The 942 - An absolutely HORRIBLE unit!
Hey all - I am new to this thread, but want to state some facts which should be
known by all potential 942 buyers...
BUY THIS UNIT WITH CAUTION!!! In many ways it is a HORRIBLE experience!
My background and comparison info:
I have owned TIVO units (3) since they first came out many, many years ago. I have had Dish, including the first 921 in our area of So. Cal, as well as the 942 almost as soon as it came out. I am also a software design engineer and systems developer. One of my primary responsibilities over the years is the development of user interfaces.
The 942 I purchased was supposed to be a better unit than the 921 and fix the 921's software and programming issues. To a great extent it is a MUCH poorer interface than the 921. Thus - despite many positive reviews of the 942 - an advanced TIVO user or person who likes to get out of a DVR the ability to make smart recording decisions - will feel ripped off, lied too, and incredibly short changed!
On the record - I do not like Tivo as a company. They don't make money, put advertising on your unit (changing channels late at night and other offenses), and have horrible customer service (some have had good experiences, others nightmares). Dish has long wait times (sometimes), but their customer service seems friendly and eager to help. Kudos to them, on the other hand I would have preferred not to have had to call for support at least 2 hours a month since i have had their systems!
But there is no comparison with Tivo (at least the Non-HD ones I have had) and Dish. Tivo does NOT have issues. IT IS ROCK SOLID. The software for recording, making programming decisions, and it's guide quality are 10 years ahead of dish. Using the 921, and 942 for the same type of recording issues as a TIVO is like going backwards from a Lexus - to a Soviet patched up Gulag mobile... It will get you there but you will be in pain, will have lost skin, will have broken down, and will arrive at your destination dirty and relatively unhappy!
Some of the issues with this 'beta unit' are as follows:
1) Dependability. Much better than the 921 - but not ready for prime time.
Still locks up from time to time and has issues where it needs to be reset, especially when you are watching your favorite show!!!
If you are a die-hard sports fan - this is not the unit for you. You take a chance watching a sporting event that if you hit the rewind, review, back, forward buttons, that the unit will lock up, or that it will do a 'freeze' where you hear the audio, but the video picture is in a 'pause' mode where you can forward or backward, but never see anything but a 'still' picture of what you are watching. Dish says to reboot - but of course anything watched to that point is gone. Try watching the world series under this scenario and prepare
for major disappointment. Remember - the 942 was supposed to be dependable. It is less dependable than any technology item I own... And i own them all! Even Windows XP doesn't lock up anymore... and they don't control their own environment like the 942 does... It is just a poorly designed and non-bulletproof box.
2) Software. HORRIBLE! If any developer working for me wrote a system like this - they would be fired for incompetence. I wish that some of you who rave about this box would have had the pleasure of using Tivo - you don't know what you have been missing!
Just off the top of my head, and without sitting down at the unit and writing a very specific technical article - some specific issues:
- The 942's ability to do season passes (Dishpass) is a horrible interface. It asks you to type in the name of your show - and then makes a dishpass out of the letters you entered. Even the 921 brought up the names of the different shows it found, allowing you to pick the one you want. WIth the 942 it actually just takes the letters and makes the pass. Example - Type in a show name, it will not take the one you want and will not give you a chance to agree or refine your choice. Like most of the features of this unit - they tried to make it simpler in deference to problems with the 921, making it, in my opinion almost completely unusable.
- While watching the baseball game last night - on Fox, a channel Tivo has no time capturing every nuance of their programming, in the off air mode - you just get 'DIGITAL EVENT' or something. When i press the record button to record the rest of the game - I get:
THE FOLLOWING TIMERS WILL NOT BE RECORDED:
Then a list of all 13.... Thats right all 13 events which are in my system for the whole week show up, each as "LOCKED EVENT" (even though i use no security and they are not locked!!!). Thus you cannot record what you are watching - unless you manually go to every event in the timer menu (about the worst piece of user interface software ever written!) and remove each timer from that night manually... All just to try and make a choice in what you want to record.
- The worst offender (in my opinion) of the software is conflict resolution. In Tivo - it clearly states what show would be missing and asks you how to solve the conflict. Even the 921 - while cutting off most of the info you need to see the show name, gave you the option of deciding how to resolve the conflict you just created by trying to record a show by pressing the record button.... Here is how the 942 does it:
CONFLICT - Resolve by a) Priority List,
Override priority with this show (something to that effect..)
NEVER SHOWS YOU WHAT THE CONFLICT IS....
DOES NOT HAVE A 'CANCEL BUTTON!!!!!!!!!!!' - CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! ONCE YOU HAVE PRESSED THE RECORD BUTTON YOU MUST GO FORWARD! LOSE YOUR SHOWS ON TIMER (You have no idea of what they are as this 'new' software does not list the conflicts... WHich even the 921 did!!!), or move new recording to the bottom of the conflict pile.
This is inexcusable... There should be a bright red label on the box: Warning - the software in this unit has been written by the Dish Network CEO's high school son and his friends... It was an extra credit project. Of course I am kidding... I don't think any legitimate high school student would want their name associated with this software.
- The menus are horrible - even less informative than the 921. The Dishpass system sometimes works, sometimes doesn't.. Of course my 921 didn't record my Sunday night shows... I suspect it needs a reboot - of course you don't know this till you realize that you might miss your show...
I love my weekly shows (ER, Desperate Housewives, Grays Anatomy), but am tired of going into the bedroom (where the 921 is) to verify the red light came on... Also (just an aside on the 921) If it's boston legal which was recorded it shows up as the show before (Commander in chief (or whatever)) as that recorded (0 minutes) (60 minutes boston legal) (0 minutes Nightly news)... Pretty funny! for years I have had to actually WATCH THE BEGINNING OF EACH SHOW.. VERIFY what i asked for was what the title is, then make a decision.
The Dish network HD PVR's suck your life away in small unhappy increments. Should anyone require exact technical examinations of each specific user interface issues, I will try to comply in the future - but I am busy and not a big writer of Blogs, AVSforums, etc.
While this seems like venting - it's been a long time coming. If you want something which works out of the box - do not go with Dish. The software is crap and the dependability of the units is poor. I only went with Dish because Tivo had no HD capability. I only wish that Dish had a quality software team on this project - and that they created good engineering - not a horrific, poorly designed piece of trash.
I NEVER write items like this. I do not normally vent. I am a great believer in fixing problems, not complaining about them. But.... Enough is enough... $1,000.00 for a 921... I became the 'beta' site for this unit. $1,000.00 for the 942... Was promised it was a quality unit... Have taken a HUGE step backwards.
If you are a technical user - don't buy this unit.
p.s.!!! Picture quality rocks!!!
p.p.s. I could list 20-30 interface issues with this system - I have only mentioned a few of the absolutely worse ones!
p.p.p.s. Have to go now... Have to confirm that my 921 is actually going to record the show it is set to!!!! (Bye)