FiOS TV Review Update

February 9, 2006 — 25 Comments

— This is an update to my original review. Check it out here.

I’ve had the service for a couple weeks now, so I thought I’d post my thoughts after I’ve had some time to really put it to the test.

First off, the HD picture on the HD channels in incredible. I know for sure it’s much better than what we had with DirecTV. The locals are a slight bit grainier than the national channels, but it’s not distracting. I’ve found that I only really want to watch stuff in HD on the 52″ screen. Verizon just added a new HD channel, MHD (Music HD with MTV, VH1, and CMT). I didn’t hear anything about it. It just showed up in the guide.

The downside to the great picture is the amount of space it takes up on the DVR. The SD shows don’t take up much space at all (maybe 1% per hour or so), but the HD shows hog a ton of space. For example, right now we have 8 hours of HD shows and 2 hours of SDÂ shows recorded. It’s taking up 45% of the recording space (160 GB). I don’t mind too much, since it just means I need to make sure to watch my recorded shows quickly. It could become a problem when we’re on vacation, though. I’ll take the limited recording space, for now, because I know the reason it takes up so much space is that the signal isn’t overly compressed. Hopefully Verizon will relase a DVR with a bigger hard drive sometime.
There are two problems that we’ve had using the DVR so far. Sometimes it won’t respond to ff/rw/play commands quickly. It’s annoying right now and if it keeps happening I’ll be calling Verizon to complain. The other problem has been FF/RW recorded HD shows. In the FF1/RW1 speeds the DVR doesn’t really move quickly.

Other than those two problems, it’s functioned fine. It hasn’t missed any scheduled recordings and overall has been satisfactory. I’ll post if I call Verizon about the DVR issues.


Kevin

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25 responses to FiOS TV Review Update

  1. Is there any way to download the DVR recordings?

    — Reply by Kevin —

    No. There is a firewire output, which Windows recognizes as a device, but there aren’t any drivers available at this time. I imagine that at some point in the future downloading to your computer will be enabled, but it’s not a feature today.

  2. Does it offer the “30 second skip” of Ultimate tv?

    –Reply by Kevin–
    No it does not.

  3. Thanks for such detailed information.
    I am having Verizon Fios TV installed this week. I did some searching online and found that a lot of people were having problems with the Fios DVR equivalent of the Season Pass. Because of these problems, I thought I would wait for them to get all the kinks out before using the DVR. Are you having any problems with things not recording? I am trying to decide if I should continue to use my Tivo’s or convert to the Fios DVR. The price ends up being about the same (tivo: $12.95+6.95+ 2 converter boxes at $3.95 = $24/month; 2 fios dvr’s = $26/month). The only thing different is that my Tivo’s are not dual tuner. But it is rare that I need to record more than 2 things at once. In your opinion, should I stick with Tivo or use the Fios DVR?
    Thanks!!

    –Reply by Kevin–
    I’ve been happy with the FiOS DVR. However, if you’re a big fan of the Wishlist feature and some of the Tivo exclusive features (Home Networking, Tivo To Go), you might want to stick with Tivo.

  4. Thanks for the great postings.

    I’m all set up to make the big cutover to FIOS’ triple play…not sure I like the idea of all my communication’s eggs in one basket, but I like the fiber optic concept.

    I read one reader was having issues with skipping frames. I’m also wondering if there are any performance issues when you’re mulit-tasking; Wife on the phone with her sister, 2 kids fully online with AIM, email, downloads, etc…and me with my HD sports.

    Last stupid question, with my Dish Network DVR, as so many people may have read recently, uses a TiVO like concept of being able to start watching a show I”m recording before I”m done recording…and continue recording. Example: I taped a football game, starting at 1. I came home at 2 and started watching from the beginning…I finished watching about the same time the game finished, since I FF’d through the commercials.

    Thanks!

    — Reply by Kevin
    I haven’t had any multitasking issues. I also haven’t noticed any frames skipping. No problems on my side.

    You can watch recorded while they are still recording. I prefer watching things that way now.

