PiP has been discussed before, but as far as I have found has only been a side topic to larger threads. I think PiP deserves it’s own thread.
When I ordered FiOS, I stated very clearly that PiP functionality (for my analog TV) would be a dealbreaker for me. I was assured that it would work just like my Comcast setup. I could split my signal with one shunt going into the STB, and the direct signal going into my Ant In connector on the TV. I was suspicious right away since I knew the Verizon signal is 100% digital and my TV is analog. But I figured I could buy an HD converter box and be fine.
WRONG! When neither the straight in or converter box approach worked, I tried the STB from another TV in the house. Sure enough, there was my PiP. The only conclusion (later confirmed by tech support) is that not only is the signal digital, but it is encrypted (layman’s term might be scrambled). You cannot extract a signal without one of the Verizon STB’s. Some areas may be able to take advantage of QAM tuners in their TV or DVD recorders for local channels, but I don’t expect even that to be an option in the long run. Besides, I don’t have a QAM tuner, and the HD converter boxes do not have them.
My only solution was to add another STB. In my case I chose the basic DCT-700 which does not have the digital features such as channel guide, etc. Even though this approach now works, I must put the DCT in a cabinet and walk over to change the channel because the STB’s all work on the same remote frequency. Plus I have to pay $3.99 more per month for this than I was quoted. Every cent now counts in our present economy, right?
I just wish Verizon would do a better job of supporting PiP. There is more than one way they could do this. Take advantage of the second tuner in the DVR by giving it it’s own output. Allow multiple frequencies for the remote on the STB’s. All I know is that I want my PiP, and I want it to work better than my klugey solution.
The FiOS boxes do not support PiP. Rumor has it that this functionality might be added for the HD DVR boxes at a later date, but Verizon has not confirmed this. This topic has been discussed before.
No Motorola DVR from any cable company supports PIP and that is not going to change with any of the existing models. Motorola is not working on it. Why?
To do PIP, you not only need to tune two channels simultaneously, you also need a processor that can decode two different channels simultaneously and the memory to do it.
The CPU in the Motorola QIP72xx and DCX34xx DVRs cannot decode two different channels, and thus cannot support PIP. The CPU in the Motorola 64xx can decode two different channels, but the box lacks sufficient memory to do it.
Providers like Comcast and DirecTV have determined that most customers do not care about PIP after they've used the DVR for an extended period of time. Why would a customer want to watch programs live, with 20 minutes of commercials per hour, when they can record their programs to watch them on their own schedule, commercial free? Most people value their free time and, over a period of months, start to record the majority of what they watch, skipping the commercials in the programs they watch.
I'm not saying there is no use for PIP, but the need and demand for it in most households with a DVR just doesn't justify the cost. If it could be done for free, or at minimal cost, of course Verizon and Motorola would do it. But as of today, it (a) costs more money to use a CPU that can decode two channels at once and (b) costs more money for the added memory necessary to do it. It costs even more money if you want to be able to output two different HD channels at the same time through different outputs.
As chip manufacturing technology improves, the cost for a second decoder on a DVR CPU will fall. At some point, that 'feature' will be essentially free and every DVR will have it. But we aren't quite there yet. Broadcom recently announced two next-generation DVR CPUs with full 1080p60 output, and the more expensive model supports both PIP and dual HD output. We should see cable and satellite DVRs based on that CPU in the next 12-18 months. You may not be able to get such a DVR from Verizon in that time, but you should be able to buy your own, such as a next-generation TiVo or Moxi.