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 the MSO-deployed Moxi and the upcoming Comcast TiVo, FiOS TV runs on Motorola hardware… as does the oft-maligned i-Guide (Comcast+Gemstar) DVR software.
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.