead of the OSDN Personals ad lets seem something helpful like OSDN JOB SEARCH

I'm still not sold (0, Offtopic)

NetMagi (547135) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803837)

While this is extremely cool, I still prefer to just wait till stuff comes out on DVD.

I'm an avid watcher of:

Stargate SG1

But I just wait for em on DVD. Plus, it's a lot tougher to swap shows with your buddies when they're on a non-removable device.

My bro-in-law and I are always loaning eachother the above shows back and forth. He buys some of em, I buy the others..


Re:I'm still not sold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803943)

Stargate SG1, Alias, 24, Sopranos

WTF? Was this one of those "odd one out" tests?

Pick the one show that's not good.

Look out (3, Funny)

r_j_prahad (309298) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804120)

You're violating the DMCA. I'm not exactly sure how you are, but I'm sure you are. If you're sharing DVDs with the bro-in-law, then the MPAA isn't getting every last penny it's entitled to. And the DMCA was written to wring that last drop of blood from your lifeless grey corpse. The MPAA stormtroopers are probably subpeonaing Slashdot right this very moment to discover your identity.

You mean wait for HD-DVD, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7804323)

Normal DVD resolution is pretty crummy compared to HDTV ... The standard for HD-DVD was just recently agree'd upon, I believe, so normal DVDs will be obsolete for the most part if you have an HDTV .. Yeah, they'll work and look OKAY, but compared to them in High Definition, you'll be like "Oh man, i gotta rebuy EVERYTHING again??" .. It's that good!

Re:You mean wait for HD-DVD, right? (1)

NetMagi (547135) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804463)

ouch that sucks. . I have like 145 dvd's :( how long till we start seeing the new stuff mainstream?

two comments (0, Offtopic)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803838)

and they are already suffering the /. effect?

Re:two comments (0)

kewsh (655090) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803922)

ya see you read the article first then post

Re:two comments (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804028)

Um, no. I clicked on the article and told it to load in the background while I commented.
It was still not loaded by the time I had commented and I'm on a seriously good cable connection that I'm exceptionally pleased with.
That is provided I'm connecting to the right places.. :)

Best of show (3, Informative)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803840)

The DVR-921 won CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Best of Innovations for 2003 [] . Of course, it should have won it for 2004 since that is when they will actually be available.

Re:Best of show (2, Informative)

spectecjr (31235) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803898)

Personally, I'm waiting for the TiVo version, which won Best of Innovations for 2004. []

Pics here []

Re:Best of show (0)

Kagato (116051) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804223)

FYI: The 921 won best of show for 2003, so it's a pretty even match.

Re:Best of show (1)

jwo7777777 (100313) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803927) should have won it for 2004 since that is when they will actually be available.
But this way the manufacturer can put "We won this award!" stickers on the boxes. A great boon in the mind of marketers.

Re:Best of show (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803959)

But what would be more impressive...saying you won best innovation last year...or this year? Dish's competition won for 2004 with their HD PVR. Of course it's equally unavailable currently. The earilest it will be available will be summer...if not later.

First post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803845)

I got f1r57 post!

Oh yeah... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803848)

I so so have been wanting and waiting for this unit...

(so hoping it has all the features I heard about, including support for DVI)


Going to read review now...

Re:Oh yeah... (1)

TGK (262438) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804554)

It does have DVI. It should also be available with the Dish Network "HD In a Box" promo when available. Currently that promo gives you a 34 or 40 inch HD TV with a 811 receiver (HD, no DVR, single tuner) for $999. Not a bad price, the TV is pretty sweet.

Thundercats..... HOOOOO!!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803865)

Princess Willa. Damn, she's hot.

1985, Here I Come!

Bye-bye, Dish. (1, Informative)

Seth Finklestein (582901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803868)

I don't own a television set, so I had to ask one of my close personal friends to write a review of this device. Here it is.

As you all know, High Definition Television represents a clear and present danger to customers' right to time shift. The so-called "broadcast flag" prevents casual users from exercising their Fair Use rights.

Nevertheless, I watch a lot of television thanks to my TiVo. TiVo lets me skip the commercials, which makes me a "thief" but lets me enjoy the entertainment I deserve. Let's compare some features.

Dish Network DVR-921 HD DVR does not have a "Season Pass" option to let you record a whole season's worth of programming.
TiVo has a Season Pass option.

Dish Network DVR-921 HD DVR does not offer the ability to play multimedia content streamed from a personal computer.
TiVo's Home Media Options turns your TiVo into a multimedia access centre!

Dish Network DVR-921 HD DVR does not run Linux.
TiVo is an open-source-friendly company.

Based on my good friend's comments, I rate Dish Network DVR-921 HD DVR a 1 on the Seth Finklestein scale of greatness. Do not buy the Dish Network DVR-921 HD DVR.

Seth Finklestein

Re:Bye-bye, Dish. (2, Interesting)

Kagato (116051) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804269)

Do a little more research Seth. While Tivo does have better software (i.e. Season Pass), there a lot of things the DirecTV version of Tivo does not have.

HMO is NOT an option for any DirecTV based Tivo. It says so right in Tivo's FAQ.

The 921 DOES run on Linux you idiot. In fact the baby brother PVR, the 721 also runs on Linux. Dish network serves the Linux PVR GNU codebase off an internet attached DVR 721. It's even got the lame X Window screen savers and 6 or so GNU games.

The DVR-921 has "Dishwire" aka, Firewire, which, when enabled, and connected to a JVC DVHS recorder will allow you to archive your time shifted progams.

The HD Tivo (and in fact all DirecTV HD STBs) has no firewire.

Re:Bye-bye, Dish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7804515)

HMO is NOT an option for any DirecTV based Tivo. It says so right in Tivo's FAQ.

Clearly you haven't heard of HMODirecTiVo [] , an open-source project designed to duplicate the Home Media Option's functionality for 100% less money.

The 921 DOES run on Linux you idiot. In fact the baby brother PVR, the 721 also runs on Linux. Dish network serves the Linux PVR GNU codebase off an internet attached DVR 721. It's even got the lame X Window screen savers and 6 or so GNU games.

Then I assume you can download the source code, like TiVo lets you do [] . Oh, wait. Companies other than TiVo consider the GPL unconstitutional and deny your right to download.

The DVR-921 has "Dishwire" aka, Firewire, which, when enabled, and connected to a JVC DVHS recorder will allow you to archive your time shifted progams.

I might as well plug it into an 8-track tape recorder. Who uses VHS any more? Can you plug the DVR-921 into a real computer where I can use real software like CinePaint and avidemux to re-encode it into the codec of my choice?


Seth Finklestein
Troll Impostor

Re:Bye-bye, Dish. (0, Flamebait)

anakin876 (612770) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804369)

[quote]Nevertheless, I watch a lot of television thanks to my TiVo. TiVo lets me skip the commercials, which makes me a "thief" but lets me enjoy the entertainment I deserve. Let's compare some features.

