| Review by gatownsend |
member for 10.1 years, 222 visits, last login: a few hours ago
lodged 1.2 years ago
- $155 per month
- about 2 days
- "Ultra TV 6-tuner whole-home DVR, good customer service, good prices"
- "Must use their router - research if advanced router capabilities are important to you."
- "Awesome picture and love the service. We are very happy."
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
(ratings above consensus)
We moved into WOW territory in July 2011. We had been Dish customers for a number of years, and had been getting by on their 2-tuner DVR 625 without too much complaint (we only had two tvs at the time). Our kids are getting older now (boy age 8 and identical twin girls age 6), so demands for recording were increasing. I knew I wanted a whole-house solution, but Uverse wasn't available yet in my area, so that left Time Warner since WOW didn't have a whole-home option at that time.I went with WOW for internet and phone, but TW for TV since I wanted the whole-house system. We have three main tvs: Family Room (32" SD non-digital), Master Bedroom (32" HD LED/LCD) and basement Home Theater (110" HD projection system with surround sound and 2 rows of theater seating). I also had them put a digital-only box for basic cable in our guest room.
We were scheduled between 11am and 3pm. At 10 minutes before noon the phone rang and an automated attendant said the installer would be arriving at 12:10pm. The installer arrived almost exactly at 12:10 and I showed him around to the three main TVs that were getting the Ultra TV. He went out to the truck to get the equipment, and while he was out there two more trucks pull up and eventually we have 4 guys running around the house! They were all pleasant and professional, and I gathered from chatting with them that two of them had installed it before and the other two were there to help/learn. I had intended to show them what I wanted and then head to work, but with 4 guys in the house at once I stayed until they were done since my wife was tending to a sick kid. They had some minor changes to make to get the media gateway set up in the basement and make the connections, then hooked up the media player boxes at the TVs. The seemed to enjoy ESPN on my home theater.
Initially I was not receiving any of my premium channels, and they called in and that was ironed out before they left. Then they went to my main PC to set up the wireless. My home is hard-wired for gigabit ethernet in most places, but I do have a number of wireless devices (two Android phones, a Wii, wife's laptop in the kitchen, my work laptop). The installer set up the wireless to my specifications, but didn't provide me the password to the router, the IP address, or anything else. When I asked about changing the password on the wireless, he indicated the login information and password were in the book he left. That wasn't the case, and I had to call customer service later that evening to get the password reset and then set a new one. I can now log into the router and manage the wireless. The installer did an overview of features and use of the TV with me before leaving (but I had already watched all the online tutorial videos, so I was itchng to play with it myself).
Initial Thoughts & Experiences:
TV: The picture is amazing. Wife says she doesn't notice a difference, but I believe the HD is just a bit sharper on both my home theater and the HD tv in our bedroom compared to what we got from TW. I have found the guide/menu to generally be pretty responsive, although there is an occasional lag when you hit a button on the remote. It is more responsive than TW was, but there is an occasional delay (1 to 2 seconds - just enough to make you wonder if it registered or not). It seems the "click" sound for button pushes doesn't happen for every button, which can make the delay more confusing.
We are getting used to the menu system. Wife doesn't like change and definitely didn't like it at first (although she hated TW's guide). As she gets used to it I haven't heard any complaints. The grid option is nice when you want that old, familiar guide, but the channel numbers/names are pretty small, so much so that you can only read them on the home theater downstairs. I definitely like the new menu when I'm looking for a movie or just want to see HD programming since you can get it all at once, but it's kind of a pain for things that are ending soon. To explain further, if you pick the HD menu it brings up what's currently playing on all the HD channels in a list, including the remaining time for the show currently playing. For the selection that has the focus, you get additional information on the right, along with shows that are coming up next. You can only see that for the channel that has focus, so if you are sitting there at 7:55 and a lot of movies start at 8:00pm, you need to go channel by channel to see what those, or change the time slot you are viewing to the 8:00 pm slot. With the grid it's just there without thinking. I think both the menu and the grid style guide have their positives and negatives, so I'm not ready to make a judgement yet. I think we'll just need to play with it more to get used to it.
And while I'm on tv, maybe I don't get it, but I really don't like the way the channel line up is organized. I get what they've done with the numbering, but with all the HD's in the 200's and the SD's in the 100's and 300's, things seem really mixed up. Now this is partially my fault, since I went in and blocked all the SD channels for networks that had an HD feed. This was partially for the wife, as she really hated the fact that on TW some channels showed up three times in the guide [like HGTV - once for analog (#47), once for digital (#150) and once for HD (#1150)]. So now I have things set so each channel shows up only once, but because of that things seem to be spread around a bit (e.g. Nick Jr & Teen Nick have no HD, so they shows up on 325 & 326, but Nick has HD so it's on 258 with a bunch of stuff in between). I know I can go to the Kids menu and just see kids stuff, but it would be nice to still get the HD and non-HD stuff grouped together by network type. I've played around with the favorites and am going to finish setting that up for my wife. I'm hoping that will work better for her. I think it mostly bugs me when I look at the "TV" menu that shows everything, and things aren't grouped together the way I'd like or expect them to be.
