I like to try new things. When presented with a choice between something new and something familiar, I will usually opt for the former and this preference extends to everything from products to services to travel and beyond. I have even sampled a few different television cable service companies and my latest go - round is with the service known as AT&T U- verse, a communication package offered from AT&T.
Recommend this product?
AT&T U- Verse is a communication bundling service that offers fiber optic cable television service, telephone service, and broadband internet access. The service includes AT&T U- Verse's Total Home DVR, Video on Demand, wireless high speed internet access with wireless home networking, and digital telephone service with more than twenty different features such as caller ID, call waiting, do not disturb, AT&T U- Verse messaging, and more.
Each of the core services offered by AT&T U- Verse is available at different levels. With the television service, digital service is standard, but AT&T U- Verse offers high definition service as well for some extra money per month, along with different numbers of channels. Internet access is offered at different connection speeds with names to match each. At the Pro level, customers get 3 Mbps; at Elite, 6 Mbps; all the way up Max Turbo, which offers 24 Mbps. The phone service is offered at a 250 minute level and an unlimited usage level.
AT&T U- Verse offers its services to large segments of the U.S. population. However, don't assume that having AT&T phone service means you will automatically have access to AT&T U- Verse. The only way to know for sure is to check the AT&T U- Verse web site, enter your zip code, and see which services are available to you.
AT&T U- Verse is my latest communication adventure and it marks the first time I have bundled all three of my main services (phone, television, internet) into a single package from the same company. I was previously a Dish Network User- a service I used for a couple of years. Boredom and the desire to try something new led me to seek out new services and, with some research and persuasion from friends, we ended up switching over to AT&T U- Verse at the end of 2010.
AT&T has been promoting its U- Verse package for some time and when I agreed to sign up for the service, it was through somewhat interesting circumstances. I was online at the time, looking at different service packages from different cable companies such as Comcast, DirectTV, and others. I was also looking at AT&T U- Verse when, all of a sudden, my doorbell rang. It was late at night for people to be stopping by, but I went to the door anyway, only to be greeted by a young man and woman. And what do you suppose they were doing at my home? You guessed it- they were offering AT&T U- Verse service with special discounts for the first six months of service, complementary HBO, and other perks. I found it very ironic that they would show up when they did and since I was already leaning toward AT&T U- Verse anyway, I decided to take them up on their offer. A few days later, my installation was complete and I was ready for the AT&T U- Verse experience.
Since I don't use my home telephone very much and my internet connection was already good, my main interest was with the television service offered by AT&T U- Verse and I was anxious to find out what this service was like and discover for myself if it was really as good as others claimed. In the beginning, I did, indeed, find many things to like about AT&T U- Verse television service. I like the menu system and the fact that I could look at the television guide and quickly page down as I searched for a program to watch. This was much better than my previous television service provider. I also found the wide selection of programs to my satisfaction. The total channels offered is just over 200, which is more than my previous service and more than I really need. I don't have much time for television, so I have no interest in some of the mega- television service offerings that include 400+ channels (and that includes AT&T U- Verse; it offers different levels of service with more channels, for an extra monthly fee). Still, I was happy with the number that AT&T U- Verse offered, since it was an improvement over my previous service.
Probably the handiest feature of the AT&T U- Verse television service is the DVR. It allows the recording up multiple shows simultaneously and allows viewing of a recorded show from any television in the house. My previous DVR service was a pain for several reasons. Besides not being able to watch the recorded program on any television in the house, my old service would limit what you could watch while a recording was taking place. If you were watching one of the televisions while a recording was taking place, you were stuck watcing specific channels. If you tried to change the channel, you would get a warning message informing you that the recording would stop if you proceed to a different channel. There is no such problem with AT&T U- Verse. It allows multiple recordings and will not shut off a recording when you try to change channels. And while viewing a recorded show, it will even allow you to stop a program at any point in the recording, then turn the television back on at a later time and complete the viewing, right at the point where you left off.
