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Comcast Joins DVR House Party

Comcast is catching up to telco
and satellite-TV competitors on a key advanced
feature — letting subscribers watch
their digital video recordings from any
room in the home.

The nation’s biggest cable operator now offers
multiroom DVR service in about 20 markets
in its Motorola footprint, including the
San Francisco Bay Area, Portland, Ore., and
western Massachusetts.

The AnyRoom DVR service requires one primary
high-defi nition 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.

The popular feature has been offered by
Verizon’s FiOS TV and AT&T’s U-verse TV
for several years, while DirecTV launched
multiroom DVR this spring. And other
cable operators have just started
to roll it out. Cox Communications,
for one, is providing
multiroom DVR with its new
Trio guide and Cisco Systems’
Explorer 8642 HD DVR and Explorer
1642 set-tops (see “Cox
Rigs Big-Screen Guide,” May
10, 2010, p. 66).

Now that cable is pulling even on multiroom
DVR — as well as Web-based DVR management
— satellite and phone-company rivals
will look to stress other unique features, predicted
Jimmy Schaeffler, chairman of consulting
firm Carmel Group. “In order to avoid
being an absolute commodity at this stage in
the game, you have to differentiate,” he said.
“This puts in place this ping-pong reaction.

With Comcast’s service, the primary
DVR — the Motorola DCX3400-M, with a
500-Gigabyte hard drive — starts at $13.95
per month for triple-play customers and
goes up to $19.95 per month. Secondary
DCX3200-M set-tops run an average of
$8 per month, according to Comcast. The
multiroom DVR service is not available as
a self-installation and carries a one-time
activation fee of $29.95.

The primary DVR controls all recording
functions, including scheduling, deleting
and recording settings. The networked settop
boxes can be used to view, sort, play, fastforward,
rewind, pause, skip ahead or skip
back within DVR recordings.

AnyRoom DVR is currently available in
approximately 20 of Comcast’s Motorola
markets, including Portland, Ore.; southwest
Washington State; the San Francisco Bay
Area; Knoxville, Tenn.; Savannah, Ga.; Tallahassee,
Fla.; central Florida; western Massachusetts;
Mobile, Ala.; Sacramento, Calif.;
Lake Country, Fla.; and Little Rock, Ark.


Comcast AnyRoom DVR