Deserve? What do you mean deserve? What part of the program did you pay for? Yes watchign commercials (especially the same ones over and over again) sucks.....and having something to shift forward with to skip said commercials is awesome. However, the companies that make thise programs need to get money somehow. You don't deserve anything in the current scheme,unless you watch the commercials.

Re:Bye-bye, Dish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7804537)

So how much is NBC paying you to post your "comments," shill?

I used to get up and go to the toilet during commercial breaks. That's the same thing as fast-forwarding past commercials or (better yet) buying a device that fast-forwards them for me.

Commercials simply do not affect me; I am too intelligent to have my opinion swayed by 30 seconds of pop music and bouncing breasts. If Brianna Spears' singing persuades you to buy a soft drink, then you are part of the sheep-like masses that helps pay for shows. Unfortunately for the networks, I outwardly refuse to buy any product whose advertisement interferes with my enjoyment of entertainment.

Seth Finklestein
Outspoken Consumer Advocate

Re:Bye-bye, Dish. (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804946)

Actualy you do deserve the content as it's going through the air to get to you (except for cable and even then it does to the head end) thats part of the commons in the US it should be used for things that are for the advantage of the people not for somebody to get rich off of. We cant use the RF space because we rent it to the companies to provide entertainment news etc at a reasonable cost. Anything OTA the commercial skipping bit is simply stupid. Personaly anything you pay for should have less commercials ala HBO and pay channels in general. Simply embedding could replace commercials that layers the comercial with content good for entertainment horid for news. DirectTV is about 100 a month for me thats a full package and a few receivers how many housholds are paying 50 or more a month and why isnt this enough to pay for the programming. The BBC is exelent for content and they have a similar pay scedual granted no actor makes a million an episode ala friends but there level of content is high and there storylines good (most of the time to each there own though) It's the same with HBO and Showtime why do they have some of the best episodics out there it's all ontent and no making shure the advertisers are happy.

What about the flag? (4, Insightful)

jdreed1024 (443938) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803871)

Well, the article is dead with only 8 comments, so I can't RTFA (not that anyone does), but what I want to know is what about the broadcast flag? Will this still timeshift programs that have the "this is not the program you want to record" flag set?

IIRC, the flag also tells you how long recorded copies can exist for - will this pay attention to that field? Will I be able to time-shift a show, but only by 60 or 90 minutes?

Re:What about the flag? (0, Interesting)

Seth Finklestein (582901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803918)

This device does "honour" the broadcast flag. What this means is exactly what you fear: content providers have usurped your right to time shift.

As a consultant, I am frequently out of town on business and on holiday. With this Dish receiver, I would go out of town, return, and find that all of my time shifted programs have expired. Sure, they might look good on my 2-metre plasma screen, but who cares if I'm not allowed to properly record my programmes?

Frankly, I would reiterate my sentiment that this product must be boycotted. Companies need to learn good behaviour.

Seth Finklestein
Certified Cybersecurity Expert

MOD DOWN! Parent is Troll! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7804039)

That's not Seth FINKelSTEIN. Troll! YHBT! Mod it down.

Re:What about the flag? (1)

TGK (262438) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804517)

Much as I'd like to blame the evil companies for this one, we can't.

DVR is the heart and soul of the DBS industry. It's the only weapon they have to fight the higher bandwidth and better security the physical infrastructure cable uses can offer.

Neither Dish nor Direc wants to knuckle under to the broadcast flag, but it's the law and they can't exactly break it at will.

We'll see how this plays out, but the new regulations on this are a hammer blow to the integration of the DVR into the standard home theater. The entire satelite industry hinges on that integration.

Boycotting will only serve to benefit those you oppose.

Re:What about the flag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7804560)

My money, which is as precious as it is numerous, is reserved for companies which value Freedom over corporate greed. If a company like TiVo enables me to record what I want, when I want to (imagine that!) then they will earn my money.

Companies like Dish Network which violate my right to time shift get none of my money. Rest assured, I will blog about this very soon.

Seth Finklestein
Blogging is the wave of the future

Re:What about the flag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803962)

This article [] covers time-shifting of flagged HDTV streams. In short: you can still timeshift.

Re:What about the flag? (4, Informative)

Stigmata669 (517894) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803979)

That's why you should buy a HDTV pci card now. I have an MIT MyHD MDP-120 [] which displays and records beautiful full rez HDTV. The drivers are a little sketchy (no linux support :( ) but it has none of these silly broadcast flag limitations.

Re:What about the flag? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7804118)

No, buy this card [] . Linux support!! And MythTV [] is adding support.

Re:What about the flag? (1)

espressojim (224775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7805329)

Of course, if you wanted to record HDTV off a satellite or cable TV, you're screwed. From the website FAQ:

Q. Can I record cable or satellite HD programs?
A. No. All HDTV card "stores" high-def signals in their raw data form and decodes the signal during playback. Since Cable and Satellite services do not use 8VSB modulation, their signals require dedicated tuners, and once decoded, cannot be routed to the input of the HDTV PC cards.


Re:What about the flag? (2, Informative)

Stigmata669 (517894) | more than 10 years ago | (#7805432)

That may be true with the linux hd-2000. I don't get any HD channels on my cable, but the MyHD card decodes analog cable, and has no trouble recording from the Comcast digital cable box. If the Direct TV HD box can get digital out of a tuner box, you can probably do it too with a little effort.

Re:What about the flag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7806118)

I can record HDTV from the satellite. I use a DVB satellite card point my dish to DISHNETWORK or EXPRESSVU(canadaprovider), and I can record to my hardrive. Or I can stream it to my DVHS and record it in a tape. And is free. Is better to stream the file to your DVHS that way you don't have to use your CPU for the MPEG2 decoding. It takes alot of CPU.
There is this nice program called mytheater []

Re:What about the flag? (2, Funny)

fishbert42 (588754) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804072)

<hand_wave><Force>These are not the programs you're looking for.</Force></hand_wave>

"These are not the programs we're looking for."

When it rains (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803872)

you lose the piture. ax anybody, it's the truuff.

Link to product line (4, Informative)

Bram Stolk (24781) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803883)

The review site is unreachable, but the
Dish Network DVR product line is here: /receiv ers/dvr/index.shtml

Re:Link to product line (1)

Bram Stolk (24781) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803899)

Sorry, look here [] .


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803901)

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Time Warner (2, Interesting)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803910)

Time Warner will start deploying the Scientific Atlanta HD PVR soon as well. I can't wait. Right now I have a TiVo for normal TV that I can't use when I watch an HD feed. That's really cut in to my TiVo use as I normally use it to rewind and pause sports, which are commonly in HD now.

free and brave (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803914)

Be Proud that your children in the military are as we speak ring-fencing iraqi towns in razor wire, evacuating women and children from their homes and demolishing them.

Be Proud that your soldiers are killing protestors

Be Proud that over 500 US soldiers are dead and nearly 10,000 lie crippled from injuries of war (blindness, deafness, amputation)

Above all, Be Proud that your gvernment has banned the filming of the repatriation of the dead, so as not to offend your sensibilities.

