Comcast Spruces Up DVR Features In Boston Area

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Comcast has launched multiroom digital video recorder service and online DVR management throughout Boston, most of Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, along with an upgrade to the latest version of the i-Guide interactive program guide for Motorola set-tops.

The AnyRoom DVR service requires one primary HD DVR set-top box, with up to three additional HD set-top boxes able to play back recorded content. The client set-tops connect to the central DVR using the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) specification. Comcast offers the service in more than 20 markets in its Motorola footprint.

In addition, Comcast has introduced the next version of i-Guide for Motorola set-tops, version A28, in the Boston region. The IPG is maintained by GuideWorks, the joint venture of Comcast and Rovi (formerly Macrovision).

With i-Guide A28, Comcast offers myDVR Manager, which lets subscribers schedule recordings on one or more DVRs from the Web at www.comcast.net/mydvr.

AnyRoom DVR requires customers to upgrade their primary DVR to the Motorola DCX3400-M, which can store up to 50 hours of HD programming with a 500-Gigabyte hard disk. Pricing for the primary DVR starts at $13.95 per month for triple-play customers and goes up to $19.95 per month, with secondary set-tops like the DCX3200-M running an average of $8 per month, according to Comcast.

Customers can begin watching a recorded program in one room and finish watching it in another. Recordings can only be scheduled or deleted from the primary DVR.

Other new features in i-Guide A28 include "skip ahead/skip back" to fast-forward or rewind DVR recordings in five-minute increments; a new on-screen keyboard designed to make it faster to type; DVR folders that automatically group shows together; and the ability to search and set recordings by actor, director or keyword, similar to TiVo's WishList.

Interactive TV features in the IPG include HSN Shop by Remote; "request for information" triggers for advertisers; and the ability to set program reminders or recordings directly for TV show and movie promos. The A28 guide also shows viewers who tune to a standard-definition channel an on-screen prompt that lets them switch to an HD version if it's available.

Comcast's AnyRoom DVR service and IPG enhancements are part of the company's Xfinity brand, which encompasses expanded HD lineups with more than 100 HD channels, video-on-demand choices increasing to 25,000 and broadband speeds of up of 50 Mbps.

"We know that Boston-area consumers depend on time-shifting technologies to watch their favorite TV shows on their schedules," Steve Hackley, senior vice president of Comcast's Greater Boston region, said in a statement. "These new enhancements, like AnyRoom DVR, remote DVR scheduling and the enhanced on-screen guide, are just the latest innovations to our Xfinity platform designed to deliver customers expanded access to their favorite entertainment on their terms and the most choice and control available today."

A Comcast-commissioned survey, conducted by International Communications Research, found that around 70% of Boston-area consumers use time-shifting technologies to watch primetime TV series and that more than 50% of those who use DVRs rely on them more than they did one year ago.

Verizon's FiOS TV, AT&T's U-verse TV and DirecTV also offer multiroom DVR options, while cable operators including Comcast and Cox Communications are beginning to roll them out.

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