EXCLUSIVE - DishPlayer DVR 522 Review!

Scott Greczkowski

Scott Greczkowski

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One of the most widely sought after DVR receivers outside the 921 is the brand new Echostar Dishplayer DVR 522 Dual Tuner / Dual Output DVR.

Thanks to our friends at DishStore.NET and our friends at Dish Network we were able to get our hands on one of the first units released.

PLEASE NOTE - Since we have moved over to the new Vbulletin software, many of the pictures did not carry over. To see this review with ALL its pictures please see http://www.satelliteguys.us/forum2/viewtopic.php?t=3548

522_3.jpg


While the units are now becoming available in Dish Networks DHP Packages the units are not available for Retail sale direct to a customer. As we go through this review we will point out why the 522 is not being made available to everyone.

Out of the box the 522 looks just like a 721 but its black. There is no hidden sliding glass panel on the 522 which the 721 had on it to hide its USB and AV Inputs. The 522 glass has 721 like status lites on the front beind the glass but unlike the 721 the 522 has 6 lights instead of 3. These lights show you which tuners are turned on and if they are recording the third set of lights tells you if your 522 is in single mode (which makes it operate like a 721... although this does not work yet...) our dual output mode.

On the back of the receiver you will notice it has a few more outputs.

522_5.jpg


Another thing that is different is that the 522 has NO SMART CARD in its slot. Instead the smart card is built on board. The Smartcard slot is disabled,, however it can be activated with a software upgrade if Dish changed their security systems / smartcard technology.

522_7.jpg


The 522 has a built in fan to cool the unit, the only time I heard this unit turn on was at the initial power up.

522_6.jpg


At the moment the 522 is like having two 510's built into one receiver. However one of the big things that makes the 522 stand out is the new user interface.

Coming up next we look at this new fancy / user friendly user interface!
 
Scott Greczkowski

Scott Greczkowski

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When I first saw the 522 in Baltimore in September, the first thing I fell in love with was the new user interface.

It's good looks and ease of use had me likeing the 522 better then the 921 when I left the show.

Upon hooking the unit up my wife commented that she liked this new 721 software and the way it looked I had to explain to her this was not a 721.

The main menu is easy on the eyes and its also easy to find whatever you looking for!

ss1.jpg


The guide is also very friendly and you can customize the guide more to get more or less listings (more on that later)

ss2.jpg


Here is a shot of the guide... (Notice the "Info Not Available" this was because I accidently stopped the guide download after I powered up the unit. The 522 will automaticly take control of one of the tuners at a time you can specify and download the full guide as shown below.)

ss2.jpg


ss10.jpg


Up next we will take a look at how you can customize the guide more....
 
Scott Greczkowski

Scott Greczkowski

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(Note from here on to see the full size pictures please click on the mini pictures) This is done to conserve bandwidth. Thanks!)

On the 522 you can change the look of the guide, you can have PIP on or off and you can have large text or small text.

The large text is really large. I am willing to bet if you use the Large Text you are NOT a person who complains about Dish Networks Picture Quality. :D
 
Scott Greczkowski

Scott Greczkowski

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Next up let's take a look at some of the setup of the 522.

Below you will find screen shots of the Point Dish Screen, the summery of my switch check, caller ID setup and caller id demo screens.
 
Scott Greczkowski

Scott Greczkowski

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Since the 522 is a DVR you can use it to schedule recordings of your favorite shows.

One of the big problems with the 522 is when you get a show to record it records on the tuner you are using. It is not smart enough to use the second tuner if notices its not recording.

This is a big reason why I say the 522 is like having two 510's built into on box.

Setting a timer is very easy, but its also easy to pick too many shows and create a conflict. (as shown below)
 
Scott Greczkowski

Scott Greczkowski

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How about recording a show we are watching? Sure no problem, press RECORD on the remote brings up an options screen where you can choose what you want to do (as shown below)
 
Scott Greczkowski

Scott Greczkowski

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Now before I go into my thoughts about the 522 here are a few more misc screen shots.
 
Scott Greczkowski

Scott Greczkowski

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(Please excuse any spelling mistakes) :)

Ok now that you seen all the screen pictures let me give you my view on the 522.

When I first saw the 522 I was VERY excited with its new look and its new remotes (including the UHF Pro Remotes) When I first saw it I came back and awarded the 522 the SatelliteGuys.US Best in Show award.

And while I LOVE the look of things I can't say I would give that award today because of the way the 522 operates.

At the moment the 522 is like having 2 510's built into one box. there is no interaction between the two tuners or outputs.

In a test I did I started recording a show on tuner two, I let the show record for awhile, while the show was still recording I went to my DVR list on tuner / output 1 and the show I was recording was not listed there. However once the show was done recording I could access it. It was disapointed I could not watch what was already recorded as it was recording on the output which was not the one recording. (Dizzy yet?)

Another thing was there could be shows I want to record however I never want the other tuner to be able to watch those shows. There needs to be at least a password so you can block those R rated (or adult) shows you dont want the kids on tuner 2 to see.

