Long time DirecTV customer moving to FiOS and TiVo

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by Diana C, Jun 3, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Jun 3, 2014 #1 of 362
    Diana C

    Diana C Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Mar 30, 2007
    New Jersey
    We have been DirecTV customers for over 12 years, having switched from Dish Network in late 2001. At that time, we made the switch specifically to have access to the DirecTiVo. We had been using the original Dishplayer DVR (the one with one tuner and Microsoft's DVR software based on their WebTV UI) and finally got tired of the bugs and single tuner. We loved the TiVos (Series 1 units then) and eventually owned 5 Series 2 DirecTiVos, expanded the disk space on all of them, hacked them to enable MRV and TiVoWeb Plus. But then came HD. The HD DirecTiVos didn't last very long (lucky for us - we missed owning one) and we eventually migrated to the HR-20. We've been using DirecTV DVRs ever since, finally reaching a Genie (HR-34), 2 HR-24s and 2 HR-21s.

    So, it was with some trepidation and careful thought that we recently decided to look at going back to TiVo and switching to FiOS TV (we are already FiOS internet and phone customers). After months of deliberation we finally decided to move ahead last month. We got two TiVo Roamio Pro DVRs and 5 Minis (the Tivo Mini is roughly equivalent to the DIrecTV Genie clients like the C-41). The specs for the Roamios are quite impressive:
    • 6 tuners on the Plus and Pro, 4 tuners on the base Roamio
    • 500GB disk on the base Roamio, 1TB on the Plus, 3TB on the Pro
    • Built-in TiVo Stream (equivalent of the GenieGo)
    • RF remote standard (with a back-lit, slide out QWERTY keyboard, remote available as an add-on)
    • Bulit-in Web apps for Netflix, Hulu Plus, You Tube, Spotify, Pandora and more.
    Having now had both DirecTV and FiOS side by side for some time, our conclusion is that HD picture quality is nearly identical. Any differences at all are so small as to be imperceptible in normal viewing. In the area of SD picture quality, Verizon is superior by a large margin. The available HD channels are a wash, with the lineups being nearly identical and just a few extra HD channels on one and few others on the other. So, content wise, there is no downside to Verizon FiOS.

    The Verizon DVRs (made by Motorola) are, however, atrocious. The UI is confusing, cumbersome and buggy. They are currently rolling out a 6 tuner model (the VMS1100) but it has the same lousy UI. So, if we were going to make the switch, it had to be with TiVo equipment.

    Unpacking the TiVo Roamios, the first thing you notice is that they are smaller and lighter than most DirecTV DVRs. They are about the same size and weight as the HR-44, but with an internal power supply. The RF remote is the classic TiVo peanut shape, but is a bit shorter and heavier than the old Series 2 remotes. The are not heavy - the weight feels good in your hand. Starting up the TiVos takes you to guided setup, which asks for network connection details (the Roamios support Ethernet, MOCA and wireless connections) and then downloads the current software. Being designed for digital cable, the TiVos require a CableCard to decrypt the digital video channels. Verizon charges $4.98 per month for each cablecard, but that is our only monthly equipment fee (for 7 TVs). Slipping the card into the back of the TiVo launches the CableCard configuration screens at which point you call you cable company to activate and pair the cards with your TiVos. This is where the process gets sticky - some cable companies make getting and activating a CableCard very difficult, but lucky for us, Verizon is pretty easy to deal with in this respect. The installer that came to connect the coax to the ONT brought the cards and we were up and running within 30 minutes.

    Everyday operation of the system is quite good. The Minis provide the exact same interface as the DVRs themselves. Like DirecTV's Genie system, clients are associated with a DVR, but you can have multiple Roamios on the same network. In our setup we have 3 Minis attached to one DVR (for the adults) and 2 attached to the other DVR (for the kids). Unlike DirecTV, there is no unified playlist...to play a recording from a remote DVR you select the remote DVR from the local playlist and you are then presented with the remote playlist. This is both a plus and a minus. On the plus side, it allows you to segregate playlists by user(s), but it requires an extra step or more to browse multiple DVRs. The Netflix and Hulu apps are identical to what you'd see on a RoKu or similar device. The performance of the web apps is better than any of our Rokus (except perhaps our Roku 3) and the apps on our BD player. The Minis are also quite fast, but not quite as fast as using the DVR locally. They don't use RVU (I assume, since they don't have a "boxless" option), and they don't support wireless (although several users have reported that they work fine through an external wireless bridge). The supported network topologies are Ethernet or MOCA. BTW, the Roamios can function as a MOCA/Ethernet bridge.

