Dish Network ViP222 Hi-Def Satellite Receiver
Published on December 5, 2007
usEchoStar Satellite L.L.C.
The popularity of high-definition satellite content has prompted providers like DISH Network to release newer HD receivers for their customers. Dish Network’s latest entry is the ViP222™, an advanced MPEG-4, dual-tuner high definition satellite receiver that provides independent video content to two televisions – one high definition and one standard definition. The appearance and operation of the ViP222™ is very similar to the earlier ViP622™ minus the DVR (Digital Video Recording) capability.
Unlike its bigger brother (the ViP622™), the ViP222™ does not include an internal hard drive for DVR functions. However, in virtually all other aspects it is functionally the same and greatly resembles its older sibling in form, fit and function. The design offers an intuitive and easy to use graphical user interface (GUI) with an integrated Electronic Program Guide (EPG). This makes it simple for users to see what programs are available. An advanced search features allows users to find specific programs by keywords and genre.
Two independent video outputs (TV1 & TV2) are available on the ViP222™. TV1 supports one of four resolutions (480i, 480p, 720p, or 1080i) including high definition depending on the type of connection being made. HDMI, component, s-video, composite, and RF are all supported. The unit cross-converts all source material to the selected output rate. For example, SD content can be displayed using the HD outputs, but it will certainly not look as good as an HD picture. The HD signals are output in the form of analog component video as well as digital HDMI. S-video and composite video are inherently limited to a (480i) standard definition picture. TV2 only supports composite and modulated RF, so only standard definition (480i) video is available for this output. Too bad the ViP222™ doesn’t have both outputs in high definition.
The ViP222™ 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. A set of ten buttons are behind a closed door on the right that include Power, Mode (Single or Dual), Navigation (Up, Down, Left, Right and Select), System Info, Info, and Menu. The left door has a slot for a future smart card.
The ViP222 measures approximately 3.5” H x 16” W x 13” D and requires some free space around the unit to prevent overheating. We placed an Active Thermal Management Dual Cooler under our receiver to keep the temperature in check. It can get quite hot under normal operating conditions when confined. We were happy to see Dish added vents around the chassis design unlike the ViP622 DVR.
Our ViP222™ was installed with a newer Dish 1000 design mounted on the side of our roof. This is a slightly newer version than the one that was installed with our ViP622™ DVR receiver. The installer did an excellent job mounting and pointing the dish to the trio of satellites. The RG-6 cable was neatly tucked under the eaves to protect it from the elements. While only one output from the dish was used with our ViP222™ receiver, additional outputs are available for other receivers, thanks to the built-in multi-switch. All three LNBs are enclosed into a single sealed unit connected to the arm of the dish assembly. Pointing the dish can be difficult especially for the multi-satellite units. Having a professional install the dish can save you a big headache and be a great time saver, especially for those lacking experience.
The rear panel of the ViP222™ has dual LNB satellite inputs, an antenna/cable input, and two modulated outputs (TV1 & TV2). Using the combiner/separator adapters, only a single cable is required from the satellite dish, making installation simpler. An additional combiner separator can also be used for the terrestrial antenna input to combine the additional line (total of 3) into a single RG-6 cable down to the receiver. The ATSC antenna input can be used to receive over-the-air 8-VSB digital transmissions, which means local high-definition broadcasts can be received for free. We connected our large Terk TV-38 terrestrial rooftop antenna and received a very strong signal from Mount Wilson. 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 defined by the user.
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. 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. The ViP222™ has a wired ethernet and USB connection on the back panel, but it is currently not being used.
