Triple Play Providers, Fios to Optimum
The toughest part about setting favorites is reading the tiny names of the networks in the options field Optimum provides. Maybe if you had a 100-inch screen these words would be readable
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New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards.
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April 2021 Update
While we've had an Amazon FireStick for a few years, and Amazon Prime, it was mostly an annoyance to choose HDTV 01 or 02 or whatever. So the FireStick and Amazon Prime were under-utilized in regards to TV viewing.
Well, last week the old Samsung TV gave up the ghost. It would not boot up, or it would have a picture for 26 seconds then restart, or five seconds or not at all.
After nearly two hours working with a FiOs tech to restart the set top box, I quit for the night. The next day, while disconnected from the STB, the TV wouldn't work. I ran out to buy a cheap TV, but a little bigger than the old 34-inch set. All they had in my price range was a Roku TV.
Seemed fine. but it came with its own remote. and while it may be functionally easier, the volume control is on the side so every time I handle it, I raise, lower, or mute the sound unintenionally.
I have to find my FiOS TV conversion paperwork somewhere to make the volume controls on my FiOS and FireStick remotes work. One of these days.
Most of the time, the remote I need is somewhere in the seat cushion. I'll get this all straightened out in my lifetime. For now, it's exhaustipating, but at least its not Optimum.
Observations on Switching
Having recently switched from Verizon Fios to Optimum/Altice One, here are a few observations in the first few weeks after the switch.
Verizon Fios will send you a bill for the partial month, due immediately, then turn you over to a collection agency within 10 days.
First Optimum bill, with free installation, will be much higher than you expect because of partial month billing, yada, yada, yada have you signed up for paperless billing?
With triple play, we noticed in our browser window Optimum pop up ads. Coincidence? Maybe.
Our first impression is that the TV picture is much improved with Optimum. It seems clearer. For some reason (VOIP?), when we change channels up or down, there's a black screen that takes over for a second or two, just enough time to be noticed and be annoying. You can't hold the Channel-up or Channel-down button to scroll quickly... because of that black screen.
We do like the multi-room DVR and recording takes more than one step to actually record (press red button to record, then on show, press record button again.) If you’re watching a show and you press record, it only records from that time forward, not what you’ve already watched [Point to Fios.]
We had some issues with DVR playback. Pictures freeze. Drop-outs. Closed-caption (though available on live recording) not available on playback. [Called chat and a boost fixed it. Until next time when we decided it’s not worth the bother to chat to fix it. Optimum Chat is semi-useless and very difficult to get through. Equal to FiOS chat.]
The Optimum remote is much, much smaller than the Fios remote. Not only is it smaller but it’s much easier to hit the wrong buttons with big, clumsy, arthritic hands, and then try to figure out what happened. Punch in a three digit channel and do it too slow, you get a surprise channel. Someone suggested we keep a stylus handy to change the channels.
The new remote lights up. That’s a big plus when the room is lit only by the TV.
If you like Netflix, there’s a big white button in the center you can use. we don’t have Netflix, so this button is a mistake each time we hit it. The online tutorials were less than helpful. The manual with our password was less helpful.
The onscreen channel display is too small. You can see a number but there’s no way ANYONE can read which network is on because the type is so tiny.
The program guide is useful. There’s a button at the top to press. It gives you all the options and you have to click right to choose Guide. Maybe there’s a direct button to Guide, but we haven’t found it yet.
When we switched from Cablevision to Verizon in 2007, the remotes were extremely similar.
Some of us would rather not scroll through hundreds of irrelevant programs to find shows of interest. We’d rather skip over foreign languages, sports, shopping, DIY, and other shows, so we set the Favorites to our favorites. The default setting when you power up is ALL CHANNELS, and the default start up channel is News12. You must click into your preferences and choose FAVORITES ONLY with each new power up.
For convenience sake, the first button on Favorites choice is Clear All Favorites. Hit this and you have to start all over again. This choice should at least come with an ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO CLEAR ALL FAVORITES?
