You need to get the Unit ID before you purchase, then call NPS or SRL to verify. The problem is when you buy a used unit you don't know the history of it. I could have been plugged in most of the time and be fine or could have been sitting in a cold garage for years (the cold kills the batteries faster than room temp) I recommend to anyone getting especially a 920 if its good. Change the battery ASAP. The older 922's and 905's (the GI units) are getting to a point it will be a concern. The only ones that should be okay still would be the Motorola 922's unless it sat unplugged most of it's life. The battery in the digicipher is it's heart without it it's dead.
It was actually Macom that designed the use of the battery in the VC-2. GI stayed with it in the DC because it prevented tampering. You have to remember that when the VC-2 was originally designed by Macom it was 1984 which was state of the art for that time. Motorola didn't have anything to do with designing the 4DTV it was GI who did. Motorola just bought the set top division from GI and ran it into the ground. Now they want to dump it.
The business model is to let stuff die than you can sell new. Why would they invest in old technology? Now if they built a new updated receiver it could be done. Im not sure but I bet the latest Starchoice (Shaw) and commercial DC-2's probably have a battery. Maybe someone with one of those can confirm this.
No the module is a VC2 for analog they aren't useful anymore so you can pull that out. Im talking about the 3 volt battery on the DC-2's motherboard which keeps the unit ID active. If it goes bad it cannot subscribe to programming anymore.
You hit the nail on the head about the masses being brainwashed on pizza. One thing the big dish has going for it is there are master feeds up there in SD and HD. With everyone wanting the best HD picture after spending a fortune on there new hdtv's. The bud could target this market if they would make a box for it and sell it. All pizza and the like is going to give you is bitstarved HD lite which looks like SD widescreen at it's best. Most of the time not even that.