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Considering FiOS (Tough decision)


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#41 OFFLINE   apet8464

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 10:57 PM

I have now been officially on FiOS TV, along with a pair of Tivo Premieres, for 11 days, and I am actually leaning heavily toward canceling, and going back to DTV - especially if I can get my hands on a pair of new HR24s. The issue isn't FiOS. In fact, my FiOS service and PQ have been fine. I do have to say, in my opinion DTV has slightly better PQ - at least for the channels I watch on my 63" Sami plasma. Must be the DTV signal processing since FiOS apparently has the advantage on bandwidth.

Now on to my dilema. In a nutshell, I am very disappointed with the Tivos, and not just because of problems or defects with them, but also because of some of the basic functionality they lack. Not to say there aren't problems or defects. Between the two units I have running, I've had to hard reboot about 10 times in the last 11 days, as they seem to lock up a lot. The lockups have occurred either after a channel lineup change, or while accessing music or video from the network. It could be an issue with my network I suppose, but they still shouldn't lock up and be completely unresponsive. We're talking about pulling the power plug here. The other problem is that he new flash interface is very laggy. So laggy, that I have finally moved back to the old menu, which seems to work much better.

As for missing functionality, many of these are nitpicks, and specific to my needs. Lets just say that I definitely have a new found appreciation for the HR21, and suspect that the HR24 is probably the best DVR on the market. Hard to believe, based on some of the fiery HR20 forum posts from a few short years ago. DTV has really made the investment (unlike Tivo).

Here are are a few of the negatives of the Tivo Premieres. Again, some of these are specific to my needs/tastes:

1. No RF remote. Big issue since I share one of these DVRs between two TVs in different rooms. It's also a pain to watch TV in bed now, as I have to hold the remote up in the air and aim it (I know, poor me!). I do have an old IR to RF repeater system working, but it's not a very elegant setup and it doesn't work very well. I know I can add RF capability to the Tivo remote via a special battery, but that's another $100 on top of the $550 I already spent on these units. On a positive note, I've always liked the Tivo peanut remotes, and when I have line of sight, the Tivo's remote is smooth and responsive, with little if any lag, except when on the Flash based menus (more on that later).

2. No coaxial digital audio out (Toslink only). As I mentioned, I share one of my DVRs between two entertainment areas, and my setup employs four coax cables between the areas to pass component video to the 2nd TV, and digital audio to the 2nd receiver. Again, I know I can buy a Toslink to coax converter, but that's more money, and I'm not sure how well it will work. The coax runs are around 40 feet. By the way, the Tivo's component out signal appears to be slightly stronger than the HR21's, as the picture on my 2nd TV is noticeably better over the 40 foot coax run.

3. I won't recap all of the GUI limitations with the Premieres, as plenty of other reviews and postings have pointed them out, but honestly, based on my experience, I would still have to classify the Tivo Premiere as a beta product at this point. For example, when you press the Tivo button while watching a show, the audio cuts out for a second or two. Not a big deal, but it's annoying. The HR21 certainly never did that. Also, many of the GUI menus are still the same old Tivo menus I had back in 2002 with my series 1 boxes, and whenever you switch over to them from the Flash menus, the mini-picture and sound disappear.

4. No FiOS on-demand content. Yes, this was a known limitation when I signed up, as were many of the other limitations I mentioned, so I won't blame FiOS or Tivo. And, yes, I have Amazon and Netflix now, but it's a relevant limitation. I already have Netflix on my PS3, and what I could really use is Hulu access.

5. The much talked about FiOS copy flag issue will supposedly render my MRV capability useless since Tivo still copies the content to the other receiver, though I haven't actually experienced this yet. The MRV functionality actually works very well with the Tivos. Nothing like having the data local for trick play. I haven't had an opportunity to see the HR24s in action yet with DECA, but I suspect MRV has improved over the HR21 MRV, which was solid, but a little slugish at times.

6. The 30 minute pause buffer is too short.

7. I can't use my eSATA drives with the Tivos, so I will either have to spend another $250 just to buy the official Tivo approved HDDs, or assuming a Premiere-specific utility appears at some point, replace the internal HDDs, which means I void my warranty.

