While it’s usually TiVo pitching the convergence of premium cable programming and over-the-top Internet content, Verizon delivers big today by bringing Pandora to FiOS TV. Motorola set-top boxes in California, Texas, and Virginia are the first to receive access to the free app… with other markets to follow. As you might expect, you can create or access your Pandora account, create or access stations, rate songs, etc. What you might not expect is that you can also launch and control the app from Verizon’s iPhone or Android apps. Yeah, maybe it’s not Netflix or Hulu Plus. But this is a positive trend and proves once again Verizon is the best “cable” company in my estimation.
Archives For DVR
Last year, the FCC ordered CableCARD reform. While I had doubts that change would arrive, and in a relatively timely fashion, at least one “cable” operator has gotten with the program. Beginning this past weekend, current and potential Verizon FiOS TV customers can now order CableCARDs online ($3.99/month) for their TiVo, Windows Media Center, or old school CableCARD-equipped HDTV. Further, Verizon also now provides an online widget and associated two page guide enabling customers to handle CableCARD pairing themselves. No technician visit required. Amen for progress.
In my experience Verizon is the most CableCARD- and TiVo-friendly operator out there with personnel who clearly understand the technology and who don’t assume their customers are video pirates (compared to say Cox Communications). But TiVo Inc looks forward to 8/1/2011 – the date by which supposedly all cable operators get with the program and allow CableCARD self installs. Unfortunately, even if it comes to pass, the scourge of SDV will remain.
In light of price hikes… If not Netflix, then who?
Not all of us are or will become cord cutters. Cable and satellite services may not be inexpensive, yet they continue to deliver a ton of value. And while my bill is inscrutable, so I’m not quite sure how much I actually pay for various features, I have zero intention of canceling Verizon.
Beyond the obvious live channel lineup, these premium content providers bundle a variety of ever expanding on demand streaming video. Through our set-top boxes themselves, we have access to a variety of “on demand” programming — something my in-laws and their children find priceless. Even more compelling is burgeoning mobile access, with apps from Cablevision, Time Warner, and Comcast in addition to web access from the likes of Verizon (shown above). And there’s the compelling HBO GO and ESPN3 offerings. Or DISH Network’s integrated Slingbox placeshifting solutions.
Oh, Hulu, how I’ve loved to hate you over the years. However, given their improving video catalog, performance and reliability (that exceed Netflix streaming in my experience), new platforms, and nice interface, I’m a believer. And a Hulu Plus subscriber. I’m usually one of the first to balk at advertisements, yet the interruptions are short and infrequent. For now. Not to mention many movies are presented ad-free.
Not enough folks are talking about Crackle. So, even though the content is ad-supported and low def, this free service featuring Sony movies and television shows is available on a number of platforms (like Roku and iPhone) and worth a shout out. Seriously, go take a look. Continue Reading…
As a proud resident of Montgomery County Maryland (again), and a new FiOS subscriber, I’m happy to report that Verizon is rolling out IMG 1.9 in the DC metro area. We had FiOS installed yesterday with the 25/25 Mbps Internet tier, and one DVR – complete with the latest software update – for our living room. Unfortunately, I won’t have a chance to test out IMG 1.9′s enhanced multi-room streaming capabilities, but I do get the new guide as part of the update, and the ability to add an external hard drive. Somewhat ironically, I was presented with a Cisco set-top box, unlike Dave who got the much sleeker Motorola QIP7232. It does have the 500GB hard drive, however, which sure beats the 160GB box we had with Comcast before.
Dave noted last night that Tampa and Pittsburgh received their FiOS software updates earlier this week. A national rollout should be complete within the next two months.
As a soon-to-be FiOS TV subscriber, I was disappointed to hear in May that Verizon was putting the brakes on the rollout of its latest guide software update. But today I hear that IMG 1.9 is back on track. I noted a comment in the DSLReports forums yesterday suggesting the rollout would resume and decided to do a little of my own digging. Sure enough, a very reliable source tells me Verizon will start the guide updates again next week, and the new software should be deployed nationally within a few months. As a reminder, here are some of the new features coming with IMG 1.9. Full release notes available here.
- 16×9 guide
- In-home streaming to and from HD DVRs
- Re-engineered search function
- More guide data
- Support for Descriptive Video Service, native pass through, 1080p, and MP3 and MPEG-4 decoding on select devices