Land of the Free?
Be Proud that you are under surveillance by your government every waking hour. That's freedom!

Home of the brave?
Be PROUD that you have once again destroyed a country you destroyed a decade ago and left to rot in the interim by 10 years of sanctions which left millions dead. That's bravery!

Mod Childish Parent Down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803926)

nuff said.

Re:free and brave (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803948)

danke fur weiteres unsere Ursache, bald, das wir die amerikanische Regierung zerstort haben, dann wir an auf die Juden verschieben seien Sie ein guter Kamerad und ein Pfosten etwas gegen die Juden

Re:free and brave (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803969)

Be PROUD that you have once again destroyed a country you destroyed a decade ago and left to rot in the interim by 10 years of sanctions which left millions dead.

hey assclown, that was the decision of the UN to impose sanctions or are you too fucking stupid to check your facts & just want to repeat your commie propaganda?

Sounds great (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803950)

Can you skip commericials with this model?

Re:Sounds great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803963)

Probably not. The network execs have gone public saying that skipping commercials is stealing.

Re:Sounds great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7805173)

I have a 508 DishNetwork PVR. There is no "skip" button on the remove, but you can just as easily fast-forward through commercials.

Actuaylly, the DishNetwork website says the new modems allow you to "Skip through commercials on recorded programs". Maybe they've added a button to the remote.

The 721 is pretty good (2, Interesting)

XenonOfArcticus (53312) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803967)

I have the (Linux-based!) 721 dual-stream receiver/PVR. It is pretty good, with the latest software. It has had some flaky bugs, but it's still the best PVR I've ever used.

I'm sure the 921 will have some quirks too, but if it runs the same core PVR application, it should be pretty good.

I'm not planning on getting a 921 as I already watch too much TV as it is, and there's not enough HD stuff being broadcast yet to warrant the expensive display I'd need.

Re: HDTV adoption (0, Troll)

Aviancer (645528) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804018)

there's not enough HD stuff being broadcast yet to warrant the expensive display I'd need.

This is exactly the kind of attitude that holds back technological progress in HDTV. I mean, without an audience, how can we expect broadcasters to pony up the dough required to send HDTV signals. The advertisers won't want to pay the premiums for HDTV slots that nobody watches!

It's up to the general public to adopt technology, or important innovations (like wasting time with TV) will never happen!!!

(tongue firmly planted in cheek...) ---

Re: HDTV adoption (1)

Ferrule (82308) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804437)

The satellite and cable providers don't have the bandwidth to send much more HD content down.

They can up-sample any content to HD res, but without the bandwidth to make it look nice it will look horrible.

What we will have when HD is mandated in 2006 or whenever is a whole bunch of pixellated high resolution channels.

The whole thing is a complete waste of time before the carriers are ready.

Re: HDTV adoption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7805688)

build it and they will come!

if they will not do that, then they can go out of businness.

Re:The 721 is pretty good (1)

miniver (1839) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804080)

I got my 721 last week, and while my wife had some doubts about it initially (the cost), at the end of one day's use, we are both convinced that this is definitely the best thing since sliced stupid people on toast.

Re:The 721 is pretty good (1)

Kagato (116051) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804302)

I have the 721. It's a good PVR, but the SD DirecTivo is better. Name based timers really make it all work.

That being said, the 921 will have firewire to archive HD material to DVHS, HD DirecTivo will not. Which pulls dish ahead IMHO.

Unfortunately for Dish (3, Informative)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804045)

The 921 is based on the 721 software...

If any of you have ever used the 721, or really any Dish PVR... you'll know how pathetic and bug ridden dish PVRs.

One of the biggest issues with the 721 and 921 is the fact that they totally and utterly lack any sort of Name based recording. Every other PVR on the market, Tivo, Replay, UltimateTV, etc... all have name based recording, but Dish saw fit to leave this critical feature off.

This makes the 721 and 921 nothing more than a glorified VCR. The whole point of a PVR is to make recording easier and to handle the mundane, day to day tasks so you don't have to. Leaving off name based recording makes you search through the guide on a daily basis, hoping to find the programs that you want to record, instead of telling your unit to "Record anything with XXXXX in the title/description"

I switched to Dishnetwork from my UltimateTV and Tivo boxes, and was never sorrier I took the plunge. I always liked Dish over DTV, due to the superior customer service, but after this fiasco with these jokes of a PVR (which I paid far more than a Tivo with lifetime for) and it's just a VCR with a hard drive, I want to cancle my Dish service just out of spite. Unfortunately, I'm under a contract, and I hate DTV more than I hate Dish, so I'm pretty much stuck with Dish for the time being. As soon as Voom comes out with an HD PVR, I will be signing up for Voom.

As far as the 921 goes, I suspect it's going to suffer from many of the same bugs as the 721 does. Such as random reboots, crashing to the X desktop (requiring reboot), misfiring timers, timers recording until the HD fills up for no explicable reason, unit not responding to the remote, etc... I could go on and on with the problems on the 721 (and by extension, probably the 921) that are never addressed by the Dish developers... problems I never had with Tivo or UTV. They are very easy to fix some of these problems, but they just won't do it, because it would cut into their profit.

I never realized how much I relied on my UTV box to "do the right thing" until I got my 721, which was suppose to be superior. Now I come home at night and wonder if my programs will still be on my PVR after some wierd crash... I watch shows when I really don't want to, because I'm afraid that if I don't, I'll lose them. These are things that I never even thought of with my Tivo or UTV box.

Dish is also charging an outrageous and ridiculous price for the unit... $1000? Come on, you are gouging people because it's the only HD PVR on the market, plain and simple. I guess you gotta charge it while you can.

The bottom line is, if you've ever used another PVR, you'll hate the 921 (and the 721) because of all the bugs and total lack of features and brain dead UI. If all you've ever had is a VCR, then you'll like the 7 and 921's, because they ARE better than a VCR... but when compared to the PVR competition, the Dish PVRs are an utter and lasting joke... a travesty to the PVR buying public.

Realisitcally, if Dish would just add NBR, I would be less critical of the other flaws, but since that one glaring deficiency is being refused by dish to impliment, I have no sympathy for the company. NBR is the defining feature of a PVR, and Dish DOES NOT HAVE IT. All they have are glorified VCRs with a misleading lable.

Dish still has the best pricing plans for satellite service though, so it's a big plus in their favor.

Re:Unfortunately for Dish (2, Informative)

Rohan427 (521859) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804501)

I have a Dish 510 and it works great. No name based recording, but it's been 100% reliable, costs under $500 (so I'm told, I received a free upgrade), and does not suffer any of the problems that I've read (in this forum) the 721 does. My only gripe is that all the Dish Networks units use the same frequency and codes for their UHF remotes. We have 2 of three receivers (including the 510) that are UHF capable and they tend to interfere with each other (I'll change the channel in the bedroom and my wife can be heard screaming from the living room!).

Also, AFAIK, it is not affected by the broadcast flag - I can record what I want, when I want, and keep it for as long as I want. They even included instructions on how to copy recorded programs to a VCR.


