For years, we’ve had cable TV and internet access from our local cable provider Suddenlink (the small local company was bought by Cox and then Suddenlink). We haven’t had any particular problems with either one. During this time, though, we’ve had several telephone providers. We tried Vonage and Suddenlink’s own VoIP phone service, but in both cases, we could never get good quality (I went around with Vonage’s support multiple times before I just gave up). We finally just went back to AT&T regular landline.
For the last several years, we’ve had a DVR provided by Suddenlink (a Motorola 6400 hundred series with a Microsoft OS). While we knew it wasn’t as good as Tivo, it was good enough. In fact, we’ve become addicted to being able to watch what we want when we want and to forwarding past commercials.
A few weeks ago, however, Suddenlink downloaded a completely different operating system to our DVR. The overall user experience was much poorer than before and we lost some significant functionality.
As a software engineer, that really pissed me off. Clearly, the motivations for this change had absolutely nothing to do with users and were, in fact, hostile to the users. That sealed the deal, we were shopping for a different TV provider.
After some research, we decided to give AT&T’s new U-Verse service a try, mostly because we could have integrated TV, cable and internet. We got a lot more functionality and a few more channels for a little less than we were paying for TV, phone and internet.
The AT&T installer spent four hours at our house yesterday getting it all hooked up. I was not home for the installation, but Katie reported that a knowledgeable-seeming 30+-year Southwestern Bell/AT&T employee did the installation and that it went without any problems.
When I got home last night, I connected my laptop to the wireless, explored the TV/DVR options and got our voice mail set up. Everything seemed to be working without any problems or complicated setup.
I have to say, so far I’m very impressed. It’s clear that U-verse was designed as an integrated service. We had considered getting a bundled deal from AT&T a couple of years ago, but it was clearly a cobbled-together offering: DSL, regular phone and satellite TV from Dish or DirecTV.
With U-verse, I can manage all aspects of my service from their web site. I particularly like being able to manage the DVR from the web site and getting voice mail via email or on the web site; the kids really like having DVR capability on both our TVs.
I’ll try to remember to post an update in a few weeks, after we’ve lived with U-verse for a while.
UPDATE: So, I got my first email notification of a voice mail message shortly after I wrote this post. It’s great that I can listen to the voice mail online, but the email falls a little short. It shows me the number that called and then includes a link to the U-Verse home page. After I click on it, I have to log in and go through about five more clicks to hear the message. Couldn’t they provide a direct link or even attach the *.wav file to the email? So clase, but so far. I guess it’s the 80/20 rule in action.