A couple of weeks ago, Huyen informed me that the dish was returning only blank screens instead of, you know, TV channels. I did a little research and still ended up calling customer support (which, in the past, has been pretty helpful). I worked for about 30 minutes with a nice guy who didn’t take me for an idiot, but we couldn’t come to any resolution other than that the signal wasn’t coming through strongly enough. I was getting the DISH information channels, but nothing else.

He eventually informed me that he’d have to send a technician out in a few days. He also informed me that it would cost $50 for the service call, though I could cut that down to $30 if I started paying $6/month for warranty extension. Sounded like a pain, but I set up the appointment.

I decided to do a little research, in the meantime, and realized that for the same price I’m paying for DISH now, I could get the new Verizon FiOS TV. There would be some huge differences, though, that made it an easy decision to switch:

  • Channel lineup: sure, I’d lose the Sirius music channels that I never use, but the channel lineup is actually a little better with FiOS. The only channel I’ll be bummed to lose is Free Speech TV, but that’s an acceptible casuality.
  • DVR: The Dishplayer 7200 that we have now was pretty killer back in 2000 when we got it, but these days it’s just “bleh.” The new PVR we’ll be getting from Verizon supposedly has some GUI issue, but has all the nice new features that modern PVR users are used to, and then some. The big feature: the ability to record two programs at once or record one and watch another live program. Can’t do that now. Also nice: 120 hous of recording of standard def TV.
  • More than one TV: Right now, we’re stuck with watching TV on the downstairs TV. With the new service, we’ll not only be able to watch TV upstairs, but we’ll be able to stream recorded content from downstairs. Nice.
  • Media-center-ish capabilities: We’ll be able to stream music from our PC to our stereo downstairs. Not bad!
  • Picture qualty: Supposedly, FiOS’s picture quality on standard definition programming is excellent, better than dish or cable.
  • HD channels: We don’t really care about this now, as we don’t have any HD-capable TVs (and probably won’t in the near future). But someday it’ll matter.
  • On Demand: I’m looking forward to seeing how much free on demand stuff there is. Don’t have it on DISH.

While I kind of hoped to move to a wide-open, hackable DVR, I’m willing to give this one a shot because, c’mon, who has time to hack their freakin’ DVR anyway?

Installation is tomorrow. It’s a lengthy process (4-6 hours!), but it’ll be worthwhile. I’ll report back afterwards.