I have been designing and building home theaters for over 25 years. Since the early 1990’s I have used Dish Network in my own home theater and have recommended Dish to all my clients over Direct TV, Comcast, and Time Warner. I was an early adopter for Dish’s first DVR’s including the original JVC DVHS video recorder with built in Dish Tuner before they had DVR’s with hard drives.
What I liked about Dish was the constant upgrading in technology, willingness to replace faulty equipment in a timely manner, and their customer service. Every year I went to the CEDIA (Consumer Electronics Design Industry Association) conference, Dish’s offerings reasonably matched the products from Tivo and often exceeded the products from Direct TV. Other than sports programming (where Direct TV excels) Dish has always had more robust HD programming for movies, concerts, arts and entertainment which appeal more to my theater clients
I have been called in by clients that opted for Direct TV or Cable and had many miserable experiences dealing with their customer service to debug home theater installations. On the other hand, I could get a page from a client with Dish and always get unlimited and skilled technical support over the phone. One wealthy client of mine had multiple vacation properties around the US that he usually arrived at between 11pm-2am after flying/driving only to find the inactive Dish receiver had frozen from not downloading software updates. It didn’t matter wether it was 1am or 3am, I’d conference them in with Dish Tech support and have their system up and running within minutes.
The release of the VIP 922 was a real step forward for versatility, design and interface. However I found that on many of my installs the 922’s would get buggy after a year and needed replacing. As Dish stopped offering 922 packages for upgrades until they could work out the bugs, I found the replacement 922’s shipped out were mostly factory refurbished 922’s from previous malfunctions which usually stopped working even sooner. In my own installation, I have been through eight (8) VIP 922’s over the last 18 months.
I had high hopes that the new Hopper/Joey system would offer the performance of a movie server (sort of a budget priced Kalidascope) without the problems of the 922. I started specking them for new clients as soon as they came out. My first install was a 2-hopper / 6-Joey system in Beverly Hills as part of a $50k home theater. Four weeks of problems with three install crews, two DIRT coordinators, and a regional supervisor finally got the system up and running.
However the Hoppers constantly loose their link with with the Joeys. As the client wanted additional work, I have been on the job site over the last two months installing distributed audio/video, another mini theater in the guest house multiple outdoor TV’s and a projection theater by the pool. I have probably had to re-link the system 20-30 times over that period. I also found that the contrast ratio Joeys required recalibrating the TV’s for a reduced range and the Joey feature set seems to be much limited from the hoppers (no apps, Pandora etc).
I have postponed my next two clients until Dish works out the bugs, installing their theaters but having them keep their previous content provider. Dish what happened to you guys? Between the buggy 922’s and the defective Hopper/Joey configuration you are in danger of loosing a long time customer and avid supporter of your product.
I wonder if they aren't suffering a little bit from the same thing I think DIRECTV has. Marketing pushing products out the door before they where really ready to be launched. The HR34 should not have been released when it was IMHO, and you make it sound like the hopper shouldn't have been released quite yet either.
The key in all that is, I'd expect both companies to get this units in fine condition by the time the fall season starts. So only the very first early adopters are really suffering, if they are having issues at all.