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ViP-211 Basics


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4 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 06:52 PM

Here are the basic facts about the ViP-211 Receiver
http://www.dbstalk.c...45&d=1137035246
The ViP-211 is a single tuner single output MPEG4/MPEG2 satellite tuner.
It is the new "standard" HD receiver for DishHD packages.
(Additional receivers in the ViP line are due out in 2006.)

With the ViP-211 you can:
* View high definition or standard definition DISH Network programming
* Output resolutions: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i
* Supports MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 compression technology
* Receives off-air digital/HD broadcasts
* On-Screen Caller ID with history
* DISH Comm technology™
* Electronic Program Guide (EPG) with easy-to-use search features
* instant access to breaking news, sports, weather and games with Dish Home Interactive

(Note: An early version of the ViP-211 was released as a "411". The models are equivilent.)

Dish Network Tech Information

The attached photos were taken at CES2006 in LasVegas.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 211-p1.jpg
  • 211-p2.jpg


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#2 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 02:59 AM

Here is my ViP-211:
http://www.dbstalk.c...97&d=1137913919

Taking pictures I realized that the ones taken at CES (in the first post above) were better, so I won't spend too much space with additional photos. But I do want to show you the "smart card slot" (below) and the remote (click here) from my receiver. Note that this unit has an internal smart card and the slot is for future use, if needed.
http://www.dbstalk.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=5198&d=1137913929


First Impression
Nice. I've seen pictures but thought that the designers had done simple graphics on gray plastic. The front is actually clear plastic over gray that makes the equipment shine more with the graphics raised away from the background. It is one of the better looking pieces of equipment in my TV rack.

Installation
My installation went smoothly. I made space in the rack for this thin unit (the same width and height as a 301/311 receiver just a little deeper) then went around back to put all the cables in place. I did all of my wiring BEFORE connecting power to the unit, so I wouldn't miss any screen messages or errors.

Connections on the back (left to right): (Note: What you connect to may vary.)

Satellite In (from Port 1 of a DPP44 via the power inserter)
8VSB In (from my outdoor TV antenna)
TV Set Out (to my HDTV antenna in)
AV OUT [R L Vid] (to AV1 input on my HDTV)
Component Video [Pr Pb Y] (to the component inputs on my HDTV)
Digital Audio Out [Optical] (unused by me)
S-Video Out (unused by me)
HDTV Digital Output (HDMI cable on order)
Ethernet (future - did not connect)
USB (no connection)
Phone (connected - may the audit team never bother me)

E* provided the cables for all of the AV/Composite connections and a coax cable to connect to the TV. The S-Video/Digital and HDMI cables were not included. A long telephone cord was also included.

Power On
After making the proper connections I turned on my TV set to watch it all come together. I decided to watch the AV feed to my set during setup. I plugged in the power and the unit came to life. There is no fan, so it is a quiet life.

Within a minute of powering it up I was at the point dish screen, and the unit was "Scanning for Available Satellites". (In my Dish setup I have a DPP44 with 119 on input #1 so it shouldn't be hard to find a good satellite.) The Point Dish screen gives you the option of changing the "modulator" channel (TV3 or TV4 output - no tiny switch on the back) as well as doing a "check switch". Since the plastic the receiver was wrapped in had a BIG yellow sticker that said "do a check switch first" I followed the advice.

Check Switch
I ran the Check Switch and after 90 seconds it came back with my four satellites correctly recognizing my DPP44. This is the point where you know that the wiring is good. I returned to the Point Dish screen and the unit asked me an important verification:

"Is the mounting and positioning of your dish complete, with a "Locked" indication in the Point Dish and Signal Strength screen?"

Since that was true I answered YES and the unit came back with the all important "Vital program information" download screen. This is an excellent time to take a break, get a beverage of choice or talk to your loved ones (or pet).

After about 60 seconds of "Acquiring Satellite" the ViP-211 started it's download. "Downloading Information" took five full minutes ... then the Do Not Disturb warning appeared. (This is a good reason not to attempt an install in bad weather. You don't want satellite outages or power outages.) About five minutes later the programming completed and the receiver rebooted itself.