When you decide to Edit Favorites, you choose All Channels and click on the networks you want. These networks are in no particular order, to our minds, anyway. The shopping channels are scattered, the CSpan channels, too. The cowboy channels must be lassoed. There are three or four Hallmark channels with OTHER channels in between them.
But the toughest part about setting your favorites is reading the tiny names of the networks in the options field Optimum provides. Maybe if you had a 100-inch screen these words would be readable.
There are plenty of music channels. If you want to choose your favorite genres, good luck. The choices (which we’d tell you more about but our remote won’t let me in to choose Favorites or All Channels right now – we’re debating whether it’s worth a call or not – they’ll probably blame the storm; One good thing is that it’s stuck in Favorites,) for all the music channels say simply Music. So you’ll have to guess at the genres. It was simpler to remove them all from Favorites.
With Fios, if you were watching a channel that is/isn’t in your favorites, you could click on the button to add to favorites or delete from favorites. When that worked it was fine. One of our reasons for leaving Fios was that they kept adding channels to our Favorites, not our Favorites, their Favorites – which often included channels we were not subscribed to, and we’d delete them and they’d show up again. The Fios service call to fix this cost $50 and the problem returned shortly after the billing showed up.
Perhaps Optimum online has options to choose favorites and bypass the mini-buttons on the remote, but having tried to resolve issues using online chats and help, we would be surprised if the fix-it options exist.
With Optimum we have access to HotSpots for our wireless connections. we haven’t used this feature yet. Also, with the triple play, we’ve been told that they upgraded the system to cancel robocalls and such. We’ll see how that works.
Before we left Verizon/Fios, after about 12 years, we chatted for a better price, a better deal, to head off a $50/month increase with fewer premium channels. All to no avail. They wouldn’t budge. One offer. Take it or leave it. We left it.
Next thing you know, after having switched, we got a nice letter from Fios Executive Director Anne E. Hogan offering me a great deal to come back. And then another letter. These were before the collection agency started calling about the $28 payment (partial month bill – after we paid the amount that Verizon said was due at end of service) Verizon needed in spite of having paid it before the calls came in. We must say the collection agency was much easier to deal with than Verizon reps.
When you choose the Optimum Guide Button it brings you to a home sub-menu which is quasi convenient. Playing our YouTube music choices is nearly as good as whatever the Optimum choices might be. And when the TV choices seem lame, we’ve got an Amazon Fire TV Stick for more choices.
So we have Altice One (found this out when we had issues with our remote and Optimum Online asked ME which service we have) and their tiny remote (we could switch to the larger remote but that would require changing the boxes and who knows what else!) and we’re not only getting used to the quirks but continue to find things the remote can do (often by accident). We’re in the second month of a two-year contract, so we’ll see how we feel down the line.
On the other hand, there’s a fellow a few blocks over who installs TV antennas. we may keep his number handy.
Copyright © 2019 by Anthony Buccino
Update: June 2020 - switched back to FiOS
Optimum Exit Survey (Aug. 2020)
DVR often did not record whole program, opening minute would play, then freeze, screen goes black, no picture at all, have to turn off STB and start over.
While watching a show, picture would go black for that channel. Then come back on. Occurred on more than one channel.
Every day had to choose view by Favorites. Why can't Favorites be the default? PITA
NEVER could get the wireless hotspot to work on my phone or tablet. Too many different passwords
These annoyances over a period of a year proved intolerable.
Making me pay for an extra month of service when I've disconnected because of your billing period! That does not endear you to me.
I need to return your equipment [set top boxes and remotes] but when will you tell me where/when to do that or will you charge me an extra month for equipment rental I'm not using?
I could not order a TV package of channels without paying for premium channels I did not want.
You boast of hundreds of channels but two-thirds of them are the same channel on a different number.
[also the black-screen lag between channels!]
[no description, had to keep turning off power and restart]
Thank you for taking our survey. We are sorry to lose you as a customer and hope you will give us another chance in the future.
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