Verizon FiOS TV meets Tivo - like Peanut Butter and Chocolate?

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Verizon FiOS TV meets Tivo - like Peanut Butter and Chocolate?

tivo.jpgIf you have been following my blog entries on Verizon FiOS TV installation, you know how unhappy I was with the Motorola 7216 DVR that they supplied with the service.  I've been a huge fan of TiVo's user interface, ease of use and features - so I wanted to see the fantastic pictures provided by Verizon FiOS TV and Tivo HD work together - I envisioned mixing two great products (like Peanut Butter and Chocolate) to the ultimate home entertainment experience.  So after doing some research, checking the varous forums on-line, I took the bold leap and ordered a TiVo HD from TiVo and two CableCards from Verizon.  

While I waited for the TiVo to arrive, it was time to run Cat5 from the router in the basement to the A/V cabinet.  After some bumps on the head and cursing the builder of my house, the network run was in and ready for installation day.

Once the TiVo HD arrived, I had a technician from Verizon come in to do the CableCard installation and activation.  You know when the first words out of the technician's mouth are "Hi, I'm from Verizon and I've never done this before" that you are for an interesting experience.  So off to the family room and after working together for a couple hours, downloading instructions from the web and calling supervisors a couple times, we were able to get a picture on TiVo.  Success (or so I thought).

Tivo HD.jpgAfter a couple days of watching TV via the TiVo, I started to have problems with some programs "pixelating" - where the picture would break up into large colored blocks and the sound would get interrupted.  Not all the time on all the channels, just some of the time on some of the channels.  (Yea - you engineers out there love those kind of intermittent problems, don't you)  Time to get working on identifying a pattern and start reading the forums on this issue.  After weeks of watching the problem, experimenting and reading any and everything I could find, I determined two things:
  1. There clearly is an issue with the tuner in the TiVo HD that causes it to loose synchronization with the signal that come from the FiOS ONT.
  2. People that post frequently on forums know just enough to be dangerous and generally don't know the subject matter very well.  I read more stupid posts from someone purporting to be an "expert" that didn't know what a dB of attenuation was if it hit them on the head!
If you want to do some interesting reading on the issue, check out the TiVo Support Forum, the Verizon Support Forum and the TiVo Community Forum.

So I started following all the various suggestions by changing cables, inserting a Di-plexer, attenuators, low-pass filters and everything just short of holding a TiVo exorcism.  At one point, I had Verizon send a technician to help with his hand-held signal analyzer (and big surprise, everything was perfect according to his readings).  After a couple weeks of trial and error, I was able to get close to resolving the issue, but I still get the occasional burp of distortion.  What was the solution?  In my case, adding a 860 MHz low-pass filter and a total of 14 dB of attenuators, both of which I got from the Verizon technician. 

It's really too bad getting TiVo working on FiOS was so complicated and frustrating. I originally planned on getting two TiVo HD units for the house, but with all the troubles I had getting one to work, I've decided to hold off until TiVo fixes their tuner issues.

So, is TiVo HD and Verizon HD like Peanut Butter and Chocolate?   I'd give it a "almost", but make sure you get the low pass filter and attenuators in hand before trying to even start the installation, you'll save yourself a lot of headaches.        [UPDATE!!!! See:]

Oh, and make sure the Peanut Butter is from a reputable source!


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