Archives For DVR

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.

New DirecTV HD UI Nearly Ready

Dave Zatz —  October 23, 2011 — 5 Comments

Rumor has it DirecTV’s high definition interface will land on their satellite set-top boxes (HR20 or H21 and up) beginning November 1 (Get it here: http://www.bestsatellite.tv/). As you can see from the video above, the new design is at once both modernized and simplified with what appears to be quite sprightly interaction. DirecTV breaks it down:

  • A sleek new look and feel
  • Lightning fast scrolling
  • 1080p HD resolution
  • Visual browsing experience
  • One place for all DIRECTV CINEMA and On Demand movies
  • Recommendations based on your past viewing preferences

Between this new guide and DirecTV’s whole home DVR capabilities, I wonder how many takers they’ll find for the upcoming DirecTV TiVo? Given two years of delays, DirecTiVo is expected to feature older DirecTV hardware running TiVo’s original standard definition UI.


Click to enlarge.

While TiVo, Inc hasn’t yet had much to say regarding availability of their new quad tuning TiVo Premiere Elite DVR, reseller WeaKnees just put a stake in the ground for October 10. While shipping dates on their web page have fluctuated these last few weeks, given the email blast above that indicates units are “In Stock and Shipping 10/10″, I’d say Monday’s launch is now a done deal.

As we reported last month, the well-endowed 2 Terabyte TiVo DVR will be sold online, in addition to being offered by Best Buy’s Magnolia outposts and custom installers as a high-end solution for digital cable — The Premiere Elite merely requires a single CableCARD to simultaneously tune and record four channels. Having said that, my interest in a $500 DVR saddled with a $20 monthly fee is somewhat limited…. until (if?) TiVo sees fit to enable TiVo-to-TiVo streaming and brings the TiVo Preview multi-room extender to retail.

However, for those with more than a passing interest, WeaKnees will begin accepting pre-orders tomorrow and is running a $25 off promotion through 10/16 using the code 25ELITE at checkout. You in?

Update: TiVo Premiere Elite hardware is now available at Best Buy Magnolia outposts. Word on the street is that each store should have two units and those 10% off coupons many of us recently received should be valid on this purchase. I snapped a pic of what I assume to be shipping packaging, versus a hopefully more colorful retail skin within. (Nope, guess not.)