    Overall, the TiVos are faster, more reliable and just generally more enjoyable than the DirecTV DVRs. That we can have the same channels, at the same or better quality, with better, faster DVRs, with integrated OTT apps, all for half the price we were paying, has made the decision a no brainer. As soon as we have watched all of our recordings, we'll be cancelling DirecTV and shipping most everything back (except the one HR24-500 that we own).

    The real bonus for us is the monthly cost savings. We have been paying FiOS about $85/month for 75/35 Internet and voice service, while paying DirecTV over $200/month for the Premiere package, HD, DVR and Whole Home fees, plus 7 outlets. We will now be paying FiOS $145/month for everything, including the CableCards - a savings of over $140/month. While there was a sizable cash outlay to purchase the TiVo equipment with lifetime service, at $140 per month, it won't take very long to earn it all back in savings (less than 18 months) and then that $140 goes into our pockets every month.

    This is, I believe, part of the goal of the AT&T acquisition of DirecTV. The ability to offer a bundle can make a huge difference in competiveness. If AT&T can offer ALL of the customers in their service areas a bundle of internet, phone and TV (and TV that doesn't limit you to 3 or 4 simultaneous channels, and doesn't consume a big chunk of your internet bandwidth) for a price similar to the competition then that will be good for both AT&T and DirecTV.

    Added on 6/13/14 at 10:55 am...
    NOTE: This thread devolved into pointless arguments after page 5 or 6, so there is little reason to read any further that that.
    1 person likes this.
  2. Jun 3, 2014 #2 of 362

    wilbur_the_goose Hall Of Fame

    Aug 16, 2006
    I've been getting closer and closer to the same decision. I've had a base FIOS TV package for about 6 months now (pretty cheap when bundled). The STB is horrible, but TiVo is certainly attractive.

    If D* is messed up by AT&T, I'll be gone in a flash.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Jun 3, 2014 #3 of 362

    bpratt Godfather

    Nov 24, 2005
    Salt Lake...

    I'll be sad to see you go because I have enjoyed reading your posts over the last few years. I purchased an HR44-500 from Weaknees about a year ago and have been looking at the Tivo Roamios since. In my area, my only cable choice is Comcast which would cost me about $20 per month more that what I am currently paying DirecTV if I also included two Roamios. Comcast does offer a bundle which includes phone, internet and TV and I could get a deal for a year, but after that the price I pay would be greater than what I now have. But with the recent serious software problems DirecTV is having with their Genie, and the probability that their software programmers will never get it right, I think I will switch to Comcast and Tivo when my current 2 year contract ends with them.

    See you soon on the Tivo Roamio forum.
  4. Jun 3, 2014 #4 of 362

    pappasbike Godfather

    Sep 19, 2006
    I think the constant software problems are making everyone take a look at alternatives. Most people including myself are paying quite a lot for these services so these issues are quite troubling. I already have Comcast for phone and Internet so getting the tv service would probably get me a fair break for a while anyway. I'd like DTV to admit their issues, like the new auto delete "feature" and start handing out credits.
  5. Jun 3, 2014 #5 of 362

    AMike Godfather

    Nov 21, 2005
    I have been doing dual subscription for the past couple of years with D* and Comcast. I have been using Tivo Premiers and just added a Roamio to my set up on the Comcast side. As I have mentioned in another thread, the PQ via Comcast at times has exceeded the D* PQ. When I first got Comcast, the difference was in favor of D*.

    I am getting a great double play deal from Comcast as I have Ooma for my home telephone. My internet speed was just upgraded at no extra cost to 100 down/20 up which has been insanely fast.

    As for the Roamio itself, I have to say in my opinion it is the best DVR out there or at least the best one I've used. I too had the original standalone series 1 Tivo as well as the first iterations of the DirecTV/Tivo units. I have always preferred the Tivo over the D* units and wished DirecTV/Tivo units supported whole home.