The Home Stretch
It was about 15 minutes from the start of my odyssey (first power to receiver) when the receiver finished it's reboot and suggested I connect a phone line "for continued availability of Pay-Per-View". OK.

Next it went through an Acquiring satellite signal page that ended with an attention screen asking me to call for activation of the receiver. The phone number right there with the R and S numbers for ready reference. Time to make a phone call.

Customer Service
I did my install late on a Friday night ... Experiences may vary if you call in the daytime - personally, I like the people I reach at night. Finding the right thing to say to the first human being you reach on the phone is important. I believe the right phrase is "I want to activate an HD receiver". It might have saved me a few minutes of being on hold and being transferred.

I will credit the second CSR I talked to with recognizing the ViP-211. She asked what model of receiver it was, I told her and she apologized, identified it as HD, and got me to the right person. The third CSR had me press the right buttons on the remote and made sure everything was wired correctly and tested well before proceeding.

A couple minutes after reaching the HD activations tech (I'll call him that) we were at the point where he could activate my receiver. I read him the R and S numbers and he did his job. The "Your receiver has not yet been authorized" screen changed to "Your receiver is being authorized" and that is a good sign. That banner lasted about two minutes then the EPG download began (with a warning that it could take five minutes - it took less than 60 seconds). This is the "44 hour guide".

Activation was complete and the next sight on my screen was the HDTV Demo Channel (since I have a 61.5 dish I get that) and the correct time on the screen. I pulled up the program guide and all of my subscribed programming (including SkyAngel and locals) was there. (There was a comment from the tech that it could take a while for locals to appear but in his experience the ViP units didn't seem to need that disclaimer.)

At that point the receiver was functional and the tech was open to teaching me any setting I needed to know, such as how to set the HDTV outputs or scan for local channels. I decided to do the locals scan with him on the line. He seemed very interested in making sure that I was happy with this receiver and I appreciated that. (Did I say I liked the night shift?)

Installation Summary
Including the wait time to get to the right tech I was on the phone for about 30 minutes - so when you do your activation make sure you have the time to commit. With the unboxing and wiring in time and the 15 minutes from power up to ready to call it will take more than an hour to get an activation done. Be prepared to be patient.

For my impressions and comments on how the unit functions, please see the next post in this thread.

#3 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 03:55 AM

HD is cool. This is my first HD satellite receiver. My wife wonders if I got it to watch the ovenight fish tank on the HD Demo channel. :D No, we got it for other programming (and partially to help answers in this forum).

Remote
When you first open the box the first thing that strikes me is the look of the unit and the remote. I mentioned above that I liked the look of the unit (and the CSR that activated it agreed). The remote is probably too much. I can understand wanting a standard common remote that operates DVRs and regular receivers but the first question that comes to mind is "what does this button do?" and when the answer is "nothing" it's not cool.

Then again new remotes have new codes for controlling other electronics. My platinum remote that came with the 501 can do the basic volume/power stuff on my HDTV set but it cannot do any menu options. This new remote can. So it's a trade off. I do have one of those old black remotes and it works the ViP-211 fine, so it is possible to have less buttons by using an older remote. :) Overall, I'll accept the remote as provided.

One more note on the remote - the 811 was UHF only (although you could use an IR remote) this unit is IR only. The ViP-211 is intended to be in the room it serves. If you must place it elsewhere (such as in a home theatre) you will need an IR extender.

Outputs
The AV video output and the modulator (channel 3 or 4) output are always 4:3 signals. If the receiver is picking up a 16:9 channel (such as the demo channel) it will be letterboxed on these channels. If you want to connect the ViP-211 to a 16:9 device you must use one of the HD outputs such as component or HDMI.

Under HDTV Setup you can choose 1080i,720p,480p or 480i in 16x9 or 4:3 aspect ratios. When changing these settings you will see a "Windows" like popup that makes you confirm that you like the change. This is good, because if you pick a scheme your monitor can't handle all you have to do is wait 10 seconds and your old settings will return.

