Or, How the Hell does Rogers Stay in Business?

Well, we’ve kicked Bell to the curb. Finally. The last bill came in yesterday and we’re not sorry to see the back of them.

In fairness, Bell wasn’t bad when we were with them. We never had any phone problems and only rarely was the internet connection down. And we LOVED the Bell ExpressVu TV system. Unfortunately, Bell ExpressVu didn’t like our new house.

Since the technicians couldn’t get a clear signal from the satellite (due to interference like trees) we were forced to switch to digital cable. Rogers. Blechhh!

So it only made sense to switch everything else over to Rogers too – internet, and telephone – to take advantage of the rebate for bundling.

Sooo… so long Bell.

Not a fond farewell

It was a reluctant switch though. We’d both dealt with Rogers in the past and we both still had bad tastes in our mouths from those encounters. And you know what? Rogers hasn’t changed. The first bill came in, including about $150-worth of extra charges that shouldn’t have been there. We had them cleaned up, but this doesn’t bode well for this new partnership.

And worst of all, where we loved the Bell ExpressVu system, neither of us can stand the Rogers Digital cable system. One was evidently designed by a team of bright engineers, the other by a team of retarded chimps. Here a comparison:

Bell

Rogers

When you finish watching programs recorded through the PVR, the ExpressVu system switches back to the last channel you were watching – which, unless you’re turning off the telly, is likely where you want to be (i.e. watching live TV)

When you finish watching recorded shows with the Rogers system, it dumps you out onto “the PVR channel” (Channel 900-something). It’s basically a screen that says “Press ‘ch+/-‘ to scroll up to the other channels. Why the hell doesn’t it bump you back into live TV?! No one would want to watch a blank channel!!

With ExpressVu you can make list upon list of TV guides – so you can have a list of all the channels you subscribe to, and a list of your favorite channels, a list of just the music stations, (you get the point). And switching between them is simple. So you’re never stuck scanning through stations that you don’t like, like all the sports stations.

With Rogers, you get one list. And that list has EVERYTHING. Every channel, whether you subscribe to it or not. So you have no way of knowing that you don’t get KTLA-Atlanta unless you switch to it and see the “You don’t subscribe to this channel” warning. Fuckin’ annoying! So you have to doublecheck before you try to record shows on any station. Oh, you can select your ”favorite” channels, but you can’t see them as a list. Oh No, that would be too easy! All you can do is scroll up through the stations one by one. You can’t even go backwards through that list!

When scrolling through the stations, if you hold the ‘down’ button, it skims quickly through the listings, but at a pace that you can still read scan each show name. It’s a pretty easy way to see what’s on right now.

Rogers doesn’t do scrolling. At least nbot in a way that’s useful. If you hold the down button, it blanks out everything except the channel number. What’s the point of that?! If you’re looking at a channel guide it’s cuz you wanna know what shows are on. No one cares what the channel number is!

There’s a search feature in Bell, and it scours all the channels to find a program to record for you. Doesn’t matter what time or channel.

There is NO SEARCH FEATURE?! Sweet zombie Jesus, how basic is that?! So you can’t even tell if there’s a Simpsons’ on right now unless you scroll manually through the whole menu – pressing the button once for every station you want to see, because you can’t scroll quickly.

Which reminds me, since you can’t hold down the button to scroll, you start hitting the ‘ch+/-‘ button. But it’s very easy to get ahead of the system. There’s a lag so that when you stop pressing the button, the system is still scrolling and trying to catch up to you. Which makes it hard to stop precisely where you want. Sure, it can scroll so fast you can’t see anything but the channel number, but it can’t keep up to the speed of the human thumb?!

When you play a recorded program, if you stop watching partway through and return later to continue the episode, you resume from where you left off. Doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you turned it off; minutes, hours, or days later, it still works.

With Rogers, if you exit the ‘PVR Channel’ or turn off the PVR, you’ve basically forfeited your chance to resume playing from that point in the episode. You have to FFW all the way to where you want to watch. Idiots!