    The response time is lightning fast and is quite easy to navigate. The integration of Netflix, Hulu Plus and Comcast on Demand is a great combination without having to use other devices like Apple TV or a Roku.

    I am still waiting on some of the programming decisions to be determined, namely the SEC Network. If I had to choose between the 2, the Tivo makes Comcast a compelling choice. But the drawback with Comcast is their horrific customer service.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Jun 4, 2014 #6 of 362

    bidger Hall Of Fame

    Nov 19, 2005
    I considered the Roamio, but for my setup it would have had to include a TiVo Mini with the subscription that entails, so for the same price as the MSRP of the Roamio basic I went with the Ceton 6 tuner ethernet device, finished upgrading a W7 Ult 64 bit machine with a Core i-7 CPU, 8 GB of RAM, a dedicated terabyte drive to record to, and everything on a Gigabit network. Since I already had an Xbox 360, the media extender capabilities were in place. I wish I had Verizon FIOS so that I would not have to deal with the tuning adapter, but far be it from Verizon to actually compete in my area with decent Internet, 1.5 Mbps down in my area, or offer TV. IOW, to actually compete with TWC. Glad you're happy though Diana. It seems that a lot of the long-timers here have found out that cable is actually competitive to satellite.
  7. Jun 4, 2014 #7 of 362

    damondlt New Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    Yep I'm most likely going to follow your footsteps this summer, Our local Blue Ridge Cable is going to start offering and supporting Tivo service.
    I'll be giving them a try myself.

    Sent from my Galaxy S5
  8. Jun 4, 2014 #8 of 362

    PK6301 Legend

    May 16, 2012
    Erie, PA
    While I applaud those who seek to find better alternatives and morn to see them go I am struck by the reality that Verizon has stated that in my area FIOS will not be installed within the foreseeable future. ( in others words NEVER ). But that is OK, They lost a customer for life, No phone, Internet,Mobile Phone.. Their lose.. :grin:
  9. Jun 4, 2014 #9 of 362

    Steve Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2006
    After 13 years, I've left DirecTV, at least until the fall season. My mom and son both switched from FiOS to Cablevision and their "cloud DVR", and I was impressed enough with what I saw to want to play with it for a few months. :p My son switched because he moved and FiOS wasn't available in his new building. My mom switched because she ran out of incentives and her FiOS TV bill skyrocketed. She's saving about $80/month for 2 years with Cablevision's triple play vs FiOS, along with $175 in gift cards.

    My daughter and family are happy FiOS users. So are my two sisters. I'm a huge fan of what TiVo's done with Roamio, but I have to respectfully disagree with Diana and Wilbur re: the FiOS box UI. I've used it a lot and think it's fine. Just my .02, but I don't think you can go wrong either way, Roamio or FiOS boxes. I haven't seen how FiOS presents their new VMS-1100 6-tuner box. My guess is it's the same UI, but I don't know for sure.

    Cablevision offered me great pricing with no ETF, so I'm free to return to DIRECTV at any time. In a nutshell, I get about 90-100 hours of HD cloud storage, 15 recording tuners and management of my TDL and play list from my iPad, iPhone and PC. I can also stream any live TV channel to my iPad or iPhone at home, so while we're watching a show on our 65" display, I can keep an eye on the Rangers or Yankees on my iPad. Very handy. Cablevision also offers a great library of On Demand content. Everything from the major networks is available the next day in HD, usually going back 6-8 weeks. As a bonus, I'm saving about $40/month over what I was paying for DIRECTV, internet and phone, and I'm enjoying 50/25 vs. 15/5 internet, along with HBO and SHO, neither of which I had before. Pricing is guaranteed for 2 years.
  10. Jun 4, 2014 #10 of 362

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

    Mar 4, 2006
    Herrin, IL
    I'm so jealous of you that have a good cable offering in your area. Here it is D*, E* or Mediacom and Mediacom is horrid. Poor equipment (all refurbs), poor HD channel selections in comparison and I think the VOD is still all SD. Their only saving grace is that in a bundle for a year, they are much cheaper.
  11. Jun 4, 2014 #11 of 362
    Diana C

    Diana C Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Mar 30, 2007
    New Jersey
    A couple of comments regarding points made by others above...

