Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Some quick updates on U-Verse internet and TV

Some brief updates and observations about U-Verse so far...

- After our adjustment last Wednesday, the internet has been rock-solid for the past week, about 17 mbit down and 1.45 mbit up. I've gotten consistent real-world download speeds around 1.5 megabytes per second while downloading a 5 GB Apple software package, and over 2 megabytes per seconds while downloading a (perfectly legal, thank you!) concert via BitTorrent.

- Internet uptime has been almost perfect. I show a 99.99% uptime (measured based on pings of AT&T's nameserver ever minute). For comparison, Sunflower's uptime over the past three months (as measured to their nameserver) is 99.14%

- I've noticed a bit of latency, caused by U-Verse interleaving. Nothing that bothers me, but if I were a gamer, it might be a concern. I also ran into what I think was the U-Verse Mac DNS bug which I worked around by changing my nameservers. Since then I have had no problems.

- TV-wise, I have been out of town too much to watch a lot of TV, although that will change this weekend, when I plan to log some serious football-watching, which will be a great test of the HD performance while watching a fast, bright show. We did watch some of Planet Earth in HD, and during fast motion scenes (chases, etc.) you could really notices the blurring as compression reared its ugly head. Of course, the TiVo does this too on cable, but it seems to be a bit better and handling this stuff. I need to do some frame by frame comparisons.

- The TV UI is really bad. The "menu item selected" is very difficult to discern. It is a slightly lighter shade of blue, and many times it is nearly impossible to determine what item on the screen is selected. This is such a basic fail, and so easily rectified (how about a contrasting highlight color?) that I just don't understand.

- Even when the set-top box is in standby mode, the front of it has a hideously bright light that will illuminate a darkened bedroom like a high-beam. I have to prop a book up in front of my box before I go to bed. This is another case of sloppy design.

- I am still frustrated with the remote control and the overall functional UI. I really don't know how much of this is just me needed to overcome my prejudice towards 10 years of TiVoing. I want to give U-Verse' TV a fair chance, so I need to work at this!

- We had some initial problems with our internet speed. It was widely variable, ranging between 1 mbit and 17 mbits. We had to have AT&T come out for a service call. Diagnostics showed nothing obviously wrong, but there was still an issue. We learned that AT&T's Quality of Service for U-Verse is 70% of advertised speed, meaning speeds under 12.6 mbit were something that qualified for service, but speeds higher then that (even though less then the 18 we paid for) are not. To make a long story short, the AT&T guy basically tried "shotgun debugging" -- he replaced the Residential luck. He then change the port for our home on the VRAD...that appeared to do the trick, and since then, like I said, our speed has been much better and consistant.

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