I’ve just received word that Verizon’s eagerly anticipated Q4 FiOS TV 2.0 update has started rolling out. Tampa Bay, Fort Wayne and Pittsburgh customers may have received the refreshed software as early as this morning, and all other Interactive Media Guide (IMG) regions will receive it over next several weeks. The update consists primarily of bug fixes, though some minor enhancements (including recording padding – shown above) have been implemented. Additional information should be available on Verizon’s Policy Blog in the near future.
I’m heading up to Verizon’s NJ headquarters tomorrow to check out the new FiOS TV features and fixes that are getting ready to roll, plus preview future functionality such as games and mobile handset DVR interaction.
I’m pre-posting my visit to solicit feedback for Verizon’s IMG Product Developer Manager… There’s been some concern (which Verizon is monitoring) from folks who feel the new FiOS TV interface needs improvement. So hit me with your questions and issues, and I’ll try to squeeze in as many as time permits.
Thanks to John Czwartacki, Mari and I recently converged on Verizon’s corporate HQ in New Jersey for some hands on time with FiOS TV 2.0 (aka Interactive Media Guide, aka IMG). As with Digeo’s Moxi, Verizon has really enriched and modernized the DVR interface. And while not perfect, Mari and I both came away impressed with the direction Verizon is taking their software (which has been in development only about a year).
Mari loves widgets. I’m not quite as enthusiastic, but Verizon is rolling with the basics such as local weather, traffic, and community events. Below the widget bar, video continues to play. I find Moxi’s info ticker concept more appealing as similar info is subtly available while video remains full screen.
Like Moxi, Verizon is also providing multi-room viewing over coax – using MoCA in this case. Only SD programs can currently be streamed to remote boxes, but Verizon hopes to offer HD streaming early in 2008. Two boxes can simultaneously access a source DVR for multi-room viewing, though the number of boxes you can deploy around the house is unlimited. Streaming is real-time.
The higher-end FiOS TV DVR package also includes media extender functionality. Media Manager PC software organizes photos and (unprotected) music for DVR streaming.
Everywhere you look in the interface your video is available, either in a window or below the menu. I’m a fan of PIP, but unlike the Comcast Moto TiVo and Moxi interfaces FiOS TV doesn’t allow you to pause the video while in a menu or widget. So users will have to hit pause first to hide that Hell’s Kitchen elimination. In addition to PIP, the DVR interface is (optionally) partially transparent to the video below.
Pricing & Deployment
Verizon’s HD DVR service and box fee runs $12.99/month. They also offer a $19.99/month plan which includes Media Manager functionality and supports multi-room viewing — obviously requiring additional hardware ($4.99/month for each basic SD cable box). Sure seems reasonable compared to the TiVo Series 3…
FiOS TV 2.0 is currently being deployed in Fort Wayne and Rhode Island, with plans for all boxes to receive the (free) software upgrade by the end up September. In fact, we can probably expect a press release out of Verizon in the very near future.
Originally announced at CES, I’ve been given word that Verizon’s FiOS TV Interactive Media Guide ~aka FiOS TV 2.0~ is rolling. The new GUI has just launched in Fort Wayne, IN and will be deployed to existing FiOS TV customers as a software update on existing hardware over the summer. To the best of everyone’s knowledge the interface was produced in-house.
Based on Verizon’s animated demo, the interface looks pretty slick – perhaps a little Moxi graphical, vertical orientation mixed with a little Xbox 360 blades/tabs. Search functionality includes television programming, recorded shows, and video on demand. Text can be entered via either an on-screen keyboard, a triple tap phone keypad, or scrollable list of letters. Additional broadband interactivity such as viewing PC photos and local traffic is also included.
Could this update justify the reported DVR price hike from $12.99/month to $15.99? Regardless, I’ll try to make it up to Verizon’s NJ offices in the next few weeks for a hands on.
Back in March, we learned Verizon was prepping a home automation-centric router. And, based on their FCC confidentiality request, it appeared they’d been targeting a summer release. While we’re not quite there, the unannounced Greenwave G1100 has popped up in one pal’s online account as the FiOS Quantum Gateway. Based on its presentation, we assume the G1100 replaces Verizon’s existing Actiontec hardware and handles both television and Internet duties… in addition to potentially bringing Zigbee home automation, via a HAN expansion port and as indicated by the emblazoned label previously submitted to the FCC. Of course, we don’t know if this is a simple extension of Verizon’s existing home suite… or some sort of new collaboration. Given home automation’s current retail struggles, acquiring this functionality via a provider like Verizon could very well remain the preferred sales channel.
While perusing the FCC’s seemingly limitless database of upcoming gadgets, looking for something streamy, I landed upon what looks like the second generation Nest learning thermostat. And, I gotta say, the timing is fortuitous… Because, as a new home owner with dual climate control units, I’ve been stockpiling my Lowe’s coupons ahead of a potential Nest purchase. So my dilly dallying on the fence may allow me to pick up the latest greatest — assuming this new model (02A) replaces the original (01A). Most of the juicy details will remain confidential until March, 2013. However, I expect we’ll see the new “home monitoring unit” arrive this fall. Reports indicate the original Nest, launched in 2011 for $250, might incorporate a Zigbee chipset… whereas the new FCC docs proudly proclaims it via a dedicated “Zigbee report.” Hopefully foreshadowing the future direction of Nest Labs, either in terms of building out their own home automation solutions and/or integrating with other related HA products. I would’t mind a lower price of entry, either.
I don’t read much in hard copy anymore, but I did leaf through the print version of PC World while on the beach last weekend. One article caught my attention as much for what it didn’t say as for what it did report. The piece, Early IPTV Uses Only a Little of Its Fat Pipe, missed a few critical points. And having made my own share of mistakes and errors of omission in the blogging business, I thought I’d make some amends by adding in information where I do have a little knowledge.
First, the IPTV story profiles AT&T and Verizon, but it does so without making the distinction that AT&T delivers all-IP TV, while Verizon uses RF with an IP return path. Essentially Verizon has chosen to use IP only for certain interactive services, and actually more closely emulates a cable network architecture than AT&T’s offering.