The Dish Player is a new satellite receiver for the Dish Network
from Echostar and Microsoft. It has all the features of a
Satellite Receiver and the features of a WebTV Box. But it
doesn't stop there, with a subscription to Personal TV services,
you gain the ability to record TV to the hard drive built into the
unit. The amount of time that can be recorded depends
on the model that you have (7100 vs. 7200)
as well as the compression ratio of what is being recorded.
It also makes it possible to pause and rewind, live TV.
Overview of DishPlayer Personal TV Services
the player was first released, it was definitely an also ran satellite
receiver. It had a nice new graphical interface, could pause
live TV for thirty minutes and it had an improved Guide, but it
really didn't offer anything compelling over the Echostar 5000 receiver.
However, in December 1999, the software upgrade that Echostar and
Microsoft had promised the world was finally ready... and Personal
Television Services arrived.
off, personal television services (PTV) is only available if you
subscribe and pay the $10 monthly fee. You get a $5 discount
if you also sign up for WebTV. PTV gives you a number
of new features. First is the ability to record your
shows, just like a VCR. With DishPlayer, you do not have to
settle for a degraded signal like on a VCR or TIVO. This is
because the DishPlayer records the actual data stream that is coming
from the Satellite. So when you play it back, you see exactly
what you would have seen if you were watching it live. And
best of all, because DishPlayer uses a Hard Drive you never have
to change a tape.
access the PTV Services, simply turn to channel 1 or select
PTV from TV Home. You will be greeted with the
screen at the left. From here you can select any of
the programs that you have recorded on the hard drive and
see any shows that are scheduled to be recorded in the future.
Currently, when the hard drive gets full, the player deletes
the old programs to make room for new ones. Hopefully,
they will enhance this feature to allow you to protect certain
programs that you want to keep.
in mind that unlike a TiVO or Replay, you can NOT record over the
air recordings. Also, you can not watch a live program
while recording another live program. A great feature
to add would be having dual tuners built in so this would be possible.
In practice this isn't as bad as it sounds because you can watch
a recorded program while a live program.
record a program, you simply go to the program in the guide and
select it. If the show is in the future, you will
be presented with a screen that allows you to select record options.
Currently the recording options are functional, but not very flexible.
They offer to let you record the program either "every time"
a show is on or to record the show "every week".
Unfortunately, if the show is repeated during the same time slot
on a different day of the week, you will not be given the "every
week" option and must select the every time option.
This can cause you to get multiple copies of the same show.
This feature feels like it may have been rushed out the door, but
is still quite functional.
PTV allows you to Pause, and rewind live TV. As soon as you
change channels, the DishPlayer starts recording. This allows
you to hit the rewind any time. This is very useful for those
times when someone was talking or the phone rings and you missed
something. After rewinding, you can fast forward through commercials
until you get back to the live broadcast. You can also pause
the live picture at anytime. the DishPlayer will continue
recording the live broadcast so you can pick up where you left.
I have tried this for many hours and it appears to be limited only
by the amount of space on the Hard Drive. About the only drawback
to this seems to be an increased amount of noise from the hard drive
and a small pause in changing channels.
the DishPlayer Graphical Interface.
Home - One of the first things you will see when you turn on
your DishPlayer is the TV Home Screen. TV Home is where
you go to access many of the powerful features of the DishPlayer.
The TV Home screen gives access to information about the current
channel as well as a number of other features.
Home* - With a WebTV subscription Access the WebTV features
of the DishPlayer. If you do not subscribe, you will see an
Search By Date
| Personal TV*
- With a personal TV subscription you can view all of the programs
you have recorded on your system. If you do not subscribe,
you will see an advertisement.
Settings - Manage the preferences for your DishPlayer.
One of the key features is the ability to hide channels.
TV Listings - Access your TV Listings using several
options, this includes the ability to see the guide for today,
any day in the next seven days and to search for keywords in
Help - Access online help on how to use the DishPlayer and
Purchases - Shows any Pay Per View purchases that you have
TV Sites - Gives quick access to a number of TV related
Web sites if you subscribe to WebTV
Games - Access any games loaded on the DishPlayer hard
Notices - Will display any notices sent to the box.
The Guide - The Guide in the DishPlayer has some significant
advantages over the guides in other satellite receivers.
You can see and hear the TV signal while you search your guide.
This can be set up to show either the current show you are watching
or to show the channel you have selected as you scroll through the
guide. The revamped guide also shows you all the information
you could need about the show you have selected
The Guide, of course, also
shows the current date and time. But the best feature
has to be that you can now search the guide by day and time
as well as searching for specific words in the title or information.
With all this power comes some small drawbacks. For
one the guide is slower than that of some of the other Dish
Network receivers. Not slow, just slower.
The Remote Control.
the new remote includes buttons to access the new features
available when you subscribe to Personal TV Services,
Record, forward, backward, picture in picture, stop, play,
jump back and go live. There is also a substantial difference
in the size. (see picture) However this size doesn't
seem to affect usability. The new remote can be programmed
to control a VCR. If you have a 7200 you get this new
remote in the box, if you own a 7100 you get the new remote
if you subscribe to PTV
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