First Look - New Dish 721 Software with OpenTV!

Scott Greczkowski

Welcome HOME!
Original poster
Staff member
Cutting Edge
Sep 7, 2003
Newington, CT
As it was announced on the recent Tech Chat, the Dish 721 and 522 would soon have new software featuring OPenTV which is the engine behind Dish Interactive.

SatelliteGuys is proud to give you the first look at the new software!

The Beta 721 TV software has been out for awhile now. And I must admit I have been surprised how smooth things have been even with the addition of the new software.

When you get the new software you will notice a new Channel in your guide, this is Channel 100 "dish home interactive TV" you can see this in the guide on picture 1 below.

In picture 2 is what you see when you select channel 100, it takes about 10 seconds before you see the next screen (picture 3) and then it spends another 8 seconds loading Dish Home, before the Main Dish Home Menu (Picture 4) pops up.

Unlike OpenTV on other Dish Network Receivers Dish Home on the 721 does not feature muisc in the backround. I do hope they get this working in a future update as it makes the Dish Home application a little more friendly feeling.


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From the main menu we will select the Customer Support option (Shown in Picture 1) when we try to use the Customer Support Application we are greeted by an error message (Picture 2) telling us a new Dish Interactive channel is coming soon. Whats funny about this error message is that the customer support application DOES work on the 721. (We will have more on that later)


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Here's a look under News and Weather. (Picture 1)

All applications in the news and Weather Category work. :)

Even Dish Networks 1st OpenTV application Instant Weather (pictures 2 & 3) work on the 721. I prefer the 721 Weather Application over the OpenTV weather. The 721 weather loads instantly. The OpenTV weather took 30 seconds to load (and that was from within the Dish home application)


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We could go through every menu on the Dish Home screen so most of you know what the other applications look like. Many of the applications are "coming soon" in the 721 version of Dish Home. Later on in this review I will give you the rundown on whats in the 721 Dish Home and whats work (and whats not)

Besides accessing Dish Home via channel 100, you can also access it by pressing the "Dish Network Logo" button on your 721's remote. (I bet a lot of you were wondering what that button did) :)

You can also access it by going to menu and selecting Interactive TV (Picture 1) and then select Dish Home. But wait there is another new option there called Customer Service. If you select that the Customer Support application works! (Even though it's listed as coming soon from the Dish Home menu)
The Dish Home Appication lets you do a bunch of things, including add channels, pay your bill, check the FAQ and More (picture 2) when you select an option the 721 dials in to Dish Networks servers (picture 3) and shows you the information your looking for (picture 4, & 5)


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Now if you are going through the guide, you may notice some channels in BLUE (picture 1) these are channels you can order by using your remote via the customer support application (pictures 2 & 3)

Now one bug I have found is that some of the channels which are in blue are not available for order from the customer support application.

In the customer support application you can also order things like OpenTV games (although since the games are not available on the 721 yet, that is useless) and you can also order Dish Flicks and Dish Entertainment Magazine. (Picture 3)


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Another new feature in the new software is they have improved the search feature.

Now you don't only need to search by Title, but you can also search by description (info) as well!

(Picture 1)


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And another new feature will make Sports fans happy. With the new software you can have it buffer the PIP without having the PIP on the screen.

To do this you press the RED button (with the dot and dashes below it) this will bring up a PIP window (Picture 1) pressing it again makes the pip window bigger, pressing it again a small transparent TV logo appears (picture 2) now your PIP is buffering to the hard drive.

To view the buffer press the red button againto bring up the PIP window, then press swap, now you can rewind and fast forward the buffer for the pip window!

BTW one other feature I did not mention is when you are in any OpenTV screens for a few minutes and have not pressed a button a screen save will pop up to prevent burn in! (Picture 3)


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And there you have it, and now for my thoughts on this upgrade.

I think Dish did a great job adding OpenTV to the 721, as I mentioned earlier it went in with ZERO additional bugs to the operation of the receiver. Infact the software has been real stable with no sudden reboots.

The addition to the changes in the search and the PIP buffer are also welcome additions.

It's nice finally having Dish Home after hearing it mentioned over and over again on Dish Network telecasts. But by the same tolken I still wonder why they are bothering so much with this slow software.

Slow is the key word for Dish Home, with it taking 30 seconds to load most applications, it makes the Interactive applications something you don't want to use often. However I don't believe this slowness is due to the 721 but rather the way the open TV data is uplinked at a slow data rate to conserve bandwidth.

Dish home would be better is the applications were instant. Since these units are hard drive based units, I would love to see the applications stored to the hard drive, and any changing data is pulled from the satellite. This would speed up the load times greatly.

It is also disapointing that most of the applications are not currently working (although I expect that most if not all will be available when the software hits the street.

Below is a listing of all applications listed and if they are working or not on this beta software. (sorry about the alignment, but you get the idea) :D

Menu Name............Application Name.....Working in Beta?
Customer Service....Customer Support	    NO (But working outside DH)
News & Weather.....Instant Weather      YES
News & Weather.....Bloomberg              YES
News & Weather.....News By Reuters     YES
News & Weather.....Horoscope             YES
Games & Learning....Playin'TV               NO
Games & Learning....KidWise                 NO	
Games & Learning....PlayJam                NO
Entertainment........Showtime              YES
Entertainment........Zap2It                  YES
Entertainment........TVMAG                 YES
Sports..................My Scores             YES
Sports..................Soccer                 YES
Sports..................College Hoops        NO
Pay-Pew-View.......Pay-Per-View         NO

I do think the 721 team did a good job with the upgrade. It is expected this software will go public in about 2 weeks.

And there you have it, another SatelliteGuys first look!
Looks good. I too hate DishHome and find it useless just because of how slow it is. If it was instant, i'd use it a lot more. The 510 also doesn't have music in the Dishhome screens, at least mine doesn't.

How about a fast weather application for all the other receivers and not only the 721? That's by far the most useful opentv app, but it's sloow.
The 721 weather is much faster then the OpenTV "Instant Weather"

Infact I think they should rename the 721 (and 921) Weather "Instant Weather"
Thanks a lot for the screenshots Scott! Great job as usual!!!

Glad to see that the inclusion of the OpenTV did not affect our guides. I really hate the white lettering on light blue blackground that the "standard" receivers use... Why they won't implement a simple color-scheme selection on those models still puzzles me...

Anyhow, thanks again!
I will be looking forward to the buffer in PIP without PIP being visible and the name based recording coming later on. These will be two great features to have. I think there should be an option to extend the buffer time and to have the second tuner always buffer the show if this is what is wanted.
I like the 721's guide. Although I think the best guide on a Dish Netwrok receiver was the Origional Diishplayer.

I also like the guide and menus on the 522
Will the 721 still trigger a timer while it running the open TV app?

Did someone mention that the 50x units to not?

Barely matters to me - it's way easier to jump on the internet and do anything that I might otherwise to on Dish Home (does Dish Home use the phone line?).
Yes timers still fire on the unused tuner while in OpenTV. :)

Dish home uses the phone when you use the customer service application, but everything else does not.

I hear there are plans to collect scores from the games and declare monthly games champions, when that happens the games will use the phonelines.

Of course if people want to play games against other users they can do it here at SatelliteGuys for free. :)
I just had a 522 and 322 installed this weekend. The 322 has this function Will the 522 have it as well with the new software update? Do you know if any other things will be fixed on the 522 then as well.
Scott Greczkowski said:
I like the 721's guide. Although I think the best guide on a Dish Netwrok receiver was the Original Diishplayer.
I agree, but the 721 guide is very close to the Dishplayer look and feel. That is why I like it over any of the other available options...

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