Saturday, August 22, 2009

Goodbye Cable, Hello FiOS TV

Verizon rolled out FiOS in our neighborhood a couple of years ago, and we were one of the first to jump on the bandwagon. Our old copper phone lines had gotten almost unusable. Loud static and pops, disappearing dial tone, cross talk from the neighbor’s line, it was ugly, and so was our DSL connection. Verizon had tried to repair our service several times to no avail, and finally admitted that the copper infrastructure in the neighborhood was beyond repair. They offered to cut us over to fiber at no charge, and I readily accepted.

At the time, they still hadn’t rolled out FiOS TV, but I was super happy anyway. I finally had a crystal clear phone line and a constant 5/2 Mbps internet connection to boot.

When they began offering FiOS TV service about a year later, I hesitated, because I would need a box for every connection in my house. PiP on the main set, a Media Center PC, spare bedrooms, yikes… that’s a lot of additional boxes.

There was no way around it, as FiOS is an all digital signal and you need a box to get anything on an analog set. Even on a TV with a built in ATSC/QAM digital tuner you get very little, just the local channels, and in my experimentations the signal seemed to confuse the tuner at times.

So I stuck to cable. Expensive, bad cable, at that. The signal was so weak that I had to install a bidirectional amp, and the cost kept going up. Plus I was paying two different companies. So when cable started putting little love notes in my bill telling me that they were going all digital soon and I would need a box for all of my TV’s, I decided the time was right to jump ship.

Verizon offered me their Triple Play deal if I added the TV service. They’d give me a new and improved wireless router, up my internet speed to 25/15 Mbps (download/upload), “Multi- Room” DVR service, free HBO and Skinamax for 3 months, and knock $30 a month off of my bill for the first 6 months. That’s a pretty hard deal to pass up.

The best part though, is that the overall cost of the three services, voice, internet and TV, is $20 less per month (before the $30 promotional discount!) then I was paying before in total through the two different carriers, plus there’s one less check to write each month, so my wife is lovin’ me (at least for now), and the quality is head and shoulders above the competition.

It’s without a doubt the best picture I’ve ever seen since I began my pay TV odyssey so many years ago. All the TV’s are crystal clear with no preamplification, save from the set top boxes, so I got to retire my little bidirectional digital amplifier. The guide feature is much better, and there’s also all kinds of widgets you can pop on the screen that show you local weather, traffic, news, there’s even a Twitter and Facebook widget so you can post while you watch (be careful with this one, Verizon says that the name of the show you’re watching appears in the post…). You can even program the DVR remotely via the internet.

How does that work, you might ask? Well, Verizon ties a cable run into your router, and all your boxes draw an address from it. Networked STB’s, too cool! They claim that you’ll be able to stream video from your computer to your TV’s very soon also. Sounds a lot like Windows Media Center to me, only without the need to add Microsoft’s “extenders”, or an Xbox. I’m curious to know if they plan on using Media Center as the tool for this, or if they’re working on a third party solution.

So, I have near perfect landline quality, a blazing fast 25 Mbps internet connection, smaaht boxes, an awesome picture, new channels, and I’m saving money to boot. Man, I’m livin’ the geekazoid dream...

If you can get FiOS TV in your area, you should make the switch, you won’t regret it.

And if you can’t,


ahem. sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

That is all.

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