Re:Unfortunately for Dish (1)

ProtonMotiveForce (267027) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804721)

$500? That's _great_...

DTivo is under $200, why would anyone go with Dish?

Re:Unfortunately for Dish (2, Informative)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#7805217)

My only gripe is that all the Dish Networks units use the same frequency and codes for their UHF remotes. We have 2 of three receivers (including the 510) that are UHF capable and they tend to interfere with each other (I'll change the channel in the bedroom and my wife can be heard screaming from the living room!).

Actually, you can change the UHF frequency used by each receiver. I don't remember the exact number, but there are at least 12 channels available so that conflicts as you describe can be avoided. Check it out in the manual that came with your 510 (or other) receiver (page 21 in the 510 manual, "Changing Remote Address," to be specific) or, if you've misplaced your manual, go here [] and scan through the PDFs to find the information.

We had the same problem here when we got the 721 (a device we love) and it only took about five minutes to fix. Good luck!

Re:Unfortunately for Dish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7804991)

Think about it for a second. Don't you think that Echostar wants to implement Named Based Recording? Of course they do. Like everything else in the industry, Named Based Recording is patented (By Tivo I think). If Echostar would license the patent (Like Microsoft has done), everyone would be paying extra $ per month. Complain to the US Patent office for one more stupid patent.

Re:Unfortunately for Dish (0, Flamebait)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 10 years ago | (#7805275)

That is patently false (pun intented) ... Tivo does not have a patent on Name Based Recording.

Dish does not want to implement it, because it requires effort.

Before you reply and tell me I'm wrong, go find the patent. It doesn't exist (I've looked)... if you can show a patent number, you can prove a lot of people wrong, and redeem E*'s reputation at the same time. Sadly, though, Tivo does not have a patent on Name Based Recording.

Like I said, it's the Dish PVRs are the ONLY PVR's on the market today that does not have it. The ONLY ones.

Re:Unfortunately for Dish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7805385)

The reason I am posting anonymous is because I know people who work at Echostar. "Name Based Recording" has always been a desired option. Think about it. Wouldn't you be surprised if someone hadn't patented it? Everybody and their brother has patented everything under the sun with regard to recording video to the hard drive. Just try to implement a PVR withoug stepping all over everyone's patents. There are some very obvious patents that have to be "worked around". Just because you can't find it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I seriously doubt it is called 'Named Based Recording" It is probably burried in some obscure patent but it's there.

Re:Unfortunately for Dish (0, Flamebait)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 10 years ago | (#7805666)

Until you can prove it, you are just speculating. No one, anywhere, has been able to find a patent for it. Why? Because there was prior art long before Tivo.

Name Based recording wouldn't hold up in a court. Many people, like you, have tried to claim the patent defense, but none of them can back it up... so don't speculate on things you can't back up. Just give the facts or conjecture you can back up with facts.

Re:Unfortunately for Dish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7805945)

Until you can prove it, you are just speculating. No one, anywhere, has been able to find a patent for it.

Until you can prove that no one, anywhere, has been able to find a patent for it you are just speculating. I know people in the industry who have to do the real work. They just don't sit back and complain about everyone else.

Name Based recording wouldn't hold up in a court. Many people, like you, have tried to claim the patent defense, but none of them can back it up... so don't speculate on things you can't back up. Just give the facts or conjecture you can back up with facts.

A couple of minutes in google revealed this Replay patent:

( y= cnet )

The broad patent covers the fundamental concept of using a program guide or other user-specified criteria to select TV shows for recording on a digital video recorder," said the company, whose DVR is marketed under the ReplayTV brand.

Maybe this is it, maybe it isn't, but I'll repeat my point. Regardless of "prior art" everything PVR related was patented when the boxes first started being deveopled. There are hundreds of complex PVR patents out there. Gemstar even had/has a patent on irregular shaped grids being used for program guides. Regardless of the fact that they had been used in newspapers for decades.

Re:Unfortunately for Dish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7805251)

you know, agreeing with everything else you said here, having you say nice things about dish customer service is rather cool - I just worked there for 6 months to make ends meet. There were lots of out of work techies manning those phones this year!

Older Dish Network DVRR has Faulty Firmware (1)

mesocyclone (80188) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804055)

I have an older Dish Network DVR Receiver (model unknown, it doesn't say on the front and I'm, not going to disrupt my video distribution system to find out) that has the worst firmware I have ever encountered in a consumer device. After replacing it three times, I concluded that it was firmware rather than hardware.

I can crash it, requiring a power up, just by hitting things too fast on the remote control. Whenever it decides to reload the program guide, it loses the ability to schedule a recording by hitting the "record" button! It has various other malfunctions where unrelated functions break other ones.

As one who does embedded software, I am ashamed for the profession about this lousy software.

Re:Older Dish Network DVRR has Faulty Firmware (1)

ShawnD (21638) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804128)

I think I have a rebadged one of these (Bell ExpressVU Model 5100 - I think they are made by EchoStar) and agree the software quality is bad. It has gotten better, but still has a few quirks.

Mine would have trouble playing back recorded video as if the MPEG was badly corrupted. It took 2 calls to Bell and reseting the smartcard to fix that one.

Even with that fixed I still sometimes get corrupt screen displays and guide entries.

Re:Older Dish Network DVRR has Faulty Firmware (1)

VGR (467274) | more than 10 years ago | (#7805934)

I have a Dish PVR 510 and I can confirm mesocyclone's story: I can make exactly the same thing happen. Not that I try to.

There are a few other bugs in the system as well, but not many. In damn near every case, I get perfectly recorded shows.

Considering the price of the 510, particularly compared to the other models and TiVo, I am quite happy with it. Like a lot of other Dish Network customers, it was free for me. Well, okay, I pay $5 more a month, but I'm pretty sure that's for the enhanced program listing. (A normal Dish receiver only downloads the listings for the next hour or so, unless you specifically request them, in which case you'll have to wait roughly 60 seconds for them to download. With the PVR's program listing, everything for at least the next 7 days is already downloaded at all times.)

sorry to rain on the parade but.... (3, Interesting)

The Lynxpro (657990) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804102)

DirecTV will be showing their HD-based TiVo DVR at January's CES. Pictures have already been leaked over the net, but I don't have the exact link. So that rather dampens the newsworthiness of Dish Network's wanna-be TiVo.

With Rupert Murdoch taking control of DirecTV shortly, expect a price war against both Dish Network AND the cable companies. I believe there was a speculative article linked to Drudge the other day about that.

I myself am tired of Comcast. Here in Sacramento, they are raising our rates again, with the pathetic excuse for them to recupe their investment in expanding pay-per-view. I don't use PPV and I believe it would've been a wiser investment to offer set-top boxes with TiVo built in. Now if DirecTV would offer a decent broadband service using leased space over the cable lines, that would be the winning choice...

