0 comments | Saturday, October 18, 2008

ot long ago, I thought my Panasonic DVD recorder was the best thing since sliced bread. It would allow me to do cool things like watching a program before it had finished recording and skip through commercials in 30-second chunks with the press of a button.

My DVD recorder made my old VCR look like an Edsel sitting next to a Ferrari. After I started using the DVD recorder I could no longer bear to put up with the joys of VCR use such as rewinding and the bulky tapes that were practically the size of a brick and required a warehouse to store them in.

As much as I love my DVD recorder it does not get much use these days. That's because I have upgraded to a DVR, or Digital Video Recorder. Now it's the DVD recorder's turn to look like an Edsel!

I recently decided to take the plunge and take my television viewing experience to the next level. Since I've been a very satisfied Dish Network customer almost as long as the company has been around, it was an easy decision for me to upgrade my old Dish Network system to a brand-new HD-capable system.

After taking delivery of my new Hitachi 51-inch HDTV set, I ordered my Dish Network upgrade and waited anxiously for the date of installation.

I chose the top-of-the-line Dish Network VIP622 DVR and have been extremely happy with that decision ever since. I am still amazed at some of the capabilities of this system and it has truly revolutionized television viewing for my whole family.

Although there are numerous cool features of the VIP622, these are my favorites:

It allows me to watch one program while recording another program and even record two programs at the same time! I surely don't miss many of my favorite programs any more.

I can instruct the VIP622 to record my favorite programs whenever they happen to come on. I can choose to record a single episode of a program, all episodes or just new episodes. Once I set it up to record a favorite program, I don't have to do anything else but watch the recorded programs at a time that is convenient for me.

Similar to my DVD recorder, the VIP622 DVR also has a nifty button that skips ahead 30 seconds when watching a recorded program. This allows me to zap commercials very quickly and with little effort.

The Picture-In-Picture feature allows me to watch one program while also watching a program on another channel that appears in a little "window" on the screen. I use this feature when I change channels during commercials so I can keep an eye on the program I was originally watching and return to it when I see that the commercial break has ended. This is done very easily using the "Swap" button.

The VIP622 also allows me to pause any program I am watching, even if I am not watching a recorded program! This is referred to as pausing live TV and it allows you to press the "Pause" button and walk away from your TV for up to an hour without missing anything. Just press the button to resume the program when you return and pick it up right where you left off! A very nice feature!

You can also set up the VIP622 to feed programming to a television in another room in your house. And since the unit contains two receivers and comes with two remote controls - one of them uses radio signals that work through walls - both televisions can view programming without affecting the other. It's like having two DVR's in one!

After using my DVR for a few months, I cannot imagine going back to the old way of watching TV. The thought of dealing with tapes and stepping through long programming sequences selecting days of the week, times, channels and program length makes me want to cringe.

Having a DVR is almost like having a specialized TV butler who is happy to carry out my instructions to record whatever program I want whenever it happens to come on. That makes me wonder if I should come up with a name for my DVR. Something like "Jeeves" or "Alfred." Whatever name I choose, I am sure my DVR will continue to serve my television viewing needs well into the future.

Braden Kellen writes about consumer issues for HomesForNH.com, including a section dedicated to the best dish network deals for satellite TV programming.

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