The picture output from the 522 from both tuners was great (The fuzzyness in some of the pictures if from my tuner card and not the 522)

The agile modulator transmitted what sounded like very good stereo sound. While I was happy with the sound I was not happy that the agile modulator was not as agile as I thought it would be. In TV out mode you could only output on channels 21 - 69 and in cable output mode you could only output on channel 73 through 125. I guess it was set up this way to prevent someone from backfeeding into their local CableTV system and knocking out a popular channel.

Another disapointment was there is no way to make the 522 act like a 721, There is a mode buttong on the front of the 522 to switch between Single and Dual output mode, however this feature is NOT working, and according to the manual "This feature is for future use and your receiver should always be in Dual mode."

The unit also has come bugs, like with no recorded shows your DVR shows the amount of recording time left as 100 hours, however if you record an hour show, don't be suprised if you look at the recording time left and see that the one hour should took almost 3 hours of space.

And while the 522 lets you set favorites lists there is no way to FORCE BLOCK channels you may not want tuner 2 to watch.

If I had to make some changes to the 522, I would make tuner 1 the master control of the unit, Tuner 1 has say over what tuner 2 can and can not do or watch, this would be useful for those who are getting a 522 for their bedroom and the second tuner is hooked to their kids bedroom.

I would make it so that the master tuner 1 could override tuner 2 and use the second satellite tuner to record and important show.

I would like to see a jukebox mode for output 2, in jukebox mode Output 2 can be set to see NO SATELLITE Channels, only thing output 2 can do is watch specific shows (as specified by the master tuner)

I would like the ability if a sceduled timer is about to fire to ask tuner 2 if its on if its OK to record the show on Tuner 2 this way the main tuner 1 is not affected.

I would like to see folders, since all DVR listings are grouped together on both tuners I want a way to seperate my shows from little jimmys. And again I should be able to set shows which little jimmy should never see.

One other thing that bugged me is that the 522 shipped without Dish Home Interactive Support, while its listed in the menus it is greyed out and not available. Why does Dish keep introducing products without having all the features available when the unit is released?


Now that I have had a few days to play with the 522, I must say I am disapointed to say the least, now seeing how it runs and its major shortfalls I can see why Dish released this unit as a DHP only option.

At the moment the only people that the 522 is good for is Dish Network themselves, since in DHP Dish retains ownership of the receivers it is cheeper to put in 1 box then 2 seperate boxes (which would in turn have 2 seperate hard drives...)

But all is not lost for the 522, again the Interface itself is something that makes the unit bearable, and the new remotes deserve some kind of award themselves, while I didn't go to much into the remotes there is a lot these remotes can do that I havent even tried doing yet. The setup of the 522 is fool proof everything is color coded, which should make things a lot easier to setup (unless your color blind of course)

The 522 is in its infancy at the moment, and what it does not works well for Dish as its because its what they need it to do, but changes will need to be made before the unit is released to the public at large. The unit has the potential and power to be a good unit, the question is will Dish put the effort into making this unit really shine.

Understand me I am not cutting on the 522 at all, again it does what it should in the use that Dish has for it now (ie DHP) however I believe the 522 could really shine with a little TLC from Dish Networks software department.

That's my review I hope you have enjoyed it. The 522 unit I have is being returned soon so if you have any questions please ask them asap so I can test things before I no longer have the unit.

Thanks for visitng SatelliteGuys.US!
 
tbenning

tbenning

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Scott,
Thank you for the review. I'm disappointed since I was more curious about the Single mode than the double mode.
I do have a question. If you have an extra UHF remote, can both tuner 1 and tuner 2 be set to UHF. I saw in the setup screens that it does look to be configurable, but I am wondering if it will allow both tuners to operate from different UHF addresses instead of being stuck with IR on tuner 1.
 
V

video62

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Sep 26, 2003
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Thank you Scott for all of the effort posting the screens and writing up your comments on this much-awaited box.

There is a mode buttong on the front of the 522 to switch between Single and Dual output mode, however this feature is NOT working, and according to the manual "This feature is for future use and your receiver should always be in Dual mode."

I agree with all of your functional suggestions... and right now it's only fit as a functional replacement for two 510s. It will save someone $10 in monthly fees ($5/mo. mirror fee, $5/mo. VOD fee) compared to two separate 510s. New-to-Dish customers will probably like the unit but many Dish veterans will wait for "single mode" to be implemented.

How long will someone have to wait for "single mode" (act like a 721) to be available? Would you risk your purchase decision on it? Try asking a 721 owner when they expect to be getting their internet access on that box.

Maybe 'single mode' will never be implemented on a "522" and they'll invent a different model number (522S?) for the same box with different software and charge more for it because "it has more features". Ugh!

The pre-released '522 DishDVR Spec Sheet' is going to have to be revised to eliminate (for now) such language as:
DishDVR 522 is an advanced two-tuner satellite receiver and integrated digital video recorder (DVR) that provides
the unique ability to record two shows simultaneously and display picture-in-picture on one connected television, or
provide independent viewing of live satellite programming and recorded events when connected to two televisions.
Feature DishDVR 522


The first part just just isn't there yet.

