"This is an incredible product."4.5 starson by phrelin
Pros: Excellent quality picture; sufficient HD channel choices!
Cons: Setup a bit more difficult than described.
Summary: Since writing our previous review (under the ViP622), we've had a bit more time. And guess what, we had to have them send a replacement 722 because a minor hardware problem - we started getting a "jumping freeze frame" with normal audio. But their tech support has been great, so we are not downgrading our rating.
The HD picture is incredible. And, in fact, we just watched the new Law & Order CI on USA - non-HD but wide screen and the picture was incredibly clear for digital standard definition TV compared to our older Dish receiver-recorders we still use.
Also, we added a Western Digital MyBook Essential 750GB External Hard Drive which expands the storage capacity of the system to what appears to be about 100 HD movies. (If you choose to do this, do not buy the MyBook Premium Edition as it has some nifty things you might want for your computer, but not for this use).
Here's our original review:
We have been Echostar (Dish Network's parent company) satellite TV service customers since 1988. The company tries to provide, and generally succeeds in providing, adequate, competitive service. Based on our own experience when we had two homes plus on the experience of friends and family, Dish Network's service is on a par with, if not better than, cable service and DirectTV. Keep in mind for any of them: "sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn't."
With that said, we did not leap into Dish HD even though we've had a 42 inch HD plasma tv since 2003. The reason was simple, we live in the Redwoods and most of the initial Dish HD signals were on satellites we cannot "see." (The satellite companies are clear - lacking an unobstructed "southern sky" view can be a problem for service, a problem not found in cable service.) We still cannot get some of the HD service we theoretically are paying for because of this. But almost every HD feed we'd like to see we now can. (We also waited a few months for the release of the ViP722 because it is black as are the other components in our home theater system.)
Since we were adding to our Dish Network Standard Definition service (keeping our existing two receiver/recorders active) , we knew what we were getting into. If you are new to satellite TV browse the links at http://www.dbstalk.com/ and particularly the Dish Network info at http://ekb.dbstalk.com/
Things went pretty much as expected. We called the Dish Network number and explained we wanted to add an HD 722 receiver/recorder to our existing two feeds - four feeds total. The woman took the order without needing alot of explanation and but she gave an incorrect price which she couldn't get straight, but...oh well.... Three days later two installers wearing shirts with the Dish logo arrived in a old, but well maintained, unmarked pickup. One spoke only Spanish, but the other who was the lead was fluently bilingual. (My Spanish is comparable to George Bush's so I speak English but listen carefully.) The lead installer discussed his flawed work order with me, called his supervisor to get permission to do what we had ordered. Installation went well. But, you need to know that we had the cables to our theater system hooked up with the end plugs for the ViP722 waiting on the shelf for the installer to plug in. He will likely not have with him more than RCA's for composite video and two channel sound and an S-video cable. We have HD component connections and an optical surround sound connector to our theater system, plus an S-video and RCA stereo to our additional room distribution box. He activated the system which resulted in most signals being activated before he left, but some (local channels for instance) took another three hours. (We knew this would happen from previous experiences with changing our programming.)
Even though we had prevous service with older (508) recorders, the menu's for the 722 are complex and require some deciphering, the adequate operating manual notwithstanding. For us, the Dish Tech Portal at http://tech.dishnetwork.com/departmental_content/TechPortal/content/tech/receiver/722.shtml is very helpful. Nonetheless, after about two weeks of setting it up like we want it, the HD picture and 5.1 sound is as good as our DVD player provides (no we don't have brand new HD or BluRay) and certainly as good as we are ever going to be able to appreciate.
For us, several consideration were involved. Even though we did not have cable service available when we first moved here, we now have Comcast which is our high speed internet service provider. We had Comcast in our other home and two of our adult kids have Comcast. We have no problem with Comcast but it would be more expensive and they are just now upgrading to be able to offer HD in the future. We could have gotten a huge new customer discount from DirectTV, but DirectTV's packages are not what we want (we aren't big sports enthusiasts) and they are just beginning the process of providing HD. Additionally, no other service has provided the state-of-the-art recording technology as reliablly as Dish. Some people prefer TiVo, but that appears to be a personal preference. We do have rare weather related signal losses. But our cable system goes down more frequently and in a power outage it simply goes down. With satellite our battery backup lasts long enough for us to start up our generator without losing service and programs being recorded. In a two or three day power outage which does occur every four or five years, this is a big plus.