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.
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)
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.
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.
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?)
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.