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14 July, 2008

The Approval to Ditch Uverse Has Arrived

We still have Uverse but this weekend the household Chief Media Officer had enough and said, "Get rid of Uverse!, I can't stand the DVR and the fact that we have 30 hours of the 'Press OK' screen" .

What finally put the nail in this Uverse's coffin? The inability of TiVo and Uverse to get along. O.K., that and the lousy interface AT&T provides us through the Motorola box. This is going to be a ramble so hang on through this confusing post.

If you read my previous posts, you know we have been long time (over half a decade) users of TiVo. Why one of the first companies to commercialize a DVR still has the easiest and most intelligent design for a user interface is beyond me, but they do. Once you've used TiVo it is difficult to except the Cable, Satellite and Phone companies interpretation of how a DVR should work.

Enough of that. We decided that HD is great but simply getting the shows we want to watch recorded in a reliable simple fashion is more important. It is all about how easy it is to find a show, record, watch and delete it. If those functions aren't simple and reliable then the process of watching entertainment ends up being less fun.

Since Uverse has been in this house (Dec 07), we have had TiVo recording our usual fare of standard definition broadcasts. We will even record HD available shows on TiVo all because ease of use is more important then HD for us.

Anyway, everything was working pretty well until about 3 months ago when all of a sudden TiVo was providing us with 60 minutes of "Press OK" instead of Top Gear. This was occuring on a random basis. At first I thought it had to do with the IR blaster, the little infrared transmitter that is duct taped onto the Uverse receiver. TiVo sends the IR codes to the blaster which changes the channels on the Uverse receiver.

Repositioning the blaster seemed to work for a day or so. But it wasn't consistent. What confounded me was that all of my tests with the TiVo remote controlling the Uverse always worked fine. It was as if, the two kids played nice when Daddy was in the room but within a few hours of me leaving, they would fight.

Then I thought, maybe the Uverse remote's IR was somehow sneaking under the paper bag. See, we have 2 Uverse receivers in the same room and in Motorla's wisdom (maker of the Uverse receiver) they decided that there would be only one remote to control all Uverse units on earth.... maybe. So, unless I place TiVo's Uverse under a paper bag or blanket or inside a lead lined box, it will see the IR from the remote that is controlling the main Uverse DVR. Sadly, that didn't seem to fix the problem. Plus, I could use the Uverse remote in the room and never get it to change the paper bagged Uverse.

I tried resetting the TiVo IR commands, using a variety of different codes. Each time Uverse and TiVo appeared to talk nicely to each other. And each time Uverse and TiVo would get confused and just agree to record a screen of blue with "Press OK".

The final straw came when we went on a short holiday. Uverse and TiVo got one show recorded and then went into Blue OK mode. That was it. We are now looking at alternatives to Uverse.

Except, I did find some posts yesterday that indicate that Uverse pushed a software upgrade a few months back. In their attempt to go all Green, they have made the Uverse receivers go into a sleep mode after 8 hours of no use. Could this be cause?

Last night I suggested to the CMO that we set up recurring 5 minute recordings every 8 hours. Luckily, this is very easy on the TiVo. I haven't looked at the Uverse to see how easy it would on that unit.

If that works, maybe we'll keep it around. The one down side I see is that our TiVo suggestions database is going to be filled with 5 minute shopping channel shows.

e tutto per oggi!


-- Update 16 July 2008 --

Setting up a recording for every 8 hours seems to have done the trick. The Uverse isn't going to the "Blue Screen of OK". At least so far it hasn't.

The problem I run into is I now have three 5 minute recordings of stuff of random quality spread through our TiVo recorded list. Three for every day of the week.

One more thing, I found that when Uverse gets pushed an update, settings like Aspect Ratio are set so that the picture does not fill the screen. It is a 16:9 view but smaller then whatever monitor it is playing on. Under "Settings", "Aspect Ratio", the correct setting is selected. If you change that setting and then re-select 16:9, the video will appear properly.

What gets me is that there is no message that your settings will be messed up upon a software upgrade. Very nice of Motorola, Microsoft and AT&T to do that to you. DirecTV never gave me such a problem. Then again, who knows if DirecTV ever (or could ever) send an upgrade to the receiver.

1 comment:

Jeff Rosenbaugh said...

Hey, I appreciate your comments on UVerse. I have to make the decision between getting DirecTV now or waiting a few months and hoping UVerse is installed in my apartment complex, and I'm pretty certain that I'll be going with DirecTV at this point.

As a note, you get a DirecTV discount if you're a AAA member (which saves you money even if you have to pay for a membership you wouldn't normally have) and getting an HD DVR is as easy as signing up for the most expensive package, getting the hardware for free, and then downgrading your package within a few days (this was a recommendation from the DirecTV sales guy).

Oh, and I 100% agree with the frustration that no one else can figure out how to do a DVR like TiVo... It doesn't seem like rocket science, but TiVo still takes the cake!