So, now I have a short few days left before my 30-day Tivo cancellation period ends, and about 2 weeks for my FiOS cancellation period. I was actually considering a Moxi setup, but I think I would still end up missing my HR21s. I have come to the conclusion that DTV is the most serious about home entertainment. TV is basically all they do, and they do it well. Yes, they command a premium over FiOS (for now at least), but I'm starting to think it's worth it for the consistent service and better DVRs. Still, I think I'm going to call DTV tomorrow to cancel, and see if they will come up with a compelling reason for me to stay (as in a pair of HR24s). If they do, I will definitely just cancel FiOS and Tivo and re-up with DTV. If they don't, I may just stay with DTV anyway. Even the HR21s are better than these Tivos.

Edited by apet8464, 27 July 2010 - 11:20 PM.


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#42 OFFLINE   HoTat2

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 03:23 AM

I guess you learn something new every day. A lower bit rate can have a better picture. Not to make an issue out of this, but I have to ask. A zillion times I’ve seen posts stating DIRECTV has better HD quality than DISH due to compression rates. I’ve seen countless micro blocking complaints too due to compression rates.

What magic algorithm is DIRECTV using to beat FiOS’ higher bit rate, yet DISH cannot beat DIRECTV’s higher bit rate? I thought when comparing apples to apples, less compression always wins.


Well first as was pointed out the respective HD PQs between FiOS and DirecTV, and even dish for that matter, are practically the same.

But from a theoretical standpoint at least, DirecTV can offer comparable HD picture quality to FiOS at lower bit rates because DirecTV uses MPEG-4 compression which requires roughly half the bit rates than does FiOS who like all other CATV providers use MPEG-2.

In dish network's case while they also uses MPEG-4 compression, in theory dish offers less HD PQ since they actually down-rez the source image resolution from 1920 x 1080i to 1440 x 1080i before MPEG compression ("HD-lite"). This results in lower comparable bit rates than DirecTV and thereby reduces bandwidth, but results in less picture quality.

Keep in mind that dish does not use the separate Ka band for HD channels like DirecTV does, but only the Ku band to be shared by all their SD and HD channel offerings to subscribers. Therefore bandwidth conservation measures are much more critical to dish than DirecTV.

#43 OFFLINE   texasbrit

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 06:22 AM

The place you should definitely see differences between FIOS and DirecTV is on HD locals. FIOS has higher bandwidth (although it's difficult to compare because MPEG-4 requires less bandwidth) and since it is MPEG-2 does not have to convert the signals to MPEG-4 like DirecTV does. The conversion to MPEG-4 has some losses and therefore typically the DirecTV PQ will be slightly worse then FIOS (and OTA).
There are of course conversion losses on the other channels also (except those delivering MPEG-4 signals to DirecTV) but there are bandwidth and other conversion issues earlier in the chain that apply to both services. Two of my neighbors have FIOS and the generally quality of HD seems about the same, with the exception of locals. I have off-air as well as DirecTV and although the PQ of the DirecTV HD locals is excellent you can often see that the quality of off-air is higher. My neighbor's FIOS HD locals are basically the same as my off-air signals.

Edited by texasbrit, 28 July 2010 - 06:23 AM.
addition re MPEG-4 bandwidth


#44 OFFLINE   Rich

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 07:42 AM

I haven't read the whole thread, but if you're comparing the TiVo to an HR21 and find the TiVo lacking, the 24s will be an improvement that you might not believe, at first. They simply blow away the 21s.

Rich


I have now been officially on FiOS TV, along with a pair of Tivo Premieres, for 11 days, and I am actually leaning heavily toward canceling, and going back to DTV - especially if I can get my hands on a pair of new HR24s. The issue isn't FiOS. In fact, my FiOS service and PQ have been fine. I do have to say, in my opinion DTV has slightly better PQ - at least for the channels I watch on my 63" Sami plasma. Must be the DTV signal processing since FiOS apparently has the advantage on bandwidth.

