A review of Verizon FiOS, overall good – but not so for their STB

Over at Broadband Reports, member weenah has posted a review of the Verizon FiOS service. Overall, the review is strongly positive:

I have to give FiOS internet two very enthusiastic thumbs up and a 10/10 in the awesome scale. Seriously, I have zero complaints outside the monolithic Actiontec router they give you. If you only have the internet package you can sidestep the Actiontec (don’t recall the model number) with a router of your choice.

Television: I’d rather not bore you with the details of the premier package since it can be found on the V* site. Regardless, standard definition broadcasts are absolutely astounding on my 50″ plasma. Comcast and DirecTV don’t even come close to the PQ of the FiOS SD picture. It’s like night and day.

HD picture quality on FiOS is equally great, but the difference between what Comcast offers vs FiOS isn’t nearly a great deal as it is with SD. DirecTV’s original HD channels before the huge HD expansion they pushed recently were terrible. In fact, I thought the FiOS SD channels were only slightly less appealing than DTV’s original HD offerings.

As far as picture quality with FiOS, I once again give it two very enthusiastic thumbs up and a 10/10 on the awesome scale.

But weenah doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to their set-top box software:

I was hesitant to give up my TiVo for the FiOS DVR back in March. I knew I could use a TiVo with the FiOS service but I wanted to check it out for myself. The IMG (interactive media guide) FiOS offered back in March wasn’t aesthetically pleasing and wasn’t in the same league as a TiVo (hell, it wasn’t even in the same sport) but it worked. If you’re previously had TiVo you’ll absolutely hate the V* DVR. If you’ve never had TiVo before than you won’t think the solution V* offers is as bad, but you’ll still know it’s not great.

In late August V* rolled out the IMG 2.0 and it’s been a fluster cuck since then. The only positive thing I can say is that it’s at least prettier than IMG 1.0. Missed recordings, dropped “season passes” and numerous other issues have plagued the IMG. The FiOS forum on dslreports.com can tell you even more about the problems with the box. Also, a 160GB hard drive gives you about ~23 hours or so of recording space. That’s just not enough. I’d be more than happy buying an external eSATA drive to increase the size but that’s not an option because it’s locked down.

I’ve called numerous times to the FiOS support lines and have always been greeted with incredibly helpful people who are eager to address the problems. Unfortunately they are unable to fix the DVR. It’s the buggy software that’s the issue and it’s not something that can be fixed by a first or second level tech.

Ouch. That stings. At least FiOS does support CableCARD, so weenah does have the option to use a TiVo Series3 or TiVo HD. And it sounds like that may be the solution in the end:…I may find myself with a brand spanking new TiVo come Christmas time.

Personally, I’d love to have the option of using FiOS, at least for my data, and possibly to replace my cable service. But it hasn’t made it to my neighborhood yet.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • http://bjdraw.com Ben Drawbaugh

    I’ve had FiOS for about 4 months now and while I’ve never tried their DVR, I can say I really like their router. At first I wanted to avoid using it, but it really is a full featured router and even includes a few features I’ve never seen on any router (like DDNS) and it eliminates one box from my setup as.

    As for CableCARD support, FiOS is one of the only providers that I know of that doesn’t support M-Cards, so even if you have a TiVo HD, you’ll need two cards.

  • Matt David

    It is my understanding that with a cable card you can use TIVO with FIOS but you will not be able to order VOD. So if you like to watch movies on demand this is not a good option. Can anyone confirm this.

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ MegaZone

    Yes, that is true. The TiVo cannot order VOD/PPV on cable or FiOS. And while that may change on cable next year, FiOS is unclear as they use IPTV to deliver VOD and not standard cable signaling. While, in theory, the TiVo could handle IPTV via the network, Verizon would have to work with TiVo to enable that.

    Of course, you can always use Amazon Unbox to rent movies on TiVo.

  • Matt David

    Thanks that was very helpful. I never thought about Amazon Unbox. I will look into that. I hate the idea of leaving Tivo. I have had Tivo since the days of 12 hour boxes.

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ MegaZone

    Another option is to use a TiVo for all the normal linear DVR functions, but to keep a Verizon STB to use for VOD. But that would increase the costs because you’d have two boxes.

  • Matt David

    I like that option better and since I am using an Aeros universal remote that process would be seamless. You have been very helpful.

  • http://bjdraw.com Ben Drawbaugh

    Since FiOS uses MoCA for VOD, couldn’t TiVo just choose to support the standard? I do know that FiOS’s waiver ends July 1st 2008, so at that time M-Cards and OCAP should be a reality.

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ MegaZone

    MoCA is just a carrier specification, like Ethernet. I’m not sure if the tuner hardware in the TiVo can ‘tune’ MoCA signals or not, so I don’t know if it would mean new hardware or just a software update.

    But they’d still need to know the interface Verizon uses for ordering and billing for VOD/PPV – the communication protocols to talk to the Verizon head end. MoCA is like Ethernet. Anyone can implement Ethernet, but you still need to know how to speak HTTP to talk to a web server.