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Motorola Set-Tops for the New U-verse Whole-Home DVR Service

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.

34 Responses

  1. The VIP boxes are really nice looking. Put an OLED LCD Time/Ch display up front and the design would be great for cable. I wish the cable boxes looked that slick.

    Still waiting for the DCX seires :-/

  2. […] from the Labor Day holiday with more IPTV news. After last week’s late revelation of the U-verse whole-home DVR launch, there’s official Motorola IPTV news out this week with Deutsche Telekom. The German telco will […]

  3. […] U-verse Launches Whole-Home DVR: Connected Home 2 Go […]

  4. While the Uverse boxes have a slew of ports, only one set of video ports is active at a time. Thus, you can not feed two monitors at one time from two different ports. Why is this important? Say you want to send the same video to 2 monitors; one in your main viewing room and another to a bedroom. One would think you could send the s-video signal to the 2nd room and use the component or hdmi signal for the main room. But when you try this, all output ports will go dark except for one.

    • I read your comment which answered my question exactly… unfortunately it wasn’t the answer I wanted.

      Do you know… let’s say you hook up an HDMI cable and a “cable” cable up to the box simultaneously. Which one will work (or neither)?

      If you hook up one and then switch to the other, does the box know what you’ve done and respond accordingly?

    • That is not correct. I have connected an S-Video source AND a composite source at the same time to the same box. (I used a video capture box to stream content live while viewing content on the TV at the same time.)

  5. […] The CCE platform is currently in use by tier-one and tier-two operators (including AT&T for U-verse) […]

  6. […] is both cool and rare. Motorola has announced a new remote control and charging station for the VIP series of IPTV set-tops. The MotoCharger 1000 includes a “find” feature where a switch on the base station […]

  7. what is the usb for?


      • Either box will work at your location, Roye. And it does not matter if y= you are hooked up to At%=&T via fiber or via copper wire.


  8. Larry- for connecting peripherals. Though many operators don’t enable the USB ports. I don’t know what’s done with the U-verse service.

  9. >Larry- for connecting peripherals. Though many operators don’t enable the USB ports. I don’t know what’s done with the U-verse service.<

    The U-verse service has the USB port disabled, Mari.


  10. We have not been very happy with the TV and DVR service provided from AT&T. The previous Motorola DVR that we had from the cable company worked much better for our needs. This has us considering returning to them for our cable service if for no other reason than getting a better DVR. Here is a partial list of my issues with your TV and DVR service.

    1) No screen saver function when paused.
    2) Inability to record first time run of a series.
    3) No option to output 480p
    4) No option to replace a recording when next episode comes out (i.e. each nightly news episode)
    5) Limited number (2) of HD streams per household. ( Not very effective if you have two or more HD TV’s.)
    6) If your watching a recorded program it does not allow you to rewind on the channel you were on when you return to live TV.

    • 1. It does now.
      2. It does now.
      3. Why? Standard-definition content is 480i and your TV probably has a good deinterlacer.
      4. Just let the episodes expire or delete them.
      5. This is only limited by bandwidth, not by another limitation.
      6. It does now.

  11. Any DVR solution is a combination of hardware and software. The good news: there’s a lot of incentive now to improve both, and not just rely on the cheapest solution. Things are moving fast in the TV services world, and competition is spurring faster innovation than we’ve seen in this industry before. I would bet a number of your complaints are solved in the relatively near future. But in the meantime, I’m glad you have a choice of DVR service providers. You can choose the one that best meets your needs.

  12. […] Tracy Swedlow (of itvt fame) has details this week on new features for the AT&T U-verse service. The upgrades are happening now, and limited feedback on various U-verse forums is already rolling in. Subscriber comments are mostly positive, with the exception of one complaint about an audio issue (apparently correctable), and  several “When is this launching in my market?” pleas. The feature everyone seems to love? The ability to manage recordings from any U-verse set-top rather than just the main DVR receiver. (See post on Motorola set-tops for U-verse whole-home DVR service) […]

  13. […] sell hardware at a profit and give away multi-room viewing to their customers. With companies like AT&T making a big deal about their muti-room capabilities, TiVo could use an extender strategy to undercut them in […]

  14. […] latter half of this decade. Set-tops brought digital video recording to the mass market. They made in-home TV networking possible. They’ve enabled the growth of Video on Demand services. And they’re […]


  16. Yes to both questions. The boxes are interoperable though most premise technicians will provide boxes of the same brand.


  17. […] is very similar, with FiOS Home Media DVR using Motorola’s hybrid QAM/IP set-tops with MoCA. AT&T’s U-verse offering, on the other hand, uses all-IP Motorola set-tops with […]

  18. […] U-verse Mobile 2.0 for the iPhone. The new mobile app not only lets U-verse TV subscribers program their DVRs, it also allows users to download certain TV shows to their mobile phones. (The cache-and-carry […]

  19. […] U-verse TV is proving increasingly popular, Weber pointed to AT&T’s IPTV platform and the types of services it’s using IP to deliver. Not that operators have to use IP to support similar features, but […]

  20. […] be a hyperbolic statement; I just mean that if you look across the tier-1 television providers in North America and globally, Motorola’s presence is immense. And one of the things that level of expertise […]

  21. I want to convert from analog hook-up to digital
    hook-up. on TV have your Motorola model #
    VIP 1200 -Serial #M90922FB5299. I now have a
    Samsung flat screen digital TV

  22. I have a VIP 1216 which is about 4 years old and finally quit operating. How do I get a replacement? who is the distributor in Houston, Texas area near the area code 77433?

    • if that is an AT&T dvr, Keith, Uverse will replace the box. Your recorded shows will go with the broken box.


      • Exactly, after one has spent days, hours selecting which movies to keep for future enjoyment, one should be able to either transfer these files to an external hardrive so that it can be transported to the replacement DVR. This would be the third time my family will loose all our recorded shows. If the USB portal is available, it is ridiculous not to give their clients the choice, or at least supply their technicians with proper equipment to make the transfers.

        That my friends is ” Customer Service at is best “

  23. Give the references of the internet shops which sell Motorola VIP 1216?
    In advance very grateful 🙂
    I’m from Russia, the English don’t know, use a translator – so don’t pay attention to the error!

  24. Does anyone know the cable code for this box in order to program a universal remote control?

  25. I have the VIP1200, does anyone know the code for it to program an Universal Remote Control?

  26. Hi,we have one tv a want to ad one more and does anybody know if I buy used one AT&T U-verse Motorolla Model: VIP1125 does need to by reprogram by at&t or can I just plug it in and it will play?we have one dvr cable box or is better just buy it from at&t new one(one time fee$50).Thank you

  27. It’s going to be end of mine day, however before ending
    I am reading this fantastic article to increase my know-how.

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