Review by djrobx
Good "Good HD channel selection, DVR records 4 shows at once."
- Location: Valencia,Los Angeles,CA
- Cost: $65 per month
Bad "Charging an equipment fee for a clunky, glitchy wireless G gateway. Yuck!"
Overall "Internet reliability and consistency were great."
|Pre Sales Information:|
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)
Last year, I moved down the street. I took my U-verse internet service with me. Because of this move, I had to start paying for an equipment fee. That equipment fee went up this month. They also added taxes that I was not paying before. Not a huge deal but the $5 per month increase was enough to get me to investigate what the competition is doing.
Time Warner has gotten around to deploying DOCSIS 3 wideband in my area. They are now offering 30/5 and 50/5 speeds. The latest rumor of U-verse upgrades indicates that AT&T is thinking about a 45mbps tier, but it would require pair bonding at my address, and it's unlikely AT&T will go to that extreme without some sort of fee.
With the D3 upgrade, cable seems to have leapfrogged AT&T and now has the best tech available at my address. Because I don't rely on ISP email, TV, or phone service, switching is pain free, so off I go.
Generally I was pretty happy with the U-verse internet service. Speeds were very consistent and it was pretty solid. The 2Wire gateway is quirky though, and was a bit dated with G wireless and 100mbps ethernet ports. I used to work around some of these quirks by running my own DHCP server, but a firmware update took that option away from me. I may not have been as annoyed with the equipment fee, if the equipment didn't suck!
Geesh, it's been a year?
Max 18 has been essentially flawless. I was very pleased to find that despite being nearly 3000' from the VRAD, AT&T must have wired our neighborhood with thicker gauge wiring. It turns out my line is perfectly stable on the new 32/5 profile. This has enabled me to get Max Turbo 24/3 internet.
I was also happy to see AT&T has made pricing adjustments that effectively make my new 24mbps internet service the same price as my former 18mbps.
Max Turbo is pretty darn fast. Seeing 2.7MB/sec downloads and 300KB/sec uploads.
This price point and speed is the sweet spot for me. It would be nice to have FiOS grade upload speeds, but this suits my needs. I'm just happy to have finally broken the 1.5mbps "t1" upload barrier.
3HD is now a possibility, but I'll likely keep DirecTV. It's really hard to beat their two 500GB DVRs networked together to effectively make a 4HD + 1TB DVR with excellent quality.
Site's bugging me to do an update. After some very nice promos expired, sadly I've decided to leave U-verse TV. My major reasons:
1) Audio drop-outs on 5.1 programming on optical. I lived when them for almost 9 months. Supposedly its a Microsoft issue but I ran out of patience
2) Not enough HD streams - 2 HD streams is just not quite enough for us. With DirecTV we can have two DVRs for 4 HD tuners.
3) HD quality - Overall it was much better than I expected but there's some nagging issues with the backgrounds "shifting" once per second when there's very little motion on the screen.
4) Small DVR storage - 160GB is just not enough.
All of these issues are resolvable and many of them are planned soon. However, it seems I'm too far from the VRAD to qualify for the 3HD+Better HD quality plan, so I'd rather not hold my breath waiting for them any longer. I can always switch back in the future.
I did decide to keep the U-verse internet. Max 18 has been 100% stable and fast. I thought about going back to Time Warner for internet, but they're playing too many games with the speed tiers in SoCal.
I can now honestly say I feel I've made a good choice by going with U-verse. Everything has worked great over the last month.
We're paying a LOT less than we were with Time Warner, and we're getting SO much more. AT&T will bend over backwards to keep you as a customer, and they've actually delivered on everything they've promised us. Today they mailed off my $200 rebate check, and I got a copy of my nice LOW bill, so I figured an update was in order.
More good stuff just keeps coming. I'm very excited about the Total Home DVR rollout, it will work very well for our purposes. I originally figured I'd give U-verse a try while I waited for Time Warner to catch up on their HD offerings, but at this rate, we're probably going to stick with U-verse for a long time.
I just hope they get U-verse Voice working in Los Angeles before they axe CallVantage.
Speeds continued to be poor for the first week. I created a ticket with AT&T Direct on this forum with regards to my internet problems. I eventually got a call from someone at AT&T escalations that wanted to send someone out to take a look at the wiring.
The stats on my RG looked really good, so I'm not sure why they felt the need to send a wiring person over, but I wanted to have AT&T change the way they hooked up my STB to my RG anyway. A very polite and courteous premises tech came out and took care of all of it. That evening the slowness began as usual. But then something changed, and I started getting full speeds everywhere. It's been flying at full speeds since. This is how it's supposed to be!