For the same price that you get 80 hrs of recording time with ExpressVu…

… with rogers you get 50 hrs. That’s less than 2 weeks for the average North American viewer (29 hrs)

Aside form the usual FFW and REW buttons, there are two buttons for more isolated navigation: one skips forward 30 seconds, the other, back 10 seconds. So it’s very easy to scan through commercials on recorded programs.

While there is a 10 second REW, there’s no forward skip. You’re required to do a full FFW and then rewind back to the point before the segment starts. It might seem like nothing, but you’ve really gotta pay attention or you wind up skimming too far into the program following a batch of ads. The Bell system is much easier.

Jeez, we were getting angry just writing that.

We found it hard to believe that there’s no one who has designed another interface to work with the Rogers system, but an internet search brought up nothing. It seems like all the people who signed up with Rogers simply stayed with Rogers. The only explanation is that they don’t realize their system is for shit! Anyone with Rogers should try the Bell system for a month (of course there’s a learning curve) – you’ll be hooked.

We regretted not being able to stay with Bell, but thankfully, in his searches, Mel found an option.

Are we not Men? We love TIVO!
Turns out Tivo – whose equipment is only available in the US – can work with the Rogers system. Basically, you buy a Tivo box from the States, and, once you subscribe to Tivo, the Tivo system can communicate with the Rogers box to record what you want. (Works with Bell too, apparently.)

And Tivo is nice. Much nicer than Rogers (and mostly nicer than ExpressVu too). A couple of neat things we’ve found so far:

  • Tivo only has a FFW button (no 30 second FFW like Bell) BUT, when you’re going through ads and you see the show come back on, once you hit play it backtracks automatically a few seconds and pretty much sets you right at the beginning of the segment (after the commercials). Nice design idea.
  • Tivo has clever searches that allow you to look for programs that feature a specific actor, director, theme, keywords, and many other categories. You can know up to two weeks in advance what’s coming on based on those themes. Or just search for “all movies” or “all musicals” etc… you get the picture.
  • Tivo watches for shows you might like. It records all this stuff and then you rate it and tell it whether it’s something you like or not. Based on that feedback it learns and starts recording more shows that you’ll probably enjoy. It’s like Tivo doesn’t ever want you to have to watch live TV again.
  • Our Tivo is on a network, so you can schedule a show to record from the Tivo website. That way, if you’re on vacation and see something interesting that you’d like to record, no problem! (As long as you have internet access).
  • There’s also a bunch of online content you can access through TIVO – like podcasts for the TV.
  • Once you’ve recorded a show you can transfer it to any computer within your own home network – just in case you wanted to save it to a DVD.

We’re just starting to learn more about Tivo, and we’ll likely find more features, but we can tell you we’re pretty frickin’ happy. So far so good, and the monthly fees are cheaper than either Bell or Rogers, so we’re not switching back any time soon.

 

Now, let’s go see what’s on!

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3 responses »

  1. Lex says:

    Wow.Well, I was going to give some pointers on Roger's use, but it seems you don't need them. I would like to point out, however, that that Bell multi-tv-guide thing can be MIGHTY confusing if you are left in a house with it for a week by yourself. It's almost easier not to watch tv… almost.TIVO – you are MEN! Now Gerry's going to want one too.

  2. margotinto says:

    Shhhhhh, don't tell the Man I live with either, or he'll want one. Interesting post, since we're in the midst of trying to decide whether to dump Rogers and get ExpressVu at the new place. They're offering us free installation, and 50% off for 6 months if we sign up. Worth it?

  3. It's easily worth it. If you switch over, you'll need to give yourself some time to get used to the ExpressVu interface, but simply put, Rogers sucks. Worst of the lot. SO yeah, if you can switch to Bell, do it.Tivo is great, but it's not for everyone yet. That's why Bell is prolly the service of choice in Canada. Mel's pretty good at networking and technology, so I had it easy. I just sat back and let him do his thing to get it set up. Prolly wouldn't recommend it to just anyone until Tivo is properly available in Canada (and yes, it is coming at some point). Anyone reading this should make sure they're comfortable with tech installation before committing to Tivo.

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