It’s official. U-verse subscribers are reporting that AT&T has started to roll out its whole-home DVR service. Since Motorola is involved, I thought this would be a good time to walk through the hardware and AT&T’s approach to in-home DVR networking.
Motorola supplies two set-top models to AT&T for U-verse, the VIP1200, an HD IP box, and the VIP1216, an HD DVR set-top. In a multi-room DVR scenario, one VIP1216 can be used for shared digital video recording services around the home. In other words, the non-DVR set-tops can access DVR recordings and features (pause, rewind, etc.) from one central DVR. To interconnect the various VIP set tops, AT&T will use HomePNA (HPNA) technology which allows the establishment of an IP network using existing coax and phone lines.
The VIP1200 and the VIP1216 include a significant number of ports for both audio and video:
- RCA/composite video – Standard Definition video connection to the TV or VCR
- RCA/stereo left/right audio – Audio connection to the TV or VCR
- S-Video – Standard Definition video connection to the TV
- Component video, YPbPr – High Definition video connection to the TV
- HDMI video – High Definition video and audio connection to the TV
- Optical audio – Digital audio connection to Home Theater receiver (Dolby Digital surround sound)
- USB interface – Connect to portable devices to transfer movies, photos and music.
- Ethernet – TV programming input from your service operator, home networking
- HPNA – TV programming input from your service operator, home networking
The VIP set-tops also support MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and VC-1 encoding. And they’re EnergyStar compliant for more efficient power use.
The whole-home DVR launch, which started showing signs of arrival in mid-Summer, follows on the heels of AT&T’s May news that it would begin to offer multiple HD streams to U-verse subscribers. I’m keeping a hopeful eye out on the U-verse Users Forum for more in-the-field reports.