Verizon FiOS TV IMG 1.9 Update Rolling Out

Dave Zatz —  April 15, 2011 — 37 Comments

Unveiled last August and expected to ship by the end of 2010, Verizon’s FiOS TV IMG 1.9 experience is finally complete; the show stopping bugs have been squashed and the rollout has begun. Some highlights from the release notes:

IMG 1.9 is our most significant upgrade to FiOS TV’s guide since we introduced the Interactive Media Guide in 2007. There were few portions of the guide software that weren’t enhanced in this release.

  • New look and feel with higher resolution graphics and smooth animations
  • Re-design of search and better integration throughout the guide
  • Expansion of guide data to include complete cast information and air date
  • New Channel Guide view providing another option for navigating live TV content
  • Recommendations for live TV content
  • Ability to select the Widgets that are displayed in the carousel
  • More parental control tools and a configuration wizard
  • Overhaul of Message Center
  • Improved 3DTV support
  • Support for Descriptive Video Service, native pass through, 1080p, and MP3 and MPEG-4 decoding on select devices.
  • A long list of DVR and multi-room DVR enhancements
  • Even more ways to customize the guide to your personal preferences

Beyond those bullets, Verizon has also enabled eSATA hard drive expansion. However, unlike TiVo, there are no artificial brand/model restrictions based on marketing relationships.

As for me, we continue to get settled in the new home and I’m still running just two set-top boxes – one Motorola FiOS TV DVR, one TiVo Premiere. Obviously these two units can’t talk to each other… and my plan has been to enable whole home DVR functionality by acquiring a second FiOS TV DVR, muti-room/hub variety, which would run $20/month. Or to reenable my TiVo Series 3 ($10/month to TiVo, $4/month to Verizon for a CableCARD). The TiVo is a sunk cost and I’m not sure what sort of resale value a unit without Lifetime might have. So, from a purely financial standpoint, the TiVo looks to be a better bet. Yet, FiOS streams over coax whereas TiVo copies over my LAN – something I’ve rarely been able to accomplish in real time. I also happen to appreciate having OnDemand content handy, which is something TiVo can’t provide. Hm. Looks like I’ve still got a little time to settle on a plan, and acquire a new HDTV, as the nationwide IMG 1.9 rollout is expected to take a few months.

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37 responses to Verizon FiOS TV IMG 1.9 Update Rolling Out

  1. Bonnie Gifford April 15, 2011 at 9:30 am

    I don’t like the new Fios TV Guide its print is small and the color makes it so light I can’t see it. I am actually thinking of going with another company.

  2. Looking forward to it, though it may be a while before I get an external drive. Since I’ve gotten my Motorola with the larger hard drive, I’ve mostly been hovering around 70% full, and I just watch less TV than I used to.

  3. Yeah, I’m recording less too. With two new(er) DVRs hosting modern (larger) internal drives, I’m probably covered. In fact, what I appreciate about Hulu Plus, Netflix, and OnDemand is that I don’t have to plan or manage anything. And we still watch a decent amount of live TV – why bother recording House Hunters when it’s always on?

    But one of my buddies here in Virginia has been waiting for external storage to make the jump from DISH. He accumulates a ton of stuff… Not only is he possible a TV addict, but he’s also got basically three generations in his household he needs content for.

  4. “But one of my buddies here in Virginia has been waiting for external storage to make the jump from DISH. He accumulates a ton of stuff…”

    I’m with your buddy. Local caching is the way to go. It eliminates windowing concerns, and gets you really nice lean-back content at a decent price. If you care about PQ and price, time-shifting still takes the cake.

  5. Untill Verizon has a way for me to get TV off their box and onto my PC/ pad/ phone- the same way that Tivo does, I will continue to be a Tivo customer. Tivo’s the only way (short of building a dedicatedHTPC) that I can use the content I pay for where I want to.

  6. For the folks that rely on it, TiVoToGo is the killer feature. I wrote the book on it, but have since moved on. There’s enough content available online and on demand. Plus, I no longer hoard media or commute via subway. I’m just more casual these days – it’s why I prefer Slacker or XM to managing my own iTunes library of playlists.

  7. Looks nice actually. I like the animations, at least I think I do, given that they *might* make the thing slow given what I expect is an anemic CPU in their STBs. But at least from the preview it looks impressive enough.

    Contrast this guide with say Comcast’s current guide. No ability to exclude channels, low rez, on-screen ad taking up space from the guide, primary colors, slow and non-responsive etc.