  5. I’ve had fios now for 6mo. After some minor glitches in the first week It is great. I had it installed the first week it was available on Long Island. The techs were new to the install process but keep at it until it worked. When you have fios installed make sure ALL your old coax is replaced. The original remote had issues but has been updated. There is now a 3rd gen remote that is suppose to be better.
    I was at friends home the other day and after watching his cablevision hd I had forgoten about all the data distortion I never get anymore on Fios. The internet no longer gets run time errors. My tvs no longer get distotion on channel 2, in fact the old tvs picture is better. With the DVR box I’ll never watch another commercial again. This is only going to get better over time.

  6. I am dumping Verizon FiOS and returning to DirecTV since FiOS had many problems with multiroom DVR and the FiOS customer service was awful, repeatedly. They would leave you on hold forever and then promise to call you back within 48 hrs. (it has been over a week now and no return calls from FiOS)… gheez and I was one of their first customers in MD in fact. I hear Motorola and Verizon have had issues with the DVRs, etc. So I may return once the righthand and the lefthand finally meet up and the service improves when problems occur. I recommend waiting until 2008 or so to see if Verizon fixes things w/o raising prices too much first!

  7. Ok,

    Here in Portland Oregon FIOS TV was release a couple weeks ago. I have had FIOS internet for several months and have liked it. As soon as the TV version was available I called in and spoke to a rep. I spoke with him for an hour to make sure everything was going to right.
    Here is what he told me;

    I get three free connects. Any more then that and I would have to pay for the connection. Ok, why they would not want me to have the best experience in beyond me. Then I was informed that I need a converter box (I currently do not need one for my coaxial cable) to see the digital signals. So for my main TV I would get the free box but the other 2 TV’s would not need a box and I would only be able to see the first 99 channels. That is fine. So the tech sows up. First he smells to high heaven of cigarette smoke. He then informs me that “no sir, sorry your were misinformed, in order to see any FIOS TV, you need a cable box on EVERY TV.” So this means that my TV in the kitchen that hangs from the wall needs a box, the TV in the bedroom needs a box and of course the TV in the living room needs a box. And of course, all this means that I will need to pay to rent an ugly box to sit on my kitchen counter. I DON”T THINK SO. I did not get the FIOS TV. And as I sit and type this out, I have been on hold with verizon “customer service” for 27.52 minutes. oh, and did I mention their hold commercials are broken? It goes in and out like it is not tunned in.

  8. I just had Verizon package installed after looking forward to it for a year i am very unhappy. I had Dish and am going
    back. The Fios TV picture is very grainy and they have far fewer HD channels then my Dish. I must have a perfect picture. My set is 61″
    What a mess with all the holes they had to put in for the boxes.

    — Kevin’s Reply —
    To each his own. I never had Dish Network, just DirecTV, so I’m not familiar with their picture quality. I know for certain that my HD sign from FiOS is MUCH better than DirecTV’s was.

  9. BUYER BEWARE!!!!!
    Verizon is not set up for customer service should you need it!
    Great picture, internet and ok phone service… BUT if you should need help you’ll be on the phone for HOURS waiting for a reprsentative to “help” you… AND I say that with great experience. I have dropped verizon and have gone to cablevision. In the past cablevision could also have been unresponsive to customer needs but now with competition around cablevision has stepped up their customer service phenomenally! I am soooo happy I no longer spend hours trying to find resolution from rep to rep. Every customer service rep at cablevision is well trained and cognizant of making the customer happy! Bravo!

    — Kevin’s Reply —
    I’ve actually had the exact opposite. I think the longest I’ve had to wait on hold for support has been about five minutes. They have also been able to resolve any issue that I’ve had with no problems. Maybe their support varies from state to state, but my experience has been very good.

  10. verizon just left a notice on my door that fios is now available. currently we have roadrunner cable internet, Verizon phone service, verizon wireless and DirecTV.

    I’d love to save money (paying $331 now) From what ‘i’ve found on Verizon website, I could save $146.00 by going completely Verizon FIOS.

    Only problem is I can’t seem to find wheter Fios offers the baseball package. Does anyone know if the baseball package is avaiolable on verizon Fios?