    I'm not going to say that TiVos are bug free - just a quick read of the posts on TivoCommunity will show that. But most of the issues are around CableCard activation and pairing, and Tuning Adapters. There are a few reports of the Roamios spontaneously rebooting, but these are still relatively few. There was also a big issue a month or so ago where TiVo accidentally downgraded a number of units that had been upgraded to the Spring release. While not exactly a bug in the DVR software, it totally messed up the effected DVRs for days.

    The cost of buying Tivo equipment (assuming your cable company doesn't offer them) can be significant. The base Roamio is $199 (also the only Roamio that can receive an OTA signal - the rest are cable only), the Plus is $399 and the Pro is $599. To that you add service fees - $14.99/month for the first DVR or $499 for lifetime, $12.99/month or $399 for lifetime for each additional DVR. However, there are discount codes that are pretty easy to acquire that will save you a LOT of money. Personally, we paid $699 for each Roamio Pro and $174 for each Mini, all with lifetime service. which saved us about $1,000 off the list price.

    I'm not sure that we would have done this if Cablevision were the only option available. I have bad memories of being a Cablevision TV customer back in the early 90's and I wasn't impressed with their cable modem service 10 years ago (we were one of the first towns in NJ wired for FiOS, so we've been FiOS internet users since 2007).

    One of the factors that helped drive this decision was Hurricane Sandy. When most of New Jersey was without power for days, Cablevision went dead, but FiOS stayed up. Each time we fired up the generator (we trying to conserve fuel, since all the gas stations were closed) as soon as I powered up the ONT we had phone and internet service. We have since installed a whole house generator that runs on natural gas, so next time the power goes out, we'll still have power and be connected, both to the internet and TV newscasts - and no more rainfade. :)

    Verizon has stopped expanding FiOS, but that is really because they overbuilt, or at least built too quickly. When the stopped the build-out they were passing 18 million homes, but only 5 million of those were subscribers. They will need to grow market share in the current footprint before they expand more. In the meantime, they are adding features and capabilities to FiOS and focusing their expansion efforts on wireless. Google Fiber has learned form this mistake, and are installing fiber FAR more slowly than Verizon did. I an optimistic that they will start expanding FiOS again, but perhaps not for another 5 years.

    Switching to FiOS for TV only makes economic sense if you buy TiVos. If we had gone with Verizon's DVRs and/or the VMS1100 and IP Clients the cost difference would have been only $20/month or so. While some may find the Motorola DVR UI okay, the only good thing I can say about it is that it is quick. :) Speaking of speed, a lot of people at TiVoCommunity complain that the Roamios are slow - everything is relative.

    Finally, I'm not leaving DBSTalk. I'll be around - after all, even FiOS is based on a Digital Bit Stream. :)
  12. Jun 4, 2014 #12 of 362

    Steve Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2006
    I've heard from others that Cablevision service in New Jersey is sub par vs. what I'm seeing here in Westchester County, NY. I've had Cablevision internet for the past two years, and it's been rock solid. Before that, I had FiOS internet, and it was rock solid as well. I was told by the Cablevision sales folks that my neighborhood has fiber to the pole, so that may be the reason. When I had 15/5, I routinely saw 20/5 on speed tests. My 50/25 service looks like this right now:

  13. Jun 4, 2014 #13 of 362
    Diana C

    Diana C Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Mar 30, 2007
    New Jersey
    Yes, we are very lucky...we have Cablevision's Optimum, Verizon Fios, DirecTV and Dish Network (although Dish is pretty dead in the NY area because of the regional sports issue) available to us.
  14. Jun 4, 2014 #14 of 362

    texasbrit Well-Known Member

    Aug 9, 2006
    Here just north of Dallas I have four options - Time Warner cable, ATT Uverse, Dish or DirecTV. No FIOS. And no sign of any FIOS expansion into my area.
    TWC. Everything that's bad about cable. Variable PQ. Poor DVRs. Terrible customer service.
    ATT UVerse. Where my house is, limited to three HD streams. Indifferent PQ on HD. Poor DVRs. Erratic service. I have Uverse Internet and am always having speed problems, and good luck to those of us who have to navigate ATT service. How a company can have such poor web site implementations is beyond me.
    So that leaves Dish and DirecTV.

