12 April, 2010

A friend of mine asked if I still like U-verse, one year in

I like U-verse.  We hit our one year anniversary last month, and I had marked the date so I would be reminded to shop around and compare prices.  It turned out that, for our viewing habits, it made sense to remain with them.

We had DISH, prior to U-verse, and Time-Warner prior to DISH.  The up-sides, with U-verse, are

Upside- no signal pixelation, which was something DISH gave us, during storms.

Upside - ability to record four shows simultaneously.  Minor Downside - However, only one HD signal can be in the house at once.  Thus, one could be recording one HD show, and three SD shows, or recording one HD show, recording two SD shows, and watching one SD show, etc.  They have a beta program, somewhere in the country, where they are trying out two HD signals, simultaneously.  We get around this by recording the main show, that we want to record, in HD, and recording the other show(s) in SD that day.  Doesn't come up often, but it is occasionally annoying.  Me likey my HD, so it matters more to me than to Kristie and the kids.

Upside - DVR is accessible from any other unit in the house.  One can schedule shows, and delete them, from any TV.  One can resume playing where one left off, from any TV.  Minor Downside - One cannot pause live TV on any TV other than the one that has the DVR connected.  The work-around is to make sure to RECORD what one is watching, then simply play the recording.  Even a couple seconds delay then grants one the ability to pause it.  Simple.  Minor Downside - The DVR functionality set is such that it is not smart enough to have "Record x number of episodes" function.  This means the DVR will record episodes, in perpetuity, and one must either monitor that or let them auto-delete.  My 2003 ReplayTV was better at handling that.  However, since the recent upgrade, I have not had issues with older shows refusing to scroll off the system. I.e., the unit self-maintains well.

Upside - DVR has a large capacity.  We record a lot of shows and have not run out of room in a long time.

Upside - The online DVR access, via the included AT&T Yahoo! account, is sufficient to allow PC-based DVR show maintenance/scheduling/deleting.  It is simple to go in and delete 15 Backyardigans, via the web, rather than deleting them one at a time via the TV's remote.

Upside - The free OnDemand actually has some fun stuff on it, and it's organized fairly well.  Minor Downside - The OnDemand prices are pricey, charging $4 for a lot of movies or $6 for HD (and I won't get non-HD, for movies, because why have an HD TV if I ain't gonna FEED it).  Workaround - I stream Netflix, to the HDTV's via a Roku box.  Much cheaper.  If we want a current release, I use Amazon, via the Roku, and save a couple of bucks off what U-verse charges.

Upside - The phone service is great.  Never had a problem with it.  I have it set to text my wife and me, at our Verizon email-to-text accounts, when we get a message.  Very handy, while we're out, and thus we don't need AT&T cell phones.  However, if one does have AT&T cell service, one can have one's vmail boxes combined, with the home box.  [I wouldn't do that anyway, as I prefer to have my cell box separate from the home account].  On-screen caller-ID, to the TV, was just activated, so one can see who is calling, on the home phone, while watching a show, and then whether they leave a vmail.

After the first converter, one is charged $7/extra unit.

Hope this helps.

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