aka. our ongoing debate whether we should go cable-free
(Also, I apologize if I make any weird errors or use odd logic this morning. I’m battling a migraine from going running yesterday. My body got all out of the habit of exercise and it rebels when I try to get it back in.)
So, while on one hand, AT&T’s U-verse service is all magical and light and works really well. It records up to 4 shows at once (3 in HD). They have about a hojillion channels that I don’t watch and lots of HD offerings. The DVR works pretty well (a solid 2nd behind TiVo) and the remote is fairly decent (a distant 2nd behind TiVo. It has waaay too many buttons and they’re placed weirdly), especially when we finally solved our weird non-remote-responding problem (turned out to be the TV trying to sense ambient lighting conditions). I really really like that we can watch any of the shows on any TV (we have a box in our bedroom and in the studio as well as the living room). That’s probably one of the coolest features. You don’t have to transfer them between units like TiVo, they just all operate as one. However, the “dumb” boxes (bedroom and studio) can’t do any DVR like functions while watching live TV.
Oh, and there’s the money aspect. The U200 pack costs $67/mo. You say, “Well, Robyn, why don’t you downgrade to the U100 pack?” I will tell you. The U100 pack is $54/mo BUT you then have to pay a DVR fee in addition (which is waved at U200) for an additional $15/mo. So, really, U200 is cheaper than U100. Which is silly. Plus, you have your $3/mo for using their modem/router/thing, $10/mo for HD, and $7/mo each for the dumb boxes. So that is $97/mo for TV. We also pay for internet, and our grand total winds up at $146/mo
Now, I totally don’t mind paying for internet. We’re computer people and internet is our lifeline. But I seriously do not watch enough of the channels to feel like I’m paying for what I’m using. We record a few shows on network TV and then basically all other watching is HGTV, Food Network, and Comedy Central. Both HGTV and FN don’t have a lot of online offerings. I feel like I am paying for 180 channels that I don’t watch or care about. Clearly, the whole “Cable à la carte” is not going to happen when cable companies can make so much money getting people to pay for what they don’t watch.
This leads me to our TV-computer. Back before we moved into this house, we purchased a Dell Zino (our other contender was a Mac Mini, but the Zino won basically for its inclusion of HDMI). Our original goal was to ditch cable (we previously had TimeWarner and used TiVos) when we moved. Due to a combination of factors (we were missing a crucial run of cable that the homebuilder had screwed up on), we were unable to get our Cox internet hooked up the weekend we moved. We didn’t know how long it was going to take the builder to get around to fixing it (it ended up being like, three months). We also have fiber run to our garage so we decided to go with Uverse instead. In that one week where we were internet and cable-less, we kind of lost our minds and ordered the whole caboodle instead of just internet. We thought we just couldn’t do it. Alas.
So we’ve been using the Zino for dvds and Netflix and YouTube and general browsing. One thing that has been annoying us about using the TVputer is the keyboard/mouse. It’s some normal logitech wireless keyboard. Despite having the wireless receiver as far forward as possible, the keyboard and mouse do not work from our couch, a mere 6 or 7′ away. This is annoying (1st world problems!). After cashing out our change bins yesterday, we headed to Fry’s to a) try to find this keyboard I saw being sold with the Logitech Google TV or b) something else that would work. We couldn’t find the Logitech Google TV keyboard (I used it at work when my coworker received a Google TV from Google and it worked perfectly and it had an integrated touch pad. No more hunting for the mouse.) Fry’s had an HP mini wireless keyboard with touch-nubbins that we figured we’d try out in desperation. We did not like it and will be returning it. We ordered the Google TV keyboard online instead.
As Mike put it, the interface to using something is an important part in actually using it. The hope is that the keyboard will be a boon to using the TVputer and we will cancel cable (not internet) and save money and the world will be happy. We could use that money towards joining the Y across the street.
That would be probably better for us in the long run!