Review of the AT&T U-verse Total Home DVR
AT&T U-verse Total Home DVR vs. the Competition
AT&T U-verse Total Home DVR vs. the Competition
|DVR||Provider||Simultaneous Recordings||Storage||Hours of HD Storage||Cost per Month|
|U-verse Total Home DVR||AT&T||Up to 6||Up to 1 TB||Up to 330||Included in package price|
|Genie||DIRECTV||5||1 TB||Up to 200||Included in package price|
|Hopper 3||DISH||16||2 TB||Up to 500||$5.00|
|X1||Xfinity||6||500 GB||Up to 100||$19.95|
|Contour Record 6||Cox||6||2 TB||Up to 250||$28.49|
Data effective as of 09/6/2018.
U-verse, the reliable fiber-optic TV service from AT&T, offers a ton of channels for an affordable price. But it’s not all about the channel count—the DVR can be just as important. So, how does the U-verse Total Home DVR stack up against the competition?
Overall, the AT&T U-verse Total Home DVR offers enough storage and features to make your U-verse experience a pleasant one. It isn’t perfect, and we wouldn’t choose U-verse just to get the DVR, but we also wouldn’t let it keep us from enjoying the hundreds of fiber-optic channels U-verse offers.
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What is the AT&T U-verse Total Home DVR?
The U-verse Total Home DVR is the AT&T answer to whole-home DVR systems like the DIRECTV Genie and the Xfinity X1. It offers plenty of storage for your recordings, plus the ability to play them back on up to six TVs at once—as long as the TVs have a U-verse box hooked up.
- A base model that can record 4 shows at once
- 500 GB model that can store up to 165 HD hours
- 1 TB model that can record 6 programs at once
The base model is available to U200 packages and lower, while the 500 GB model is available only to U300 and U450 packages. The 1 TB model is available only to customers who have the Internet 1000 plan. We’ll cover more differences between these options in the hardware section below, but just a heads up that we won’t be saying much more about the base model—we just want you to know that it exists.
Compared to other top DVRs on the market, the U-verse Total Home offers fewer simultaneous recordings, but the higher-tier models can store quite a bit more HD content. In fact, the only popular DVRs that beat it on storage capacity are the Hopper 3 and the TiVo BOLT VOX.
This is where the U-verse Total Home DVR stands out:
- Excellent HD storage capacity
- Clean and streamlined user experience
The U-verse Total Home DVR also stands out with its clutter-free interface. There aren’t a ton of extra features on this DVR like you might find on the DIRECTV Genie or DISH Hopper 3. For some, those missing features will be a downside. But for folks that just want to sit down and watch TV without a bunch of stuff getting in the way, it’s a nice change of pace.
Features and Specs
Now that we’ve discussed what makes the U-verse Total Home DVR stand out from the competition, let’s dive deep into the hardware and specs to find out what makes it tick.
Like we mentioned above, there are two DVR tiers with U-verse: a 500 GB model with a four-channel recording capacity, and a 1 TB model with a six-channel recording capacity. The higher-end 1 TB DVR can store up to 330 hours of HD content, which is pretty impressive. Even the 500 GB models can store up to 165 hours—that’s still great for the size of the hard drive.
There are also a few different makes of each of these models. Essentially, different brands have made the same DVR box for AT&T, so they may look a bit different, but the specs, inputs, and features are all the same.
- Offers 500 GB or 1 TB of storage
- Stores up to 165 or 330 hours of HD content
- Records 4 or 6 shows at once
- Sustains simultaneous playback on 4 or 6 TVs with U-verse receivers
- Supports playback up to 1080p HD
- Component video output
- Composite video output
- Stereo analog audio output
- Optical audio output
- 1 x HDMI port
- 1 x Ethernet port
- 1 x USB 2.0 port
Regardless of the manufacturer and exact model of your U-verse Total Home DVR, the ports, inputs, and specs will be the same.
You’ll notice in the features that the U-verse Total Home DVR supports only 1080p playback. There’s no 4K for U-verse customers—at least not yet. That’s unfortunate, but few DVRs support 4K at this time, so it’s not especially surprising.
- DVR controls
- Dedicated buttons for recordings and on-demand content
- “My Multiview” button to launch screen multiplexing
You’ve got all the basics covered, like volume and channel controls, and the remote can also control your DVD or Blu-ray player and TV thanks to its universal remote functionality. That’s about it though. If you want voice control, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Now that all the technical stuff is out of the way, what’s it like to actually use the U-verse Total Home DVR?
Mostly it’s a pleasant experience. The high recording capacity and simple interface make it easy to find your favorite channels, set up recordings, and navigate the DVR. The one big bummer for us is the number of simultaneous recordings, but we’ll get more into that in a bit.
Like we said above, there are two different storage capacities for the Total Home DVR, depending on which U-verse plan you select: 500 GB and 1 TB. Here’s how that breaks down:
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A total of 165 hours is nearly a week of continuous watching—unless you’re a hardcore digital pack rat, that’s probably plenty. We’d still like to see AT&T offer the 1 TB model on more packages than just the Internet 1000 though.
Where we do think the Total Home DVR falls short is in simultaneous recordings. The four and six simultaneous recordings leave users squarely in the realm of recording conflicts. Four is especially bad—just two football games and two TV episodes means you’re maxed out.
With a capacity that small, you better hope your spouse or roommate likes the same shows! We’d love to see more DVRs get on the Hopper 3’s level, with its ludicrous sixteen-show capacity that makes conflicts a thing of the past.
AT&T U-verse offers a huge channel selection (over 550!), but if you still can’t find something to watch, there’s on-demand programming. On-demand content can be accessed by pressing the “On Demand” button on the remote control or changing to channel 1.
In the on-demand library, you’ll find movies and TV shows to rent or buy, as well as some free television programs you can watch. If you’ve ever used an on-demand service from a cable company before, this will all be familiar stuff.
- Stream live TV straight to your device
- Schedule and manage recordings on your U-verse Total Home DVR
- Use your device as a remote control for your DVR
There’s even an Apple Watch app that lets you use your watch as a remote, which is handy in a pinch. It’s also one of the highest-rated TV provider apps we’ve seen—most tend to have very low scores and lots of negative reviews, but U-verse appears to be an exception.
The U-verse Total Home DVR is fairly bare bones, like we said. For the most part, it focuses on doing the basics and doing them well. It’s not totally boring though—there are a few tricks hiding in that unassuming black box:
- Shows that aren’t scheduled to record can still be saved by tuning in and pressing the record button. The DVR will start recording from the time you tuned in.
- Scheduled recordings can be prioritized to help deal with any conflicts that come up thanks to the four- or six-program limit.
- Up to four different shows can be watched at the same time—on the same TV. That’s especially awesome for sports and news coverage.
TV Provider Snapshot
AT&T U-verse is a fiber TV service that offers one of the highest channel counts in the industry for an excellent price. It’s the perfect choice for channel surfers or customers of AT&T high-speed internet service. The only catch is it’s not available everywhere, so use our Zip Finder below to see if it’s an option for you.