Archives For mari

fios-196-update1

The FiOS TV guide has grown stale these last few years as Verizon turned its attention to all things wireless. However, while I await the next-gen version of FiOS service, I’m happy to report that Verizon has made a few short-term tweaks to improve the existing interface.

My favorite in the IMG 1.9.6 update (just five months after the 1.9.5 update) is the change to the search screen. Instead of having to scroll to every letter I want to type in, Verizon now lets me use the number buttons on my remote as alphabet keys just like old-style texting. (Or current-style if you haven’t given in to touch screens yet.) Example: you press the “2” button once for “A”, twice for “B”, and three times for “C”. This may not sound like a big deal, but searching for anything was terrifically painful before, and the new interface definitely speeds up the process. Continue Reading…

Mohu Channels TV adapter

For all of the ink spent on Aereo (and I’m responsible for my fair share), the relatively quiet efforts of Mohu could end up being just as disruptive to the TV service market. Mohu has already had a successful run with its line of over-the-air TV antennas, but the company is ready to take its technology a step further. As Janko points out over at GigaOM, Mohu has just completed a Kickstarter campaign to help with the development of a new product called the Channels TV adapter. The adapter will combine OTA channels fed through an HD antenna (bought separately) with web video apps like Netflix and Hulu, and it will offer a personalized program guide including any channels and apps a user wants to highlight.

If Mohu can deliver a clean experience with the new Channels TV adapter – and that’s certainly a big if, particularly when it comes to switching between OTA and web content – the company will have a very compelling product offering. For the contingent of TV viewers who want broadcast TV and their $8 Netflix subscription, the Mohu device will put all of that content in one place on the living-room flat screen. Mohu isn’t offering DVR or multiscreen services (at least not yet), but it will appeal to the same audience with the Channels TV adapter as Aereo has with its monthly service. And with Mohu, there’s no additional monthly fee, and no cloud of legal drama.  Continue Reading…

hdmi-roku-stick

Roku’s new streaming stick is now shipping in the US online from Roku, Amazon, Best Buy, Target and Walmart. A few other outlets have now reported the news, but I happened to hear the information first hand from Ed Lee, Roku’s vice president of content acquisition, at a Light Reading conference today in Denver. As a reminder, the new streaming stick rings in at $50, or $15 more than Google’s Chromecast device. However, the content options are superior, with apps that include WatchESPN and Amazon Instant Video. The Roku stick also comes with its own non-smartphone remote control and is powered via microUSB. Thanks to a major update to Roku’s mobile apps this week, you can also enjoy universal search capabilities.

Availability of the new Roku streaming stick in stores is still expected in early April.

Verizon GreenWave FCC documentation

Verizon hasn’t been out of the home automation business for long, but it looks like the telco giant is already preparing to jump back in. According to FCC documents uncovered by Steve Donahue of FierceCable, Verizon appears to be preparing to launch a new FiOS gateway with an associated Zigbee home automation module. The FiOS Quantum Gateway goes by model number FiOS-G1100 and supports the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard along with the Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols. The module, meanwhile, is produced by GreenWave Reality, a California-based company that most recently made noise back at CES. GreenWave’s platform includes applications for energy management, connected lighting, and home monitoring, but CMO Nate Williams told me in January that it can support far more.

Williams has a history with Verizon, as he was previously CMO and head of business development for 4Home, the company that was acquired by Motorola, and that provided the technology basis for Verizon’s now-defunct Verizon Home Monitoring and Control service. Despite 4Home’s successful exit, the company’s platform did not survive the move first to Motorola, then Google, then Arris. GreenWave’s Home2Cloud platform appears to be doing better so far. The company is already profitable from an operational standpoint and has a major public customer in E.ON, one of Europe’s largest utility companies. Williams told me that GreenWave also has two US service provider customers, at least one of which is a cable, telco, or satellite operator. Verizon certainly fits that description. Continue Reading…

Comcastic TV Broadband Venn Diagram

There are so many implications to the proposed Comcast acquisition of Time Warner Cable that it’s a little hard to stay focused on one angle. However, I do want to interject something into the argument that the deal is all about the expansion of broadband. While that’s true, it’s also a simplistic statement. Why? Because broadband is all about TV right now. Think about it. What is driving the ridiculous growth of Internet traffic? It’s video. And what major video source is in the process of shifting to IP delivery? Television. You can’t tease out one side of the business from the other when the financial considerations of both are so intensely intertwined – from how networks are upgraded, to how bandwidth gets allocated, to how service packages are created.

There is one thing I think we’ll have to pay a lot more attention to going forward, and that’s how the major operators (including Comcast-Biggest-Cable-Company-of-All-Time-Warner) decide how to divide up their total delivery capacity between public Internet service and their own managed IP services. To be sure, ISPs depend on being able to market higher Internet speeds and cheaper prices to keep customers (at least in some markets), but I wonder whether in the future there will be less incentive to make public Internet services high-performing if cable companies can make more money from their own managed IP offerings.

Verizon LTE TV

Verizon has remained steadfast in its claim that it will not use the acquisition of Intel’s OnCue assets to launch a nationwide over-the-top video service. However, the fact that Verizon is now apparently talking to CE manufacturers about embedding LTE multicast technology in TV sets does have me wondering how long the company will stick to that plan.

As quick background, Verizon spent time demoing LTE multicast at an event in NYC this week. Unlike how most video is delivered in individual streams to consumer devices, multicast technology allows multiple devices to access the same stream of video at the same time. This is useful for live events, when theoretically many people want to watch the exact same content.

Verizon has been futzing with LTE multicast for some time, but the fact that the company is now talking to manufacturers about adding it to TVs is what interests me. Continue Reading…

VerizonFiosIMG1-9-5

There was a time when we celebrated Verizon FiOS guide updates. But the IMG 1.9.5 release gives us little cause for joy. The updated guide has been rolling out since last year, but it just arrived here at Chez Silbey, and comments on the DSLReports forums show that the version release has been making its way across parts of New York State in the last few weeks as well.

Although there are some minor feature updates in the new interface, the one really noticeable difference is a new ad bar at the bottom of the guide screen. In my market, I see only a Verizon logo splashed across the page, but in other regions there are actual ads appearing, like the Disney banner shown above. The injection of ads was inevitable, but it’s still disappointing as it clutters up the display. More importantly, it’s irritating when the additional ads don’t come with any major feature improvements. Personally I’m not that excited about being able to turn off parental controls for a four-hour period of time. And while it’s nice that people with multiple DVRs can now schedule recordings on a different set-top in the house, that particular feature doesn’t apply to my one-TV home.

Verizon invested significant resources in UI development in the early years of FiOS TV. The company brought us cover art for on-demand titles, IP-based widgets (apps ahead of their time), and a “What’s Hot” recommendation list showing what other viewers in the region are watching. Since at least 2011, however, Verizon has fallen steadily behind many of its competitors, and the FiOS program guide is starting to look seriously outdated.

Fortunately, there’s cause for hope. Continue Reading…