Sunday, April 04, 2010

Surewest Advanced Digital TV

Almost a month ago in this blog I did a preview of Surewest's latest promotion - the Advanced Digital TV (see  With all the promised discounts and savings it looked like a definite win-win situation.  Our installation was 10 days ago on March 25.

A very knowledgeable, friendly installer, work order in hand and ID in his pocket,  rang our doorbell less than an hour into the 4-hour block arranged for the install.  He asked for a quick orientation as to where the cabled TV's were located and how I would like him to enter the house.  I tailed him like a puppy asking questions all the time.  He accepted that with good humor.  His enthusiasm for Surewest was evident.

He quickly gathered up all the old equipment including the now worthless remotes but offered  us the batteries in case we had just put in new ones.  Installing the new hardware would have been a no-brainer except that a new power supply had to be wired for one of the cable outlet boxes.  With the new DVR/STB (set top box) taking the place of the old STB and the old TIVO wiring was greatly simplified.  The only slight glitch was installing the DVR in the family room where before we had our TIVO in the bedroom.  That was quickly rectified.

Although the installer thought another Surewest representative would be coming to demonstrate the programming, he never showed.  So the installer spent additional time going over the basics with me.  He also said our phone system was being changed to VOIP with this order, something we hadn't been told.

Advanced Digital TV
Surewest has made great strides in their DVR programming, catching up with TIVO in most areas and surpassing them in a couple. Since I just got a notice that TIVO is upgrading their systems, I need to disclose that this comparison is with the old TIVO software.

Being able to record four programs at once and all in HD is the biggest difference over our old TIVO.  Continuing to see and hear your program in progress while you make other, non-related menu selections is also a great feature as is the picture in picture while selecting a new show to watch.  Buttons to skip ahead 29 seconds or back 7 seconds in recorded programs are wonderful additions  to the remote.

Things I will miss from the TIVO  programming are (1) the ability to search for shows by category; (2) random recommendations that use user preferences to improve the recommendations; (3) Special selections such as 100 Favorite Movies; (4) Search by keyword in name or description; (5) better 1-line program descriptions on recorded shows; and (6) less screen interruption on fast forward or reverse.  None of these are deal breakers but all together they do take the edge off an otherwise fine product.  Since Surewest has made such strides in this generation of DVRs I look forward to even more capabilities in the future.


  1. I’m glad you are enjoying the new service and that your installation went smoothly. Thanks for taking the time to list the features you miss from your TiVO service. We will forward items 1-4 to Microsoft; they provide the software (Microsoft Mediaroom) that powers our service. Perhaps they will consider those in future software upgrades.

    Regarding item number five, unfortunately, that is out of our control. That information is generated by a company that supplies TV providers like us the program information for all channels.

    Regarding your final item, can you provide more information about the screen interruption you mention? If you are experiencing freezing or tiling, that is not normal and we can have our video engineering team look into it. E-mail me at, describe what you are experiencing and give me your address and I can get our team to look into it.

    Thank you,
    Anne Chacon

  2. Some of the facts in this review don't make sense given the research I've done. For instance:

    "Being able to record four programs at once and all in HD is the biggest difference over our old TIVO."

    It's 1/04/2013 and I've been looking into switching to SureWest. Their website says the DVR can only record 2 HD programs at once.

    If it's true that the SureWest DVR only records 2 HD channels simultaneously and only hold 40 hours of HD programming then it's way behind the competition.

  3. Anonymous is correct about the limitations of Surewest. It was cutting edge when they first promoted it in our area but 3 years later it is beginning to show its age. The on-demand offerings are equally lacking in variety and not competitively priced. Maybe its time we all start looking around.