Engadget HD - Verizon FiOS HD DVR Review

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Gold Contributor III
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Engadget HD - Verizon FiOS HD DVR Review

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Here is something I ran across in one of my daily news sites.  

 

Verizon FiOS HD DVR Review


Now that DVRs have really hit critical mass, just about everyone and their brother makes one. But for the most part, people don't get to choose which one they use. Sure, you can select a provider just based on the DVR, but seriously, who does that? When it comes to reviewing such a device, we tend to focus on it in comparison to a TiVo or Windows Media Center, because in reality we think that is the decision that most are faced with. The following review is based on that perspective and is intended for someone with FiOS TV that is trying to find the best DVR solution.

The Good
  • One click recording.
  • Can set default series settings -- first runs only, etc.
  • Keep until space is needed -- a must have feature that some DVRs don't.
  • You can see what is going to record by looking at the guide -- something TiVo is missing.
  • Conflict resolution popup is a nice touch.
  • Widgets with things like weather and traffic are cool and useful.
  • Channel up button works as the page up in the guide, which helps eliminate some keys on the remote.
  • Skip button skips days in the guide.
  • Can configure the amount of time to skip and replay, 10, 30, etc.
  • Can turn off video when viewing guide or menus -- but not easily.
  • Three views for guide, full screen, half or mini -- very nice
  • Ability to buy channels you don't subscribe to from within the guide.
  • Channels change fast for a HD DVR.
  • Disk size status page is useful -- another one TiVo doesn't do.
  • Online scheduling.

Message Edited by TimSykes on 12-24-2008 01:49 PM
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Gold Contributor III
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Re: Engadget HD - Verizon FiOS HD DVR Review

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The Bad
  • No way to tell what will be deleted to make room for new recordings.
  • No history page to see why a show failed to record.
  • Guide won't wrap around, so if you are at channel 1 you can't wrap around to 1000.
  • When selecting a channel to add to favorites, it doesn't automatically go to the next channel, so you have to constantly hit down, select, etc.
  • Video preview in guide seems tacked on.
  • HD is not a category when searching.
  • No "keyword" record setting, like TiVo and Windows Media Center.
  • Remote has buttons that don't do anything like PIP and input.
  • Home Media feature requires software to be installed and is Windows only.

The Ugly
  • 4x3 guide, but support says you can use your TV's stretch mode, ha!
  • NO resolution pass-through, so everything is scaled to one resolution.
  • Channels you don't get, can't be removed from the guide and show up in search results.
  • Can't use multi-room streaming features to other DVRs, only to regular STBs. But you can watch HD in any room with the latest update (1.6).
  • 160GB HDD -- 12 hours of HD, really Verizon?
  • No external storage option -- eSATA, USB, etc.
Wrap-up

Overall, the FiOS DVR is one of our favorites when compared to the DVRs of other providers, but it really doesn't stand a chance against a HD TiVo or the latest version of Windows Media Center. That being said, there are a few reasons to go with it, with the biggest being the lack of upfront costs, and a close second being the extension selection of HD VOD. But we don't think this is enough to make us settle on a DVR missing so many important features. 

The most annoying thing is that while the UI is pretty slick, it is really lame to use a 4x3 guide on a 16x9 HDTV. But this isn't the only thing missing visually, as there are also no cool animated transitions, thumbnails for recordings or movie box art (on recorded TV) like we've come to love on Windows Media Center. But so far we've only mentioned our superficial complaints; it's the core functionality of the device that is most lacking. The most glaring is the lack of resolution pass-through -- something Windows Media Center also cannot do. Sure, it's possible that this DVR has a better video scaler then some TVs, but wirh no native output option, there is almost no way to use it with an external scaler or HDTV with top-of-the-line components. 

Of course, all of this could be overlooked, but the worst can't. Like many other providers, the FiOS DVR only has a 160GB hard disk. We can't even imagine only being able to record 12 hours of HD, but when you think of trying to record everything for an entire house, you can see how this would be nearly impossible. Sure, you could just rent more than one DVR, but the multi-room functionality only works with regular STBs, and not between DVRs. So if you want to have access to the same programming in every room, you're limited to two tuners and 12 hours of programming for an entire house -- pretty lame. huh?

So there you have it, the FiOS DVR is a perfectly acceptable DVR, but ultimately it doesn't compare to either of the solutions that TiVo or Microsoft offers. Of course, the good news is that it doesn't have a lofty price to match the competition either, and when compared to other carriers' offerings, it still manages to hold its own.
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Platinum Contributor III Platinum Contributor III
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Re: Engadget HD - Verizon FiOS HD DVR Review

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Tim, thanks for posting this. In general I agree with the review, but there are several what I consider errors:

 

  • Guide won't wrap around, so if you are at channel 1 you can't wrap around to 1000.
  •  

    True. But you can easily type in 1000 to get to 1000. Or you can type in 9999 and get to whatever the top channel is. Or you can type in a real channel number to go directly to it.

