DirecTV vs Verizon FIOS

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by mick34, Oct 31, 2008.

  1. mick34

    mick34 New Member

    Sep 13, 2005


    I finally got an HDTV so it's time to re-evaluate my tv service. I've been a DirecTV customer since 2000. Verizon is heavily promoting the Triple Play package. I already use Verizon for phone and internet. I could add the TV service for much less than I pay DirecTV.

    Any recommendations from people who have made this switch? Are you happier with Verizon?

    How does Verizon's multi-room HD DVR compare with the DirecTV HD DVR?

    Thanks for all your input!
  2. debtoine

    debtoine WTTWDC

    May 17, 2001
    We're switching to Fios from cable (switched from DTV to cable last year). We've heard that the picture quality is the best available with Fios, but that their DVR is lacking.

    Fios has many more HD channels than cable has, and no worry about SDV, so for us, it's going to be a welcome change.

  3. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    I am much happier with Verizon, but I have larger displays (two 58") where the difference is more obvious. If you just have a 40" HD display, you probably won't see much if any difference between the HD on DirecTV and FiOS. The FiOS SD channels are better than the DirecTV SD channels on almost any size display, however.

    The FiOS' Motorola DVR is not reliable, due to their choice of a guide data provider, so I would not opt for FiOS service without a TivoHD or TiVo Series3. If you have to choose between DirecTV with the DirecTV DVR and FiOS with their Motorola DVR, I would choose DirecTV. But the combination of FiOS with a 1TB TiVoHD is a match made in heaven.

    As the member above noted, there's no worry about SDV with FiOS. Verizon has no plans to use it, and they have capacity for many, many more HD channels (in addition to the ~105 already offered) without it.
  4. mick34

    mick34 New Member

    Sep 13, 2005
    Are you saying I can use any Tivo with the FIOS service? I'm not restricted to Verizon's DVRs? They're offering the home media HD DVR free for the first year. It's $19.99 after the 1st year.

    Excuse my ignorance but what is "SDV"?
  5. dslunceford

    dslunceford Well-Known Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    No. VA/D.C.


    Well, not any TiVo. If you want HD, you need a S3 or HD versions of TiVo and cablecards from VZ...check out the s3 forum, lots of Fios users, most pretty happy....
  6. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    For whatever reason, Verizon elected to use a cheaper guide data provider (FYI Television) as the source of program information for its own boxes. This guide data provider is less reliable, so sometimes new episodes will be marked as repeats or repeats will be marked as new episodes. Most episodes are recorded correctly, but missed episodes are still relatively common because of the unreliable guide information. Do you mind missing an episode of Heroes or House every 6 weeks?

    The complaints about the FiOS DVR's guide data are so common that Verizon will almost certainly switch guide data providers at some point (probably to a company like Tribune, which supplies TiVo and DirecTV with guide data). When Verizon does switch, that will instantly upgrade the reliability of their DVR. But who knows when that will happen?

    There's also the issue of storage capacity. The FiOS DVR only has a 160Gb drive to provide ~20 hours of HD storage. The same is true of the basic TivoHD model, but the TivoHD allows you to upgrade the internal hard drive or attach an external drive to expand storage capacity. There is currently no way to expand the storage capacity of the FiOS DVR, so you're always limited to ~20 HD hours.

    You can't use any old TiVo with FiOS. But you can use a TivoHD, TiVoHD XL, or Tivo Series3. You tell Verizon that you want a CableCard instead of their box. The CableCard costs $3.99/mo; it plugs into a slot on the front of the TiVo and authorizes / decrypts all the channels you pay for. This eliminates the need for the Verizon box. You do not have to pay Verizon for their DVR service when you have a TiVo, but of course you do need a TiVo subscription (or lifetime).

    You'd need one MCARD from Verizon, or two S-Cards if they don't yet have MCARDs available in your area. One MCARD authorizes two tuners on the TiVo, so you can watch one channel while your record another, or record two different channels simultaneously while you watch a prior recording. A S-Card only authorizes one tuner, so you'd want two of them if Verizon doesn't have the newer MCARDs in your area yet (the TiVo has two slots).

    Note TiVo uses its own guide data provider (Tribune -- best there is), so it isn't affected by Verizon's decision to use a cheaper guide data provider for their own boxes.

    The main limitation of the TivoHD DVR is that it doesn't support Verizon's VOD (video on demand). But TiVo does support Amazon Unbox and they did recently announce support for Netflix, as you've probably readon this forum.

    SDV is a technology to deliver more HD channels in less space. SDV channels do not look any different in the guide, but they are only sent upon request of a customer on a given node (neighborhood) -- similar to VOD. SDV was designed around the assumption that only a certain number of people will be watching a certain number of channels at once in a small area. There might be 80 viewing slots for 120 channels. So long as the customers in a neighborhood don't try to watch more than 80 different channels at a time (in this example), it works fine.

    The TiVoHD and TiVo Series3 do not directly support SDV. They require a USB adapter provided by the cable company to support SDV. Cox and Time Warner Cable are the first two cable companies to make extensive use of SDV. Verizon FiOS has no plans to use SDV, so it's a non-issue for that provider.

