Finally the new IMG (Interactive Media Guide) was activated in my area. After a couple weeks of getting used to it, I’m ready to share my experience.As promised the new IMG has more pleasing graphics. It looks new, whereas the previous guide looked outdated. Looks aren’t that important, lets get to the good stuff. Even though the new software update is referred to as the interactive media guide, its actually much more than the guide. It is basically the operating system of the Verizon FiOS set top boxes. The features vary from box to box, but the format is the same. My review is based on the DVR box, the Motorola QIP 6416.
My favorite improvement became immediately apparent: the previously laggy skip ahead and back feature is now instantaneous. Skipping commercials is much easier now. The skip ahead/back feature can now be programmed to the desired amount of time (10 secs, 30 secs, 1 min, 5 mins).
Also immediately apparent was the information popup, which appears when info is clicked, or a recording is ff, rr, or paused. The popup shows more useful information, such as the show title, description, start and end time, remaining recording time, etc. The playback location (if the show is recorded) is shown visually with different colors. More detailed information is shown incrementally by pressing info up to 3 times.
Navigating the new user menu will take a little getting used to. Some people may not even like it. I must say it is an efficient design, but just not what people are accustomed to. When navigating through the guide or menu settings with the arrows, the selected item is always in the middle of the screen. It is shown highlighted, and sometimes, in the case of the guide, the selected item is zoomed in to show more information. This is unnatural because pressing the up/down arrow does not move the cursor/selected item. Instead the list is moved up/down showing the next item in the highlighted center.
This navigational method IS intuitive and efficient for a menu that is controlled with directional arrows. It allows more complexity without getting lost. The only problem is the learning curve, but then again I suppose that is a problem with most navigational menus.
Another improvement is apparent in the Video on Demand navigation. After navigating through many levels deep to select a video and play it, the navigated position is remembered. This was not the case previously.
The new menu is much more visually appealing. The colors are good, the graphics are smooth and transparent in many cases. The channel logos are always shown, making navigation more familiar. The video on demand menu for featured Pay-Per-View movies now shows a movie poster/cover, which surprisingly makes a big difference when it comes to browsing through movie titles.
The on screen guide also has a halfscreen option in addition to the standard fullscreen guide pictured above. The font is nice and easy to read, but some of the younger users may prefer smaller font so that more information can fit on the screen.
Previous to receiving the new guide, I had heard of many bugs and issues with the new IMG, which probably delayed its nationwide release. However, I have not run into many issues with the new guide. I actually had more issues with the Dish 942 software. The only issue that has made an impact is the recording capacity bug. Apparently Verizon is aware of the issue and fix is in the works. The problem is the way that capacity is calculated and made available. The 180 GB hard drive should record 25 hours of HD, but due to a bug, the system only allows for 15 hours of HD. SD is 10x the capacity, but rarely do I record SD anymore. In addition to fixing this issue I hope they also add the capability to connect and external hard drive to increase the capacity.
As with all new menu systems, it takes a little getting used to. Overall I think it is a huge improvement and I’ll look forward to future upgrades.
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