Shortcomings of the DISH 922 Receiver

In 2008 when I heard about the Sling loaded receiver with a web browser being in development for DISH, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. The big announcements at CES came and went, and every once in a while I would ask DISH about it. They kept saying that they didn’t know when it would be released. On Charlie Chat (which isn’t even an option for information anymore), they said they were really having problems with the web browser. But everything else was working great, and so they were going to launch it without the web browser for the time being. Then they would send the web browser as a software update once they figured out the last of the bugs (which never happened). Well, quite some time passed without a launch. Then, it finally came out. I decided to wait on a deal, because it was going to be too expensive for the upgrade. I was told to watch the announcements, because there was a “big” announcement coming out the following month. Well, that announcement ended up being something totally different. So, I kept waiting. Then, I heard some complaints about the 922 not living up to expectations. Then, it kind of faded away for a while, and it even disappeared from the DISH web site for a while. I was told I could still get one though. Then, the Hopper announcement came out. So, I thought I would wait it out again and go for the Hopper. But then I was disappointed to find out that I couldn’t keep my 2nd receiver if I went to the Hopper, nor did it support OTA. So, the Hopper was no longer an option. But, the 922 was now a free upgrade. So, I went for it.

There are many days that I wish I hadn’t. First, it was installed without the OTA module I had ordered. The installer offered to put one in, but he couldn’t find any on the truck, and said it had been a long time since he had any requests for one. So he was going to call and make sure the module was going to be shipped. I figured something was wrong, because I waited over 3 weeks to have the 922 installed because of my busy schedule and inability to be home. I never understood why they didn’t just ship it and let me put it in myself. But anyway, I waited, and the OTA module never arrived. So I called DISH, and they said they had no record of my OTA order. So they promptly sent me one. I installed it, and it came right up. I was thrilled to find that it would actually send OTA to TV2, which I had not been able to do with my 622. I had to do some crazy wiring and careful modulator channel selection to make it all work before. Now, it just goes through the 922. And, the OTA receiver seems to pull in stations a lot better than the 622 did. Kudos for those 2 things!

What I had NO clue would even possibly happen was that the OTA programming functionality would be horrible. Every time I go upstairs to turn the antenna, I have to rescan all the channels. I guess they think that all TV stations are all in one direction. I watch 3 different markets with regularity, and when the DX rolls in I get several more. I haven’t had a good band opening since getting the 922, but DXing is probably not going to be an convenient option anymore unless they fix the software. I’m frustrated because even my old 622 would give you the option of rescanning without deleting, adding channels manually, or deleting everything and rescanning. I can’t even add manually with the 922. So, I haven’t been turning the antenna as much… which is a real pain. So now I rely on other means to get OTA from the Indy market, which totally defeats the purpose of the OTA module and my decision to go with DISH in the first place.

Another nightmare with the 922 is recording OTA channels, more specifically subchannels. Most, but not all, of my subchannels and some primary channels do not have program listings in the guide. While DISH told me none of them did, that’s just not true. I understand, it’s not their fault. They buy their guide info, and if the station doesn’t provide it to TitanTV (the provider), then they won’t get it either. Of course, no one at DISH would tell me that. They just said that they didn’t guarantee guide information on any OTA channel. Well, I’ve been used to that. It was that way with the 622, or any other receiver with OTA. The problem is that without the guide information, you can’t set a timer on the 922. Yes, that’s right… no manual timer option. That was always my workaround. I could set a manual timer for a channel, day, and time, and take care of the problem. Not anymore. When I contacted tech support, first they tried to tell me there was a hardware issue. Then, they told me it was a software issue, and they would research it and get back to me. When the finally got back to me, they said that manual timers were not possible on the 922 just yet. What I wanted to say was, “Just YET? I’ve waited 5 years for this receiver, 2 years of which were delays due to software development, and the software doesn’t even have a manual timer for the DVR?”

My only options are to either record it live or try to set a large block of time to record. The 922, as other receivers, break up channels that do not have guide information into large blocks of time. Now if these blocks of time were 30 minutes instead of 4 hours, it would be possible to record a 30 minute show, or even a 60, 90, or 120 minute show using the extended time feature. But instead, I have to record 4 hours of time just to get 2 hours worth of WKRP in Cincinnati each week. And, that’s if the receiver doesn’t lock up in the process. I haven’t had much luck setting the large block of time more than 24 hours in advance. The timer just magically disappears after I’ve set it. And, a lot of times it locks up just trying to set the timer. So I have to reboot and try it again. And on top of this, the block of time doesn’t really match up with the time in the guide. So I try to record WKRP from 9 to 11 pm, so I click on 9 pm. The timer comes up at a random time. Usually, it comes up from 3:30 to 7:30. Wait, 9:00 isn’t even anywhere in that block of time! Then, if I go to midnight, it sets the timer for 1:00 am. So no matter what time I select it, I can’t get the time that I need to program into the timer. Sometimes I can get it to work by advancing the guide a day or two ahead of time, and then scroll back to the time I need. But I have to do that each week, because the weekly timer keeps erasing itself. So either the guide needs to be in 30 minute blocks, or a manual timer option is needed. But the 922 will do neither.

As for the missing guide info, one of the workarounds I used was to download the guide info for a subchannel that actually is included in the guide but in a different market but the same network. For instance, I could see what was on Antenna TV in Louisville using the Antenna TV listings from Indy. But, wait… even that won’t work anymore because I can’t save two stations in different directions.

My other big problem with the 922 is the lack of a saved search history… on satellite or OTA. Every week, I have to do searches for the basketball teams I want to record. I never was a big fan of the “DISH Pass” on the 622, which was supposed to set a timer for a keyword. It was not specific enough, and would record way too many things that may or may not even be related to what I want. So, I could at least go in the history and repeat the same searches each week. Not on the 922. I have to set up the same searches each week, one at a time.

So while the menus look sweet, there’s logos for most shows and channels, and the Sling is finally working most of the time… I’m still pretty disapoointed with the 922. I’m thinking of “downgrading” to a 722k and add a sling adapter. At least it would let me set some manual timers and save my searches.

There are 2 things that DISH needs to do immediately on the 922, if not sooner:

1) Provide a manual timer option
2) Provide a way to add OTA channels without rescanning

If would also be very helpful if they would:

1) Divide blocks of time into 30 minute blocks instead of 4 hours that are not listed in the guide
2) Add the ability to save searches
3) Provide a way to add on an OTA rescan without deleting previously scanned channels
4) Allow mutliple OTA channels to be saved that have the same mapped digital channel number (For instance, I get an OTA Channel 2.1 from St. Louis as well as Terre Haute, IN. If I add the one from St. Louis, it wipes out the Terre Haute info. Yes, I know… I shouldn’t be able to pick up St. Louis according to AntennaWeb and DISH. I do during band openings. DISH tells me this is impossible. It’s not.)

I’ve heard rumors that the manual timer issue is because SiriusXM doesn’t wants to discourage people from recording it’s programming. Well, just disable recording of SiriusXM instead of using these huge time blocks to mess things up.

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