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Vip-211 Early Adopter Report

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#1 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 02:59 AM

Here is my ViP-211:

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.

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.

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.

Replies welcome in this thread.

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#2 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).

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.

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.

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.

#3 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 01:33 PM

Update: When the next EPG download hit I got program guide information for the out of market digital channel I can receive.

#4 OFFLINE   AllieVi


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Posted 22 January 2006 - 01:53 PM


While I don't have any plans to get the receiver, I'd like to thank you for the in-depth description. It will no doubt be a great help to those who are considering one. It's what being a member of a group like this is all about...

For good reason, I never criticize someone until I've walked a mile in their shoes. If they don't like what I say, what're they gonna' do? I'm a mile away. And they have no shoes!

#5 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 02:14 PM

Update: The 811 can accept IR remote control commands. I had it as "IIRC it cannot". Correction made.

Thanks Allie. I'm going to push to get a ViP-622 as soon as they are available because it would practically be a "whole house solution" for a two person family like mine, and I'm in love with the DVR abilities.

I got the ViP-211 now partially just to have one (grown up toys), partially so I could get HD to my HD set NOW (while I wait impatiently for the ViP-622 release) and partially so (eventually) I wouldn't have to go find a 622 remote to watch HD channels on the TV in the basement. But it is nice to have so that when someone says "how do you" or "can you" here at DBSTalk I can try it out on my unit.

#6 OFFLINE   jscudder



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Posted 22 January 2006 - 07:56 PM

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.

Compared to my other HD receiver, the Samsung SIR T451, the 211/411 does a much better job locking in and holding on to the OTA channels. I am very happy with it's performance. I especially like the seamless way the local OTA channels are integrated in the guide with the satellite locals.

One thing that I thought I would have a problem with is the IR remote. This is the first receiver that I have owned that didn't have a UHF remote. But this turned out to an advantage rather than a disadvantge.....my (simpler) Sony TV remote can now operate the 211/411 receiver! This makes my wife happy, she hates having mulitple remotes lying around.


#7 OFFLINE   bavaria72


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Posted 22 January 2006 - 09:25 PM

HD is cool. This is my first HD satellite receiver....

Welcome James! You will never want to go back. Of course you will want the 622 next!!!!! Gotta be able to record.
I'm back! Needed more than 1 HD feed.

#8 OFFLINE   cwbuckley



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Posted 23 January 2006 - 07:56 AM

I would like to say that I also get the vip211 Saturday. The installer was there a little before nine and left 9 hours later. That was after he changed the lnb three times and replaced the dish's reflector. He set it up so I could get my local hd's but said that I could only get them on one tv. Last night I got to thinking about that and decided he was wrong. So I get another diaplexor{sp}and hook up the other hd tv to get locals. Had problems one one local. But after several tries it came in. I am using a 942 on the 2nd tv. I think that I will trade it in for the mpeg 4 model in April. Chuck

#9 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 08:49 AM

Good to see you get OTA locals on the second box. It is a good plan to get the ViP-622 in April.

#10 OFFLINE   Kricket



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Posted 23 January 2006 - 10:10 AM

wow! great review!

i cant wait for the 622 to come out - im growing more and more impatient with my 811 as everytime i watch it, i have to download the guide info at least once or twice - and thats not counting when the unit resets itself...
the blog...

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#11 OFFLINE   Ron Barry

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 12:17 PM

:welcome_s Kricket.. Are you keeping your 811 in standby at night? I put mine in standby and hardly ever have to have the guide update.

James... Excellent first look post. I am sure people considering the 211 will find it useful.
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#12 OFFLINE   wcswett



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Posted 23 January 2006 - 03:35 PM

Thanks for the great review!

I have a 622 on order to replace my 721, but will wait until April to turn in my 921 for a leased 622. Looks like I will need two 211's to replace my two 6000's, but I can wait until they have Atlanta locals up in HD before I do that. :)

--- WCS
DISH RECEIVERS: 622(x2), 510, 211(x2)
PROGRAMMING: DISH HD Platinum, Atlanta locals
ANTENNAS: 61.5, 110, 119, 129

#13 OFFLINE   tomcrown1


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Posted 23 January 2006 - 03:45 PM

You can order the 622 now???
Welcome to Dish the new AT&T

:) life is to to to short so be???

