This was a post published by the author on his Facebook page on April 03, 2015.
It is reproduced with the permission of Mr Robinson.
“Upgrading” to Flow’s new advanced cloud storage video system is a bad consumer decision if you currently have their HD-PVR service. While some new features are welcome, several features available in the older PVR are removed in the new system. Depending on the number of boxes you have, the service may be comparable in cost.
The promotional brochure, which wasn’t available at the Nicholas Tower location during the free installation promotion month, is hidden in a DropBox folder most reps don’t know how to find on Flow’s website [the file has since been removed].
It promises a lot, but this is the reality…
1. REDUCED RECORDING CAPACITY. Your recording capacity is severely reduced to just five hour-long shows with the stater package, 10 with the standard package. You must pay monthly for more capacity: $3.30/hr for 10; $2.60/hr for 25; 97¢/hour for 100.
2. UNFRIENDLY REMOTE. If your household includes young children or older adults, the new remotes and the dependence on on-screen menus make the system very difficult to use. My mother is miserable. The new remote, unlike the old one, is small, and almost all the buttons are black and tiny and hard to read. You can no longer turn on both TV and cable box with a single key. The remote won’t turn on your other devices either, as the old one did. I haven’t found a universal remote that is more user-friendly that will operate the box.
3. TO REWIND OR PAUSE A SHOW IS MADNESS. Shows you are watching no longer automatically download into memory allowing you to simply use the pause, rewind or forward buttons at will. To enable these functions, you must first go to the guide, and then go back to the beginning of the show, then find where you were watching before. That’s six keystrokes at minimum. And sometimes you get an error message in the process.
4. LEARN ALL YOUR FAVOURITE CHANNELS OVER. Almost all channel numbers change, as well as their sequence. So if viewers rely on the number of a channel, they’ll have to learn it over. The favourites function is dependent on an on-screen menu, not a remote button, and is much more difficult to both use and challenging to programme correctly. The old PVR also allowed you to select channels to suppress when scrolling, e.g. ones you don’t watch. The new system can’t.
5. NO MORE HBO EAST OR WEST OR FREE ON DEMAND. Only what they decide we’re supposed to watch in the Caribbean. Much more HD, more movie channels, but still no Showtime or Starz. I’m not sure this is accurate, but Flow’s customer care said HBO on-demand titles were available to non-premium subscribers in the old package. They aren’t with the new one.
6. SD UNFRIENDLY. The new on-screen menus show up badly on a SD TV, making them harder to navigate. The service is really for HDTV.
Colin Robinson is an unhappy Flow customer. In his other life, he is a writer, commentator and advocate for good governance, social justice and people-centred development. He writes a newspaper column and blogs at onenationmanybodies.
Photograph courtesy Rashmi Mathur.