     

  • When selecting a channel to add to favorites, it doesn't automatically go to the next channel, so you have to constantly hit down, select, etc.
  •  

    True, but so what?. If you go through the Menu to add channels to your favorites, all  you have to do is click OK on the one you want to add, hit the down (or up) button, click on OK, etc. No hitting on select or whatever. It stays on the same channel so you can easily delete the entry  from the Iist that you just added (and that is very useful, at least to me, as every time I have created a list I have added channels I didn't mean to and needed to delete them).

     

    Now, if he is talking about adding a Favorite by clicking the Option key, why would I use that technique for adding multiple favorites in a row? I would use the Menu path for that, the Option method is, at least to me, for adding (or deleting) an occasional channel, not multiples.

     

  • Remote has buttons that don't do anything like PIP and input.
  •  

    Not true. Those buttons do work, but only for the TV, since the DVR does not have PIP or multiple inputs. Of course, if your TV does not support the function, then they don't work - gee whiz....

     

  • Channels you don't get, can't be removed from the guide and show up in search results.
  •  

    Not true. Just make the Guide key use by default one of the Favorites lists, and there you are, no unwanted channels show up. And it is easy as pie to switch the Guide key from one favorite to the other, or to the full Guide. 

     

    __________________________________
    Justin
    Verizon FiOS TV, Internet, and phone
    IMG 1.6.0, Build 06.89
    Keller, TX

    Message Edited by Justin on 12-24-2008 01:24 PM
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    Silver Contributor I
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    Re: Engadget HD - Verizon FiOS HD DVR Review

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    Review is A+.  Whomever wrote this really did a good job.  One thing I am curious about though, does any other provider use a 16x9 that displays more information other than what is displayed on a 4x3 guide or do they just let everything stretch out to 16x9 with same amount of information.  I dont follow our competition too closely as I have more pressing technical matters to attend to but would be nice to know. 

     

    TS

    TheSanchez
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    Nickel Contributor
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    Re: Engadget HD - Verizon FiOS HD DVR Review

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    Let me first wish everyone a Merry Christmas! Personally, I don't know of anyone who provides more information but to me, that's really not what everyone really wants is it? I honestly believe that people are really more interested in a much, much larger hard drive. Storage capacity is the name of the game and these Motorolas just don't cut it.
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    Re: Engadget HD - Verizon FiOS HD DVR Review

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    To me the biggest issue is the 160 gig hard drive. If they find a way to expand on that it would be a great service. It is the biggest issue right now.
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    Re: Engadget HD - Verizon FiOS HD DVR Review

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    @TheSanchez wrote:

    Review is A+.  Whomever wrote this really did a good job.  One thing I am curious about though, does any other provider use a 16x9 that displays more information other than what is displayed on a 4x3 guide or do they just let everything stretch out to 16x9 with same amount of information.  I dont follow our competition too closely as I have more pressing technical matters to attend to but would be nice to know. 

     

    TS


    A number of providers use a 4:3 guide on a 16:9 background, or a 4:3 guide stretched to fill the screen.  But there are only two with a true 16:9 guide actually takes advantage of the space to provide more information -- Dish Network and AT&T U-Verse.

     

    AT&T's Uverse IPTV DVR offers two hours of program information, with a lot of wasted screen space.  Dish Network's ViP622/ViP722 DVRs feature a 16:9 guide with a full three hours of program information.

    If you are the original poster (OP) and your issue is solved, please remember to click the "Solution?" button so that others can more easily find it.
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    Bronze Contributor II
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    Re: Engadget HD - Verizon FiOS HD DVR Review

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    I agree with the others that mentioned storage size.  If I decided to record a nascar race, or an NFL game in HD, that takes up a huge chunk of the DVR and then my series get squeezed. 

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    Re: Engadget HD - Verizon FiOS HD DVR Review

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    In addition to the already mentioned 160 gb drive, another glaring omission is the ability to use an HD Set Top box to watch MRV. For those who have HDTV's in other rooms  MRV is useless in the current configuration.

     

     

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    Re: Engadget HD - Verizon FiOS HD DVR Review

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    @pdxsam wrote:

    In addition to the already mentioned 160 gb drive, another glaring omission is the ability to use an HD Set Top box to watch MRV. For those who have HDTV's in other rooms  MRV is useless in the current configuration.

     

     


     

    That has been available for quite a while.

     

    __________________________________
    Justin
    Verizon FiOS TV, Internet, and phone
    IMG 1.6.0, Build 06.89
    Keller, TX

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