    If FIOS was available I would be very unhappy with the start-up costs if I went TiVo (and one of my colleagues in a neighboring city has FIOS, and the DVR is very poor, so it would have to be TiVo.)
    As I understand it, there is proposed legislation to remove the requirement for cable companies to support third party boxes so the days of TiVo on FIOS might be numbered.
  15. Jun 4, 2014 #15 of 362
    Diana C

    Diana C Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Mar 30, 2007
    New Jersey
    The courts have ruled that the FCC did not have the authority to mandate CableCards, so that rule is effectively already dead. However, practically every DVR and STB provided by every cable company (including FiOS, but not including UVerse) has a CableCard inside it. While Verizon has been talking about moving to IP based delivery (like UVerse, but with something like 100 times the bandwidth) they now have millions of CableCard/QAM based set top boxes out there. Unlike most cable companies they deliver the guide data and VOD via IP, instead of using OOB channels or switched video. Theoretically, Verizon could switch to IP delivery, but that would, at a minimum, require a complete rewrite of their STB software if not a STB replacement.

    The FCC is drafting new rules that conform to the courts' guidance, but are now looking at software based solutions that would also work for IP delivery. This can take a year or two to shake out. In the meantime, I suspect that it will be the status quo (no cable company is going to off and do something that might run afoul of pending regulations).

    I don't doubt it will happen eventually, but I'm confident that it won't be before we have both made back our initial investment and pocketed the $140/month for many months. At that time, we'll review our options.
  16. Jun 4, 2014 #16 of 362

    bwaldron Impossible Dreamer

    Oct 24, 2005
    I am as well, after 17 years with DirecTV.
  17. Jun 4, 2014 #17 of 362

    Steve Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2006
    You'll likely review your options in 24 months anyway, when the promotional credits expire. They extended a few of them for my mom during her third year, but none after that. Her bill went up around $100 more than the initial rate. We called retention before she switched, but the best they could do is to extend a $20 "good customer" credit.

    Good news is at that time, you can likely switch to Cablevision for a comparable 2-year promotional price and continue to use your TiVo boxes. A friend of mine here in Westchester just went Roamio/Cablevision and is very happy with it. Or if you decide to go back to DIRECTV, you'll get a good resale price for your TiVo equipment with lifetime service.

    If I stick with Cablevision and don't return to DIRECTV, I'll be losing about $95/month in credits after 2 years, so I'll have to make a similar decision.

    I actually had a FiOS triple play alongside my DIRECTV service a couple of years ago, to take advantage of the phone/internet piece. Pricing for all 3 was less than I was paying for internet and phone alone. Since I already have an ONT in my basement, I'm constantly receiving "returning customer" offers from them. I think the latest was a $59 triple play with a 2-year commitment.
  18. Jun 4, 2014 #18 of 362
    Diana C

    Diana C Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Mar 30, 2007
    New Jersey
    Yes, I have a potential switch to Cablevision (although I'd have to hold my nose when I call them) as my 2 year plan. But I've had very good success with Verizon so far in getting credits extended or replaced. I've had FiOS since 2007 and I don't think I've ever been without discounts on my account.

    I figure that worse case, I'll go back to DirecTV (with all the new customer discounts) and either sell the TiVos (with lifetime, I'll practically be able to recoup all I paid for them) or hang onto them and switch again in 2 years. One of the great things is that SWiM/DECA has made the whole cable plant in my house compatible with either provider (I'm hanging onto to my SWiM 16). The only difference is that the coax signal starts in the basement for FiOS and in the attic for DirecTV. :)
  19. Jun 4, 2014 #19 of 362

    Steve Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2006
    My thinking as well, if I'm disenchanted with Cablevision come the fall season. So far, so good though. Trickplay's a little "trickier" due to latency issues, but I'm already used to it, and everything else is working great. Knock on wood! :p
  20. Jun 4, 2014 #20 of 362

    dcowboy7 Hall Of Fame

    May 22, 2008
    Pequannock, NJ
    With the ultimate package epix, showtime, cinemax, redzone channel are included but here in northern NJ (not sure where in NJ you are) they also throw in hbo & starz which is cool.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page

spam firewall