Now that we’ve covered some of upcoming significant Verizon FiOS TV features (first half 2008), let’s take a step back and discuss the 2007 Q4 “maintenance release.” At the core of this update, Verizon believes they have addressed the “top 100” concerns based on continued testing, blog feedback, call center data, and home visits. While they’re not really adding any major new features, the software should appear more polished with UI improvements and dozens of resolved issues.
- More complete guide data and for upcoming programs
- Larger fonts (in program descriptions)
- Less chopped text
- Just one UI “bread crumb”
- Transparent guide no longer default setting
- Improved storage space calculations and indicator
- Set-top box reminders (non-DVR models)
- Pad recordings
- Additional recording options
- Option to channel surf favorites only
- Subscribe to channels
Hover your mouse over the thumbnails for a description; Click for a larger view:
Verizon also wanted to chat about their development process. The (large) IMG team is in action 6 1/2 days a week utilizing a “rapid development cycle” methodology. After a series of internal testing and QA, the software is rolled out to Verizon “friendlies” (employees, friends, family) for additional feedback and observation. Once completed, one region will receive an upgrade and will be monitored. In addition to these planned larger biannual maintenance releases, out of cycle updates and firmware will be (and are) shipped as needed. Also, going forward, Verizon intends to increase the roll-out speed between regions. Lab testing on the final release of this build is nearing completion, and the software should start showing up in homes next month.
Before deciding to take the day off from work to trek up north, I placed a condition on the briefing that time would be reserved to address the questions, concerns, and issues of current and potential customers. Verizon fully supported this and here we are:
Expandable Storage (razordullwit)
The DVR architecture is capable of supporting expanded storage and it’s a feature currently under consideration. It seems as though Verizon has been somewhat reluctant to go down this path (now) while they work through the logistics of providing and managing the customer experience. Obviously a lot of folks, myself included, think this is an important feature to implement – appealing to both the mainstream and geek crowd.
Verizon is aware of crashing in less than 1% of boxes. Many of these have been identified and eliminated through firmware updates which are currently rolling out. Interestingly, the major source of non-code crashes is due to overheating DVRs located in unventilated areas. Make sure your DVR has some breathing room. And for anyone experiencing issues, be sure to call Verizon and report them.
VOD Quantity (Davis Freeberg)
Davis heard that cable operators are limited to 10,000 video on demand titles. Verizon tells me they currently offer over 8,000, with more to come. Verizon explains that this is a storage versus streaming issue, and bandwidth is not a limiting factor. They have no issues today and they’ll increase capacity as they add content.
CableCARD Issues (JohnInVA)
Verizon will continue to offer choice in supporting industry initiatives such as CableCARD, but they had nothing specific to say regarding technical issues or the availability of M-Cards.
As mentioned above, programmable reminders will become available on set-top boxes. As far as pre-recording confirmation screens, I don’t think we fully understood the situation and what is/isn’t happening. Steven, Can you elaborate?
Also as mentioned above, favorites apply to both the guide and channel surfing in the Q4 update. Jeff, much of the game and video content will not be locally stored on the box and while the capacity of your drive isn’t increasing, the more accurate indicator should show more room.
The DVR hangs, 0-second recordings, and Season Pass issues should all be corrected for you through the firmware and maintenance releases rollouts this year. You also might want to make sure your DVR has enough ventilation. The guide data should be more complete and improved through monitoring, as mentioned above, and will hopefully eliminate those recording issues.
Sorry, Spork, but I didn’t have time to get feedback on all your issues, observations, and suggestions – I had a train to catch. However, Verizon is aware of your feedback on DSL Reports. Many items you mentioned will be corrected or improved with the Q4 release. I can also tell you the guide color legend is available online and Verizon’s research indicated that audible feedback is “annoying” – however, it sounds like that’s being re-evaluated. Tuner swapping, both with 60 minute buffers, will arrive with the 2008 Q1/Q2 release.
Spark’s Two Items
Given my day job, I agree with Spark in the value of companies speaking directly to customers. Verizon’s beginning to reach out (by monitoring the forums and blogs, engaging me, home visits) and hopefully they’ll become more active going forward. Regarding the missed recordings, given the brief description, they’re not certain what the root cause is. If it’s related to guide data, perhaps it will be resolved. Regardless, they suggest that everyone having probs should call them in. Not only do they monitor this feedback, they have the ability to enable a DVR debugging mode to collect the sorts of data which would hopefully lead to a resolution.