We are still sorting through the VOD stuff. Initially everthing we pulled up had a rental on it. After a while we found the free stuff we were used to having with TW. I'm hoping the ABC thing will sort itself out soon, as my son LOVES wipeout. I've seen complaints from others about WOW's VOD selection not being that robust, but it "feels" like there is more here than we had with TW. Maybe we missed something with TW, but we've been pleased with the selection thus far.
Phone: We already had phone from WOW, so nothing really new to report here. One thing I've noticed is the thing seems to think there are two phone lines active even though we are only supposed to have one. Both lights are illuminated on the front of the main box, and I thought I saw something in the menu that indicated two lines active, too. I haven't played with that yet to see if there really are two lines active or not.
Internet: We were on the 8gbps tier that has been eliminated, so we are now on the 15gbps tier. We have been rock-solid with the old modem and the new one, and I've seen 15+mbps speed tests consistently since it went in. As I noted above, I had to call customer service to get the password on the gateway reset to I could get in. Now that I've been in and looked around, it seems to have most of the basic things you'd expect. The gateway ip is 192.168.0.1, and DHCP passes out addresses from 192.168.0.10 to 192.168.0.254. This was nice as I have two pieces of equipment on my network that require a static IP (a file server and a printer) which I put in between the .1 and the .10. This is one of the reasons I needed to get into the router to see information - I wasn't told what the gateway or IP ranges were by the installer and couldn't reach the printer or file server after the installer left. They are working fine once I switched them to the new gateway after the installer left.
Wireless signal strenth has been ok, but not as strong a signal as my old Netgear WNDR3700. That being said, the media gateway is in the basement in a really bad location (same as the Netgear router was) - on a shelf right underneath a steel support beam at one end of the house. While I can get a signal just about everywhere in the house, at the far end of the house my neighbors wifi signal is stronger than mine on every floor. I have to decide if I want to: a) Move the gateway up to my office on the first floor, or b) configure the Netgear as an access point only (e.g. disable DHCP) and hook it up to the switch in my office. If I go with "b" I might turn the wireless radio in the WOW box down off since nothing in the basement uses wireless. I will need to play around a bit and see what works. Also, the light on the front panel that is supposed to indicate the wireless is active never actually lights up (so the 2nd phone line I'm not supposed to have IS lit up, but the wireless I DO have is NOT lit up - strange, but everything is working).
VPN to my office has worked fine, but we use Cicso software than uses SSL, and I believe the problem some others have had was with a different incarnation of VPN (this is not my area of expertise at all).
At one point I accidentally closed the browser while I was logged into the router. When I later opened the browser I was already logged in, but couldn't actually see anything (the pages came up, but where the information about the settings would normally show never appeared). I tried logging out, but it never got this situation resolved, and shortly after trying to log out I started having problems with my internet/network. I reset the box and all has been fine since then.
Like others have reported in the forum, I had to play around a bit to get the WOW website working so I could program the DVR from there. Some clicking around eventually got it working, and I can report that the website generally works well with my iPad. I haven't tried it on my Android phone yet, but given the small screen I think that would probably only be used as a last resort. I would LOVE to see a dedicated iOS and Android app in the future. TW had this, and it was great to be able to set the DVR for something when we weren't at home.
My older (5 years - ancient!) RF remote for my home theater did not have a code that would run the media player at all, so I had to learn every button one at a time. It only took about 15 minutes. So far the only problem I'm having there is that when I push the direction buttons in the menu the menu often moves two ticks instead of one (so it will skip right over a show). I will need to see if there is a way to fix this when I call the remote control's support line.
All in all I am pretty satisfied. Given the newness of the product, I am fairly impressed. I had been expecting lots of bugs and had warned my wife that was the price we'd pay for six tuners. I have been pleasantly surprised in this regard. As I noted above, wife is still getting used to the menu/guide. I am liking it as I play with it more. At this point I think I would like it better if it was a combination of the grid style and the menu guide: a grid-stlye guide where the line that has focus gets bigger (easier to read) and provides more details on that actual line instead of a window up above). I will see how things go as we use it more and look for tips/tricks to get more out of it.
I would advise folks to definitely watch all the videos and read the instruction book. I played with things an entire day before I figured out you could push "zoom" button to make the menu go away (doh!).
All in all we are very pleased.