Re:sorry to rain on the parade but.... (2, Informative)

The Lynxpro (657990) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804143)

Here's the link to the DirecTV HD TiVo: nn ovations_2004/2787/mainphoto2787.jpg

Oh well (1)

AGTiny (104967) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804175)

I'm getting the Motorola DCT-6208 HDPVR in about 2 weeks for $3.95/month. It's not even close to a Tivo and only has 1 tuner, but the cost is next to nothing. I'd probably have to pay $500+ for a DirecTV HD Tivo. I am an ex-D* customer and would still be one if my current house wasn't in such a poor spot to receive local OTA HD channels. What is really needed is for Tivo to make a deal with Motorola to supply PVR software on their boxes, or for cable companies to bypass the horrible Moto boxes in favor of an all-Tivo cable box.

Time Shifting Over-the-Air NON-HDTV? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7804192)

This looks great. I'm not ready to go to HDTV yet, so I was wondering about a cheaper model. Since i'm not in a major local area, so no locals over the dish.

Are there any Dish DVR which can also record over the air broadcasts other than this one? (Non-HDTV)

Article Text (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7804218)

Dish DVR-921
Review By Mark Lamutt, DBSTalk Administrator
(C)Copyright 2003, All Rights Reserved.

A complete specifications sheet in PDF format can be downloaded HERE.

This review is based on beta software version L142, and will be updated as future software versions are released.


Here's the front of the 921 sitting on my coffee table, getting ready to be installed into my equipment rack.

Here's the back of the 921.

Closeup of the satellite and antenna inputs on the back of the 921. I was afraid they would be too close together to easily get the three coax cables connected, but the spacing does allow for comfortable connection.

Here's another closeup of the back of the 921 showing the DVI port, the rf output, 2 composite/RCA audio outputs, 1 composite/RCA audio input, the component output, 2 DishWire ports, a usb port, and the phone jack. The svideo and toslink outputs are just to the left of the DVI port.

Installation of the 921

I placed the 921 in my equipment rack and connected all of the cables on the back. Note - you must have both satellite tuners connected to coax coming from your switch or dish. That's 2 lines connected. Just below and to the left of the 2 satellite tuner inputs is where the over the air coax antenna line is connected. I'm viewing HD material via component cables, as I don't have a DVI connection on my television. Audio is via the toslink (optical) port that I have connected to my receiver. I also connected svideo and composite video to a vcr and to my computer to take the screenshots you see.

After the connections were made, I turned on the receiver and got ready to wait. It's always been my experience that when a receiver is first connected, you have to sit and wait for the software to be updated before you can do anything. But, like with the 721, not in this case. I turned the power on, and channel 101 appeared immediately. So, I went into the system setup screen to set up my satellites. A quick check switch later, and both satellite tuner inputs recognized my DP34 switch. I then went back to live television and picture was there. A side note here - at this point I would have had to call Dish to authorize the receiver, but the receiver had already been authorized for my account before I picked it up from Dish.

I was pleasantly surprised when the 921 powered up. I've lived with the jet engine fan noise coming from the 6000 8VSB module for the last 2 years. I am very happy to say that the 921 is MUCH quieter than the 6000 (unless of course you disconencted your 8VSB fan). If nothing else is on, and there's no noise in the room, then the 921 fan can be heard, but if there's anything making noise in your room, the 921 noise is just about completely inaudible. The fans in my HTPC are louder, and I've worked very hard at making it as quiet as possible. Is the 921 fan too loud for a bedroom? Probably. But, it's a night and day difference coming from the 6000.

View of the Point Dish screen.

View of the Check Switch screen.

Screen showing my check switch was successful.

So, I now have all of my channels available. Switched over to HDNet and watched a bit of Bikini Destinations. Flipped around - sure enough, all of my channels were there. Then I tried the PVR functions. Nothing... Up pops a message about this program is being downloaded from satellite. Please try again later. I figure I need to check the software version and try to force the software upgrade that I know is waiting for me. So, back into the setup screen, to the software upgrade option. And lo and behold, the software upgrade is already in progress. In fact, it has been in progress since I finished the check switch. I had been watching live television for the last 15 minutes while the software was upgrading in the background. Very cool! No more having to wait the hour or so for the software to download before doing anything! It took right at 46 minutes to complete the software download, install and reboot process. Once it was done, I was ready to go. All of the menu functions were now available as well as the PVR functions.

Software upgrade screen with the download partially done.

Unlike the 811, this 921's video output was set to 480p as a default rather than 720p. If the shipping versions of the 921s are set to 480p as the default, then no one should have to connect the svideo or composite to get a picture first. More about the aspect ratios later on.

Default shipping setting is 480p. Display setup screen showing current output of 480i.

The Remote

Like the 811, the uhf pro remote that comes with the 921 (it's the same remote as the 811) does not send IR signals to the 921. It sends UHF only signals. That's a problem for pronto users, and users of other learning remote controls. I'm going to work with Dish to compile a selection of IR codes for the pronto remote for the buttons on this remote that aren't available anywhere else for all remote addresses. Other than the lack of IR from the remote to control the 921, the remote is well laid out and comfortable to use. It looks very similar to the older platinum remotes that ship with the 5xx series of receivers, except that some of the buttons are more recessed than others. For example - the * (format) and the # (search) buttons are only about half as high as the rest of the number pad. Makes it very easy to use the remote by feel without having to look at it.

The Interface

The 921 interface is based on the 721 interface. The 921's operating system is DishLinux just like the 721. I had never used a 721 before starting to play with the 921. My Dish PVR experience is based on the 5xx series of receivers, so a lot of my comparisons will be based on the 5xx series interface. Please note, that because the 921 operates on a Linux based operating system, rebooting the 921 takes longer than other dish receivers. Average reboot time is between 2 and 3 minutes in my experience.

I really like the interface and the look and feel of everything. Very slick and polished. And even though I had never used a 721 before, the interface is easy enough to navigate that I never felt lost. Let's look at some pictures.

Here's the main menu, along with the TV Listing sub menu.

Here's the first page of the Preferences screen. This is the standard layout for options screens throughout the software. Very nice looking, and very easy to navigate with the remote. Notice the television image in the upper corner - just about every screen has the TV window, so you can go just about anywhere in the software and still keep an eye on what you're watching. And, all of the DVR functions work with the small TV window display! Much better than the 5xx series!

Here's the guide. Seven lines of program information, along with program descriptions in the top left corner and the TV image in the top right corner. This guide is FAST - you can scroll through it so fast that the text isn't readable. It's so much faster than the 5xx guide, that my jaw just about hit the floor the first time I went guide surfing. More about the guide later in the operations section.

Operation of the 921

So, how does this receiver work? All in all, pretty well. There are a few problems with it, but nothing that can't be fixed in future updates. So, let's dig right in and start looking at how this thing works.

The first thing I want to comment on is directly based on posts that some people have left in forums around the internet regarding the recording capability of the 921. The 921 is very capable of recording TWO high definition programs AND watching a pre-recorded high definition program. Yes, that's THREE high definition program streams being handled simultaneously. The 921 worked perfectly! It, however, can't record three high definition streams (2 from satellite and 1 from OTA) at the same time.

