I just wanted to share my experience with Prism TV. I live just south of 168th and Harrison and had the service installed about a month ago. I saw that there has been some discussion about it, so I thought another review would be appreciated as there are not many out there yet for the Omaha market.
What we Had
Previous to getting Prism, we had DirecTV with a dual tuner whole house DVR and 3 remote boxes for a total of 4 TV hooked up. We had Cox preferred internet. We had no promotional pricing and we were paying around $180 a month total between the two providers. We checked out Prism mainly because we needed to reduce our TV/Internet cost.
What we ordered
We got the Prism preferred package with 3 total boxes (1 wired, 2 wireless) and 20mbps Internet. Total cost for this package is $124 before taxes. $98 for the TV, $25 for the internet. Two year price lock on both, Two year promo pricing on the Internet, one year contract with a 30 day trial period after hook up.
We live in a newer subdivision that is about 10 years old. We built our house in 2011. We never had phone company services before at the house so they had to drop a new line to the house. They are not doing FTTP at this time in our neighborhood. It is fiber to the neighborhood box (DSLAM) and copper to the house. My house is about 2500 feet from the DSLAM box. Once the line was run to the house, the tech did the homerun from the box on the side of the house to the gateway (modem) in the basement using cat-5 cable. He then used existing cat-5 wiring in my house to connect the gateway to the main DVR box. That box runs our main TV in the living room. One of our wireless boxes is up in our second floor master. The second wireless box is in our basement workout room. A Cisco wireless transmitter is connected to the Gateway and this unit sends the signals to the wireless boxes. The box on the second floor has no issues getting a full signal from the transmitter in the basement.
Our main DVR box is hidden in a closet. We had to buy an optional $20 RF remote as the included remote is IR and requires line of sight. We kept the IR remote that was included with the DVR and put it in the guest room.
Overall, I like the system. In the month that we have had it the internet service has been very stable and we have had no issues with the video. The channel selection is good and the preferred package includes Showtime, TMC and Starz/Encore. I had no premiums with DirecTV so that is nice.
When doing speedtests with my laptop, I consistently get my advertised speed even over Wi-Fi. The only time I start seeing speeds below my 20mbps is when we get up to 3 HD video sreams going, I see a 3-4 mbps drop, and having all 4 streams going drops it down another 3-4mbps. Even with those drops, we have not noticed any dramatic slowdown in our regular internet use. Note that my wife and I are not heavy users, and our 4 year old does watch netflix on his iPad sometimes while we are watching TV with no known issues. The tech told me that Prism video gets priority on the bandwidth coming to the house. He also told me even though I am on a 20mbps package, more bandwhith then that is coming to the house and Prism takes advantage of that. That is why I don't start seeing drops until I get to the 3rd and 4th HD streams.
SD image quality is actually quite good on Prism, actually the first watchable SD I have seen on a digital system. Most of the major channels I watch have an HD feed. I do like that they offer all the local sub-channels, however none of them are offered in HD at this time. I have watched some Me-Tv and honestly it is not bad in SD.
HD picture quality is not as good as DirecTV. I think it is better then Cox but DirecTV still wins in this area. In the month I have had it I have had no dropouts or other video issues that have been reported in some Prism markets. I actually asked the tech about this and he said CenturyLink has learned from previous rollouts and they are taking their time here in Omaha. Only areas that can easly handle it are getting it. Basically right now if VDSL (20+mbps) service is not in your area, you will not get Prism until it is there and stable. He said in some previous markets it was pushed to areas that were not ready for it. Also a new gateway (C2000T) was just recently released and it is what they are now using. It is much more reliable then the old POS they were using and I have noticed on some of the DSL forums that this has been confirmed as people that have switched to this gateway have noticed much better performance. He also told me if Prism does take off, CL will consider putting FTTP in more areas, but right now it wont be outside the pilot area
My favorite feature is the wireless set-top boxes. When our old DirecTV setup, we basically had to pay for a box that did not get used much since we wanted a TV in our guest room. Now, we just take our box from our workout room and put it up in the guest room when we have people there. Saves us $8 a month. Also the wireless boxes give you the freedom to change rooms around without worry as to where the TV jack is. All you need is a power outlet. So far we have had no issues with the wireless boxes and this is now a must have feature for me.
Channel changes on the main DVR box are blink of the eye fast. It is actually fun channel flipping on that box. On the wireless boxes there is a slight delay that gets longer as more streams are being used. Longest ones are still not as long as DirecTV channel changes. I also like the Last 5 feature. When you hit the last channel button on the remote, it takes you to the last channel but also brings up a sidebar with a list of the last 5 channels and a small PIP with video of the channel that is highlighed. Great feature when flipping through multiple sports events.
I like how I can pause/rewind/FF live video on any TV, not just the TV with the DVR box. On the DirecTV system I had I could watch recordings on any TV but could not pause/rewind/FF live tv on the remote boxes. I think the new Genie system DirecTV has can do this however.
On Demand is ok. They have most of the major networks covered, however there is not as much content in HD as I would like. All OnDemand programming starts streaming quickly once selected. Programs that allow FF and Rewind do so just as easily as a DVR program.
The Guide is not as good as the DirecTV guide, but better then Cox. It is fast to navigate through, however search is kinda slow sometimes. Also, they use a Cox style channel orginization with all HD channels in the 1000's. I liked how on the DirecTV guide you could hide SD channels if and HD one was avaliable. Also if you mainly hang out just in the 1000's you forget about channels you have that are only SD.
The main limitation of the system is the 4 video streams. At my home, I can have up to 4 HD streams going at once. This includes live and recording. If two TV's are on the same channel, they use the same stream. If you tune to a channel and their is not an avaliable stream, it gives you the option to kick another TV off or tune to a stream already in use. In our house this is not really an issue but in a larger household or in the home of a heavy video user this is a problem. The tech says there is talk of expanding to 8 but he said that would only be in areas where the service would be stable and that it has already been pushed back a few times. Not a big deal for us, but something CL needs to figure out to become a bigger player in the market IMHO.
Also they need a larger capacity DVR. Mine is the largest avaliable at 500GB
For the money, if you can live with some of the limiations, this is the best service for the money right now. I really feel like I am getting a good value for the price paid and I hope this service is successful in Omaha. This town needs a strong non-sat competitor to Cox. All consumers in the area would benifit from that.