Switched From Cox Cable to Verizon FiOS TV

Even though I was the first person in my neighborhood to sign-up for the uber-fast Verizon FiOS internet service (15Mbps downstream/2Mbps upstream), I’ve been waiting to see how their TV offering fared before switching. This past weekend I finally took the plunge. I decided to get the Home Media DVR along with the basic set-top box so that we could watch DVR content from anywhere in the house. That with the basic and movie package ends up being $18 less than my service with Cox (which doesn’t include a movie package). Since I don’t watch too much TV and my wife can live without it, we decided against the HBO package. When the Verizon tech arrived (¾ of the way through the 8am to 5pm time window they provided), he quickly went to work switching the cable connection outside of the house from Cox to Verizon’s AFC ONT. Once that was done he brought the two new set-tops inside along with the remotes (as it happens the remotes are almost identical to the Cox DVR remotes made by Scientific Atlanta). Before setting up the DVR box he asked where my Verizon wireless router was—I happily obliged by going down to the basement and getting the still sealed box that the router came in. Unfortunately, the DVR requires the use of the Dlink router—which I refused to install as I’m running custom software on my LinkSys WRT54GL. Thankfully the technician had a Motorola cable modem in his truck which he was able to use instead. Once that was sorted out, it was a simple matter of swapping out the existing Cox Scientific Atlanta set-tops for Verizon Motorola set-tops. The picture quality is great, though we have no HD TVs in our household so my impression matters little to you hard-core TV watchers. I will say that the enhanced program guide is going to take some getting used to after using Cox’s for so long. It’s not that one is better than the other, just different. The DVR definitely needs some work. The gold standard by which I judge DVRs is, of course, TiVo and both Cox and Verizon have a long way to go—but the experience provided by Cox is better than Verizon at this point. Granted, I’ve seen numerous updates to the DVR software rolled out by Cox during my years of service with them (they didn’t even have a season pass feature when I first received it). So if you compare Verizon’s DVR to Cox’s initial DVR, Verizon comes out on top. One huge difference between the Cox DVR and Verizon’s is the space. Verizon has a 160 GB hard disk while Cox only has 40 GB. Recording shows on a one-shot basis is trivial with Verizon as is recording every single instance of that show, but it gets tricky with way too many button presses to record just the new episodes of a particular show. My co-worker, who recently switched from Verizon’s DVR to a Series 3 TiVo with dual cable cards, complained that deleting shows took too many button presses, but I’ve not found this bothersome (probably because I’m coming from Cox’s DVR and not TiVo). The home media option, which allows you to watch DVR content in other rooms on the standard set-top boxes is in desperate need of an upgrade. You cannot even fast forward through recorded content on a remote set-top! Just fixing this one issue would significantly improve the experience. The “on demand” content available through Verizon appears to be much greater in size and scope than what we had with Cox. Though this may be colored by the fact that with the movie package you get access to Starz, Showtime, TMC and a few other channels worth of movies, original series, specials, etc. Overall, I’m happy with the switch; especially because the service is comprable if not slightly better and it’s saving me a bit of money each month. Updated 2006-11-24: I called Verizon about the issue of not being able to fast forward DVR content on the remote set-top and they refreshed both boxes which resolved the issue. So my biggest complaint about the service has been resolved. Yay!