Now on to my dilema. In a nutshell, I am very disappointed with the Tivos, and not just because of problems or defects with them, but also because of some of the basic functionality they lack. Not to say there aren't problems or defects. Between the two units I have running, I've had to hard reboot about 10 times in the last 11 days, as they seem to lock up a lot. The lockups have occurred either after a channel lineup change, or while accessing music or video from the network. It could be an issue with my network I suppose, but they still shouldn't lock up and be completely unresponsive. We're talking about pulling the power plug here. The other problem is that he new flash interface is very laggy. So laggy, that I have finally moved back to the old menu, which seems to work much better.

As for missing functionality, many of these are nitpicks, and specific to my needs. Lets just say that I definitely have a new found appreciation for the HR21, and suspect that the HR24 is probably the best DVR on the market. Hard to believe, based on some of the fiery HR20 forum posts from a few short years ago. DTV has really made the investment (unlike Tivo).

Here are are a few of the negatives of the Tivo Premieres. Again, some of these are specific to my needs/tastes:

1. No RF remote. Big issue since I share one of these DVRs between two TVs in different rooms. It's also a pain to watch TV in bed now, as I have to hold the remote up in the air and aim it (I know, poor me!). I do have an old IR to RF repeater system working, but it's not a very elegant setup and it doesn't work very well. I know I can add RF capability to the Tivo remote via a special battery, but that's another $100 on top of the $550 I already spent on these units. On a positive note, I've always liked the Tivo peanut remotes, and when I have line of sight, the Tivo's remote is smooth and responsive, with little if any lag, except when on the Flash based menus (more on that later).

2. No coaxial digital audio out (Toslink only). As I mentioned, I share one of my DVRs between two entertainment areas, and my setup employs four coax cables between the areas to pass component video to the 2nd TV, and digital audio to the 2nd receiver. Again, I know I can buy a Toslink to coax converter, but that's more money, and I'm not sure how well it will work. The coax runs are around 40 feet. By the way, the Tivo's component out signal appears to be slightly stronger than the HR21's, as the picture on my 2nd TV is noticeably better over the 40 foot coax run.

3. I won't recap all of the GUI limitations with the Premieres, as plenty of other reviews and postings have pointed them out, but honestly, based on my experience, I would still have to classify the Tivo Premiere as a beta product at this point. For example, when you press the Tivo button while watching a show, the audio cuts out for a second or two. Not a big deal, but it's annoying. The HR21 certainly never did that. Also, many of the GUI menus are still the same old Tivo menus I had back in 2002 with my series 1 boxes, and whenever you switch over to them from the Flash menus, the mini-picture and sound disappear.

4. No FiOS on-demand content. Yes, this was a known limitation when I signed up, as were many of the other limitations I mentioned, so I won't blame FiOS or Tivo. And, yes, I have Amazon and Netflix now, but it's a relevant limitation. I already have Netflix on my PS3, and what I could really use is Hulu access.

5. The much talked about FiOS copy flag issue will supposedly render my MRV capability useless since Tivo still copies the content to the other receiver, though I haven't actually experienced this yet. The MRV functionality actually works very well with the Tivos. Nothing like having the data local for trick play. I haven't had an opportunity to see the HR24s in action yet with DECA, but I suspect MRV has improved over the HR21 MRV, which was solid, but a little slugish at times.

6. The 30 minute pause buffer is too short.

7. I can't use my eSATA drives with the Tivos, so I will either have to spend another $250 just to buy the official Tivo approved HDDs, or assuming a Premiere-specific utility appears at some point, replace the internal HDDs, which means I void my warranty.

So, now I have a short few days left before my 30-day Tivo cancellation period ends, and about 2 weeks for my FiOS cancellation period. I was actually considering a Moxi setup, but I think I would still end up missing my HR21s. I have come to the conclusion that DTV is the most serious about home entertainment. TV is basically all they do, and they do it well. Yes, they command a premium over FiOS (for now at least), but I'm starting to think it's worth it for the consistent service and better DVRs. Still, I think I'm going to call DTV tomorrow to cancel, and see if they will come up with a compelling reason for me to stay (as in a pair of HR24s). If they do, I will definitely just cancel FiOS and Tivo and re-up with DTV. If they don't, I may just stay with DTV anyway. Even the HR21s are better than these Tivos.