    Encouraging that you CAN do a decent guide on the SA/Mot hardware. So its not SA/Mot’s fault–its Comcast’s.

  8. There are all sorts of experiences that have ridden on Motorola hardware (with varying degrees of success) like Moxi, Microsoft Mediaroom (Verizon in the past, currently AT&T U-verse), TiVo (not good), and who knows what else.

    I suggested to my Verizon handlers that I couldn’t provide more detailed (or effusive) coverage until I’m able to report first hand… unfortunately, my region won’t be one of the first updated. The clip above does look good… but so did the promotional Virgin TiVo video which looks somewhat different from reality.

    The older Verizon UI can be a bit disorienting and the colors overpowering, but it’s pretty responsive – and certainly draws the screen quicker than TiVo’s Discovery Bar. (I did have a weird lock up about two days ago and had to pull the plug. That was a first.) I like the color scheme and look of the new one – at least from what I’ve seen thus far at CES, above, and via their refreshed app UI.

  9. I’m looking forward to it, but since I am a early fios subscriber, I still have the 6000 series motorola boxes, which don’t support all the features of 1.9 (namely 16:9 guide). But for me to get the new boxes, they want me to pay an upgrade charge of $40 each. That, and I’d lose everything i have recorded.

  10. “But for me to get the new boxes, they want me to pay an upgrade charge of $40 each. That, and I’d lose everything i have recorded.”

    This is reason #37 why I prefer a local caching and 3rd party DVR scheme…

    —–

    “Plus, I no longer hoard media … it’s why I prefer Slacker or XM to managing my own iTunes library of playlists.”

    The case against local caching of music is even less appealing from where I stand.

    The logistical challenges of managing a large music collection have fallen to close to zero. (Local caching of video is still more of an advanced topic. We’re still stuck in the 1990′s before the iTunes/iPod ecosystem made it easy for the masses, though if you understand the tricks, local caching with occasional OTT still gets you more of the content you want at a cheaper price point.)

    Why would I trade my enormous accumulated album library + internet radio for discovery of new material in exchange for subscription services? Less music and less control for more money…

  11. It looks like i’m going to need to swap out my 6416 models for the 7332 model so i can take advantage of an external hard drive and HD guide. I have 4TB of hard drives sitting next to my DVR, as my computer backups, so I’m super stoked for this update.

    If you have these models below, note the update won’t give you all the features:

    1) QIP-6200 HD STB – No HD guide

    2) QIP-6416 HD DVR – No HD guide, no external storage

    People with 6416′s, like me, can upgrade to a larger capacity DVR at http://www.verizon.com/fiostvcentral

    1. Sign in at FiOS TV Central (if you’re not already Signed in)
    2. Click on My TV
    3. Click on Set Top Boxes
    4. To the right of the list of STBs you should see an ad titled “Want more from your FiOS DVR?”, click on the Learn More button.
    5. Fill out the information and you’ll get an email with a link for the upgrade
    6. There is a one-time exchange fee of $39.99 to receive this new DVR.

  12. quick follow up: i just called my local VZ shop and they have them available for me to swing by and swap them out. I also asked if swapping out my boxes will require a fee of $39.99 and doug, the salesman, said, “no, they don’t do that anymore”. awesome!

  13. The new IMG 1.9 looks great in the video. They really make it look modernized with the HD UI and all the media center like animations. It looks very fluid, and liquid, like using an IOS device, Mac OS, Windows 7 or Media Center.

    However, I heard that those smooth animations are heavily exaggerated vs. the real thing. Their demo video of the old IMG 1.8 also showed this smooth looking UI with easy transitions and blending between selection items, etc.. But we all know the reality is that things just ‘pop’ in a jarring way… much UNLIKE their demo video and modern day operating systems.

    One of the things a poster said over at broadbandreports FIOS TV forum, is that when going through the chapters like in the demo video, the on screen content actually stops as your selecting them. Again it’s just another well executed exaggeration by the marketing team.

    But it’s still quite an impressive upgrade from the current system. We’ll have to see how competitors respond. As a DirecTV customer, I’m excited to see what their next generation HD UI looks like. Rumors say it will mimic a lot of the look and feel of the iPad app. Well you know as well as I, any iPad/iPhone app feels really smooth with the transitions and visuals. We will see who can pull off the most. Verizon, DirecTV, or maybe one of the other cable companies.