    From what I’ve read here, Verizon DVR is close to my DirecTV Tivo. with the exception of wishlist, which we use occasionally.

    If I stick with DirecTV (for the baseball package) the cost savings would be $42.00.

    I couldn’t find much discussion about the performance of the Internet compared to Brighthouse Roadrunner cable internet.

    I assume that the phone service would continue with exceptional service that i’ve had with Verizon for years. Another bonus would be the 20% discount on my Verizon wireless, which would be an additoinal $20.00 savings.

    Any comments would be appreicated.

    David

    — Kevin’s Reply —
    I have not seen anything advertised for the baseball package. Of course, I’m in Dallas where we are forced to root for the lowly Texas Rangers. That could be why I haven’t seen anything for it.

    We don’t have a home phone, so I can’t comment on that. But I do know that our internet connection has been rock-solid with no problems ever. I never had this kind of stability with cable internet or DSL.

  11. I had FIOS internet, tv and phone installed last week. With all the hype I thought all the channels would be crystal clear. Unfortunatley that is not the case. My biggest concern is the poor quality On Demand movies. They all have a slight blurr. I thought it may be my TV so I checked with my neighbor and she has the same blurring issue. I then installed a non-hd box along side my hd box and ran them through my reciever side by side. I found that the non-hd box actually had a better picture than the hd box. Since I use the on demand services frequently I find this blurring very annoying. Has anyone observed this problem? Any corrections?

    — Kevin’s Reply —
    It’s most likely that you’re viewing the VOD shows on a High-Def tv. What’s happening is you’re magnifying the poor quality picture that comes through the VOD. I don’t watch many VOD on my HDTV because of the low-quality. I’ve read that they have HD VOD shows, but I haven’t found any.

    My overall experience is that the HD signal is excellent, but SD is normal.

  12. Yeah, don’t do the Fios in MD right now. They leave you on hold–never call back. I’ve had it for a couple of days and it just doesn’t work, no picture, no internet, plus the MD reps don’t even seem concerned. I will be getting back directv tomorrow if I can get them in here. What a waste of a day off for the installation. They came in and had the order completely wrong, gave me a new phone number!?? I didn’t order that, and all the Spanish language channels. I don’t even speak Spanish, but they insisted that I had ordered that. They didn’t bring me a HDTV box, although I ordered one, only standard boxes. They said those are on back order. What a ripoff in MD.
    KJ

  13. I have FIOS and I was less than imoressed so far. The picture quality seems to be a little better and the price seems to be a little lower than Comcast. However, I do not care for the On Screen Guide or the HD lineup. It appears they do not even have MASN2 which is big in my area(md). With all the extra bandwith, I would think they have a lot of room for more HD content. I am trying to be patient but it seems like the rushed a lot of this and did not think it through. I am unable to go frame by frame and I can not “skip” back to live TV. I have to fast Forward until I get the real time programming. Comcast was much better in these areas not to mention everytime I called I was able to get a live person. I guess I will be patient but my patience is running out…..

  14. We’ve had FIOS TV and internet installed for about a year now, but we only ordered the DVR in October. This was the first DVR for our family, and this is in Sarasota, FL. So, of course, some of this commentary is mixed in with our experiences as new DVR users.

    Internet service – We had a Comcast cable modem before, which was fairly reliable, although it did go out 3 or 4 times in 2 years, usually for a couple of days at a time. The FIOS service started out a bit shaky. We lost service a couple times for a few hours, but this was within weeks of Verizon running fiber in our neighborhood, so we weren’t terribly surprised or concerned. It has become a very steady service. I’d say I’ve only seen the service drop a couple of times for less than an hour each time in the last nine months. And it’s happening less often. I think our last down-time was last fall some time, again it was just for about 30 minutes.

    TV service – it’s good, but we only have standard def TVs, so I can’t say anything about high res quality. The standard def signals are much cleaner than at my wife’s parents’ home, which is just a couple miles away. They’re on DirectTV. And they always seem to lose service when it rains hard, which isn’t that uncommon here in Florida. We have had a couple of drop outs when it got really windy and rainy, but since this is all linked together with internet service, they go down together, and as I said above .. .the reliability has been improving steadily.