#14 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 03:52 PM

Some retailers are taking pre-orders on 622s.
No telling when they will be shipped. :D


#15 OFFLINE   derwin0



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Posted 23 January 2006 - 04:04 PM

When the next EPG download hit I got program guide information for the out of market digital channel I can receive.

Do you know if the 211 needs to "see" the satellite the station is on?
For instance, I would need to put up a superdish 105 to get guide data for the neighboring Baltimore locals I can pick up over the air on my 811.
Does the 211 work the same way?

#16 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 04:10 PM

Do you know if the 211 needs to "see" the satellite the station is on?

It does not. The out of market station I referred to is on 121° and my locals are on 105°.


#17 OFFLINE   unr1



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Posted 23 January 2006 - 05:22 PM

Nice review James.
Just to let you know, (and you probably already do know of a place), there is a nice site that sells HDMI cables for good prices and are prompt in shipment. s-video.com

I bought my dvi to hdmi for my HTPC from them and it works wonderful. A lot better than buying retail! But again, you probably knew this. :P

#18 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 05:35 PM

Oh yes. I actually beat that deal when I bought mine online. :D

#19 OFFLINE   mruk69



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Posted 23 January 2006 - 06:09 PM

I would like to say that your installation may have gone fine however mine did not.

I hooked up my Vip 211, and turned it on the display on the screen was "Boot Recovery, Do not disturb the receiver" this is normal for a new receiver as iot is updateing the software. However, when it completes it reboots and does it over and over again. I left ot for 4 hours and it kept doing it. So i unpluged and replugged in the receiver and it still kept doing it. I finally called dish they made me repeat the process. Finally after about 20 mins he told me to unplug it and remove the OTA cable from the receiver and plug it back in. Apprx. 10mins later he had me pull the plug and plug it back in (the receiver would not turn off from the front panel) and then finally it kicked into aquiring satellite. The tech activated my receiver, then asked me to unplug the receiver, connect my OTA cable and plug it back in. He helped me scan in my locals and belive it or not I got all my local stations. :)
I have never had an HDTV receiver before and did not even know what local Digital channels were available. For the past 2 weekends I have watched the football and all the CSI in HD.
The receiver software does have some bugs though, sometimes the receiver can not lock in to the channels and freezes or you get a black screen and have to unplug and reboot the receiver, I have done this about 3 times so far.
The picture quality on Dish Hd channels sucks especially on Showtime HD it is as bad as 300 (HBO Standard).
The OTA HD channels have the best PQ in my opinion.
I have read about Dish's PQ on HD but i never thought it would be that bad.

Well thats my opinion, The receiver is not bad I use HDMI to HDMI cable and it works brilliantly.

#20 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 06:53 PM

Sorry you had initial trouble, but glad that E* was able to get it going.
I have not noticed any serious PQ problems. What kind of HD do you have? My tube set might be more forgiving.
BTW: Are you at L261 software?

#21 OFFLINE   kb7oeb



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Posted 23 January 2006 - 07:04 PM

If you want it bad enough Showtime looks decent on the 148 bird.

Do you get PBSHD and if so do you get guide data for it?

#22 OFFLINE   Rick_R



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Posted 23 January 2006 - 07:21 PM

Thanks for the great review. Did you notice if any of the the new channels are up yet on 61.5? That is HD locals, ESPN2, etc?

Rick R

#23 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 08:34 PM

The new channels to not yet appear in the program guide.

I do get PBSHD (national feed) OTA, but no guide data.

#24 OFFLINE   AcuraCL



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Posted 24 January 2006 - 10:15 AM

Unfortunately, the lack of guide data in the absence of sub'bing locals makes this box a no-go for me.

Splain to me someone, what sense that makes logically. If one is using the OTA tuner, aren't they *less* likely to sub their locals? So wouldn't they, *logically*, NEED the guide data? It's not like this can't be done. I have an 811, don't sub my locals, and still get guide data for 2 cities nearby.

It's crippleware to provide an ATSC tuner and not parse the PSIP data in the signal, IMO.

#25 OFFLINE   mkpolley



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Posted 24 January 2006 - 05:36 PM

mmm,no dvi connector?
Is the vip211 available now from dish?

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