Verizon 6 Tuner Media Server DVR Arriving "Soon"

Dave Zatz —  January 9, 2013 — 18 Comments

verizon-fiostv-vms-client

First shown about a year ago, Verizon formally pulled the wraps off their upcoming FiOS TV media server here at CES. The “VMS” hardware, produced by Motorola, sports 6 tuners and 1 terabyte of storage, and is effectively Verizon’s third generation platform – evolving into a true whole-home DVR hub and client model, as we’re seeing across the industry. Despite seriously beefed up specs, including the ability to run native HTML5 apps like a new leanback YouTube, the set-top is actually more compact than existing FiOS TV Cisco and Motorola DVRs.

Beyond the VMS1100 media server, Verizon also showed off their companion client boxes (IPC1100). These units, which communicate over MoCA, run about the size of a paperback and are being submitted for Energy Star certification. And it sounds like anything you can do on the primary media server, you can accomplish via the client box. Further, unlike the TiVo Mini’s two unit cap, Verizon supports five clients sprinkled about the home simultaneously accessing video content. Oh yeah, it’s got a clock too.

verizon-fiostv-ui

The Media Server represents the foundation of the FiOS TV platform going forward and will continue to see enhancements over time. Phase 1 is obviously getting the hardware out the door. But Phase 2 is where it gets interesting with local transcoding as Verizon relocates the content cloud from Internet-accessed resources into our homes, reducing network variables (and content licensing issues?) for a better customer experience. So, for example, it’s conceivable that the video we now enjoy on the Xbox and iPad would be piped directly from the VMS. Verizon tells me we don’t have long to wait, saying units will arrive “very soon, within a couple months.” And while they’re not quite ready to reveal pricing, they assure me it’ll be competitive and comparable to similar products in the marketplace. As a FiOS TV customer, I guess my only question is… Will it hit before TiVo’s comparable offering and at better rates?

18 responses to Verizon 6 Tuner Media Server DVR Arriving "Soon"

  1. I hope you can at least turn off the clock. That is one thing I hate, having a clock on a device when you can already see the time with one button press from the TV as well as many other devices.

  2. I like being able to walk by and see the time. But more than turning it off, I hope there are multiple brightness levels. But funny given all the amazing things these set-tops do, we’re fixated on the clock. ;)

  3. I’m sure it will be over priced like most cable company boxes. For me to even access VOD from FiOS they want me to pay $10 a month to rent an HD box. A box with no DVR capabilities. The HD DVR is even more expensive. I used to rent one several years ago but turned it in since I only used it a handful of times a month.

    What will this six tuner box cost a month? $50 including two client boxes?

  4. 6 tuner box with only 1TB? That’s one of the problems with MSOs. Want to make the equipment as cheap as possible and charge/lease as much as possible (which obv makes sense as a business model), but sucks for consumers and people keep going along with it. I’d guess home dvr is 19.99, this is $24.99 or 29.99/mo with the boxes $4.99/mo.

  5. IT would have to be a real resonable price for me to give up my tivo!

  6. Yeah, 1TB is barely sufficient given this box’s role in the home. Unfortunately, the initial roll out will not include support for external storage. But it better be on the roadmap…

    Regarding pricing, Verizon had no info to share at this time. But I’d imagine the hub would land somewhere in the $25-35/mo range and maybe $10-15/mo for the clients.

    How this compares to TiVo is too hard for me to calculate from the airport bar. ;) But TiVo of course has upfront fees plus monthly fees or Lifetime service. Beyond factoring those in, I pay Verizon $4/mo per CableCARD and it’s not yet clear how TiVo will price the Mini. Also… once the iPad becomes just another set-top or client, fed via that hub, I’m hopefully ALL channels will be made available versus the current 75ish.

    Regardless of the solution one chooses, it’s gratifying to finally see pretty much all of the industry move to this hub/client model – it’s a smarter way. And whenever TiVo, Hulu, etc service fees get me down, I remind myself how much I spend on a daily basis for my Starbucks or toll road into the office.

  7. In reading the press for this, it wasn’t clear if the box would allow you to watch DVR’d shows on an iPad like a Tivo Stream; or if iPad integration just meant that you could control it with an iPad, and the whole home feature meant only to their other boxes. In interacting with their set-up, was there a clear answer to this? My Tivo service contract for an HD is up soon, and I am not sure if I should hold out for this.

  8. I have been doing this with Windows Media Center, a Ceton quad tuner card, and Xbox 360s for nearly two years. I don’t pay any monthly fees for equipment or tv listings. Actually Comcast gives me a $2.50 credit each month for owning my own equipment.

  9. I would expect additional storage options on the way. Verizon recently patented some type of network attached storage functionality for their DVRs IIRC.

  10. Makes me wonder if you can roll your own so that it would for itself in under the typical 24 month contract.

    Something like 2xHDHR Primes ($300)+cheapo box with lots of storage($500)+5xrefurb 360s ($500) comes out to roughly $1300. At the low end of the pricing range ($25/primary+5x$15/client=$100), it would take just over a year to pay for itself. Though, of course you need two $4/mo Cablecards.

    Hm.

  11. Yeah, you could always roll your own. Until Microsoft cuts the guide data the way they’ve dropped MPEG2 DVD licensing. But I wouldn’t want a bulky Xbox at every TV. Ceton Echo runs $170. Also, I assume this Hub will at some point feed the other in-home end points.

  12. A $170 Echo does one thing. A $200 XBox does so much more.

  13. *for $60/year. ;) I am an Xbox fan, however it’s not going in my bedroom or kitchen.

  14. It can play games, be an extender, and play DVDs without a Live subscription.

  15. A clock is the biggest thing I miss now that I have DirecTV.

    This looks like nice hardware. It’s a shame FIOS availability is so limited. If they don’t want to run fiber, what about switched digital video IP multicast over LTE?

  16. When is this going to be released? I assume sept but hoping for August.

  17. I doubt this will ever arrive. Switch to Comcast or Dish if you want a better DVR.

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