Forbes gives 921 a mixed review... (1 Viewer)

Sean Mota

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Master
Supporting Founder
Sep 8, 2003
19,040
1,738
New York City
Source

Hi-Def's Missing Link

By Stephen Manes

The vast majority of TV programming is still standard-definition. Prerecorded HD material won't be widely available soon. That means a personal video recorder is de rigueur if you want to watch HD on your own schedule. Getting HDTV without one is like buying a great sound system whose only program source is an FM receiver.

When I tested Dish Network's new Dish Player DVR 921 personal video recorder, it effortlessly recorded Janet Jackson's gleaming breastworks in high-definition glory, ready for replay in slow-motion, reverse-motion, still-frame. But with nine minutes and four seconds of the game to go, the damned thing crashed, sending me frantically to my standard-definition set to keep up until the recorder finished rebooting several minutes later. That's the bipolar nature of the 921: It offers a glimpse of the promised land, then summarily yanks it from view.

The 921 demonstrates conclusively that a hard-drive recorder is high definition's missing link. Its 250-gigabyte hard disk can accumulate 25 hours of high-definition programming (180 of standard def) for your viewing pleasure. It can record two hi-def programs at once while you view another that's already on the hard drive. Hook up an antenna and you can watch and record local and network hd programs off the air. Though the box is big and rather noisy, you can stuff it in a cabinet and still control it via its radio-based remote, which also includes standard infrared to control other devices.

But that midgame crash reveals the 921 as a first-generation product not quite ready for public consumption. When I first received the test unit, it crashed roughly once every two hours, and using over-the-air channels was an exercise in futility. A software update improved stability, but not enough to avoid that game-day gaffe.

This thing screams "version 1" in other ways. The text it generates for things like the program guide is standard-def, and the guide provides no listings for over-the-air channels. Compared with TiVo (news - web sites)'s, the user interface is hopelessly complex, unresponsive, unforthcoming and thin. The 921's one advantage is that it lets you watch programming in an inset while you're fiddling with most functions; alas, that inset tends to bleed annoyingly into the information below it.

So don't rush to fork over $1,000 for the 921, though the deal gets more interesting if you let Dish sell you one of two smallish, mediocre HDTVs for $600 more--about half what you would pay at retail. Soon DirecTV, whose programming lineup strongly resembles Dish's, will offer a $1,000 unit with similar capacity and a TiVo interface. Voom, a new satellite service aimed directly at high-def customers, has promised a recorder of its own at a competitive price by summer. LG's new $1,000 unit can record 121/2 hours of terrestrial and cable signals.

Cable-subsidized PVRs look like the best deal of all. Providers are beginning to roll out models from Scientific-Atlanta, Motorola and Pioneer with hard drives one-third to one-half the capacity of the Dish and DirecTV models. But they're expected to rent for no more than $10 a month, and since there's no contract, you can call up and request a new one when bigger models come along.
 

BarryO

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 11, 2003
188
0
Sean Mota said:
Source

The 921's one advantage is that it lets you watch programming in an inset while you're fiddling with most functions; alas, that inset tends to bleed annoyingly into the information below it.

Huh?? What is he talking about?
 

BobMurdoch

Playing XBoxOne SeriesX/Supporter
Supporting Founder
Sep 12, 2003
5,770
190
Brielle, NJ
When you have the guide up, the PIP with the show you are watching is often not where it should be (it is behind the guide). Ooops.

Version 1.0 indeed....

You'll STILL pry it out of my cold dead fingers. Mine didn't hiccup during the Super Bowl, and everyone that saw it kept walking up closer to the screen to see the detail fade when you got close.... it didn't.

Oh, and I VAGUELY knew who Mark Cuban was for his basketball antics. Now I know him as the (young) Howard Hughes of his generation, investing his wealth to help spur a new industry, HD Programming, forward. Watch HDNet for a while and you'll know WHY you want HD.
 

sclaws

Supporting Founder
Supporting Founder
Sep 8, 2003
249
3
Aurora, IL
That review seemed somewhat harsh IMO. Now, I didn't get my 921 until 1.45 was released, so I didn't ride thru some of the really big issues, but there's only one big bug I've personally been able to repeat (a black 'x' requiring reboot after viewing or ending PVR programs too quickly and pounding through the menu options)...otherwise this receiver has been quite enjoyable. I think its worth the money, and it will only improve with further updates :cool:
 

BarryO

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 11, 2003
188
0
BobMurdoch said:
When you have the guide up, the PIP with the show you are watching is often not where it should be (it is behind the guide). Ooops.

'guess I've been lucky; I've never seen that.

You'll STILL pry it out of my cold dead fingers.

'same here. This is our first PVR. That's one reason, I suppose - e.g., "Mr. Ed" is on at midnight every night, and the kids finally get to watch it on a regular basis (their favorite show - the oldest has here own horse, and the youngest think's Ed is hysterical).

PLUS, being able to time-shift HDTV is amazing. I finally subscribed to Showtime, since what little HDTV there is on Showtime-HDTV is finally worth it - I just record it when it's on, and watch it when I want.

Oh, and I VAGUELY knew who Mark Cuban was for his basketball antics. Now I know him as the (young) Howard Hughes of his generation, investing his wealth to help spur a new industry, HD Programming, forward. Watch HDNet for a while and you'll know WHY you want HD.

Here, here. Really enjoyed "Sting Live in Concert" last night.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Total: 0, Members: 0, Guests: 0)

Latest posts

Top