FIOS and Digital Television
Last month I talked about HDTV. The television revolution is not just about HDTV but also about how we receive it. Historically we have Telephone and Cable companies. These have now been transformed into multimedia communications companies. The newest is Verizon delivering Fiber Optic Service (FIOS) to the home. This follows Comcast delivering digital television, high speed Internet and phone service to the home. For the longest time Comcast had the technological advantage with digital transmission over their fiber and cable network. Times have changed and now that Verizon's FIOS has arrived.
With FIOS there are no electrical signals on the cable. All data is carried by light. The crystal controls we see on Star Gate are coming. The fiber terminates in a box called an Optical Network Unit (ONU). This box transforms the light signals into high-speed Internet Ethernet signals and coaxial cable television signals. We focus on the television signals here. Both Comcast and FIOS HDTV digital television gives you an outstanding picture. However, the difference with FIOS TV is that all TV pictures are “slap me in the face and wake me up” improved. Every TV picture looks better. Worth the price of admission alone.
Why is that? Simple, standard TV carried by cable has a long run of coaxial cable to travel across. While this clearly superior to TV signal transmission through the air, it is not as good as digital transmission across fiber cable. Standard TV and the basic TV package on cable are carried by electrical analog signals tuned in by analog TV tuners susceptible to signal impairments. FIOS TV is all digital until it is inside your residence. Then is converted to analog and digital signals. The digital signals go to set top tuner boxes. Even the lower 50 channels that can be tuned in by an older analog TV tuner look better because they are only traveling a few feet through the coax cable in your home.
FIOS TV uses old coax cable in the home. If your home has a lot of the older 500 Mhz cable it works with FIOS. No need to rewire. Cable digital TV needs new 1GHz coaxial cable to reach the TVs using the HDTV set top boxes. Because my home has a ton of old TV cable in the walls, this fact alone convinced me to try FIOS TV. And wow!! What a show stopper it is. The visual clarity on every TV was great, but the new HDTV is stops you dead in your tracks. The movie “Vertical Limit” with scenes of the Himalayas is visually fantastic. You can almost tell the scenes shot in a studio from those shot on location. And when you see the news with bad TV, you see every detail of the bad picture surrounded by a clear picture. To quote George Allen “The future is now”. This is really true when you have FIOS TV and HDTV combined.
The basic local broadcast TV station signals can be tuned in by any standard TV. Premium packages requires a set top box for each TV. The basic $5.00 per month set top box tunes in all channels for STD TV but does not do HDTV. The HDTV set top box and the HDTV Digital Video Recorder (DVR) box cost more. The DVR box permits you to record and play back all TV programs. For more money you can have a Multi-TV (DVR) that permits other TVs to view recorded programs but not HDTV recorded programs.
FIOS and cable On-Demand come with a TV schedule broadcast to the set-top box. This schedule can be searched and filtered to find your preferred programs. If they are not playing when you are searching, they can be recorded. This is my favorite feature because it allows me to scan the movie channels for movies that I have not seen and might like to see, record them and view them when I get free time. Unfortunately, I have little free time so I have not used this feature to my best advantage except to catch up on old Star Trek Enterprise episodes I have missed. I never really knew how many I really missed until I could record them. Best of all you can skip right by the ads with fast forward to the jump ahead button.
FIOS saves money because on-demand movies cost $3.99 each not the video store $4.50 or if you can wait not the $8.00 per person you pay in theaters. With a 50” Flat screen, HDTV, and surround sound you truly have a home theater for viewing movies at $4.00 a movie. A new era in viewing TV has arrived.
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