Tech Chat Recap


SatelliteGuys Pro
Original poster
Sep 8, 2003
EKB Annex
Tech Chat Recap 2-9-04

Hosts are Mark Jackson, Sr VP E* Technology Corp and Dave Kummer, VP Engineering.

  • Highlights from CES
  • HD: What is it and how you can get it
  • Features and updates
  • Guest from Dolby Laboratories
  • Giveaway
  • Q&A
Phone: 1-888-621-2078. E-mail:
Technical questions only, please.

Highlights from CES

Consumer Electronics Show, largest trade show in the US, held in Las Vegas. They give a brief view of the Dish display and the 111, 311, 510, 322, 522, 811 and 921 receivers. HDTV was a major theme of the show and the 2-story tall Cable Pig was a big hit.


16x9 vs 4x3 lets you see the whole movie and more sports action
2 million pixels vs 350000 gives about 6 times as much detail
Dolby Digital 2.0 or 5.1 sound vs analog

Guest: Oren Williams from Dolby Laboratories

Dolby Digital (DD) brings the sound design from the studio or live event to your home.

Dish offers HBO E&W, Showtime E&W, STARZ! E&W, 10 PPVs, and HDTV channels.

With DD2.0 you will also want to use Dolby Pro-Logic (DPL).

DD is very flexible, allows 2.0 up to 5.1 channels.

Dynamic range can be compressed by user choice (Midnight Mode) to limit loud sounds.

Real-life sound is in 3 dimensions, from infinite number of sound sources. The current trend is to more channels including 7.1. DPL IIx gives 7.1 from 2.0, 5.1 and 5.1EX sources. The extra speakers are placed directly behind the listener.

Simulated surround is OK for minimal spaces or for "trimmed-down" surround in an extra room.

THX puts its brand on equipment that meets its standards.


Q: Broadcasts sometimes have squeaks and pops between programs and commercials.
A: Broadcasters have to learn how to do digital cuts. There is nothing wrong with your audio or Dish receiver.

Q: Odd sound from some programs that don't have DPL encoding.
A: DPL II does a better job. Can just turn off surround for problem programs.

Q: Wireless speakers?
A: The technology is growing, coming along. Audition some for yourself.

Mark: has 7.1 system, will Dish support it?
A: There is no original 7.1 content, it is simulated by the decoders so should work today.

Jeffrey: Will 5.1 decoder work with the new formats or is it on the way out?
A: Not on the way out. There are many sources including DVD, satellite, HDTV, game consoles, PCs.

Mike: How important is the rear-center channel and how do I choose one?
A: Speakers should all match. DD-EX was introduced in Star Wars Episode I.

Pat: Normally uses DPL all the time. Any problems with programs that are not surround encoded?
A: DPL and DPL II both designed to make more than 2 channels from 2.

Betty: Better to mount speakers on stands or brackets?
A: Either way can be used, whichever you prefer for your home.

Q: Any benefit to the much more expensive optical cable?
A: Start with what you can afford. "The main thing is get that Dish Network receiver hooked up, get the optical output hooked up to your DD decoder so that you can start enjoying what Dish Network is bringing to broadcast and to TV entertainment." Sound quality is excellent either way.

Optical output is on the 501/8/10, 721, 921, 811, 6000, 4900. (Also 522, D-VHS, 7100/7200, and with adapter on the 4000 and 5000.) Audio receivers have a mix of optical and coaxial digital inputs but tend to have more optical.

Dish DVRs record and play back DD.


Prize: Home Theater in a Box: Samsung integrated receiver/DVD player, Klipsch speakers.
Question: What bit-rate does Dish transmit DD?

HD Receivers

811 and 921 both:
  • receive SD and HD
  • receive off-air analog and digital
  • have analog and digital HDTV outputs
  • have std definition inputs and outputs
The 921 adds:
  • 250GB hard drive for recording up to 25 hours HD or 180 hours SD
  • records OTA digital
  • 2 tuners
  • PIP for SD
Bundles include a receiver, 34" direct-view or 40" rear-projection HDTV monitor, Dish500 or SuperDISH. Requires 1-year commitment to AT60 or better and the $9.99 HD Pak.
811 Bundle: $999. 921 Bundle: $1599.

Features and updates

They are continuously adding new features, support for new satellites, and sending bug fixes. Updates are not announced and could come at any time. Updates are:
  • Free
  • Delivered via satellite, not phone
  • Receiver must be off but still connected
  • With receiver off, timers will still engage, hard drive life will be preserved.
Dish Interactive

New game service PlayJam.


