Verizon FiOS uses existing fiber optic technology to deliver a wide range of TV programming features. The usual installation requires a FiOS box on the outside of your residence and connection to a dedicated set-top box by way of coaxial cable that's probably already in your house. If your situation requires something simpler and tidier, you can access some FiOS features without the box. You will sacrifice some features, though.
If your TV has a QAM tuner in it, you'll be able to watch a few channels using FiOS. The technician will install a receiver on the outside of your home just like in a normal FiOS system. The tuner in your TV is set to connect with this device. You'll be able to access only about 15 channels using this method. You won't be able to take advantage of additional features such as on-demand programming or games.
By installing a CableCard in a digital-cable-ready television, you can access all the usual FiOS channels and pay-on-demand programming such as movies. The monthly charge for using a CableCard is about $4 per month in 2011. On the other hand, you won't have access to gaming and other features otherwise available through a full FiOS package.
The smaller physical footprint presented by either a built-in QAM tuner or a CableCard is an advantage in small living quarters. There's no set-top box adding to the clutter and a FiOS technician won't have to crawl around to find existing coaxial cable to hook up the box. You won't have to pay for a set-top box and your monthly Verizon FiOS bill will be significantly lower.
Not using a set-top box will save you money and a little space. On the other hand, your options are going to be limited if you want the full range of FiOS products. If you need and want only regular programming, this could be a good option. If you want the full range of on-demand programming and gaming features, opt for the full FiOS installation requiring a set-top box.
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