#45 OFFLINE   lman12

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 08:35 AM

Just curious - where did you see the information about 3 HD channels per QAM? From where I sit, that's not true. Verizon recently got rid of 4 premium HD west coast feeds (2 Max and 2 TMC), and added a couple channels in their place.

Are they butting up against a space issue? Yes, they are. Is their plan to go to 3 channels per QAM? Not that I'd heard. From what I understand, their plan is and always has been to migrate to IP.

On the DVR capacity... yeah, that's an issue. They currently offer a 160 GB box that can store about 20 hours of HD. There is a new box coming out later this year which will double that capacity, and include esata. They were supposed to have a new box out already (by CISCO) but they hit major production problems, pushing them to go back to Motorola to come out with a newer version of the boxes they currently offer.

If recording space is that much of an issue, then you do have other options - the most obvious being a 3rd party DVR (TiVo or Moxi, e.g.). You can have multiple DVRs on FiOS as well, but as someone else pointed out, for now you can't share recordings from one DVR to another. You can only have one DVR specified as your Home Media DVR (multiroom) and it would share recordings with other stand-alone STBs on your other TVs. It's the setup I have and I have to say, it works beautifully. My one nit on that is that I can't manage recordings from those other STBs. I can only play back what I have recorded.

Overall their PQ is just outstanding. Their boxes aren't as feature-rich as DirecTV's, in my opinion, but are really fast, and pretty darn bug-free.

If you're considering FiOS, but aren't sure, then you may want to just try it. Suspend your DirecTV service, and sign up - I believe Verizon is still offering a trial period for FiOS service...

Even if you don't get their TV service, though - their internet service is (again, in my opinion) the best going. It's fast - there are no slow periods... none... there's no throttling... there are no download caps... and it's rock solid - in my 4 1/2 years as a FiOS internet customer I've had one minor outage.


This review appears to be written by a Verizon employee in the FIOS marketing department.

#46 OFFLINE   jpl

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 11:26 AM

This review appears to be written by a Verizon employee in the FIOS marketing department.


No, it's written by a former DirecTV customer who's now a FiOS TV customer. The one thing I can't comment on is the difference in the HD PQ, since I never had HD with DirecTV.

On the bug-free front, the end of my tenure with DirecTV left a bad taste in my mouth. I found my R15s sluggish and buggy (with one of them, every time I unplugged it, it was a crap-shoot if it would reboot right). Even something as simple as caller ID never worked right. On that same box I would get phantom calls every minute or so, meaning that I had to turn off the feature on that box. Yeah, I've seen issues crop up with FiOS, but I can't classify any of them as show-stoppers (their s/w just seems a hell of alot more mature - not as feature-rich, like I said, but clearly they actually do things like regression testing).

I freely admit that all of my comments are subjective - because they're MY comments. But from my experience, that's what you get. I find the service to be solid... the PQ outstanding... and the performance to be quick. I'll also grant that DirecTV's h/w seems to have come a long way since I left (over 3 years now), and that Verizon's lack of recording space is a big issue for some (not really for me, but I can see where it can be).

No... I don't work for Verizon... I'm not a share-holder. Sorry if the review seems biased, but it's going to be. If, on balance, my view didn't favor FiOS, I'd be a moron - I chose them for reasons that are important to me.

Now, there are other nits that I have against Verizon/FiOS, but I was trying to gear my response to the concerns of the OP. For example, their ordering system sucks. Their billing system used to suck too, but it's improved dramatically. They need to apply the same improvements to the ordering system. I was also trying to give the OP some avenues if he was considering FiOS, but not sure what to do (e.g. suspending his DirecTV account and trying out FiOS, since they have a trial period). And as for the internet service - yes, it's that good. I have 35/35 internet service that I can't say enough good things about. I get the full speed, any time, day or night, with no download caps and no throttling. I never really appreciated that speed until just the other night (wasn't sure I would need 35Meg down). My wife was watching something on our one TV (not using IP), but my one daughter was watching something via Netflix, streamed through my Wii onto our second TV. Another daughter was playing around the web. So I fired up the laptop, and watched a movie, streaming in, via Epix HD. I never noticed so much as a hiccup during my entire movie-viewing time.