Well, I gave up waiting for the 522. A few days ago and ordered my "bye bye Dish" gear of two DirecTivos and one 'vanilla' DirecTV receiver. Your report only bolsters my decision. After a year of DirecTivo and DirecTV I'll revisit Dish and see if they have what it takes to woo me back.
 
V

video62

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Sep 26, 2003
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tbenning said:
I do have a question. If you have an extra UHF remote, can both tuner 1 and tuner 2 be set to UHF. I saw in the setup screens that it does look to be configurable, but I am wondering if it will allow both tuners to operate from different UHF addresses instead of being stuck with IR on tuner 1.
This was kicked around in this thread. I first opined that two UHFs ought to work just fine (which is how I would have designed it; it makes perfect sense) but after further reflection on some input by Stargazer I came to the conclusion that no, it probably won't. Scott will have to investigate that a bit as he now has a unit to actually experiment with.
 
V

video62

SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 26, 2003
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The unit also has come bugs, like with no recorded shows your DVR shows the amount of recording time left as 100 hours, however if you record an hour show, don't be suprised if you look at the recording time left and see that the one hour should took almost 3 hours of space.
Oh, that introduces a scary thought... I wonder if all freespace on the drive is available to both tuners, or have they divided up the hard drive giving each tuner only 50% of the drive? There's no way they could have designed it like that, is there? :?

Another 'feature' I would suggest if they were to implement many of Scott's "Tuner 1 = master" kinds of suggestions... have a setup item so that tuner 2 could be limited on its use of disk space- that might keep the kids from filling up the hard drive with junk and leaving no room for dad's football games or mom's tear-jerker movies. When the drive is near empty this might not seem so useful but as it gets full it will be... and will dad's scheduled football game be able to erase little timmy's Puffer Billies Marathon, or vice-versa? That's another complex issue that could be settled by some clever setup programming.
 
AppliedAggression

AppliedAggression

SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 26, 2003
538
6
Connecticut
I have to say, that two of your biggest gripes with the 522, i feel work exactly as they should. First off, the hours are never correct, even on current Dish DVRs, I assume it's because some channels use more compression than others. The other thing is that you get a timer conflict if you only set two programs to record on one remote. I think it's important to have this conflict, or else with kids especially they'll probably fill up both tuners and when the parents want to watch programming, their tuner is being used up recording some reality tv show. Although there should be an overwrite for this ability, you can just as easily grab the other remote and select the event to record.

As for there being no single mode, that is a bit disappointing but i'm sure it'll be added. The 522 looks great, i love having a pip in every menu i go to. The only other thing i found kind of lacking was the DVR recorded programs menu, they could easily use more of the screen to provide more information on the recorded programs. The 522 stilll looks great to me. Thanks for the review.
 
V

video62

SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 26, 2003
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AppliedAggression said:
I think it's important to have this conflict, or else with kids especially they'll probably fill up both tuners and when the parents want to watch programming, their tuner is being used up recording some reality tv show. Although there should be an overwrite for this ability, you can just as easily grab the other remote and select the event to record.
If you accept the 522 sole role as two separate recorders then I guess it's OK, but that's not what the box has been touted as (see the current spec sheet).
 
V

video62

SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 26, 2003
385
0
AppliedAggression said:
I have to say, that two of your biggest gripes with the 522, i feel work exactly as they should. First off, the hours are never correct, even on current Dish DVRs, I assume it's because some channels use more compression than others.
Then maybe adopt what the Dishplayer 7100/7200's gained on their last software update - remainder of disk space in terms of percentage, e.g. %17 disk space remaining. Another setting which should be user-selectable "Remaining hours" or "Remaining percent".
 
Stargazer

Stargazer

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Sep 7, 2003
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I really wish they could have have implemented both tuners to have UHF capability. Why make the 501/508/721 have UHF capability when they were going to be primarily used in the same room if it was going to be the same case with the 322/522 yet having it as IR instead? It dont make sense (except Dish is cheap, didnt want to spend the extra money to have UHF on the first tuner where it was UHF on the 501/508/721).

On top of that, the UHF on the second tuner on the 322/522 is a new type of UHF, DishPro going to 200 feet. I also wish they would have an upgrade kit that is capable of going 200 feet instead of 100 feet like the current kits go. The Dish reps at the convention thought that was a good question when I had asked that.

I remember some posts at dbstalk where some were trying to figure out how to extend the range of the UHF remotes that could go 100 feet. Maybe if they could figure out the different frequency being used in the 200 foot range figure out how to extend the range of the 100 feet UHF upgrade kits or something. One tuner should not fall short of the other on commanding it with the remote. And for those that say that 200 feet is not needed, it is when several walls and a basement is involved.
 
Scott Greczkowski

Scott Greczkowski

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Ok on the 522 remote 1 is IR while remote 2 is UHF Pro.

I tried both remotes on my 721, remote 1 works fine, however remote 2 does not work my 721 at all.

Even though the remote addresses are both the same (1) They are on diffrent frequencies and again 1 is IR and the seconf is UHF. :)
 

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