Fios HD After Switching to Tivo HD

Tivo LogoI had a question on my last post about how things have been since I ditched the Fios HD DVR and switched to to the HD Tivo. I thought that was worth another post.

At this point, I’m a couple weeks in with my switch to the HD Tivo. My girlfriend and I are extremely pleased with the results. The Tivo just works. It is quick and easy to schedule. It records everything I ask. It’s an amazing difference.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the Tivo has been totally perfect. We record and watch a lot of TV. There have been two cases since we got the box where the HD Tivo has stuttered during playback. I tried to watch a show and it would stutter and stop. I tried the obvious things to get it to reset and they didn’t work. Finally, I rebooted the Tivo and the program played fine. During both of these times the HD Tivo was recording two other shows. Of course, it’s pretty standard for us to be recording two shows and watching a third during any evening and it works fine, so it’s only been these two cases where this occurred. Sounds like a bug, but it’s been infrequent enough that it doesn’t upset me, but I’m hoping Tivo fixes it so I can say the experience has been perfect.
A few other thoughts on the current Tivo setup:

20 hours of HD isn’t enough. Tivo or Fios DVR, I want a larger disk. I’ve heard that the e-sata ports on the Tivo are active, and with a few tricks you can add an external drive. That would be perfect. As soon as I get a chance, I’ll add a 500GB eSATA drive and it’ll be great.

For me, two tuners isn’t enough. I said we watch a lot of TV! Now I’ve got two HD tuners in the living room, and a standard def Phillips Series One Tivo in the bedroom. That’s got us covered. I’ve also got a MythTV box with an HD receiver that I might set up with an off the air HD antenna, just so I can get HD in the bedroom instead of just standard def.

The handling of the different HD modes and aspect ratios is really nice. I’ve selected a fixed mode for the 16:9 TV with gray bars for 4:3 programs. The Tivo also supports zooming the 4:3 content. That way letter boxed programs can fill my 16:9 TV correctly. My Sony XBR does that correctly, so I don’t really need that feature, but if I had the HD Tivo connected to the cheapo HD LCD in the bedroom, it would be great. That set doesn’t handle zoom correctly.

I haven’t really used the internet access features. The games on the box are just filler. The universal swivel search is sort of neat. It’s sort of interesting to track the relationship between various films and actors and such.

If anyone from Amazon or NBC is listening, why the heck do I have to configure one click purchasing in order to watch free programs? I tried to download one of your free premier episodes, until it told me I had to go to Amazon and configure one click purchasing to do it. I understand doing that for the episodes that cost money, but make the free downloads easy! Then if I like it, I’ll configure the one click purchase. Instead I gave up on the process, and I won’t use Amazon Unboxed.

As I mentioned, Verizon doesn’t have multistream cable cards, so they had to put two cable cards in the box. I’m not sure if they’re treating those as separate rentals at $3.00 a piece, or as I heard from someone else, it’s really just an outlet charge, and therefore only billed once. I guess I’ll know when I get the next bill.

Since I have an original Phillips series one Tivo on a lifetime subscription, I’m using the multi-unit discount for my HD Tivo. That saves me $6/month. That’s a nice benefit. It’s a shame you can’t get both the pay-up-front discount with the multi-tivo discount, but that’s OK.

I got rid of two FIOS HD-DVRs and replaced them with one HD-Tivo, and one stand def box. That’s quite a bit of cost savings. The setup in the bedroom is essentially free, because I use my old Tivo which is paid for, and the standard def FIOS TV box which they include if you sign up for a year of service. That’s lower quality, but it’s an OK trade off for the bedroom TV.

I’m very pleased with how I’ve got things setup. I think it’s clearly a better solution than the FIOS HD DVR. It removed a ton of frustration. No regrets at all.

  1. david adelman at

    Great post, thanks. My mom is getting Fios and is a huge TiVo fan, so we are thinking about swapping in a TiVo HD in place of Fios’ Moto HD DVR box.

    One question:

    How do you get to Fios’On Demand content? Through the TiVo HD?

  2. daryll at

    Hi David,
    That’s a drawback today. You can’t get the FIOS On Demand. The Tivo HD support Amazon Unbox and I’ve rented a couple movies on demand that way.
    The Tivo/Cable guys have supposedly agreed to a two-way adapter that would allow on-demand. Who knows how long that will take to come out.
    FIOS actually has some nice free On Demand content, so I do miss that a bit, but it’s usually content I can get on my computer for free, so it hasn’t been a big loss.

  3. Dave at

    Hey – great posts. I have been trying to find out for days now whether or not I can forego the acquisition of the FIOS HD DVR (when they are ever available). The TiVo UI is so far superior to ANY DVR interface, it’s just not fair. Obviously, I want TiVo.

    I was wondering; do you only pay VZ for the cablecards? Or do you still have to pay them the monthly HD charges as well? Which TiVo DVR are you using? Series 3 (I hope)? Thanks, and these are the best posts I’ve found on this so far.

    – DT

  4. daryll at

    Right, VZ doesn’t charge extra for the HD channels just for the HD boxes, so by paying my $6/month for the cable cards I’m all set.

    I’m using the Tivo HD not the series 3. The Tivo HD supports M-card, has smaller capacity (but you can add an external drive), has a lower end front panel, isn’t THX certified, but is also half the price. That was a reasonable trade off for me.

  5. Greg Smith at

    You were able to get a Phillips Series One Tivo to work with FIOS? That’s neat, I have one of those with lifetime service, and I thought it was going to be obsolete once I switch to FIOS for video (only using the Internet right now). Any chance you could give a quick outline of which FIOS box you hooked that up to, and how you got the Tivo to control it/grab guide info?

  6. daryll at

    I’m not doing anything really tricky with the Phillips. I’ve got a Fios SD receiver box. I connected the SVHS output and audio to the Tivo. I use the IR blaster to control the receiver box. Tivo handles the guide data themselves. So the Phillips box calls in to Tivo to get the guide updates.

    I was a relatively early adopter for Tivo so that Phillips box with lifetime service has worked out to be a great deal. I hope I get as much out of my HD Tivo.