About a month ago, I had a very knowledgable AT&T sales guy stop by my house. I was skeptical, of course, but over the course of our conversation, I began to be interested in the new AT&T U-Verse Television and Internet bundle and wanted to try it out. The three things the sales tech mentioned that stuck out were that we would have over 500 channels, that we would have over 150 high definition channels, and that we could watch and schedule our DVR using my iphone. Those three things I’ve had 30 days to try out and those three things I will report to you their actual delivery.
First off, we do have a ton of channels. The channels go so high that they are 4 digit channels. I hoped I wouldn’t have to memorize a new set of channel lineups, but Comcast changes theirs frequently, so who gives. Besides I have a TV Guide onscreen, so that should make it easy. The way they’ve laid out the channels is really cool. For example if channel 270 is Comedy Central, then 1270 is Comedy Central HD. This makes getting to a high def version of what I’m watching very easy: just put a 1 in front of the channel. The local channels are all the same numbers as they were with Comcast. Channel 6 is 6, 8 is 8, etc. The other channels seem to be grouped in groups of 100 based on types of channels. The 300s are kids channels, which makes it easy to find something for my 5-year-old daughter to watch. The 500s are sports channels, which I’ve not even watched, but it looks like there is a lot of good content going on there. The 800s are the premium channels, which I got for testing purposes. Also, I love HBO’s series like The Borgias and Boardwalk Empire, so it was a no-brainer for the trial period. Overall, I’ve loved having so many channels, but I don’t feel like I’m watching enough of them to merit getting them all, so I’ll probably drop it down to less channels after my promotional special has expired.
Now for the HD channels. I’ve loved the HD channels most of all. There doesn’t seem to be a lag between the low def and high def channels, like I’ve seen before. Most of the popular channels have high def offerings, so I’ve been enjoying the Colbert Report and G4 in high def lately. They look fantastic on my high def TV and most of the channels put out a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound signal. Recording the high def channels with my DVR is easy and most of the recordings have worked. There have been occasional freeze ups, where the show just stops, but these seem rare.
Now for the iPhone DVR recordings. I’ve not used this feature near like I thought I would. I tried to watch an episode of Mad Men, and it worked, but it seemed pixelated and grainy and it had commercials. The U-Verse app did work on my Verizon iPhone thought, which was cool. What is even cooler wasn’t even told to me from my sales guy: HBO Go. HBO Go is an iPhone and Android app where you can watch all your HBO shows on your phone or mobile device. This is really cool. The quality is much better and no commercials. I’m glad I have the iPhone DVR U-Verse option, but the HBO Go definitely gives me the high quality content I want on the go.
Now for the bad side. The TV content comes in over an internet signal, which is on a switch. Last week when we had those bad storms in Knoxville, I took my own advice and unplugged all this new U-Verse equipment to save it from being damaged. This prohibited us from being able to watch local channels for weather updates and warnings, not because my TV was unplugged (I have a TV that I don’t care if it gets fried), but because the switch and the DVR were unplugged. You can’t just plug in a coaxial cable and watch TV, like you could with Comcast. That was an unexpected down side, but probably won’t happen too often. Also, we’ve gotten our first bill and in traditional AT&T fashion, its for way more than the sales guy told me it would be for. This is a major bummer, but I figured out its for a month and a half, and they charged me some setup fee that only happens once. I never understand AT&T’s complicated billing structure, but hopefully they’ll lay off me since I don’t have a contract with them and I’m libel to disconnect and go back to good ol’ Comcast at a minute’s notice.
Wrapping up, I’m pretty happy with my AT&T U-Verse. The newness may wear off soon, but as for now, I’m loving watching all this high def content, whenever I want, pretty much where ever I want.