    DVR – As a new user, of course we are very happy to have a DVR vs. not having one. As many have said, it changes the way you watch TV. We got the central home DVR with two remote boxes, so we can watch recorded shows from any of them. This has been a great feature. I’m a bit appalled at how much space HD shows take up on the DVRs drive, especially since we don’t even have an HD set. The DVR interface is fairly intuitive, and not unattractive, although some functions are rather clumsy, such as finding a show that’s not on in the next couple hours that you want to record. If it’s in the shortterm guide, it’s easy to start a recording. But if you have to go out and search the listings, it can be a bit daunting. The only real problem we’ve had with the DVR involves the playback controls, as has been mentioned. FF/REW don’t always register on the box. And sometimes it seems to cache a bunch of key presses and performs all of them in a row. This actually brings up the biggest problem with the DVR. Several times since we’ve had it in the house, it has gone all ‘unresponsive’. It seems to lock up in firmware somehow. The shows are still available, but it won’t register change channel commands or menu commands. This has happened about 5 or 6 times since we got the DVR. But the most annoying thing is trying to FF or REW in a recorded show. Several times I’ve missed a scene due to a phone call or some other distraction (like our toddler attempting to iron the dog, for instance), but pressing RW at first does nothing . . then it just restarts the recording from the beginning . . .infuriating if you’re at minute 50 in an hour long show. And then when I tried to FF to the point where I was watching previously, the interface just locked up completely. I had to restart the central DVR box to regain access. Annoying! I’m actually very reluctant to use the FF or REW buttons while watching a recorded show now, which does kind of limit the usefulness of the DVR a bit.

    Service – We’ve been long time Verizon phone customers, and briefly Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon phone support has been responsive and reliable . . .mostly. They are a bit draconian when it comes to billing questions. We’ve called on Verizon FIOS service a couple times, and have been very satisfied. A thunderstorm last Fall seemed to “confuse” our service modem, and this confused the TV boxes. That got straightened out very quickly, but I could tell this was a local service tech. I bet the responsiveness on the internet stuff is a very localized phenomenon. If you get a good local team, you’ll get great service, otherwise . . . maybe not. Oh, and Verizon Wireless support is horrible. Great phone coverage here south of Tampa Bay. But their phone people are rude and can’t seem to fix anything.

    My wish list? A bigger HD for the DVR. A way to send video to our home PC. A media center application for Macs. And the DVR interface needs about 5 more ‘evolutions’ to get to the point where the other DVRs seem to be. (At least, as far as I’ve heard.)

  15. we just got Fios internet and TV yesterday…I have lots of questions- and at least for now- just one complaint…My biggest question is- after I watch a recorded show on my DVR, can I save it so that someone else can watch it? As for the complaint- it is that using the media manager, whenever I attempt to access a music file, the whole DVR locks up and I have to unplug and reboot the dvr. I hear others have this issue with the media manager – so im scared to even try to use it now…which is a bummer. its never once worked correctly- locks up 100% of the time.

  16. Verizon Fios has a dual stream cable card (a multistream card) for the new TiVo Premiere and Premiere XL, but you have to order it just like your would any other piece of additional leased equipment. Moreover, be aware that the card has to be installed by a Verizon tech. I found out about this the hard way when Verizon cancelled my service appointment after I had requested tech service to deliver and install 2 new “multistream” cards on my two new Premiere XL Tivos. You can use the same general number that you use to contact Verizon 888-553-1555. Or you can call tech support direct by calling 877-744-2027. As I understand it, the card costs $3.99 per month.

  17. My bedroom fios motorolla dvr is not responding to remote commands. It’s not the remote, because it works well with another dvr in the house. what’s up with that? I cannot find out how to contact fios about this.