    Some screenshots of my 1TB TiVoHD with FiOS:


  7. Nov 2, 2008 #7 of 16

    mr.unnatural Well-Known Member

    Feb 2, 2006
    FIOS just bumped up their HD lineup to over 105 channels in my area. You'll have to subscribe to the HD Extreme package to get the extra channels, but it's only $10 more per month than the basic Essentials package. The good news is that they also bump up your internet speed from 5/5 to 20/5 for quadruple the download speed of the basic service. The bad news is that they force you to take several other services on a trial basis, although you can cancel them within the trial period for no penalty or extra fees. It's just a PITA because you have to call them back to cancel the extra services.

    Forget about the Verizon DVR. The Tivo HD or the S3 Tivo is a much better DVR with more capacity and features. You can also increase the capacity with a drive upgrade. The monthly costs for each DVR is pretty close but you could probably get the Tivo at a slightly lower cost with a longer commitment.

    You can use "any old Tivo" with FIOS as long as you get a converter box to tune the channels. Only the series 3 variants will work with cablecards and be able to tune the channels directly without the use of a STB. The only caveat is whether or not the Tivo will work with the STB (i.e., does it have the control codes in the database for operating the STB). Using a STB/Tivo combination will only work with standard def channels and the monthly cost would be pretty close to a Tivo HD or S3 Tivo so there'd be little or no benefit in going that route.
  8. Nov 3, 2008 #8 of 16

    Jonathan_S Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2001
    One note:
    The original Series 3 box (as opposed to the two newer boxes, the TiVo HD and TiVo HD XL) doesn't fully support the M-card.

    You can use one, but it treats it like an S-card. So for the original Series 3 you always need two cable cards (doesn't matter if they are M-cards or S-cards).
  9. Nov 3, 2008 #9 of 16

    heySkippy oldweakandpathetic

    Jul 2, 2001
    Sarasota, FL
    We switched from DirecTV to Verizon FIOS + a pair of TiVo HD units a couple months ago. It took the installer 2 days to get the CableCards to work and Verizon screwed us over for a couple days with a massive premature lineup change, but since then the TV service has been quite good. Tons of HD channels, very good picture quality.
  10. kevreh

    kevreh Member

    Jan 30, 2002
    Fairfax, Va
    For me it comes down to;

    - With FIOS I don't need to worry about tree/weather interference
    - DirectTv compresses their channels more, especially the SD ones. I've never seen pixelated channels on FIOS like I did DirecTv (do a search for directv fake or lite hd). FWIW, Dish Network is somewhere in the middle.
    - The FIOS dvr isn't that bad, I was pretty impressed with it. I decided to ditch it because you can't upgrade storage. Oh yeah, and the channel guide data totally sucks.

    I have to say though having FIOS for a few months has been great, except for one thing....the infamous crappy support at Verizon.

  11. M3 Adjuster

    M3 Adjuster Member

    Feb 11, 2009
    Dallas, TX
    I've had DirecTv since 1993 with the exception of one year. I've read the forums here and went with a Tivo HD and am awaiting a FIOS install.. I will probably use their free DVR for a few months as I intend to get the lifetime Tivo service and then will pick up another Tivo HD for the second room down the road when the Verizon box has to go back.
  12. solsurfer

    solsurfer Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    LA, CA
    I've been tempted to switch to a Verizon/Tivo setup ever since Directv made my DirectTivos obsolete with the mpeg4 conversion. Verizon offered to give me a free 30 day trial so I decided to give it a test drive. There's no way I could live with the Motorola box's 20/hr capacity, but I really like the Verizon VOD (for the kids). And I'm reluctant to buy 2 tivos (living room, bedroom). So my question is: if I did go with a 2 tivo set up, is there anyway to still access the verizon VOD services?

    Or if I went the route with a Tivo in the living room and a motorola in the bedroom, would it be possible to have MRV between the two?

  13. jay_man2

    jay_man2 jay_man-also TCF Club

    Sep 14, 2003
    Northern VA
    See my post in your other thread.
  14. mixedday1

    mixedday1 New Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Just a clarification...that you can use a Series 1 or Series 2 TiVo with a standard Motorola box from Fios. One will need an IR blaster, and will only get tuner. However its reliable.

    Also, in my case, my Series 1 has the Prod Lifetime, and Fios includes the first SD box in the promotional discount. Works together great for my old 27" + the old TiVo needs to call in for the MSD discount as well + the Fios box is included.

    Yes, I do have and suggest a TiVoHD as well for the HD set, the TiVo which I got for $199, and pay $6.95/mo to TiVo (MSD discount, TiVo service transferred), and roughly another $8/mo. on 2 cablecards to Verizon. When that contract expires, I could pay $299 for the lifetime for that unit.

    I think the only reason to stick with DirecTV and its DVRs, are for its premium sports packages (spotty on Verizon Fios), or select international channels.
  15. kevreh

    kevreh Member

    Jan 30, 2002
    Fairfax, Va
    I don't get it....what does VOD get you that a season pass doesn't? Sure, you need to set the pass up but still. Also, with the Verizon box you'll quickly run out of space, whereas with Tivo you can upgrade the internal or get the external.

    To answer your question, I guess you could keep/pay for the verizon DVR, then just change the inputs on your TV when you want to watch it. Not very elegant though.

    Just my $.02.

  16. mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    I've never had VOD, but here's something that it gives you:
    No clipped beginning and/or ending of recordings, including clipping necessary because of manual padding of season passes.. (i.e. clipping or lack of recording of abutting shows).

    That alone would probably get me to use VOD for a few shows -- if I could still FF through commercials or have it commercial free to begin with... Not enough to pay for ANOTHER DVR/cable box, but I can see why people think it's useful.

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