"Functional, but severely lacking in some areas"2.5 starson by azjazz
Pros: Very good picture
Much cheaper HD service than DirectTV when I bought it (and still is for my package)
One ViP722 controls 2 TVs (one in HD)
Very large storage for DVR recordings
Cons: Unit has been unstable, and acts very weird/locks up at times
DVR programming interface is absolutely terrible, and lacks important functionality
Menu navigation is painful
Records stuff you don't want
Summary: Let me start out by saying that I have a lot of experience with designing user interfaces, and have tons of years of computer experience (inside and outside the box). I am not a newbie with user interfaces.
I will describe in detail the problems I have had with my ViP722:
1) The unit has been unstable: I just had problems today (and it isn't the first time). I have owned my ViP722 for about 1 1/2 years now. I have run into multiple situations where the ViP722 will randomly lock up / reset / freeze / or have sound only but no picture. This morning, I was surfing channels, and I suddenly saw a blank screen and channel #65535 for every channel I chose, and it was the channel number shown for every channel in the Program Guide. I had to reset the unit to clear out the issue. I have also had the unit go through multiple resets on boot-up, where it may constantly reboot for 5 to 10 times before it finally comes up. Something is flaky - software, hardware, or both.
2) DVR Programming Interface: Without a doubt, this is the absolute, hands-down worst user interface I have seen for a DVR. I have used about 4 others (SageTV, TiVo, DirectTV, Cable), and all of their user intefaces are much better. When I am trying to record a single show of a series (Say, next week's 'Nova' episode in HD), it is almost impossible to figure out how to do it through the user interface. Do I press "DISH Pass" or "Timer"? I have actually called up DISH Network Technical Support on this multiple times, and the ViP722 doesn't handle it very well at all. I was always told by the technical support staff that the only way I could do that is to go to the Program Guide, navigate to the Channel / Time that the program was being shown, and then press the record button when the show was highlighted. Every other DVR I have used supported this functionality, and it was accomplished through the programming menu. If I want to record a single episode of something 2 weeks from now, I may have to scan through a hundred or more Program Guide pages before I get to the show of interest (if I know what day it is playing).
In addition, figuring out how to adjust specific settings for a recording is almost impossible to figure out. If I want to change a planned recording so that I start recording 2 minutes earlier for that show, I usually waste about a half-hour before I finally figure out which screens I need to get to.
NOTE: I have recently found that Dish Network's "Remote Access" via a PC works very well, and gets you much easier and more capable programming of your DVR. I no longer use the DVR programming menus in the ViP722. I only use the web interface now, and am eagerly awaiting the release of an Android App for Remote Access.
3) Menu navigation is painful: For some reason, DISH has assigned 'secret button sequences' in order to get to some screens. For example, you may need to press the 'DVR' button twice to get to a specific screen. Useless and annoying! How was I supposed to know to press the DVR button twice? It wasn't on the menu screen, and it isn't on the remote. (It was mentioned in the 146 page manual, though). More significantly, the names of their menu selections aren't clear enough that you get to where you think you wanted to go. Many times, I find myself going back to the main menu to try again.
4) Records stuff you don't want: If you select a 'DishPass' to record only 'New' programs, be ready to delete a whole bunch of stuff. I have a DishPass to record only new 'Daily Show' episodes, and the ViP722 will record every old episode that isn't listed with a specific original recording date. In addition, I have set the ViP722 to record only 'New' showings of a special event (Like a Battlestar Galactica TV movie), and the ViP722 will record every instance of the event. That will fill up your hard drive quickly. Again, I have *never* had these problems with any other manufacturers' DVR I have used in the past.