The next important issue to comment on is the pause buffer. The 921 offers a high definition pause buffer of 120 minutes.

So now, let's dig into the menus.

Here's the main menu. Let's first take a look at option 1 - TV Listing.

Under the TV Listing option, as you can see in the picture, we have access to the DVR List, the Search function, the Themes function, the Guide and your PPV purchase history. Of course, all of these except for the purchase history can be accessed directly with the remote control.

Here's the DVR list screen. The 921 has 2 satellite tuners and 1 over the air digital tuner built in. Notice on this screen there are 2 programs currently recording - The Phantom from HBO-HD and Jefferson Starship: Acoustic from HDNet. Yes, that's 2 HD programs recording simultaneously! Also, as with the other screens, The Phantom is playing in the upper TV corner.

Scroll down on the DVR list past your recorded events, and you will see the list of timers that are set to record in the future. I already find this very convenient that the timers are also located here rather than just on the timer management screen.

Selecting Search from the menu, or pressing the # (search) key on the remote brings you to the search screen. Like with the other dish receivers, text can be entered directly from the guide, by using the number keypad on the remote, or by using the on screen keyboard.

Here's the search results screen after doing a search for "The Phantom".

Here's the Themes screen, accessed from the menu or from the left arrow button on the remote. Pretty standard operation like all of the other dish receivers. Select a category, and all of the upcoming events that match that category will be displayed.

Here's the theme results when I told it to search for movies. The red X means that's a channel I don't subscribe to. And of course, how convenient that all of the PPV movies are listed first...

Here's the guide screen, accessed from the menu or from the guide button on the remote. Once again notice the 2 red dots - 2 HD channels recording at the same time. I really, really like this guide so much better than the 5xx guide. All of the standard guide functions work - the skip forward and skip back buttons navigate you 24 hours into the future or into the past. You can enter a number on the remote and press the left or right arrow keys to move forward or back that many hours in the guide. You can enter a number and press select to jump to that channel. Timers are easily defined from the guide.

Operation of the 921, part 2

Now, back to the menu. Option 2 on the main menu "Staying in Touch" brings up the Caller ID History. I'd show you a screen shot of this, but I don't have caller ID on my land line...

So, on to option 4. The preferences menu is where you define favorite lists, view and change your preferences, language settings, dolby digital settings, DVHS DishWire settings and closed caption settings. As you can see, the DishWire feature has not yet been activated. Let's take a look at the View Preferences option.

You can see the options that are set from this screen. I really wish they'd add the Timer Icon Popup option to the 5xx series of receivers. Here's page 2:

I want to talk about the transparent guide and display. I think it's a really great idea, except it just doesn't work very well. I don't have a screenshot of it because it just doesn't look good yet. I think it has the potential to look really great in future software updates, but it's not there yet in my opinion. This is also the screen that you can adjust your horizontal and vertical screen position.

The Favorites setup, Language setup, and DD setup are standard screens just like the other receivers. No changes, other than the look of the screens.

Here's the Closed Captioning screen. As you can see, lots of different options.

And here's a shot of the closed captioning working on HBO-HD.

Now, back to the main menu and selecting the Locks option brings us to the Locks screen. Same options as the other receivers.

Now let's take a look at the System Setup options from the Main Menu. Here's the System Info screen option, accessable from the menu here. The system information screen is also accessible from theSysInfo button on the front of the 921. Note, there is no SysInfo button on the remote.

Software version L142 will not be the software version of the 921 when it ships. It's a pre-release beta version that I am testing. Overall it's pretty stable, but there are still a few issues that need to be fixed before shipping the 921 to the public.

I like the look of the point dish screen. It's easier to navigate than on the 5xx series receivers.

Here's the telephone setup screen. In the future, Dish may require all receivers be connected to a phone line in an attempt to cut down on signal theft. This'll be a tough requirement for me to meet, as I currently have 3 dish receivers sitting in the same location, and don't have a phone jack anywhere close to that location. My setup is in my finished basement, so running a new phone line through the walls isn't an option. So, when the day comes that I have to plug in the phone line to all of my receivers, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Hopefully, Dish can come up with a solution to this problem. I'm all for cutting down on signal theft - the thieves deserve to be caught and shut down. Enough with the rant...

Here's the standard VCR setup option. Note - this isn't where you will set up a DVHS vcr for digital recording of high definition material via DishWire. That option is not yet enabled, but Dish has told me that it will be enabled as soon as possible. They are very aware of our desire to transfer HD material off of the 921 to DVHS.

The Diagnostic tests screen is where you test your phone line connection. There is also an option called Hard Drive that isn't yet enabled, and I have no idea what it will test if and when it is enabled. Factory Defaults will reset your receiver settings to the default settings. Software Update shows the status of any software update you are receiving, as shown earlier in this review.

Operation of the 921, part 3

So, let's now look at the local channel setup. This is what the local channel screen looks like after Digital channels have been added. Pressing Scan DTV will cause the 921 to scan for local OTA channels.

The 921 scans from channel 2 to channel 69. The process takes between 3 and 4 minutes to complete. The channel counter updates as new channels are found. The bar graph is pretty, but I think I would have preferred a numerical counter as opposed to the graph so that I could see exactly which channels are added, and which ones are missed.

Here's the Add DTV screen, where you manually add DTV channels. This is the only screen on the 921 where you will see a signal strength indicator for local digital channels. The 6000 used to display the signal strength in the channel banner. The 921 does not. I'm not sure what the 125 scale means - no other receiver that I know of uses a scale for signal strength above 100. So, it makes it difficult to directly compare local tuner sensitivity to other receivers. What I can say, though, is the 921 tuner is more sensitive than the 6000 8VSB tuner. In Denver, very few of us can receive our ABC station, channel 17 because they broadcast their signal from the top of their 6 story building downtown. I live 3 miles away from there, and could just barely receive their signal on the 6000. On the 921, I pick up their signal better, as the following screen shows:

For the Denver readers, this screen may be of interest to you.

Analog channels are added in the same manner. Here's the Scan ATV screen. This scan takes much less time to complete than the Scan Digital channels.

And, here's the local channels screen with all of the analog channels added. The local channels show up at the beginning of the guide as 2-0, 2-1, etc.

And finally, let's look at the Display Setup. First of all, unlike the 811, the 921 does not simultaneously output HD via the component cables and SD via svideo or composite video. It's one or the other, and is switched with the HD/SD button on the remote control.

I have a 16x9 Sony HDTV, so I have the 921 set to 16x9 mode. A very interesting note - when set to 16x9 and 480i mode (when the receiver is in SD mode), and you are tuned to a HD channel, the video output is anamorphic, meaning your 16x9 television needs to be set to Full or Anamorphic mode as well to display the image correctly. This is new to me - on all previous dish receivers that I have used, the 16x9 function didn't do anything. Now it does. 16x9 mode offers aspect ratios of Normal, Stretch, Zoom and Gray Bars. 4x3#1 mode offers aspect ratios of Normal, Zoom, Letterbox (puts black bars on top and bottom of image) and Gray Bars (puts gray bars on top and bottom of image). 4x3#2 mode offers aspect ratios of Normal, Stretch, Zoom and Gray Bars. All aspect ratios are labled in the browse banner.

