Friday, May 02, 2008

DirecTV vs U-Verse

I'm a DirecTV user. Have been for about six years...ever since I ordered my DirecTivo from Amazon. It has served me faithfully but I think it's finally time to retire the old Tivo. It's kind of gut-wrenching; I've had it for so long now that it's like an old friend. It still has movies and shows on there that were recorded four or five years ago! But the other night, it failed to record American Idol for some reason. Just...didn't do it. And I can't have that, sorry. It was the performance night. I can miss the results show without minding too much (I'd just read it online at TWOP), but missing the performances sucked.

Also, I've got an HDTV now. I got it over a year ago, at Christmas, but am still watching standard-def TV because I don't have the high-def feed. And I don't have the high-def feed because the high-def receiver/Tivo combo that DirecTV has was pretty expensive. Now they're down to $200 -- still a good chunk of change, but I'm thinking I might do it once I get my tax rebate check.

And then I started hearing about this AT&T U-Verse. Apparently it's TV over IP -- basically your television is served via a fiber-optic cable that runs to a hub in your neighborhood, and from the hub to your house via copper wire. They also offer Internet service over this same delivery system. The price is comparable to what I'm paying now for DSL + DirecTV, plus the DirecTV HD add-on fee, and the convenience of having it all on one bill sounds nice. They don't even charge you for the receiver/DVR! Plus the potential for television/Internet integration in the future (interactive TV, YouTube through your television, etc) is amazing.

BUT.

I did my research online, and I've seen some reviews that are not very encouraging. I've read that the DVR they use is awful, especially if you're currently a Tivo user. I've also read that the U-Verse HD signal is not nearly as clear and sharp as DirecTV's HD signal. They currently allow only one HD signal in at a time, which means you can either record an HD program or watch a live HD program, but you can't record one and watch another at the same time. They're working on expanding that, so you can get two HD feeds at once, but the way they plan to do it is by improving their HD compression...which doesn't sound like it bodes well for picture quality, considering their current compression is not bringing through the ultra-sharp video you'd expect. And the "On-Demand" movies they offer...well, I've heard that the streaming video quality is so bad (artifacts, hanging, pixellation) that you might as well just not bother at all. On-Demand is one of the things that I was excited about, actually, so hearing that this was terrible is a real let-down.

So I'm interested in hearing from y'all -- if you've switched from DirecTV and/or Tivo to the new U-Verse service, what do you think?

1 comment:

Kelly Taylor said...

I've used TiVo for 4 years and I'm not having much trouble getting used to the U-verse DVR. My main problem is that it doesn't do that little "back track" that TiVo does when fastforwarding (you know, you hit play once you see your show and the TiVo magically backtracks to just the right spot.) It has some features that TiVo doesn't - TiVo used to record too many Daily Shows because it couldn't discern the reruns properly - U-verse lets you decided what time to day to record, so now I only get the new Daily Shows. Anyhow, mixed bag. The SD signal looks really good, BTW.