Without much fanfare, Cablevision Systems Corp. has launched its ambitious Remote Storage-DVR (RS-DVR) service in the New York borough of the Bronx, Light Reading Cable has learned.
As of Jan. 11, this Cablevision Web page noted that the network DVR service, branded as DVR Plus, was still undergoing a consumer trial. Since then, it's been updated to note that the offering is now available to customers in the Bronx who, at a minimum, subscribe to the MSO's Family Cable tier. (See Cablevision Trademarks Mobile, RS-DVR Brands.)
Cablevision spokesman Jim Maiella confirmed by e-mail on Sunday that DVR Plus was indeed launched across the operator's Bronx service area on Tuesday, Jan. 18. The $10.95-a-month service comes with 160GB of storage -- the same as its set-top-based iO DVR service -- offering enough to store up to 100 hours of standard-definition programming or 25 hours of HD programming.
Here are a couple of screen shots from the DVR Plus reference guide (PDF):
Cablevision is billing this as a whole-home DVR, meaning any qualified digital box in the home can access programming recorded on the MSO's network, and set and manage DVR recordings. DVR Plus lets subscribers record up to four shows at the same time, while watching a fifth already-recorded show.
Unlike other whole-home DVRs that use high-speed networking tech like Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA), DVR Plus doesn't rely on a master DVR to share content with other boxes on the home network. Instead, all content is stored on, and played back from, the MSO's cloud-based storage banks. Customers access and manage DVR Plus on channel 1001.
But the other features of DVR Plus closely mimic those of regular DVRs, including the ability to record entire seasons of TV series, pause and resume live programming (via a temporary buffer that stores up to 15 minutes worth of live video), and parental controls.
Cablevision has not said when it expects to expand DVR Plus to other systems or if it intends to offer tiers that provide more networks storage.
Early box limitations
One catch: So far, the Bronx launch of DVR Plus allows subscribers to use only the following Cisco Systems Inc./Scientific Atlanta box models to record programs from: the 1800 SD, 1850 SD, 4200SD/4200 HD and 4250 SD/4250 HD.
According to the Cablevision website, box models with baked-in DVRs, such as the Cisco/SA 8300 HD and 8300 SD, can only play back programs recorded using the DVR Plus service. They can also access any recordings made on their own hard drives, of course, but can't share those recordings with any others set-tops in the home. Apparently absent from DVR Plus so far are boxes made by Samsung Corp., which Cablevision is using to help get its new downloadable security platform off the ground. (See Cablevision Makes its Security Deadline and Samsung Boxes Break In at Cablevision .)
The site also notes that CableCARD devices (such as TiVo Inc. DVRs and digital TV models with integrated CableCARD slots) are not currently compatible with DVR Plus.
Long road to the RS-DVR
Cablevision's RS-DVR has been years in the making, from its 2006 introduction, via a legal go-ahead from the U.S. Department of Justice in 2009, to last year's limited version (and a goal of a full-featured service by the end of 2010, which the MSO just missed). Here's some of our past coverage:
â€” Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable