Updated on 6/3/2014: Verizon today announced its new service has made a full launch to its wireline service areas, concluding with New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Subscribers to Verizon’s FiOS cable service have a new toy to play with as the company has released its highly-capable new VMS1100 media server. The anticipated device boasts a host of new features, including a 1TB hardrive, 6 on-board tuners, and the ability to combine with another server box to allow up to 12 shows to be recorded at once.
The VMS1100 is the centerpiece of Verizon’s new FiOS Quantum TV service. The box is being billed as a “next generation media hub,” and it brings along some impressive new abilities as a part of that billing. Verizon’s official press release recently revealed specific details about how the new service will work. Quantum TV will come in two tiers, including Premium and Enhanced.
The Enhanced service includes a single VMS1100 box which serves as a hub to connect up to five TVs in the home. To do so, users can add small extender boxes, which Verizon calls Media Clients, from the main source for each TV. Working from the hub source, the extender boxes will allow users to pause and play live programming on each connected TV, and even pause a source program in one room and continue it in another.
The Premium service doubles the action, working from dual VSM1100 media servers for a combined 2TB of storage space, which translates to around 200 hours of programming. Users of the Premium service can connect via the Media Client extender boxes for up to 10 TVs at a time, with the ability to record up to 12 individual programs at once.
Perhaps trying to build a buzz, Verizon played coy with the box for its initial unveiling. According to an Engadget report, Verizon posted and then pulled a commercial for the box with a video hosted on Youtube, only to repost that same Youtube hosted video on zatsnotfunny.com. Official details from Verizon itself were hard to come by early on as the news for the VSM1100 broke.
Engadget also uncovered some forum postings on DSLReports.com of actual VMS1100 users in parts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California who were part of Verizon’s “phased roll-out” for the device. First impressions were that the system performed extremely quickly, though it still had a few hitches upon early release. Verizon later revealed that the service was officially available in North Texas and Harrisburg, PA upon initial release, both of which headlined the service’s beta trials.
Since then, Verizon has launched the service in full to its entire wireline service area, which includes 12 states, and Washington D.C. Most notable in the North East markets are New York, and New Jersey, which Verizon announced as official service areas as of June 3, 2014, completing the service’s initial rollout. Verizon claims FiOS Quantum is now available to “3.7 million households and business across New York and 2.2 million households and businesses in New Jersey.”
As one might imagine, Verizon isn’t setting the VMS1100’s talents loose for free. Verizon’s pricing for the new service is somewhat cryptic. As far as we can tell, a break down of the cost for the box’s new powers amounts to $22 per month for the single box, $32 for the dual media server setup with 12 tuners, and $10 for Media Client extender boxes for each additional TV – without adding in the actual cable bill. Then again, if your home hosts 10 TVs, you can likely afford that kind of monthly rent.
Verizon put it more opaquely in its initial press release, basing Quantum TV’s cost in comparison with current FiOS pricing as so, “A new FiOS Quantum TV customer with five TVs who orders the Enhanced Service would pay $10 more per month than the charge for standard FiOS TV using a traditional multi-room DVR; a new customer with five TVs who orders the Premium Service would pay $20 more per month.” Not exactly crystal clear, but it looks like those who have already thrown down big cash for multi-room Verizon FiOS service won’t see a major price jump when switching to Quantum TV. A one time $25 upgrade fee also applies.
While the VMS1100 already offers some promising features for the roving couch potato, a bigger buzz is centered around its “phase 2” services, which Zats Not Funny claims Verizon has looked at in the near future for its hub. Among potential tools in the VMS1100’s future is the possibility to send video feeds to other IP-connected components in your home arsenal, such as Xbox, Roku devices, and iPads – a feature already available from TiVo and Dish Network devices. The new service will also potentially provide easy access to “TV Everywhere” technology for watching programming on the go, and QuantumTV will come with a built-in mobile app to make for a seamless transition to mobile devices, potentially serving up everything from your home network.
Still more intriguing is conjecture that the new server could incorporate some of the powers from Intel’s ill-fated OnCue device, which was purchased by Verizon in January for somewhere in the $300-400 million range. Intel’s OnCue system was proposed as a portal to the future of Internet TV, combining streaming apps, live TV, on-demand content, and mobile delivery in a box unbound by standard cable delivery methods – before Intel was unable to secure programming from content providers, that is. With Verizon owning all of that technology, many are wondering just how powerful this long-awaited media server may prove to be.
For now, we can only speculate on Verizon’s future plans for the VMS1100 and its new QuantumTV service. However, you can check out the device on Verizon’s homepage now, and even investigate its instruction manual here. Check out the original video posting for the new VMS1100 below.
Update on 4/3/2014 This article was updated to reflect more detailed information released by Verizon