  14. I got my new 7332 machines and I’m all set. Thanks for this post, I probably wouldn’t have investigated otherwise knowing the full requirement needed to enjoy the update. The new model feels so much more snappier, too!

    Box: http://img121.imageshack.us/i/imageisa.jpg/

  15. I’m very unhappy with the new Guide.
    It’s so difficult to read. The individual(s) responsible for choosing the light color scheme should get the boot. Darker was better.

  16. honestly, when went from comcast to fios, i had a difficult time adjusting to the fios guide. at the time, i found it to be really busy, super colorful and overall a bit overwhelming. Now, 2 years later, i know everything about it and it all makes sense. I was really frustrating… i’m sure i’ll have a similar challenge with the new 1.9 guide, but like all things, it will grow on you and I will eventually love it. I hope to share my opinion once I do get the 1.9 update though.

  17. Not being able to pad the recording of live games has been my biggest pet peeve and it’s finally getting fixed! (unfortunately it’s AFTER basketball season)

  18. I was really looking forward to the updates, but as a long time FiOS customer we also have old hardware like Evan. The fact that Verizon wants us to pay $40 to upgrade hardware we’re renting from them really turned me off. I can’t even explain why, but it did. We’ve basically paid for our 4+ year old 6000 series boxes in rental fees. Now we have to pay to replace them?

    I understand why they just can’t upgrade everyone at once. It’s expensive. The old hardware still works. But now I’m thinking, hmmm, maybe I just go back to my Windows Media Center idea. Or cut cable altogether. The box rental fees really add up. Verizon is just a telco like all the others. Big and bureaucratic. The FiOS shine has worn off.

    Or I stick with FiOS TV and suck it up. It’s just TV, right? :-)

  19. @Joel. I didn’t have to pay. I called and they said, “that’s not a policy anymore”. so, I would call your local VZ shop, like I did, and ask them to confirm as well, but I think you will be provided the same result. I replaced both our HD dvr machines and these new puppies offer a much larger hard drive space than the 6xxx models. It was a free HBO/Cinemax over the weekend and I recorded about 15+ HD (2 hour each movies) and I’m only at 30% total. The newer boxes feel a lot snappier/faster, too.

    also, just my 2 cents to ease the pain of waiting, because I hate waiting too, the purpose of upgrading different markets individually like they are doing is to ensure the upgrade is working properly in their controlled launch markets. I’m sure they’ve experienced a flux in calls with customers with issues and older models, etc, so these upgrades also affect their call centers *perhaps* requiring hotfixes to their upgrade as more markets get the update and by the time it gets to us things should be pretty smooth… Currently, the upgrade exists for Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, NY and Harrisburg, Pa. That’s not a lot considering fios is all across the country from FL to CA. The new guide will come to all remaining markets through May and June I’ve read and in the past, for example when I was anticipating their new HD packages, I had to wait until the end of the release to get it and I’m a VA customer. These regions are their initial “test” markets. What’s funny is my wife works for VZ and they had comcast up until just a little while ago. So, even official VZ buildings don’t have it, so even their own staff must wait. Speaking with experience in development in my IT world, it’s a process and it’s never easy.

  20. note: what i meant about my wife’s VZ office, she works for Verizon Business…. not a fios store. Their buildings used to be MCI centers, but Verizon moved in, and they were all had comcast copper and only recently switch to fios.

  21. example of how xbox is launching their spring update:
    http://www.engadget.com/2011/05/09/xbox-360-spring-update-coming-may-19/

    “Unlike previous system updates, this release will occur gradually in 6 separate groups starting from 5/19 to 5/20. This is being done to ensure a high quality deployment.”

  22. There is only one xbox360. There are no less than 6 different STB’s that require different firmware and software due to limitations of each. Also there are some additional sophisticated updates like… the true HD guide… eSATA expansion… DVR to DVR (multihub)viewing… And less sophisticated, but many positive visual updates.

  23. The new guide sucks. Its’ hard to read. stop trying to look fancy and leave it alone. It was easier to see the old way.

  24. My old eyes can’t read the new guide ….. sure wish there was a way to revert back to the old one. I don’t understand why Verizon thought it was necessary to “fix” something that wasn’t broken! I dropped Verizon once and am seriously thinking about dropping them again.

  25. The new guide is HORRIBLE. Super small type and hard to read, the old one was a thousand times easier to scroll thru and read. Definitely considering changing my service because it totally sucks!

