Fios TV Review – Update

It has been 6+ months since I signed up for Verizon Fios TV, and I have new information to share. Essentially this is a follow up review to the original article on Verizon Fios TV. A few months back I was actually considering canceling the service due to some playback issues. The video was frequently choppy and almost unwatchable. When I called Verizon about the issue, they convinced me to give them another try by crediting my bill for one month of service, and sending a technician out to resolve the issue.

If you’re thinking about upgrading to Fios:

  1. Check with Verizon for availability: Can you get Fios TV?
  2. Then follow this link for the current specials: Fios TV Specials

You can read more details here: How to order Fios

At the time the video issues were not a big deal because I also had Dish Network. Once I let them know of the issue, a technician came right out. It turns out there was a known issue that was being caused by the Home Media DVR service. This is the service that allows standard definition recordings to be played back from any set top box in the house. It also can connect to a PC (through the Fios network) for music playback and picture viewing. These are neat features, but at $7/month extra, I really did not use them enough. The biggest limitation of this feature is that playback sharing only works on SD recordings. Most shows I record are in HD from the main TV in the house.

Well I suppose removing this feature would have addressed the video issues I was having, but still the technician updated the firmware on my Actiontec router, which was supposed to address the issue with Home Media DVR. He also went ahead and swapped out my Motorola QIP6416 with a brand new one just in case. I was very pleased with the service call.

Interactive Media Guide

Verizon Fios TV IMGIf you haven’t already heard, Verizon will be launching the all new Interactive Media Guide (IMG), also known as Fios TV 2.0, nationwide sometime this summer. It has already launched in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Verizon put together an interactive demonstration of the new guide at: http://www.verizonfios.com/img/

This new interface is not just the guide date display on the TV, it’s the entire software program that runs the set top boxes. This could make a big impact on the Fios TV experience, especially since the only complaints and issues with the Fios TV service have to do with the current software that runs the set top boxes. How much improvement the new software will make remains to be seen, but I’m excited to test it.

The original interface was developed by Microsoft and Motorola back in 2005. Since then, they were supposed to make a new and improved version, but continued problems and delays forced Verizon to engineer their own. It definitely looks promising. Lets hope it is!

Upcoming Features

  • High Definition Video on Demand: Fios TV already offers one of the biggest VOD libraries available. The only feature it lacks is high definition. I’ve been told be Verizon service reps that this capability will be enabled soon. When it does, cable and satellite companies better watch out. I believe this will be a HUGE advantage for Fios and no doubt will be my favorite feature. The ability to offer possibly thousands of titles on demand in HD is not something that any other provider will be able to do any time soon.
  • PIP: As I noted in my original review, Fios TV does not currently offer PIP, even though the buttons exist on the remote. We’ll I’ve been told that this feature will become active very soon, possibly with the IMG upgrade.

Actiontec MI424WR Fios Router

This router has now been re-branded with Verizon’s name and has a new look. I believe firmware is compatible with the new an old version. For those looking to upgrade your router firmware on your own, go to: http://www2.verizon.net/micro/actiontec/actiontec.asp

Set Top Boxes

No updates with the equipment currently offered by Verizon. I am not aware of any purchase options either. The set top boxes must be leased at 4.99/9.99/12.99 per month for regular/HD/HD+DVR respectively. They do also offer a digital cable card lease for $2.99/month. You may also provide your own Digital Cable Ready (DCR) cable card to view Fios programming. I do not believe there is any additional charge for this, but some features such as VOD and widgets will not be available. PPV through a cable card is only possible by calling Verizon to order a PPV program.

These features don’t work because they are enabled by IP technology. The Motorola STBs (QIP2500, QIP6200, and QIP6416) are actually custom hybrid systems that use QAM to deliver scheduled programming and IP to deliver on-demand video and other interactive features. QAM is the same technology used by cable companies, and therefore Fios is compatible with DCR cable cards. It is their intention to eventually move to an IP only network, which will not be compatible with current cable cards.

Final Words

It seems that Verizon Fios is one of the best deals for TV and entertainment service. $42.99+12.99 per month gives you a full programming set with DVR and HD, no other satellite or cable provider can say that. It is true that you’ll need a set top box to receive any channels beyond locals, but this will be the case for all providers in the future. Even Verizon will remove the analog broadcast of local channels on Fios by February 2009 to comply with new FCC regulations. According to these new laws all TVs will require a digital tuner, either an external set top box, or a built-in tuner or cable card. This is something to keep in mind.

I have actually canceled my Dish Network service and am sticking with Fios TV. If anyone is still unsure about switching, you can always try Fios TV for a month or so and see how it compares to your existing provider (like I did). If you call your current provider to cancel service, they will in most cases, offer you an incentive to stay, i.e. Dish offered me 1 month free service to do side-by-side comparison with Fios. Nevertheless I canceled Dish and went with Fios. I was quite happy with Dish Network service, I just like Fios a little better, and it costs less.

If you’re thinking about upgrading to Fios:

  1. Check with Verizon for availability: Can you get Fios TV?
  2. Then follow this link for the current specials: Fios TV Specials

You can read more details here: How to order Fios

For more information on Fios TV, check these related articles:

To ask questions and share information regarding Fios, please check out the Fios Forum.