Archives For DVR

tivo-hd-guide

TiVo has begun rolling out an update to Premiere and Premiere Elite DVRs. In fact, version 20.2 represents the most significant software update to grace the Series 4 platform since its 2010 introduction - featuring a core code rewrite with an updated architectural design and high definition user interface (HDUI) running on a newer iteration of Flash. Not only does TiVo promise me “significant” performance and stability improvements (building upon the second processing core that came online last month), but this moves TiVo closer to a unified software platform amongst their various partners and products. Unfortunately, the HDUI is still incomplete and the Netflix experience remains unpleasant. Having said that, there’s a lot to like here…

One of the most obvious non-HDUI shortcomings has been the standard definition guide, which is now replaced with modernized, HD versions of both the traditional “grid” guide and TiVo’s unique “live” guide (that I’ve never grown accustomed to). The channel banner(s) also sees a visual refresh… and relocation from up top to down below, with the addition of a browsable mini guide – as seen with many other providers. And, if you’ve been tracking the successful Virgin Media’s successful UK TiVo deployment, the handsome updated look should be familiar.

tivo-discovery-bar

TiVo’s “Discovery Bar” has also been rethought Continue Reading…

dish-hopper

As anyone who follows the tech industry knows, the annual Consumer Electronics Show is nearly upon us. And, with it, bazillions of new product announcements. Some of which aren’t always revealed exactly as or when a vendor had intended… and such may be the case with DISH Network’s upcoming “Hopper” whole-home DVR solution that was supposedly covered by TWICE prematurely (and then yanked).

What I gather from the article and some Internet sleuthing is that EchoStar’s next generation XiP satellite whole home DVR hardware will be branded as the DISH Network “Hopper” (XiP 813) – along with the cute little kangaroo logos you see below. Further, the “extender” units will be Joeys (XiP 110). Given DISH’s inglorious historical product/box naming conventions, this is already a massive win as far as I’m concerned (and it beats TiVo’s Q and Preview, conceptually). The XiP, er Hopper, also features smaller, less angular set-top box hardware which had been my other major complaint with DISH units.

Of course, the goal of a whole-home DVR is to create a mostly centralized repository of recordings that can be streamed around the home… which the 2TB, 3 tuner Hopper and Joeys deliver. Along with live television. From the article, the system Continue Reading…

As we collectively move towards the more efficient whole-home DVR model, Verizon has announced plans to launch a FiOS TV “media server” in late 2012. With such a long gestation time, they’re not quite ready to reveal their hand. Yet, I’d expect at least three tuners and 1TB of storage (compared to the DirecTV HR34‘s 5 tuners, 1TB or the TiVo Elite’s 4 tuners, 2TB). Of course, along with such a beefy centralized unit Verizon will introduce small form factor extenders to sprinkle throughout one’s home. And, as you can see in the video above, one of their marketing points is improved energy efficiency. Lastly, Verizon continues breaking new ground with their television-as-an-app initiative, potentially fed via the aforementioned media server – with references to tablets and the Sony PS3 possibly joining the Xbox as IPTV set-top box replacements.

fios-media-server

Update: Verizon tells me to expect 6 tuners (!) and that recording capacity is still being determined but they’re leaning towards 1TB at this point.

Comcast Xfinity Barcelona Guide with AnyRoom DVR

Comcast has a new TV guide in the works, and it’s reportedly headed to Cisco set-tops this year and into 2012. Online personality cypherstream (who always seems to have the inside scoop at Comcast) pointed out a new web page yesterday on the Xfinity site. The page details features of the new guide, including the ability to control DVR place-shifting in the home, a feature Comcast calls AnyRoom DVR. After scouting out the page, I was able to confirm with my own source that the “Barcelona” guide is scheduled to roll out to Comcast subscribers with Cisco set-tops in the near future, followed by subscribers with Motorola set-tops at a later date.

Since Motorola set-tops are usually the first ones to get updates in Comcast land, I wondered briefly why the operator decided to switch things up this time around. But the answer seems obvious after a moment. Motorola set-tops got the update to the A28 guide in 2010, and Comcast started introducing AnyRoom DVR via the A28 guide last summer. In contrast, Cisco boxes have been stuck with the A25 guide for some time now, and no multi-room DVR service. The Barcelona guide brings Cisco boxes up to par, not only with AnyRoom DVR, but also with an HD interface, a filter for watching HD-only shows, and integrated search combining linear TV and VOD listings.

Of course, the Barcelona guide still doesn’t compare to the promise of the IP-based Xcalibur guide. But most of the country still has to wait a while for that one.

Hot on the heels of news from the leaked 1.5 software build, Boxee has come clean with their “Live TV” intentions. Early next year, Boxee Box owners (of any stripe?) in the US & Canada will be able to purchase a USB tuner for $49. This accessory is designed to pull in digital, high definition over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts. In addition to tuning HDTV, Boxee provides free guide data and incorporates their sharing/recommendation technology. Yet, they have no imminent plans to add recording functionality.

Does Boxee Live TV have a DVR? No. The focus of Boxee Live TV is well… Live TV… having said that if we get enough users asking for DVR then we could take advantage of that other USB input on the back of the box and let a user connect a drive for recordings. Plus we still have all the shows the web has to offer. Continue Reading…

As alluded to at least twice this year, Boxee intends to round out their entertainment offering by channeling live television. Whereas I assumed it’d be limited to over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts, it appears unencrypted digital cable may also be on the table.

Along with live TV, Boxee will provide the requisite guide data… but what about DVR functionality. DVR would surely put Boxee in an entirely different league than say their Apple TV or Roku competitors. And not a week goes by without some asking me about a subscription-free OTA DVR. Will Boxee take on this challenge?

From GigaOm’s brief hands on of pre-release software, recording capabilities are not immediately evident. Also, I assume they were evaluating the D-Link Boxee hardware… with limited storage. But folks also roll their own computer-based Boxee boxes and the 2TB Iomega Boxee Box may already be shipping.

Regardless, Boxee’s live TV reveal and USB tuner requirements are nearly upon us…

verizon-fiostv-voice5

CallerID on your DVR? Childs play. Verizon has launched an app on FiOS TV set-top boxes to manage your digital voice account. The rollout started earlier this month, but now that all subscribers have been successfully upgraded to IMG 1.9 (including us here in the DC region), the FiOS Digital Voice functionality is universally available. And, as you can see from the pics, I took it for a quick test drive.

While the IMG interface is still too sluggish, compared to say the upcoming DirecTV UI, it may be more convenient for folks to access their FiOS Digital Voice calls logs and voice mail. Yes, you can actually listen to your voicemail from the TV. Which gave me the opportunity to do a little house cleaning via that delete option. Verizon also pulls off some Google Voice trickery by allowing you to return missed calls — once selected, your home phone will ring and then it’ll dial up the other number.

Will I use these features? Probably not… as we don’t much utilize this line, only keeping Digital Voice services around as a cell backup and to save a few bucks via the triple play bundle. But it’s a rather clever technical proof of concept. And I suspect some will appreciate it.