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Review
The DishPlayer Experience


By Wolverine_X
(August 29, 1999)

Convergence, convergence, convergence. In today's world of electronics the word is highly overused. To some it's a beautiful thing that defines the future with new and improved possibilities and to others the sheer mention brings a shudder or fits of nausea.

Echostar and WebTV have come together to offer a true convergence product that is sure to change the way many people access the internet. By combining an internet access appliance(WebTV) with a satellite receiver and a digital video recorder(DVR), the DishPlayer enhances not only your internet experience but your television experience as well.

One of the true selling points of the DishPlayer unit is its cost. Currently you can find the DishPlayer unit for prices ranging between $49 and $199. Units can be bought through Dish Network directly, through your local satellite retailer or through online companies like Satellite One.

The price includes a self install kit, coaxial cable, A/V cable, S-Video cable, telephone line, the satellite dish itself, remote, wireless keyboard, the DishPlayer unit, all needed batteries, and booklets on usage and installation. As you can see you are getting considerably more than your moneys worth. I was impressed to say the least at everything that was included.

Professional installation is available through your local satellite retailer. I found the installation of the satellite dish itself to be relatively easy but do HIGHLY recommend following the instructions to the letter. There is a set up screen that displays the signal strength being received by the satellite receiver. This is helpful in getting the optimal signal before progressing to choosing a viewing package from Dish Network or signing up for WebTV.

Once the satellite dish is installed to your satisfaction you can choose your programming choices. The programming choices found through the Dish Network are affordable and can be tailored to your wants, needs and your budget.

Programming for the Dish Network starts at $19.99 for the Top 40 package. The next step up in programming is the Top 100 for $28.99. The Top 100 also includes cd quality music channels with enough variety to please most everyone. Make no mistake, DishNetwork also provides premium movie channels, sports, broadcast networks, and international programming. Best of all for you money minded folks out there, the DishNetwork programming is less costly than that of competitor DirectTV.

A simple call to Dish Network is all it takes to start receiving digital audio and video in your home within minutes. Once that is completed you can sign up for the WebTV service or transfer your previous account from your existing Classic or Plus unit to the DishPlayer.

Screens are provided to walk you through the WebTV sign-up process. The screens are easy to understand and progressive so not hard to follow. I do recommend all new users take a good look at the Terms Of Service. The TOS is there to provide you with what is and is not acceptable usage as defined by WebTV.

For new subscribers to WebTV you will be able to start surfing the net or emailing family and friends within minutes.

For those people that are upgrading to the DishPlayer from a WebTV Classic or Plus unit it may be necessary to call WebTV at 1-800-GOWEBTV to initiate a box switch. They will ask you for box information and may have you create a dummy account. The process takes less the 20-30 minutes.

It is not necessary to subscribe to WebTV if wanting to use this unit specifically for a satellite receiver. For those users wanting to use the DishPlayer for WebTV purposes only you cannot for the first 4-6 months. Due to where you buy the unit or the price of the unit you will be required to maintain at least the Top 40 programming package for 4-6 months. After that time if you so choose, you can cancel your Dish Network programming and use the DishPlayer as a WebTV unit.

The Rest of the Story

Part 1: Introducing the DishPlayer

Part 2 - The Hardware

Part 3 - The TV Side

Part 4 - The WebTV Side

Part 5 - The Future


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