    • I have had the same problem with my Fios which was installed just today. The remote communicates fine with my TV yet doesn’t motivate the box to change channels, scroll through the guide, or anything else for that matter. It would respond for one or two remote clicks after I turned the TV off and back on (the box would put up the code du1 twice before the TV showed the image). The install techs were having a problem with the remote just before they left and after a lot of back and forth, they decided it was a problem with the “new” remotes and so they left an extra “old” remote behind. None of them worked properly.

      After a couple of hours of troubleshooting and convincing myself that there really was a problem, I called service and was told that there is a known issue with this box (qip7216…) and that they would ship me out a remote sensor “extender” taht plugs into the back of the box. I’m skeptical, but hopeful, as all indications are that the IR sensor in the box is not responsive.

      After waiting three weeks to get hooked up and now another week, I’m a little annoyed with how things are going. My experience so far with Verizon is that something is always amiss, if it’s not a bad installation, it’s a problem with billing. That said, the picture looks nice compared to my DirectTV and I’m hoping this is only a speed bump on the road to a satisfactory HDTV experience.

      Thought I’d share this in case anyone else has this problem during installation. If there’s even a hint of a glitch with the remote(s), ask the Tech to go out to his car and order the remote sensor extension.

      Cheers,
      Roger

      • Thanks for the comment, Roger. I hope you get the troubles resolved. That sounds frustrating.

        Have you ever tried out one of the Logitech Harmony remotes? I had one for years until my daughter dropped it in the toilet recently. They’re the best universal remotes I’ve ever used. They’re not cheap, but they’re totally worth the price based on the features you get. This is the one I’ll probably end up buying again one day http://amzn.to/aube0K

  18. I can’t seem to find any way to contact fios about vulgar rap music on the urge swing channel. In fact, I can’t find any way to contact them about any problem. When installed, the installer dropped the box on my hardwood floor and damaged it, but no one wants to do anything about it. I don’t like the way the DVR operates either – what a piece of crap.
    I’m going back to Direct TV.

    • I’d say if you can’t get in touch with someone in customer support to solve your issues you might consider contacting Consumerist.org to share your story. Their blog tends to cover stories similar to yours. I’m not connected with Verizon at all and I actually don’t have FiOS tv anymore.

      Good luck!

  19. I have officially fallen into the Rabbit Hole of FIOS Customer Service. What a joke. I actually switched from Comcast to FIOS because Comcast customer service was poor. Now that I have experienced my first interaction with FIOS customer support, I long for the days of Comcast!

    I had a seemingly simple request: for FIOS to send me the same 500 GB DVR upgrade that half the people on my block were getting emails about. I have not gotten the email, so I figured, no problem, just call FIOS and they should be able to send me the box or, failing that, at least send me the email, right? Is that asking too much?

    Apparently, yes. NONE of the three separate divisions I spoke with (sales, billing or tech support) could do that. One rep gave me two separate URLs that I could go to, to sign up for the DVR, and when I told them the URL they gave me would not work, and asked them to go online with me and walk me through it, they could not!

    What the heck?!? In ANY other encounter with customer service for any other company I’ve had dealings with, if you had a question about their web site, they go online with you and walk you through the process. How the heck do you guys not get how frustrating it is for customers when you can’t do this?

    Or simply generate a darn email??? You can’t do that???

    Also, I’ve had tech issues with my existing DVR. So customer support says they will send out a replacement OF MY OLD DVR! Huh?? I tell him., if I can scale the 500-foot wall of your company’s horrible customer support and somehow figure out how to get the 500 GB DVR, I’ll just have to replace the old one you’re about to send me. So how about you just send me the new 500 GB DVR instead? After all, I’m paying nearly $200 bucks a month for service–I think I deserve that basic level of support, don’t you? “Sorry, sir, that’s a different division. I can’t do that.” So he transfers me to billing. Guess what? “Sorry, sir, I don’t know anything about your level of service, terms of service, what type of DVR you’re supposed to have, so I can’t help you with that.”

    ARRRGH!!!!!!

    Congrats, FIOS. You are officially one and done–the MINUTE my first year of service is up, I am RIPPING OUT your equipment and going back to Comcast. Or maybe I’ll just start reading books more. A heck of a lot cheaper and infinitely less frustrating.

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