Prize: 811 Bundle
Question: What was the full name of the first Dish receiver with integrated DD output?

HTIB winner: Richard in MI. A: 384Kbps.


Dana: 811 std def dark pictures and aspect modes? 2-day EPG?
A: Dark picture software fix coming in March. End of February for the 2-day cached EPG. Aspect fix probably in March, working on an interface for SD and HD outputs.

Larry: EPG Search on 811?
A: End of March

Ronnie: Can't create timers from PIP guide on 811 (not sure I understood the Q. -ed.)
A: VCR timer out will be fixed end of February.

George: Can't get to ch 100 (Dish Home)
A: Must have older receiver that doesn't support OpenTV.

Alan: Has 921, schedule for bug fixes like OTA recording and aspect modes?
A (Rene Darby, software program mgr): End of next week to fix a lot of instability and stretch issues.

Brent: Wants a 322 so he can record a channel while watching another.
A: It's not a DVR but can connect a VCR. Available for lease only.

Brent: Dish 500 upgrade?
A: $99.95 - or - Free with AT60 commitment and Credit Card Auto-Pay

Russell: Difference between DLP, LCD and Plasma? Which is best?
A: DLP = Digital Light Processor, created by Texas Instruments, light is deflected by tiny mirrors on silicon. Great contrast, no burn-in, great resolution, bright.
Plasma is expensive, has great picture, starts to buzz at high altitude, has fan to dissipate heat.
LCD is similar to flat panel PC monitors. Slow refresh, action pictures can smear. Bulb is replaceable unlike plasma screen which gradually fades.

Reginald: What is DD-ES?
A: Confusing with DD-EX which refers to the back center or could be referring to another technology. Jan Johnson from the gallery guesses he could be thinking of the Sony high-end "ES" line. No mention of DTS-ES.

Paul: Can the 510 be programmed to not record? Mine is connected through a PC.
A (Dan Minnick, VP s/w engineering): Not possible, it is always recording. People buy DVRs to be used as DVRs. Use something like a 301 or 311.

Paul: Name-based recording?
A: Will start rolling out in mid-year to all DVR products.

Paul: Why can't a weekly show be protected after you record it?
A: Will add at same time as name-based recording.

Yees: Add external storage to 501/508 using expansion port?
A: Have never supported adding hard drives, no way to ensure quality of the drive.

Michael: Interactive on 522?
A: Within a few weeks. All OpenTV apps have to be tested on every receiver.

Jim: Has DPL and 3-stereo. Is it worth investing in DD?
A: It's available at all price points but what you have now is a great way to listen to 2-channel content.

Giveaway Winners

811 Bundle goes to Jeffrey Novak.


Larry: DPP44 switch?
A: The DishPro Plus 4 to 4 switch is in very limited production, they just got 100. Full production should be up by April/May.

Next Charlie Chat is Mon March 8, 9:00pm Eastern
I like how they conveniently screened out any questions regarding the audio problems of the 811. Apparently they have absolutely no intentions of ever fixing that.

The second half of the show was much better then the first.

It has a few things that even surprised me. Of course I know anything promised for the summer usually means around December. :)

The look on the guys face when the caller asked was the new ES technology was funny. The Dolby guy didn't want to say that ES is a DTS product.

Thanks for the great writeup!
Paul: Name-based recording?
A: Will start rolling out in mid-year to all DVR products.

Probably the biggest carrot ever dangled in front of Dish DVR users! Does anyone know how long they have been working on this? They have been pretty non-committal on this on past chats. As I recall Charlie himself once dismissed the idea completely.
They have actually had name based recording working on Engeneering boxes for a long lone time. I was told that name based recording was almost easier to setup then time based recording. :)

Although last nights announcement even surprised me. :)
The Name Based Recording was the highlight of the show although not emphasized. Since they did not come right out and mention it but someone had to call in to ask about it, this makes me think that it will be a while yet until we get it.
Scott Greczkowski said:
They have actually had name based recording working on Engeneering boxes for a long lone time. I was told that name based recording was almost easier to setup then time based recording. :)

Although last nights announcement even surprised me. :)

It should be 10x easier than timer based recording. I assume this means that the OTA channels will finally have info like DirecTV APG has had for 2+ years?

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