Update on Dish DVRs

Last year, I wrote about how much I despised the Dish Network ViP 622 DVR due to its instability.  My thoughts on this haven’t changed a whole lot.  In fact, we’re now using our 5th Dish DVR in 10 months.

3 ViP 622s failed on us.  When the third one failed, I asked the customer service rep to send me a different model.  They agreed to upgrade me at no cost to a ViP 722.  My hope was that there was something different about the design of the 722 that might make it more stable.

I don’t think there’s much different, other than the case is black, and the hard drive is bigger.  In terms of cooling, I don’t think anything is improved.

The 722 died after about 8 weeks.  The first symptom was when it said that it couldn’t access any of the disk-based features — no pause, rewind, record, or timers.  A reset fixed the problem at first, but then nothing worked.  We lost all disk functionality.

Dish sent a replacement 722.  This time, I’m taking cooling very seriously.  The DVR was located in a closed cabinet on top of a fairly warm Sony A/V receiver.  Maybe the heat of the two devices combines to push the DVR into dangerous temperature ranges.  I have to admit that my own stubbornness prevented me from buying any sort of cooling devices — I’ve never had to provide my own cooling for any A/V equipment before.  But this device just is not well designed from a cooling perspective.

So now I’ve moved the DVR to a spot next to the receiver instead of on top of it.  I also ordered an Antec notebook cooler to put on top of it to vent a little more heat away from it.  I’m stopping short of cutting vent holes and installing fans in our A/V cabinet.  Maybe when I’m on DVR number 6, I’ll think differently.  But I really hope that the changes I’ve made will fix the problem.  It’s now been almost three weeks, and the system has been very stable, and the case is even cool to the touch.  I would highly recommend one of these things for anybody using a Dish Network DVR.

Here’s what I don’t get — why isn’t Dish drowning in RMAs on these things?  I have seen a fair number of references to heat problems in online forums, but it doesn’t really feel like an all-out revolt against Dish.  But it seems that anybody who doesn’t take extraordinary steps to cool the DVR is almost guaranteed to experience these sorts of problems.

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