AT&T U- Verse has other useful television features besides the DVR. Two other nice options are the movies on demand and video on demand. With movies on demand, customers can browse through hundreds of movies and rent them immediately, with the press of a button. The movies are usually priced around $5, are made available for two days of viewing, and are sometimes offered in bundled packages that push the price per movie even lower. Videos on demand operate in a similar fashion- you select what you want to watch, when you want to watch it. Some of the videos are offered free of charge while others carry a fee. Again, these are nice extras to have and they increase the likelihood that you will be able to find something worthwhile to watch.
As for the internet service, I went with the 6 Mbps service, which has proven more than adequate for my household. The sales people tried their best to push the faster service, claiming that it was worth the money, but 6 Mbps seemed fast enough for me and I was proven correct. Not only is the connection quick, I have had no problems with internet disconnection or other problems. And the wireless feature is nice because all of the pc's in the home can receive their internet connection from one central location without the need for wires criss- crossing all over the house.
Moving to the phone service, I find that it is very standard, but it does have some unique features like Do Not Disturb, which blocks the phone from receiving calls and the AT&T U- Verse messaging service, which links together your different phone numbers into a single messaging center. Another feature I like is the caller ID that displays on the television. When a telephone call is received, it shows the caller name and number on your television viewing screen. This is nice because it lets you know who is calling so that you don't waste time getting up to check the phone. Other than this, the landline phone service is really nothing special, but it is good enough to earn a passing grade.
So, with all these positive qualities, is AT&T U- Verse the best service in the business? Well, I have tried only a few and while I agree that AT&T U- Verse does have some nice features, it is still not without its flaws. My greatest complaint is with the DVR programming. As I said, it is nice to be able to program television shows to record and be able to view at your leisure, on any television in the house. But the DVR system still has its annoyances and the number one frustration is that the DVR will lose its programming after a power outage. It wipes out the recordings that you programmed to take place automatically, forcing you, the customer, to grab the remote control, try to remember everything you recorded on a regular basis, and program again. Worse still, a power outage erases programs that were already recorded and saved. This is most unpleasant when you have little ones who count on their recorded programming for entertainment. The slate is wiped clean and you are forced to start all over again.
Another issue many newbies will have with AT&T U- Verse is with the remote controls themselves. They are littered with buttons and are not that intuitive. Granted, there needs to be a large number of buttons because there are so many different features, but you need a guide to help you figure out exactly how to use the buttons and features. I logged onto the internet and was able to find some info, but it would be nice if AT&T was a little more proactive in this area.
Video and movie on demand are, as noted, nice extras since they allow you to find something to watch at almost any moment. But you have to be careful with these services if you have kids. My girls know how to use remote controls, but they don't always realize that the button they are about to push is going to add money to the monthly bill. Older kids know better, but will often be tempted to select something that costs money. Making these "mistakes" a few times per month can get rather expensive so adults need to supervise closely. It may be necessary to utilize the parental controls in the latter instance, if teens and others cannot control their impulses.
Overall, AT&T U- Verse is a good product that I am hoping will continue to improve over time. I like it better than my previous television service provider and I agree with the many fans of this service who point out the DVR functionality, the clear sound, the movies on demand, and other features as reasons to rate this service highly. It still has room for improvement (like with the loss of programming following a power outage) and the cost is rather high- about $35 per month more expensive than my previous bundled service, but it is still a good service with some nice things to offer.
My introductory period is over now and I pay full price for the service, so only time will tell if I remain an AT&T U- Verse customer or make another switch to another company. I like what I see with AT&T, but I don't like everything and as I said, I like to try new things. If the right offer from a competitor comes along, I may be tempted to make another switch to something new and, hopefully, something even better. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the good things that AT&T U-Verse offers (and hope that there are no more power failures in the area) while I wait for the company to continue to evaluate and improve this service.
A 3.5 star service, which I will round to 4 stars since I have experienced more good than bad.
Amount Paid (US$): 165