So, I was finally able to retire my Road Runner account. I got a call from AT&T escalations again making sure everything was OK. It was nice that they followed up.
7/17/2008: Original review
I ordered the U300 + Max internet package.
Time Warner kept promising new HD channels and wasn't delivering. U-verse just added Sci Fi HD, USAHD, Bravo HD, and CNBC HD. I'm a Sci Fi fan and my other half likes the Bravo reality shows so that small addition is huge for us, so I figured, why not give U-verse a try? They're offering $200 back plus a free month of TV. So I decided to give it a shot. For our needs the U300 package is a perfect fit. DVR, DVR service and showtime are all add-ons to our TW service that add up to more than U300. With U300 we get many more channels and Starz.
The install came quickly after ordering, just 4 days. The installer was pleasant, but not the most technically minded guy. He used Coax to run the VDSL 3 feet from the NID to the RG, and hooked my STB into my existing Gig-E network. The IPTV traffic caused some havoc with my network gear, so I had to re-do all of this. I needed to move the VDSL to UTP (which also noticeably improved my signal strength) and move my cable box to the old cable wiring. It took me a while to sort it all out. The installer also killed my TW voip service when he replaced my NID. My home phone wiring was just dangling in the box when it was all done.
Overall, I like the TV service. The set top box could be more responsive, but channel changes are strangely fast. The annoying glitch is with HD channels and 5.1 audio - there are periodic small dropouts in sound. It's a known issue that hopefully gets solved soon. There are also odd things that I see like, "Search unavailable" popping up as you're entering stuff into a search, and the box getting stuck on "erase" prompts. It feels a lot more modern than my old 6416 though, so that's a plus.
The HD picture quality is noticeably softer than Time Warner's. It seems like they try to compensate for this with more saturated colors. It makes the SD channels look terrific compared to TW. In exchange for the slightly softer picture I get much more recording time, so I'm OK with it.
I'm very happy to have all these HD channels I've been missing.
The internet part, I'm on the fence with. My initial testing of the Max package has not been good at all. In the last two days it's been terrific during the daytime, but way slower than cable in the evenings. It becomes difficult to get a full 10mbps download from major servers. The same servers continue to go at full speed on the cable. I thought evening consistency was supposed to be DSL's strong suit?They want such a steep premium for Max, they need to beef up their network to support it.
I called tech support about it and I got the expected resistance - "its not our problem if you're getting slow downloads from Microsoft when you get full speeds from our AT&T test site". Ok, but if I can pay $55 to Time Warner and a connection that's 10mbps 24/7 to actual sites on the net, why would I keep your service? Then I was told my service needed 10 days to get to max speed. Errr, no, this isn't ADSL ramp-up.
I'm going to have to evaluate it more over the next week and see if this is just a temporary thing. ATT does not offer me a discount for having it, and it's the exact same price as unbundled TW RR, so I'm pretty free to go with either one. I do get 50% more upload with U-verse and that's a very good thing.
I was most afraid of the RG's built-in router, having been used to all of DD-WRT's features. Turns out I LOVE 2Wire's firewall/routing interface! FINALLY, someone had the brains to associate inbound services with machines/MAC addresses that are assigned to DHCP IPs, instead of having to set fixed IPs on anything that needs routing. The wifi on that box is strong as hell too. I had giant antennas on my WRT54G with the singal strength cranked up, and I could barely make a connection from my laptop. This 2Wire box isn't strategically located at all, but I'm able to get reliable connections all through the house. I almost don't need my 2nd router.
I also wish ATT would offer U-verse voice here. What is up with the staggered deployment? No phone from the phone company? Argh. I ended up ordering CallVantage instead. We'll see how that is once I get it. It's probably a better value for me anyway.
AT&T's done a lot with U-verse recently - with the 2HD and all of the new HD channels. If they keep focused on providing a quality product cable just might have something to worrry about. But AT&T has a lot to work on. They can't afford to be as complacent with a mediocre product as cable, and it's not all there yet.
As an aside, I'm pretty far away from the VRAD at 2700' or so. My line shows a potential of 49mbps, currently syncing at 24. Given that I'm pretty close to the designed distance limit, I think AT&T should try pushing the sync rate up to 35mbps (which would still leave most of us with a lot of overhead), and switching to 4HD and 20/2 mpbs internet. That would go a LONG, LONG way toward making this a respectable product!.
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updated 1.8 years ago