The Good High capacity; receives and records new MPEG-4 AVC programming, including local and other HD channels not available on older receivers; dual-output mode for secondary TV; can record up to three HD shows simultaneously while playing back a fourth; 30-second commercial skip; exceedingly quick response time; well-designed, highly customizable interface; search function includes history; superb remote; impressive image quality; USB port enables connections to portable media players and external hard drives to expand storage capacity.
The Bad Generally lighter selection of local HD and sports channels than cable; annoying interstitial pay-per-view page; defaults to "all episodes" for EPG-initiated recordings; uglier EPG and menu system than TiVo HD and DirecTV; no built-in networking functionality.
The Bottom Line The Dish Network ViP622 and 722 are among the most fully featured and versatile high-def DVRs you can buy today.
Dish Network ViP HD DVR
Dish Network ViP722
Editors' note: We did not review the ViP722, but we did review the ViP622, which is identical but for hard-drive capacity and color. The black 722 can store 55 hours of high-definition content, while the silver 622 can store 30 hours. The review below, the rating and the Editors' Choice award are based on the original ViP622 review, and we assume the 722 will deliver an identical experience except for the differences noted above. Note that we're reviewing the hardware only; our choice is not affected by programming differences between Dish, DirecTV, or cable, although prospective buyers should certainly consider programming as well. For more information, check out our guide to satellite HD programming.
As the most advanced piece of electronics in many home-theater systems, a high-definition digital video recorder (DVR) has the potential to be the most satisfying--or frustrating--entertainment device you'll ever use. The Dish Network ViP622 has even more going on under the hood than most DVRs. When it launched in early 2006, it was the first DVR that could receive and record both standard MPEG-2 and newfangled MPEG-4 HD satellite broadcasts, which include the local high-def affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC available in most metropolitan areas. Both Dish Network and rival DirecTV have moved to MPEG-4 and cable companies are following suit at a slower pace.