I called today about the Mediaroom DVR system and learned some interesting things. First, I was questioning them on the $50 set-up fee. I asked why this was required. The sales person tried to make up a BS reason, but when she realized that her BS answer wasn't going to fly, she said she'd send me to tech support once I was finished with her. She told me that due to incentive pricing, it will actually be $30/month cheaper
than I'm paying now for the same channels. This makes the $50 set-up fee not seem as bad. I'll be replacing 2 DVRs with a DVR and a STB. The nearest installation time I'm available for them to install is not until 1/24/10... a couple weeks off. It could have been sooner, but they only schedule in 4-hour time blocks and I must leave for work by 11 AM... they couldn't guarantee that they could be there earlier... closer to 8 AM. After arranging that, I was put on hold for a while and reached a senior tech manager for answering more technical questions.
The BS answer the sales woman had said was that technicians needed to come out and rewire a few things outside at the box. I was quite puzzled, trying to figure out what they could possibly need to rewire in my network. I have the each of the 6 jacks on the residential gateway wired to the first 6 jacks of my 48-port patch panel. I can then jump any Ethernet jack in the house to be either a video jack or an Internet jack. I've run many tests on my connections and they all work fine... so I couldn't figure out why a technician from SureWest would need to do anything. When I reached the tech guy and told him of my setup, he admitted that in my case, they probably won't have to do much. He said that for some people's setups, it may be a bit more tricky... especially for people that had been running Ethernet over 75Ω coaxial cable. They were worried that the process would be too confusing for many of their customers, so they decided to make each customer to the new platform have a technician to inspect and workout potential errors in the system. There is also the part about provisioning the boxes and mating the DVR with the other STBs.... something that it would seem to me could be done elsewhere or instructions given to customers to do. He mentioned that they were going to look closely at the issues technicians had with the installs and determine whether they would later allow customers to come in and pick up the new equipment.
When I questioned about the DVR only recording 2 HD channels at a time instead of 4 HD, he stated that it was a "platform" issue, not a bandwidth issue. He said people could have 4 additional set-top boxes and they could all be watching HD channels while the DVR was recording 2 HD channels, but for the moment, the DVR could only record 2 HD at a time.
I also asked about additional features I've seen advertised about controlling the DVR from a website or portable electronic device, such as the iPhone, similar to what AT&T Uverse is doing with their Mediaroom-based setup. He stated that we will be using a more up-to-date platform than AT&T is using and that many of the added features AT&T is using are additional modules that can be later added. He mentioned one of the main reasons for using the Mediaroom platform instead of using the current platform is that they will be using a mainstream platform and not needing to put all the effort in to designing the software, but rather using an "off-the-shelf" system. He stated the intention is to offer many of the same features people have become accustomed to with AT&T, Comcast, Dish Network and DirecTV... the biggest competitors. The biggest advantage to SureWest is they have the most advanced infrastructure compared to their competitors, providing a dedicated 100 Mbps synchronous connection to their fiber customers' homes... far more bandwidth than AT&T uses and much more efficient and effective bandwidth than traditional cable or satellite (traditional cable and satellite provide more than 100 Mbps to the home, but fill it up with everything possible, not just what you want and need.)
So... before I actually start using the system, here is my opinion of the changes:
- Ability to watch recorded material at any set, not just from the DVR.
- The user interface is supposed to be much easier/intuitive than current.
- Ability to pause playback and resume at another set in the house.
- Reported to have faster channel changes.
- Apparently cheaper... I'm told it will be $30/month less than I'm currently paying.
- $50 setup fee
- REQUIRES a scheduled technician install
- Limited to recording only 2 HD channels at a time
- Only 40 hours of HD recording capacity
- No external storage, so stuck with the size hard drive SureWest chooses to get
Again, this is a preliminary opinion... anyone have any other cons or pros as a preliminary opinion? I'm sure I'll be reporting back once I get my new setup.