You can boot it and when it says "searching for satellite", press the TiVo/DirecTV button on the remote to go to the menus. That assumes it has already been through the initial setup. I don't know what you mean by "switchover".
I plan to switch from the very old hughes dvr to the only old phillips. I was hoping to be able to check out the newer unit by just connecting to a second tv WITHOUT having go through the logistical hassle that putting it into my cabinetry/wiring nightmare.
What I read in the response is that just a dvr/tv is not enough and I have to hook up to the dish. I had hoped there was some built in software that would at least display a message.
No, you don't need a dish connection if all you want to verify is that the box boots. Either it will take you into the setup mode or you can bypass the "searching for satellite" by pressing the menu button.