First shown about a year ago, Verizon formally pulled the wraps off their upcoming FiOS TV media server here at CES. The “VMS” hardware, produced by Motorola, sports 6 tuners and 1 terabyte of storage, and is effectively Verizon’s third generation platform – evolving into a true whole-home DVR hub and client model, as we’re seeing across the industry. Despite seriously beefed up specs, including the ability to run native HTML5 apps like a new leanback YouTube, the set-top is actually more compact than existing FiOS TV Cisco and Motorola DVRs.
Beyond the VMS1100 media server, Verizon also showed off their companion client boxes (IPC1100). These units, which communicate over MoCA, run about the size of a paperback and are being submitted for Energy Star certification. And it sounds like anything you can do on the primary media server, you can accomplish via the client box. Further, unlike the TiVo Mini’s two unit cap, Verizon supports five clients sprinkled about the home simultaneously accessing video content. Oh yeah, it’s got a clock too.
The Media Server represents the foundation of the FiOS TV platform going forward and will continue to see enhancements over time. Phase 1 is obviously getting the hardware out the door. But Phase 2 is where it gets interesting with local transcoding as Verizon relocates the content cloud from Internet-accessed resources into our homes, reducing network variables (and content licensing issues?) for a better customer experience. So, for example, it’s conceivable that the video we now enjoy on the Xbox and iPad would be piped directly from the VMS. Verizon tells me we don’t have long to wait, saying units will arrive “very soon, within a couple months.” And while they’re not quite ready to reveal pricing, they assure me it’ll be competitive and comparable to similar products in the marketplace. As a FiOS TV customer, I guess my only question is… Will it hit before TiVo’s comparable offering and at better rates?