  26. I agree with “Bonnie Gifford” and “SEM” that the new IMG is definitely hard to read because it is smaller font, and the letters and background no longer contrast enough (now it’s light letters against light backgrnd), so cannot read clearly. I’m also upset with Vzn after reading this post and will be contacting them. Two reasons: 1) I have been paying for my whole home HD DVR $20 a month for a long time, and now they offer it *free for life* to new subscribers; 2) I paid the $40 buckx to upgrade to the 500GB DVR, and now they don’t charge??? Verizon, how do you reward the loyal customer? I’ve been with you for YEARS. I hve to call and gripe. Thanks y’all for hearing me! :D

  27. I want to add my 2 cents to all the others complaining about FIOS’s new IMG. Whomever designed this mess needs a long course in Egonomics, at least from the standpoint of making the thing readable. I have a new 46″ high-def SONY LED set, and I have trouble reading the data on the screen at about 6 feet or more. Verizon claims they listened to viewers’ demands to develop this thing, and I’m curious to know what viewers would ask for this mess? Scheduling recordings is a pain, since you can’t go out more than two weeks in the future. Navigating through it to find what’s on over the next 24 hours is another pain.

    I would also agree with bbithead. I’ve also been a Verizon FIOS customer since they first converted in our town 2 years ago. I had been a Verizon DSL customer for 5 years before that. I’ve been paying $16 a month for each of two DVRs for a couple of years, and am more than a little frosted that they are “giving away” the same things to new customers FOR LIFE! I asked about this to a rep and while I can’t quote her directly, it amounted to “I don’t make policy”. Thanks for nothing, Verizon. Cablevision has been kissing my butt monthly asking for my business, and it’s getting harder and harder to resist the temptation. If only I could forget 30 years of no service at all……..

  28. So sad. I woke up thinking I was losing my vision…sqinting, blinking, eyes watering. Then I noticed that feeling you get when a hard-core headache is approaching. I just threw my head back onto my pillow in anger. On a 42in HD tv, there’s no excuse for the fonts to be that small with no contrast! Some folks should be slapped (or worse)!

  29. As well as the other issues mentioned, the new guide is SLOW. Numbers scroll, then it takes a long time for the program descriptions to catch up. Really wish the”Classic” view in options would actually revert to the previous view.

  30. Hate the new guide. Contacted verizon about being able to adjust font size and text/background colors. They said they would consider it in future upgrades. That means they’ll do nothing. It’s the difference between tech innovators like Steve Jobs and average companies like verizon. Steve always thought about user experience and how to make it the very best. Verizon enjoys in being average.

  31. I have had fios for 5 years so I have the old dvr and everything that has recorded has recorded without sound bc of the new1.9….and yes there is still a 39.99 one time fee for getting the new box I know this bc I tell people that everyday while I am at work!! so i know it is true !!! Very disappointed bc some of the new features would be great

  32. The new parental controls are great and I really like the screen election on recorded programs. I guess like anything it will take some time to get used to the change but I still can’t beat the quality of the tv picture and the Internet speed

  33. This new look Verizon’s FiOS TV IMG 1.9 sucks big time. It caused problems with all of our boxes and it took a router restart to fix the mess. Worse yet, the look is terrible; less contrast, pastel looking background; difficult to see; text is too small; can’t read it. Let’s go back to the way it was. Now they want to charge us $40.00 extra to upgrade the box. No way. At least increase the text size & font, change the background color. It’s terrible.

  34. The upgrade sucks!! We lost all the recordings on the DVR prior to the upgrade. We can still see them but The program guide is almost unreadable. The tech I talked to says 2 mos of upgrades in NJ, now MD & CA, taking 100′s of trouble calls a day. Offered to swap my 7216 box for a newer one but that won’t get my recordings back. Took 3 calls to make my other STB’s play my recordings. Tired of getting upgrades and patches in the middle of watching a show — box just shuts off and reboots by itself!!!!!

  35. Bah! Try to enable additional storage using Verbatim’s MediaShare! The procedure is a futile endless loop. Verizon is no help!

  36. I don’t like the upgraded guide. It is difficult to read. It is too busy, the print is too small and it only shows 1 1/2 hours instead of 2. Additionally, it keeps switching back to all channels, instead of my favorites 1.

  37. George jakowenko January 12, 2012 at 12:42 am

    The new guide is too small for both me and my wife. It is really bad. We are seriosly thinking of going back to cablevision so we can read the gujde. Who ever designed this clunker should get the boot.

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