To find out what cable or satellite provider offers the best all-around television experience, we will be reviewing the services of different cable and satellite companies offering services in the U.S.
Among the first few TV, telephone, and internet bundle providers we tried, ATT’s U-verse service impressed us the most.
We have created a rating system for grading different aspects of cable and satellite companies in ten categories on a scale of 1 to 10. Five of our editors have been contributed to this review.
Here is our review and corresponding scores for ATT’s U-verse:
1. Quality of the HD picture 8.5/10
We had read a lot about U-verse HD picture quality problems and we didn’t see noticeable drops in picture quality (and, of course, quality of HD varies depending on the source channel). In our office, we have used all the 3 HD streams at the same time and we have not seen any picture quality drops or pixelation.
2. Number of the HD Movie channels 10/10
U-verse offers over 50 HD movie channels (44 of them are HD premium movie channels), therefore it is not hard to find a good movie to watch at any time.
3. On Demand Services 7/10
There is nothing exceptional about U-verse On Demand system. It is as good as any cable company’s VOD, except for not offering two international film VOD sources. Only a number of the premium channels offer HD on demand, with notable exceptions being HBO and Cinemax.
4. Interactivity 10/10
ATT U-verse’ system for broadcasting video is close to online streaming and what you may call Internet TV. When you are using cable or satellite, you are dealing with a one way system that holds all the channels in the cable or satellite box and when you switch to a new channel, your box does the switching for you and you always notice a slight delay. But with U-verse, when you switch to a new channel your request is sent to the main server via the U-verse box and there is virtually no delay while surfing channels.
The interactivity features of the U-verse goes well beyond the instant channel changing, you can plan your recordings on-line from your computer or cell phone, play video games with live opponent online, check the yellow pages, or use Flickr. The interactivity of U-verse leaves the doors open for more interesting ways of involving the U-verse costumers in matters dealing with arts and entertainment.
5. Adding new channels 9/10
U-verse has been quick in adding new channels to their line-up and one of the latest big steps they took was adding ESPN 3D. U-Verse is exhibiting their desire to be on the forefront of new technologies.
6. International film presence 6/10
This is where U-verse needs improvement. There are millions of international film fans all around the country and there are international cinema channels and VOD services such as IFC VOD and Euro Cinema. Still, international films are shown occasionally on U-verse’s movie channels and, of course, no international film fan will do without the programming of the Short Film Channel.
7. Customer Service 10/10
This is another area where U-verse shines. I am amazed by the knowledge, politeness and patience of all the U-verse customer service members that I have talked to. To make sure that we have not been dealing with an exception, we made about twenty different calls to sales, customer service, and tech support and we were never were let down.
8. Easiness of installation and use 9/10
We had no issues during the time that the U-verse technician was installing the U-verse TV, internet and telephone package for us in four different rooms. The whole process took about 3 hours and the technician was nice enough to explain what is involved in every step and asking us to make choices when he could give us different options for installation. After the installation, he spent over thirty minutes to guide us in using the system step-by-step.
To find the kind of content and programing that you are interested in, there are several menus to help you. You can choose the Guide and look up all the channels and pick your favorites for quicker browsing. In the menu, you can search a program by name, its category or channel short cut. What I like about the U-verse channel guide is that it allows you to see other show times of a program instantly.
9. Internet & Telephone service 8.5/10
Internet speed offered by U-verse’s TV/Internet/Phone package is considerably fast. The internet connection starts at 18Mbps, but by paying about $10 a month you can increase it up to 23 Mbps. We had read complaints about U-verse’s internet drastically decreasing when more than one HD stream was in use. Our tests using two HD streams and the internet at the same time showed that the drop is minimal.
U-Verse’s telephone service is excellent. The service covers all of your phone calls to anywhere in the US and Canada. You also have all the bells and whistles included.
10. DVR 8/10
Just the fact that you can access the recorded programs from any receiver box in the house view the recording from any of the boxes (or the internet using your computer or your cell phone) makes the U-verse DVR a winner. One problem is that you can only control Live TV from the main box, while the DVR functions of the other boxes in your home are limited to previously recorded programs
Total rating: 8.6/10
Final word: We recommend using of U-verse Television/Internet/Telephone bundle as it offers great values and high quality of service in all the three fronts, for an affordable price.
Our Wish List:
1. Adding more HD streams
2. Adding international cinema resources such as IFC VOD and Euro Cinema VOD. Ideally, I would love a section of VOD dedicated to International cinema; perhaps a “Foreign Movies” section.
3. Adding quality news channels such as Euro News and France 24.
4. Adding New HD channels such as BBC America HD and FOX Soccer Channel HD.
5. Using the interactive section for more interesting and sophisticated games.
6. Running film festivals in the VOD section based on subscription. This section could be centered on the retrospective of a filmmaker, writer, or actor.
7. Continuing to increase internet speeds.