The ViP222™ 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. Surprisingly, the (TV1) remote has a very strong IR output making it useable virtually anywhere in the room. The TV2 remote has the ability to send commands using RF (radio frequencies) so that line-of-sight control is not necessary. In this case the (TV2) remote can be used in another room away from the main unit since it has the ability to transmit through walls. Remote #2 has a switch to change the UHF frequency in the event a different frequency is needed. The remote comes preset to the A position (IR/UHF Pro Band A), but can be easily changed to position B (IR/UHF Pro Band B) by removing the battery cover and accessing the switch. Pressing the System Info button on the receiver will display the remote address information. Each remote has four mode buttons for controlling SAT (satellite receiver), TV (for a TV), VCR (for a VCR or a DVD player), and AUX (“auxiliary,” for a second TV, a VCR, a tuner, an audio amplifier, or a second DISH Network satellite receiver).
Our ViP222™ connected to our Mitsubishi LT-52133 LCD flat panel using the HDMI interface. This provided both high definition video and two channel audio to our display. We configured the ViP222™ to output 1080i, which was converted by our display to 1080p. This configuration is very simple compared to our ViP622™, which has many additional components. We wanted to keep this system as simple as possible while still benefiting from the high definition video quality offered by the ViP222™.
Users have the option of paying to access local channels or can use an external antenna to receive locally broadcasted stations. We opted for the latter since we have a large Terk rooftop antenna installed as part of our system. Scanning for active local channels is simple and only requires the user to press the Scan Locals button. Our setup found 51 local channels to watch. Unfortunately, when using an external antenna the Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) does not display any useful information about the programming for these local channels. That is the advantage of using Dish Network for the local channel service.
The HDTV Setup menu provides an easy way to define the HDTV connected to the ViP222™. Users can specify the Analog Type, which selects the type of antenna input (Off Air, IRC, HRC, or Cable), TV Type or display format (1080i, 720p or 480p, or 480i), and the Aspect Ratio (16:9, 4:3 #1, or 4:3 #2). Once the users change the TV Type setting, the unit will switch to that display mode and prompt the user to confirm the setting just in case the display is not capable of displaying the selected mode. If the user does not confirm the setting, the ViP222™ will switch back to the previous mode. These settings will optimize the way the ViP222™ utilizes the antenna input signal and maximize the video resolution to the display.
There are six different Guide Display options available to optimize the amount of information displayed on the screen. Depending on the screen resolution, users may want to increase the amount of guide information shown. Three different levels (Standard, Enhanced, and Extended) of the screens have a preview window in the upper right corner that allows the viewer to see the current channel while looking at the guide. The other three screen options have the guide without the preview screen.
Once the Guide Display setting has been defined, pressing the Guide button displays the Electronic Programming Guide. On each successive press of the Menu button the remote selects one of three modes (All Channels, All HD Channels or All Subscribed Channels). Since our display has excellent 1080p resolution and was large in picture size, we opted for the Extended-Partial Guide with video. This gave us the most information on the screen while still being able to preview the current channel in the upper right corner with good resolution.
Parents can lock out certain program material based on ratings, violence, language, nudity or sexual content. When trying to access any blocked channels, the user will be prompted to enter a password to view the channel. This is a great feature for those with younger children.
The ViP222™ is a powerful set-top box that is designed to deliver top quality high definition programming from Dish Network’s extensive offerings as well as local terrestrial broadcasts. Both the HDMI (digital) and component (analog) outputs can provide high definition video or standard definition video. Having spent almost a year with the DVR capabilities available on the ViP622™ and the newest ViP722™, it is tough to live without them. However, DVR functions aside, this receiver has all the great attributes of the ViP622™. The dual TV outputs allow users to have two televisions connected to a single box with independent control of the each. Alternatively, users can use a single television with picture-in-picture capability.
Dish also has their DishHOME Interactive TV, which displays six channels at once and gives users access to on demand entertainment such as games, shopping, news, sports, weather and customer service. The data link is actually through the phone line, so it can be slow at times.
Our ViP222™ has been installed for the past 3 months and the performance and stability has been excellent. Having been a user of the ViP622™ my expectations were high with this new unit. Dish has done a great job with the ViP222™ by leveraging much of the same functionality taken from the earlier ViP622™. If you need the DVR capability then the ViP622™ or ViP722™ is your natural choice. However, if you can live without this feature, then the ViP222™ is certainly the way to go.
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