Also, unlike the 811 currently, the aspect ratios do work on the 921. By the time you read this, the 811 will probably be fixed, but it's not yet at the time of writing.

Here are some screen shots showing the different aspect ratios. What's interesting about the gray bars mode, is that the gray bars fade in over 2 or 3 seconds when the gray bars mode is selected.

Ok, let's now look at the timer management screens. Pretty standard timer screen.

Timers can be sorted in several different ways. Clicking on the Sort option brings us to the Timer Sort screen. Timers can be sorted alphabetically, by frequency (once, daily, weekly, etc.), by type (DVR, Reminder, VCR, etc) or by order they will be firing.

Here's the first screen seen to create or edit a timer. The start and end pad options are new to me, as I'm coming from a 5xx background, but they're old hat to you 721 users.

Here's the 2nd screen. Pretty standard.

So, the next item on the menu is the Interactive TV. Under Interactive TV, we have Games and Weather. First, the Games. Nice selection of games to try out. Note that these are not the OpenTV games that are available on the 5xx series of receivers, as the 921 does not have OpenTV loaded yet.

Now, the weather. I can see using this quite a bit. The list of cities that can be set look pretty extensive. The first weather screen is the 5 day forecast.

Pressing the Current button will bring up the Current Conditions screen. It looks like the weather data is updated hourly.

Operation of the 921, part 4

So, that's it for the main menu options. Now, let's take a look at how the DVR options display on screen. First up, here's what appears when you press rewind. Rewind speeds of 4x, 15x, 60x and 300x are available. Same with Forward Fast.

Here are the skip back and skip forward functions. Skip back is the standard 9 or 10 seconds, and skip forward is the standard 30 seconds. All DVR functions work very well with the HD material as well as with the SD material.

And pause.

Here are the slow motion and frame advance functions. Slow motion control is accessed by pressing Pause, and then using the REW or FF DVR buttons. Reverse slow motion is available at 1/4th speed, while Forward slow motion is available at 1/15th speed and 1/4th speed.

Frame advance is controlled by pressing Pause, and then using the DVR functions Skip Back and Skip Forward to advance frames in the reverse or forward direction.

The browse banner is a big improvement over the 5xx series receivers. Let's take a look by pressing the browse button (right arrow button) on the remote. I really like the REC icon in the banner. I also really like the next show information displayed to the right of the current show information. It makes the browse banner very useful.

Pressing the Info button on the remote will display program information in 2 modes - transparent and opaque. Transparent is displayed first, then pressing info again will make the display opaque. Here are the screenshots showing the difference. Of course, you can cancel out after the transparent display if you like.

Operation of the 921, part 5

I've saved this one for the end of the review - OTA Digital recording... The 921 has the capability of recording over the air digital stations, and does it very well. But, currently there is no guide data provided for OTA stations. The 921 does not read PSIP guide data because stations around the country implement PSIP guide data differently. And, not all stations send PSIP guide data in their transmission signals. Only 2 of our stations here in Denver use PSIP to send out guide data, the others don't. So, how do you record OTA channels with no guide data? You have to set up manual recordings, rather than using the guide. Or, you can use the guide to set up a recording off of one of your satellite local channels and then edit the timer to change the channel to your OTA digital channel. That's worked some of the time for me. This isn't a bug, but it is a problem. And Dish Network is very aware that it's a problem. Unfortunately, it's a problem that won't be fixed until well into next year. Dish has a plan for solving the issue, but I'm not allowed to tell you that plan becuase of the terms of the NDA that I signed. I can tell you, though, that it's a very good plan that will make everyone happy once it's in place.

So, that's the basic operation of the 921 receiver. If you're still with me, I want to close this review talking about what's good about the receiver and what's not so good yet.

What's Good:

DVR functions work well with HD. HD recording from satellite works well (including 2 recordings simultaneously). OTA tuner sensitivity is better than the 6000, although it's difficult to tell how much better. The interface is well laid out to make navigation easy. The guide speed is faster than any other guide I've ever seen. The guide layout is great, with 7 lines of program information along with the tv display. The remote layout and key placement are very good. Aspect Ratios work in HD mode. 480p is an output option, rather than forcing upconversion of 480p to 1080i or 720p. Programming can be watched during software download. Can record HD from the OTA tuner. Fan noise is much less than with the 6000.

What's Not So Good

There are still some outstanding bugs that need to be fixed before the 921 will be completely stable. I'm purposefully not discussing them in this review because the receiver hasn't started shipping to the public yet, and because the bugs have been reported to Dish through the beta process. There's no Partial Zoom aspect ratio available. The DishWire hasn't been activated yet. Signal Strength for OTA digital channels doesn't display anywhere except in the local channel setup screens. No OpenTV yet. No OTA guide data yet. No Name-Based recording.

Update #1, 12-21-03

I've gone through all of the questions from the last week, and have gathered together the answers to those questions that I said I'd take a look at this weekend. They are presented here, along with some new screenshots.

Composite Video Inputs

The 921 has 1 set of composite video / RCA audio inputs on the back. A source connected to these inputs is selected by pressing 0 and Select from the remote. The video coming from the input is scaled to your selected display resolution (meaning if you have your display properties set to 1080i, the input video source is scaled to 1080i and output through component and DVI). The scaling doesn't look great, but it does happen. Recording from the input isn't possible.

Frame Advance Back and Forward DVR Functions

I looked at this much more closely, and it appears that the forward frame advance jumps ahead 1 frame at a time, while the reverse frame advance jumps back approximately 5 frames at a time or so.

OTA Local Digital Recording from Subchannels

The question was asked if the 921 records separately from different subchannels, or if the entire stream is recorded. Each digital subchannel is considered to be a different channel by the 921, and as such is available to be recorded separately.

Is there a Closed Captioning option "CC only when muted"?

No. CC is always on or always off.

What's the maximum number of timers that can be set?

I was able to set 64 timers before the following screen popped up:

At that point, I had to delete a timer before I could add another one.

Separate memory for HD and SD, similar to 6000?

The answer to this one currently is no. If a HD channel is set to Normal mode, then SD channels will also be in Normal mode when the SD/HD button is pressed. One AR is active, whether you're watching HD or SD.

Using satellite locals to get program info for local OTA recordings

I had said in my review earlier that I had gotton this to work. I couldn't get it to work again in my testing this weekend. So, it appears that it's not possible (or at least not possible reliably) to set a timer to a satellite local channel, and then edit that timer to change the recording channel to a local OTA digital channel, and still retain the program information for the recording.

Recording OTA local digital channels

I did a lot of testing on this issue this weekend with regards to file sizes being recorded, and am pleased to bring you these results. Keep in mind that all of this data is approximate, as I don't have access to the actual size of recordings on the disk - all I have to go on is the approximate record time remaining as presented on the DVR screen.

