Saturday, November 01, 2008

FiOS adds HD in a logical way

Over the past few months, Verizon has reorganized our FiOS TV lineup and added new HD channels. Slowly but surely, many of the cable network HD feeds are being filled in. This includes CNN, A&E, FX, USA, TBS, TNT, Smithsonian, and even Disney.

While this is nothing extraordinary, the way they reorganized the channels is something to note. The old channel lineup was between 1 and 1000 and the HD channels existed in the 800 range. The HD channel order beared little resemblence to the standard definion channel lineup that was between 1 and 300.

When they reorganized the channels a few months ago, they kept the SD channels between about 1 and 499 and moved the HD channels to 500 through 999. International channels and the music channels are now between 1000 and 1999.

The neat thing that they did was align the SD channels in the same order as the HD channels. All you need to do to get the HD version of a channel (if it exists) is add 500 to the SD channel number. Of course not all SD channels have HD equivalents, and some HD channels (notably HDNet, HDMovies, and Universal HD) don't have SD equivalents.

For most cases, it's easy to fip around. For example:
  • Local NBC affiliate 4 is 4 for SD and 504 for HD. It used to be 807 for HD.
  • USA SD is still 50 and USA HD is 550.
  • CNN SD is 100 while the HD version is 600.
This is a great step up for usability. If you know the trick and are able to do simple math, it's easy to switch around and see if there's an HD version of a channel. Plus, if there's a non-HD TV in the house you can easily find the SD version of a given channel you're used to watching in HD.

I don't remember seeing any tips from Verizon touting this usability feature. It took me about a day to figure it out just by using the new channel lineup. They might want to highlight this more.

The next step up is to have one channel lineup with the ability to switch a network between SD and HD.