Cable TV, cutting the cord, Comcast, AT&T UVerse, Sling TV

After Comcast raised my already expensive Dual Play (cable TV and internet) from around $145 to $190 I decided to cancel Comcast cable TV and keep Comcast internet.    Yes, I cut the cord.   This lasted for all of about 2 weeks.

I tried Sling TV, the Roku 3, and modified the Roku to use Plex, Nowhere TV, Nowhere DVR, an unused Elgato EyeTV Hybrid I had in a drawer for free over-the-air local network TV using a Mac Mini for the DVR, Channel Pear, and Roku Media Player amongst the popular apps.

It wasn’t a bad experience and it mostly worked.  However it was noticeably more time intensive and more of a hassle to jump from show to show or channel to channel.   Switching from OTA NBC to CBS took at least 5-10 seconds for the new stream to load and was noticeably a lesser than ideal quality compared to 1080p HD.  Switching from NBC/CBS/ABC to CNN was 10 times worse timewise.  You’d have to switch from whichever app you used to pull in your OTA stream to a new Roku app, Sling TV.

Sling TV is nice but it’s far from perfect.  First of all, it’s not the perfect pay for only what you watch system you may think.  You’re forced to pay for a Spanish channel, and networks like the Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel.  I would likely never watch any of those yet they are mandatory in the base package for $20.  Plus you can’t hide them from the GUI if you don’t want to see them as an option.   The $5 add-on packs are the same.

By the time you possibly add on other paid services, Hulu+ ($8), Amazon Prime ($99 a year / $8.25 a month… which still is a pretty good deal considering what you get), HBO Go ($15 a month), Netflix ($8), you could easily end up paying more than just sticking with cable TV, as long as you have one of the discounted packages.   On top of that you have to deal with the hassle of having to access them all from different apps or devices and not having full DVR control.

Also, does anyone really think the ‘app’ interface is the future of TV?  It’s not as cumbersome as the above but it’s still more of a hassle than what we’ve had for years with everything accessible in one interface.  It’s as dumb as Spotify allowing apps for various bands to discover their music. (That’s one definite benefit of Spotify killing apps altogether.)  The future of TV will be one interface to intuitively bring it all together letting you pay for various channels/products/brands/features individually.  We aren’t there yet and it’ll be a long time before we are.

When I saw that AT&T UVerse was available for a year intro price for $89 (plus $10 for HD) I decided to jump on it.

I’m trading the time consumed with having to deal with calling every year to get my expired discount lowered again, or possibly switching services back and forth from AT&T UVerse back to Comcast, for the daily time consumed with waiting for network delays, buffers, app switching, etc.

Maybe in another year after Sling TV matures or other competitors offer better options I’ll try going without traditional cable TV again.

So far I’m pleased with UVerse although it has its annoyances.  Multiview, a picture-in-picture type feature, is nice but could be considerably better.  It waste about half of the TV screen with a useless background image and borders.  (see the below image)  Seriously?  Not only is it wasting usable real estate but the 3 small images on the side are in a very low rez video quality making it nearly impossible to read any text on the three small screens.

AT&T UVerse Multiview
AT&T UVerse Multiview

 

Additionally, for the package offer I signed up for, they were to give me a $200 gift card.  After my service was installed I discovered that their system only had me down for a $100 gift card.  I had to contact a support rep to get this fixed.  That felt a bit like bait and switch, hoping I wouldn’t notice.

If you’d like a write-up on the details of what I did with the Roku above then let me know.

 


 

As a side note, reprogramming the UVerse remote took more time than it should have.  I have an older Onkyo 605 AV receiver and the UVerse help guide leads you down the wrong path for finding the reprogramming code.  I finally discovered that code 4022 works for controlling the receiver’s power off/on and volume.  The UVerse remote defaulted to ‘TV mode’ for volume changes, which I didn’t want.  To get it to use the ‘aux mode’, do this:

If you want the TV volume to be controlled by the volume keys, regardless of what mode the remote is in, do this:

  1. Press and hold the AT&T button on the remote.
  2. Press the OK button and release it and the AT&T button at the same time. All the universal lights will flash twice.
  3. Type 955. The AT&T button will flash twice.
  4. Press the AUX button. The AUX button will flash twice.
  5. Press the AT&T button
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2 thoughts on “Cable TV, cutting the cord, Comcast, AT&T UVerse, Sling TV”

  1. So there’s no way to watch your U-verse on a TV in a separate bedroom using the Roku with some sort of app or channel?

  2. If you want to watch Uverse on another TV using a Roku then I don’t think that’s doable though there may be a way around it using a Roku private channel.

    I think you could also load up Uverse on a laptop via Google Chrome and then cast it to a Chromecast but I haven’t tried it.

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