I did 60 minute long test recordings on four different OTA channels: A 1080i channel broadcasting at 19.0 MB/s video bit rate, a 720p channel broadcasting at 12.752 MB/s VBR, a 480p channel broadcasting at 11.93 MB/s VBR, and a 480i channel broadcasting at 4.513 MB/s VBR.

The 60 minute 1080i 19.0 MB/s recording took 65 minutes of HD recording space.
The 60 minute 720p 12.752 MB/s recording took 47 minutes of HD recording space.
The 60 minute 480p 11.93 MB/s recording took 45 minutes of HD recording space.
The 60 minute 480i 4.513 MB/s recording took 18 minutes of HD recording space.

So, from this I draw this conclusion: The OTA recording capability of the 921 is much better than any of the current recording computer cards on the market today. With those cards, every OTA digital channel, no matter the resolution of the VBR record exactly the same size - around 8.2 GB/hr. The 921 obviously processes the transport stream, stripping out all of the wasted space to record smaller files while maintaining the necessary program information.

Does the 921 really have to have both satellite tuners connected?

I tried wasn't pretty. You can't do a check switch if only one of the tuners is connected. If you have no way of running another line to where your 921 will go, then you'll have to wait for the DPP44 switch before getting a 921. There's no other way around it because the 2 tuner operation is integrated into so many different aspects of the programming it's not feasibly possible to run this box on one tuner only. That's the way it is.

Assign ABC/CBS/NBC to local Digital channel like on 6000?

This hasn't been implemented on the 921 like it was on the 6000, so there's no way to assign a major network to the local digital channels.

Locks question

I didn't test the locks, and don't want to because I'm not sure at this point whether I can get rid of the locks once they're put into place. I don't have complete documentation of the 921 yet, so I don't want to screw up my system with locks if I can't figure out how to make them go away after the test.

Does the 6000 have more favorite list storage than the 6000?

I would assume so. The 921 has 4 user editable favorite lists available, and I added all of the channels to all four of the lists, and everything worked fine. If that wasn't the intent of the question, let me know.

Does the OTA side of the box work without a satellite tuner connected? What about DVR recordings?

I can't answer the first part of this yet. Look for an answer after the 1st of the year.

I can, however, answer that the DVR recording are available with no satellite tuner connected. When the 921 is powered on without the tuners connected, it comes up to just a black screen. But, pressing the DVR button brings up the DVR list, and all recordings can be viewed.

Triple Timer resolution

The 921, like the 721, has triple timer resolution. The following screenshots show the timer resolution screens:

Pause Buffer

Sorry about the pause buffer confusion I caused earlier this week. The pause buffer is in fact 120 minutes for both HD and SD recorded material. Here's the screenshot:

This space reserved for review updates.

I've had the 921 since Friday afternoon, the 12th, and have spent just about every waking minute since putting it through it's paces. If you have questions, I'll do my best to answer them if I can. Please be advised that there are issues that I can't discuss due to the Non-Disclosure Agreement that I've signed with Dish Network to beta test the 921.

I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome all of the people coming to DBSTalk for the first time to read this review! We're glad you're here, and hope you enjoy your stay!
Mark Lamutt
Official Dish Network DVR-921 Internet Community Liason

Fair use and right to copy (1)

Marco Polo (168143) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804384)

(a little off topic)
There is a chance they could try to take away our fare use...

The argument of timeshifting would have been answered... even if we couldn't extract the video for archiving...

Re:Fair use and right to copy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7804450)

They can't take away what you dont have! Read the law! The law states that you can copy for personal use... blah blah blah... it doesn't say that you have to be able to! If they make it so that you can't copy the signal... thats NOT Ilegall. Vote with your paycheck... don't buy stuff with retarted copy protection.

Ooh, nifty. (1)

Omniscient Ferret (4208) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804399)

It has Firewire & USB connections on it, & it runs a variation of Linux. I think that the broadcast standard is MPEG-2, & that a later variation of this will burn DVDs.

I want one... It's important to archive The Daily Show for posterity.

Dish PVRs Suck (4, Informative)

wonderdog (80639) | more than 10 years ago | (#7804532)

Been a DishNetwork sub for 8 years now, and a Dish PVR user for a little over a year. I also have a TiVo (2 yrs old). There simply is no comparison. Going from the TiVO to Dish's PVR is like going from XP/OSX back to Windows 1.0. The interface is so horrible in comparison. It just plain sucks. AND the damn thing's buggy (I have to cold reboot it once every coupla weeks). AND it does weird things (stops buffering the current show if you play a recorded event, eg). And you can't easily add HD space.

I was all set to switch to DTV when their HD TiVo combo comes out... Problem is DirectTV may be owned by Rupert soon. Yech! Hate the idea of feeding money to that monster. Support The Evil Empire, or buy (vastly) inferior tech. Arg.

If only Dish would use TiVo instead of torturing their customers with their horribly inadequate PVR skillz.

What about a DIR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7804989)

When is someone going to invent a Digital Internet Recorder?

Life would be so much easier if I could just get new slashdot posts saved for later, so I could see them at a convenient time, rather than having to sit and click refresh all the time.

And, of course, being able to pause would make it much easier to be first post!

Still waiting.... (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 10 years ago | (#7805716)

Still no 1080p... which if i'm gonna blow $5k+++ for a TV and new VCR (try $9,999 for a 720p unit at best buy, yea right), it better support 1080p without any DRM.

Oh, and it better be under $500 if they expect Joe Public to buy it.

Re:Still waiting.... (1)

amukhael (668867) | more than 10 years ago | (#7806005)


I built my own HDTV pvr , I don't care about flag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7806140)

I can record HDTV from the satellite. I use a DVB satellite card point my dish to DISHNETWORK or EXPRESSVU(canadaprovider), and I can record to my hardrive. Or I can stream it to my DVHS and record it in a tape. And is free. Is better to stream the file to your DVHS that way you don't have to use your CPU for the MPEG2 decoding. It takes alot of CPU.
There is this nice program called mytheater []

Total Video Storage on this thing? (1)

perlow (451482) | more than 10 years ago | (#7806263)

While the technical achievement itself is impressive, what has been ignored in this review is the total amount of disk storage that is required to store JUST ONE HOUR of high-def 1080i video uncompressed DTV signal (you got it, uncompressed, they cant mpeg encode on the fly with these things yet, its too processor intensive and the specialized hardware is expensive) is 35 GIGABYTES.

So in other words, you need basically an ENTIRE STANDARD TIVO's worth of storage allocated for just one hour. So if you want to store any decent amount of programs, youre gonna need 700 gig just to do 20 hours of 1080i programming. Thats 4 200 gig ATA drives if you want 800 gig. Thats a helluva lot of heat to be generated in such a small chassis not to mention a huge expense.

Whats needed for mass adoption of this technology is terabyte sized hard disks, because having to create a contiguous file system using a RAID of 200 gig drives is rediuclously impractical and expensive to do. Not to mention prone to failure.
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