|Dish Network 921 HD Satellite Receiver/DVR|
|Home Theater Media Servers Satellite & Cable Receivers/PVRs/DVRs/TiVo|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Friday, 01 April 2005|
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A quirk worth mentioning is how the programming guide handles over-the-air HD channels. For each channel, there can be several different subsets of channels. For example, Channel 7 actually has 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4 on my system, because my antenna is able to pick up a wide range of channels. Unfortunately, what the guide shows for these channels is not always accurate. For example, “Wheel of Fortune” may be listed on all four of the Channel 7s, but the news could be actually showing in 7.2 and a nature documentary is showing on 7.3. What the 921 seems to do is pick whatever program is on 7.1 and then assumes that 7.2 and above all have the same show. This can make finding certain over-the-air HD broadcasts difficult when you are blessed with the ability to pull HD signals from multiple markets (Los Angeles, Orange Country and even San Diego) like I can.
The 921 has a picture-in-picture feature. However, I learned that this only works for two standard definition broadcasts. PIP is a feature that I don’t find myself using very often anyway but because there are going to be more and more channels that don’t work with this feature, it seems almost like a waste to have it if you are limited to SD programming.
My biggest gripe ultimately with the difference between the Dish Network interface and the TiVo interface is small but big at the same time. With the 921 and all of the Dish Network PVRs, I can blaze through a show at speeds of 4x, 15x, 60x and 300x faster than real time. However, when you push play, it starts playing from right where you push the button. This usually ends up being a few seconds or minutes ahead of where you want to be if you are skipping a commercial. A skip back button can be pushed that will back the show up a little; the way TiVo worked was by automatically backing up a certain amount when fast-forwarding at 2x or 3x real speeds. This was very convenient for coming out of commercial breaks and getting right to the beginning of a show segment. I really miss that feature. Sob sob.
At $1,000, I would have been satisfied with the 921 but would be feeling the price tag sting a little just for the ability to record and store up to 25 hours of HD programming. (Note: Dish Network now prices the 921 at $549.) At just a shade under $500, the value is much stronger and I can now enjoy HD on my schedule rather than some network executive’s. Aside from a few quirks and differences than TiVo, the Dish Network is an absolutely necessary piece of gear for HD enthusiasts who are Dish Network subscribers. A model 922 that controls more than one HDTV is rumored to be hitting stores soon, but for a consumer like me, who wants something right here, right now, that could record HD, I wasn’t going to wait for something that may be coming and will probably be more expensive than I’d want to pay for. With million of newbies to the world of HD-making, the investment every month, there is no need to end up spending countless hours wading through bad movies, cheesy sporting events and documentaries on awful punk bands, waiting for golden HD gems to come along. With a Dish 921 in the loop, that waiting game is over, the content is strong and only getting stronger.