Sunday, June 24, 2007

Second DISH DVR failure in three years

This was really my week for hard drives I guess. I had noticed that my DISH network DVR had suddenly displayed more recording time available even though I knew I was almost at capacity. I suspect DISH had downloaded an upgrade. I was reasonably pleased with the thought of having more storage capacity but then I noticed my recorded programs were disappearing. Soon I was down to only three episodes of The Tudors and all of my Rome season 2 had disappeared. I wasn't so upset about the Rome series disappearing because I had already preordered the set on DVD from Amazon and will receive it in August but I was really irritated about losing The Tudors since I had set two of the episodes to record while I was in Alaska and then New York. So I didn't get a chance to see episodes 8 and 10.

This same thing happened to me about a year and a half ago with my first DISH DVR. Ironically, I had just finished recording all of Rome Season 1 when it began disappearing. I was really peaved because at that time the DVD set had not been announced. (I have since bought it).

So, I called DISH to tell them the problem had happened again. The woman I talked to said I had to start paying $5.99 a month for a warranty agreement before they would replace the unit. I told her I was already paying $5.00 per month DVR service fee and a $5.99 per month DVR lease fee (since DISH will not let you buy the DVR unit outright) and I was NOT going to pay a monthly warranty fee for a unit I didn't even own. She said she would be right back. She came back on the line and said okay, but I would have to pay shipping and handling. Again I told her I was not going to pay shipping and handling on a unit they owned that was defective! She said she would be right back then came back on the line and said she would send a new receiver with a prepaid shipping label to return the defective one. I told her Thank You! I asked her if this was they length of time these units usually lasted and she insisted that many of her customers had units that lasted up to 8 or 9 years. I thought to myself, not likely since DVRs haven't even been around that long!

In just two days the new unit arrived. I placed it on top of the original unit and transferred the cables to their appropriate outlets (to avoid the spaghetti cords problem) then removed the old unit and turned on the new unit. I started the Check routine and it displayed a warning that it could only talk to one satellite. I called DISH tech support and was told to complete the setup then we would deal with the problem of not being able to receive signals from satellite 110. I completed the rest of the setup and got a selection of channels to appear but channels like History Channel International did not appear in the line up (and I live on History Channel International!). So we set about trying to get the receiver to recognize satellite 110. I tried different transponders but nothing seemed to work. The technician started to ask me about my dish alignment but I told them that it was working fine with my old unit I had just disconnected. Finally, the technician said I had better send the replacement unit back since it, too, was obviously defective, and hook back up my old unit for the time being since it receives all the channels but just can't record. By the time I finished all of that it was almost midnight and I had to go to work the next day!

Anyway, I have shipped the defective replacement back and am presently awaiting another replacement so I can go through all the setup again. I asked the rep if all of these DVRs only last about two years and he said he has had some customers that had DVRs last longer and some that also had DVRS that lasted no longer than mine. (At least he didn't say 8 years...)

I wonder if TIVOs have a better life span? I went up on the TIVO website and the services you get with a TIVO are much better than the one I get from DISH. The TIVO has a regular USB port on it so you can download content to an iPod or other portable device or computer. DISH's device uses a proprietary USB port that only works with their very expensive "PocketDISH" device. The TIVO site also mentions being able to work with video content downloads from Amazon. This would be great but I assume you have to have high-speed internet integrated with your receiver. I live out in the country so my high speed internet is delivered on a separate satellite from Wild Blue because DISH told me they did not have internet service available at this location. If I had integrated internet I would definitely try the TIVO device. It's certainly got to be better than the service I have had so far and it would be great to be able to download movies to my video iPod to help me endure long airline flights.
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