ViP 722 Menu, Guide, and Navigation
Compared to cable, DISH offers a very different channel and DVR browsing experience. Some things, like moving the channel guide through time, seem more difficult, while other things, such as searching for shows to record, are much more user-intuitive and friendly. Starting with the easiest and most often-accessed section, the channel guide, we can see that it resembles about every other channel guide you'll find on the market - at least at first glance:
Where it differs is where every channel guide will typically add their own style. DISH allows the user to see an hour and a half of programming at a time. It also, however, combines satellite and antenna channel guide info on the same guide. This is HUGE for those who have never quite been able to figure out how on earth to combine the use of free antenna channels with their existing cable service. With satellite it shows up right alongside the other channels, but highlighted so you can tell it's an antenna signal (and therefore uncompressed).
The biggest advantage I saw with DISH's interface over cable (Time Warner for anyone trying to keep score) was the ability to search for programs within the entire date range of the program guide's memory. This was extremely helpful as it let you find programs by name even if you didn't remember what night of the week they were being broadcast:
It doesn't end there, however. Not only can you enter in a search keyword to find your shows, you can also go back later and bring up a history of searches to re-find items you browsed for (but perhaps didn't find) earlier. Of all the back-end features this one came in most handy for me, especially with the new line-up of programs coming online this Fall.
Once you've got programs recorded you can bring up the DVR functions by hitting the DVR (DISH on Demand) button, conveniently located in the center of the remote. This brings up a menu that allows access to your recordings as well as the DISH OnDemand movie download service (requires a broadband Internet connection):
As you'd expect, the currently viewed show remains in a video window while the user interface wraps around it and allows you to access various features. The OnDemand service has potential. Most of the HD movies (comparable to what you can find on DVD or Blu-ray) cost $6.99 per rental. Do more than one per month and you might want to consider a Netflix account. Overall, prices
for content vary, ranging from free to $0.99, $2.99, $3.99, etc. Most standard definition titles seem to be around $2.99. In any case OnDemand is nice for a one-off or last minute rental of some of the latest movies in the event you can't get to the movie store or didn't plan ahead.
The new Sling Guide from the upcoming VIP-922 (minus the new remote and some other features) should be out for th 722 before too long.
SlingGuide is already out in beta for ViP 612, 622, 722, and 722k users - you can sign up at dish.sling.com. For the unacquainted, SlingGuide is a fully featured web-based interface for managing and controlling your Dish DVR. It can also function as a supercool way to control your receiver on your iPod touch or iPhone. In addition, if you've got a Slingbox connected to your Dish receiver (or a 922 when they come out), you can stream live TV or DVR'd content directly from the SlingGuide web interface.
Clint, I'm looking forward to your impressions of the VIP922.
I'm not so sure I'm sold on the GUI. I hate touchpads on laptops and this what it reminds me of.
It's hard to imagine how well a Harmony remote will act with it.
How can I tell...?
I just my 65" Panny pz850 yesterday, and I would imagine the scaler in the panny is better then the Dish receiver and it automatically upconverts everything to 1080p that isn't.
I'll be using the scaler in the Anthem D2v when I get it, but that info will also apply to get the best results down the road...