We double checked the calendar too, but no, it's not an April Fools joke -- Verizon's FIOS Media Server is finally available in a few areas as a part of the new Quantum TV package. The VMS1100 upgrades the standard cable boxes used by Verizon and other providers by shoving six tuners and a 1TB hard drive into a box that then feeds TV to other smaller set-top boxes in the rest of the house over existing cable wiring (MoCA). Better still, you can add more DVRs for the ability to record up to 12 channels at once, 2TB of storage and feeds for as many as ten TVs. Unlike some other multiroom systems, users can pause and rewind live TV on the extender boxes as well, or pause a program in one room, then resume it in another room.
Verizon leaked (and then pulled, but reposted above, via Zatz Not Funny) a quick advertisement for the service on YouTube laying out some of the specs, while DSLReports.com forum posters have seen availability in parts of New York, New Jersey, California and Pennsylvania. Early reports indicate the software still needs some polishing, but that using the VMS1100 itself is "lightning fast" and nearly as responsive on the networked boxes. The cost for the system right now is $22 per month for one of the DVR boxes, and $32 for the two DVR, 12-tuner setup, plus $10 to connect additional TVs.
While its current capabilities are impressive, what's more exciting is the "phase 2" Verizon has shown with transcoding that makes video available on network connected hardware like an Xbox, Roku or iPad. Combined with Verizon's purchase of Intel's OnCue IPTV project and the prospect of the FCC's AllVid standard, it could take us one more step towards a future where the TV experience, including recordings, is available on every screen inside and outside the house and doesn't need special boxes at all.
*Verizon has acquired AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.