When you are in a 16:9 mode the unit places side letterbox bars to keep the 4:3 aspect ratio on 4:3 channels. Yes, you get "postage stamp" when watching a 4:3 movie channel playing something in letterbox. :(

I have noticed that the "modulator" output does not shut off when I press the TV/Video button (as it does on my 501). The only way to turn of the modulator is to turn off the receiver. This would need to be done if you are using the "TV Out" as a loop through to your TV or an analog tuner. The modulator output is mono.

BTW: While the unit is "off" the other outputs remain hot showing the new dish logo as a screen saver. Pressing SELECT will turn on the receiver.

Digital Only
The Antenna In port on the back is aptly labeled 8VSB. You cannot tune any analog OTA channels, only digital (ATSC 8VSB) stations can be tuned.

You can scan for locals or individually add them. The guide information is 100% from E* (no PSIP) and I was told by the CSR that a locals subscription is required to get guide information for the ViP-211. I am able to pick up one out of market OTA HD channel. The ViP-211 will allow me to add the channel and view the two subchannels. At the next EPG update it downloaded the program guide information, so I can see what is on this out of market channel.

When you change to an OTA digital channel or press the select button you can see the signal strength you are receiving. That is a good 'first place to look' if you are having trouble with blocky signals. A low signal can be hard to receive and use.

Summary
Overall the unit operates well. No freezes or pauses in signals while watching and no odd crashes or resets. I would like to see the option to output 16:9 without letterbox on the AV outputs (for those with a 16:9 non-HD set) and to have the modulator turn off when I press the TV/Video button.

This is a good receiver.

#4 OFFLINE   BoisePaul

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Posted 11 February 2006 - 11:28 PM

Well, I've had my ViP211 for two full days now and I think I can confidently say that I like it. I had an 811 for two years (actually, 3 different 811's, but that's another story) and I was fairly satisified with that receiver until the component video problem started with P3.34. The 811 worked its way into being a stable platform and I hope that I have the same experience with the ViP211. On to the comparisons:

ViP211 advantages over the 811:
1. The component video levels seem to be correct on the ViP211. This used to be true on the 811 until E* broke it.
2. EPG fills entire screen, seems "nicer" on the ViP211.
3. Browse feature "enhanced" - can see more than just the next program.
4. SD picture quality greatly improved. SD was pretty bad on the 811. Watchable, but still not too good. I'm not sure what is being done differently (maybe something to do with the internal scaler), but it's much better on the ViP211.
5. Internal scaler seems to work much better. I have a 720p native DLP display. On the 811, I had to set the output to 1080i to avoid noticeable picture degradation on 1080i channels even though this was not the native res of the display. The TV's scaler was superior to that in the 811. The ViP211 handles this much better. I have it set to 720p and everything seems to look exactly as it should. I'd say that the scaler in the ViP211 is every bit as good, if not superior to the one in my display.
6. Gray bar mode seems to "fit" better. In early versions of the 811 software, there were black lines between the gray bars and the program video. In later versions, this was dealt with by slightly zooming the video. The ViP211 does not seem to need to do this.
7. RF modulator in the ViP211. Eliminates the need for an outboard modulator to feed second TV in another room.

Things that I preferred about the 811:
1. UHF remote. I have one receiver feeding two rooms. The IR remote doesn't work so well for this. I'll have to buy a UHF Pro Upgrade Kit (approx $50). Maybe this is good as I'll have a remote for each room.
2. The 811 had 2 sets of analog audio outputs, where there's only 1 on the ViP211. I guess this isn't really an issue as one set used to go the the outboard modulator that I no longer need.
3. Appearance. This isn't really anything tangible, but I liked the way the 811 looked in my rack better than the ViP211. This is a matter of personal preferance and others will have a different opinion on this.

(Note to moderators: If this fits better in a different forum, please feel free to move it. I did not post this in the ViP211 support forum as I don't really see it as a "support" issue.)

#5 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 12:29 AM

Thanks for the additional opinion.
For discussion of BoisePaul's post, please see this thread.




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