Edited by jpl, 28 July 2010 - 11:33 AM.


#47 OFFLINE   ksupmac

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 02:22 PM

I'm currently with FIOS, and I'm canceling in a couple weeks to go with DirecTV. I got FIOS a few years ago as soon as it was available in my area. The TV and internet has been fine. The phone has been awful -- terrible sound (even directly from the ONT, despite Verizon's claims that the problem is my internal wiring) -- but that's not a big deal to me since I rarely use the phone anyway.

My 2 biggest reasons for the move are 1.) curiosity about satellite TV, and 2.) the cost. When my bundle was set to expire, I tried to renew it, but I Verizon wouldn't allow me to even keep the TV package I had because it didn't exist in their system anymore. I was being forced into choosing between 2 different packages, and of course the more expensive was the one I would need. On top of that, the amount I had to pay with FIOS for the equipment was really starting to annoy me. So I'm switching. I intend to keep FIOS internet, I intend to cancel FIOS phone service, and I just hope my DTV turns out to not suck. If it does, I would go back to FIOS. I didn't have a terrible experience with them, but it wasn't a super-positive experience that will make me regret leaving (unless DTV sucks).

#48 OFFLINE   ranmic

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 06:34 AM

I have DirecTV and my best friend has Verizon FIOS. He got a deal on his service because he is a former Verizon employee. He FINALLY made the switch to FIOS for high speed internet. DSL was not available in his neighborhood before FIOS and he loathed Cox Cable so it wasn't an option for him and he was satisfied.

Now that he has FIOS, he loves it. I actually like it a lot too. It's definitely a different system from DirecTV but he has had absolutely zero problems w/ his service. I'm not 100% sure of the specs of how much HD the DVR's will hold but he hasn't had a problem with that generally because he deletes things pretty quickly after he watches them. The On Demand service is pretty cool. The On Demand portion does have quite a few options in HD. During the regular viewing season, the list can be pretty nice - especially if you miss and episode and forgot to DVR it. We missed the first night of Big Brother on both my DVR AND his DVR and was able to pull it up from the FIOS On Demand service essentially commercial free. It was pretty cool.

I may not be the best person to ask about HD quality - because I think ANY HD quality is better than Standard Def! But he does have channels in HD that I don't. I realize that some people really do not care about having HSN or QVC in HD on DirecTV but I do tend to flip to those channels every once in a while and believe me....it's tough watching it on DirecTV when I see the fantastic quality of those channels in HD on FIOS. It's definitely quite a difference! I would love to have those channels in HD on DirecTV just for the sheer pleasure having them in high definition. Pretty cool. They also have quite a few more Premium Channels in the HBO and Cinemax packages if you're into the movie stations. And they're ALL in HD starting at Channel 899 to boot.

He did have DirecTV prior to FIOS and had absolutely no complaints. He very much enjoyed DirecTV - but the bundle package was too good for him to pass up plus he was able to get rid of the dish on his house. I would consider FIOS if offered in my apartment complex now that I've had some experience with it. It would be hard though because I do love my DirecTV.

If there are any specific channels you are looking for in HD, I would be happy to see if they are on there for you. :-)

Not sure if my post helped in your decision but I don't think you'd be disappointed in FIOS. For me, I would choose either or depending on what I could get in HD and what channels I would be receiving for how much. As in any situation, there are services unique to each provider and it's going to be all about what you want to receive programming wise. Good luck!


I agree norfolktide. I had Cox and absolutely hated it......service was constantly down. I switched to FIOS in Newport News when it was offered and never looked back. The quality was great and their internet speeds WERE as advertised.....not like Cox. Then I moved up North for job transfer and FIOS was not an option so I took Direct and I love it as much as FIOS. Both of those services are great choices in my opinion, but cable is by far lagging way behind them all.




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