Equipment Options for FiOS TV
With all the equipment options for FiOS TV, choosing the right ones can be daunting. I’ve decided to really evaluate all the options, so that your decision is easier.
What equipment works with FiOS?
Due to the complicated nature of FiOS TV (a hybrid service combining QAM and IP technologies) there are a few different levels of service possible depending on the equipment.
- Standard TV: Previously any old TV could tune into the local channels over FiOS without any set top box. This is because the local channels were simulcast in analog format. However this feature has been phased out and is no longer available.
- TV or other device that has a built-in digital QAM Tuner: Can pick up all available local broadcast channels in both standard definition and high definition. This is essentially the same channel set that was previously simulcast in analog. No set top box is required.
- Cable Card: They are available from Verizon for $3.99 per month. They can be used in any device that has a cable card slot and is Digital Cable Ready. A cable card will give you access to all subscribed channels, both standard definition and high definition, but does not include any interactive features such as the Interactive Media Guide, Video on Demand, Games, or Widgets. Cable card ready devices include many new TVs and TiVO equipment (more on that below).
- Digital Adapter (Motorola DCT 700): This is essentially a miniature set top box with similar functionality as the cable card. It can connect to any TV and tune into any subscribed channel that is not high definition, but it does not support interactive features such as the Interactive Media Guide, Video on Demand, Games, or Widgets. It is available for lease from Verizon for $3.99 per month.
- Set Top Box: The set top boxed can connect to most TVs, and include access to the Interactive Media Guide, Video on Demand, Games, or Widgets. Verizon set top boxes are hybrid models manufactured by Motorola. They can access all subscribed channels through QAM and all interactive features through IP technology. IP is not a standard for digital cable devices. This is why normal cable cards cannot access the interactive features.
Set Top Boxes
Standard Definition Set Top Box: Currently this is the Motorola QIP 2500-3. It can tune into all subscribed standard definition channels. It has a RF out, S-video out, and composite video out for connection to any television. It has stereo RCA outs along with digital audio coax out and digital audio optical out. When using the digital audio out, it is Dolby Digital capable. This set top box is available for lease at $5.99 per month.
High Definition Set Top Box: Currently this is the Motorola QIP 7100. It can tune into all subscribed channels, SD and HD. It has the same connections as the 2500 plus a component video out, and an HDMI output for connection to an HDTV. It is available for lease at $9.99 per month.
DVR Set Top Box: Currently this is the Motorola QIP 7216. It has two tuners that can view and record SD and HD. It can record up to two shows simultaneously while another recorded show is being viewed. It has a 160 GB hard drive which can store up to 80 hours of SD content and/or 20 hours of HD content. It can pause and rewind live TV (up to 1 hour buffer). It has the same connections as the 7100, with the exception of the RF out. Particularly the 7216-2 does not have the RF out while the 7216-1 does. Both models are in circulation, so if you want the DVR set top box for an old non-hd television, you should request the 7216-1.
Previously there was the QIP 6416. The 7216 is the newer version. It adds MPEG4 capability (for future programming), an FCC-mandated two-way cable card slot for future compatibility, and 7.1 Dolby Digital. The QIP 7216 is available for least at $15.99 per month.
Home Media DVR: This set top box is actually just the QIP 7216 DVR set top box with additional features programmed. A regular QIP 7216 DVR can be upgraded at any time by calling Verizon or enabling Home Media DVR features through the Interactive Media Guide.
The Home Media DVR adds the capability to watch recorded SD shows on any standard set top box (QIP 2500) in the house or recorded HD shows on any high definition set top box (QIP 7100) in the house. Up to six SD/HD set top boxes can interact with one Home Media DVR. Up to three recorded shows can be watched on different set top boxes simultaneously.
The Home Media DVR can also includes the PC Media Manager, which allows you to view slide shows and listen to music stored on your computer on your television. The Home Media DVR features add $4 per month on top of the regular DVR lease fees, bringing the total lease cost for a Home Media DVR to $19.99 per month.
Unfortunately there is currently no purchase options for Verizon FiOS equipment. All their set top boxes and cable cards are available for lease only. Some devices may appear on Ebay from time to time, but these will not stay activated for long. If you can live without the interactive features, then the cable card gives you a lot of equipment options. Of course you still have to lease the cable card from Verizon. Since its cheaper than any of the set top boxes, this may be a good option for many.
The most popular use of the FiOS cable card is for TiVO equipment. A lot of people are already used to their beloved TiVO and would rather not switch to Verizon’s set top boxes. Even new customers
can consider TiVO equipment for FiOS. In this case you CAN purchase the equipment. The downside is that you’ll also need a TiVO subscription which is $12.95 per month or $399 for a lifetime. When you add up the cost of the equipment, the TiVO subscription, and the cable card lease fee, TiVO actually ends up costing more than any of the set top boxes available from Verizon. Even still, many people prefer the TiVO interface and capabilities of the TiVO equipment.
The cable card will not give you access to the interactive media guide, but the TiVO service will provide its own media guide and features. It’s important to note that there are two different types of cable cards in circulation. For a TiVO DVR to record two shows simultaneously (like the FiOS DVR), it may need two cable cards. The original cable cards available from Verizon are S-Cards (single-stream), and two of this type of card is needed. Some areas are getting the new M-Cards (multi-stream). Since these have dual tuners built-in, it eliminates the need for a second card and saves you $3.99 per month.
While TiVO equipment will not allow access to Video on Demand programming, it does have a few notable advantages over the Verizon set top boxes:
- ability to add an external hard drive or upgrade the internal hard drive for increased recording capacity
- ability to auto record programs based on a set of criteria
- ability to download recordings to a computer
- access to Amazon Video on Demand service
- access to Netflix Watch Instantly (with Netflix subscription)
So if you want to watch more than your local channels, you will need to lease equipment from Verizon. And you do need a piece of equipment for every TV that you want to watch more than just local channels on. Luckily this equipment provides access to a great service with tons of channels!
|Device||Monthly Fee||Local Channels||Subscribed Channels||Interactive Features|
|TV with Digital QAM Tuner||$0.00||Yes (SD/HD)||No||No|
|Cable Card||$3.99||Yes (SD/HD)||Yes (SD/HD)||No|
|Digital Adapter (DCT700)||$3.99||Yes (SD only)||Yes (SD only)||No|
|SD Receiver (QIP2500)||$5.99||Yes (SD only)||Yes (SD only)||Yes (SD only)|
|HD Receiver (QIP7100)||$9.99||Yes (SD/HD)||Yes (SD/HD)||Yes (SD/HD)|
|DVR (QIP7216)||$15.99||Yes (SD/HD)||Yes (SD/HD)||Yes (SD/HD)|
|Home Media DVR (QIP7216)||$19.99||Yes (SD/HD)||Yes (SD/HD)||Yes (SD/HD)|