What Is AT&T U-verse?
U-verse is AT&T’s fiber optic television service. As a fiber service, U-verse offers reliable and consistent quality, even under heavy usage, and a large watching selection with as many as 580 channels. Other features of the U-verse TV service include an app that gives you access to your recording library on the go, and a whole-home DVR system included in the service price—but we’ll get to that in a minute.
AT&T U-verse TV is not widely available, unfortunately. The service is primarily available in the southern states, with the Northeast, Midwest, and most of the West Coast left out in the cold. If it is available in your area, though, U-verse TV makes a solid choice, especially for families and customers who need variety.
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What Is the AT&T U-verse Total Home DVR?
The U-verse Total Home DVR is the receiver and DVR combination that powers the AT&T U-verse TV service. The DVR allows you to pause live TV in one room and resume it in another, record up to four shows at once, and store up to 165 hours of HD programming or 460 of SD. Keep reading to find out if this DVR and accompanying fiber service is worth your hard-earned money.
|DVR||Provider||Simu. Recordings||Storage||HD Storage (Hours)||Cost per Month|
|U-verse Total Home DVR||AT&T||4||1 TB||165 hrs.||First box included; up to 3 additional receivers included|
|Hopper 3||DISH||16||2 TB||500 hrs.||$15 per month|
|The Genie (HR-44)||DIRECTV||5||1 TB||200 hrs.||Included in service with all-included packages|
|TiVo T6||RCN||6||1 TB||150 hrs.||$9.95 per month|
|X1||Comcast||6||500 GB||100 hrs.||$9.95 per month|
|DVR||U-verse Total Home DVR|
|HD Storage (Hours)||165 hrs.|
|Cost per Month||First box included; up to 3 additional receivers included|
|HD Storage (Hours)||500 hrs.|
|Cost per Month||$15 per month|
|DVR||The Genie (HR-44)|
|HD Storage (Hours)||200 hrs.|
|Cost per Month||Included in service with all-included packages|
|HD Storage (Hours)||150 hrs.|
|Cost per Month||$9.95 per month|
|HD Storage (Hours)||100 hrs.|
|Cost per Month||$9.95 per month|
Pricing and features are current as of May 21, 2017. Pricing and features are subject to change. Not all offers are available in all areas.
- Record up to 4 programs at once
- Play back recordings from any room in your home
- Pause, fast-forward, and rewind live TV from any room in the house
- Store up to 165 hours of HD recordings
- Record non-scheduled shows from the time you begin watching
- Prioritize your recordings to deal with scheduling conflicts
- Watch up to 4 different shows on the same TV at the same time
AT&T U-verse TV delivers over 580 channels over AT&T’s fiber-optic network and can be bundled with AT&T’s internet and phone service for a convenient triple play. The fiber internet is especially nice, with speeds up to 1,000 Mbps in some areas.
The U-verse Total Home DVR is a simple, no-frills DVR system—it’s all about the basics. And it handles those basics fairly well as long as you live in one of AT&T’s internet markets. It can record up to four programs at once, play and pause them in any room, and store an impressive 165 hours of HD content for playback.
AT&T U-verse Total Home DVR Specs
- Size: 8″ x 6.1″ x 1.6″
- Weight: 3 lbs.
- Composite video
- Component video
- Optical digital audio
- Stereo analog audio
- One Ethernet port
- One USB port
The DVR’s cost is included with the cost of your AT&T U-verse service. This is becoming more common, but since there are still quite a few providers that charge additional fees for DVR boxes, it’s a nice perk. If you want to add additional receivers for your other TVs, you can add up to three for no extra charge. After that, they are $9 each per month, which is still cheaper than many competitors.
The U-verse hardware is pretty standard stuff—no voice remotes or crazy storage or recording capacities here. If you’re a fan of simplifying your life, that might be just what you’re after, though.
As with most providers, the specific box you get with AT&T U-verse tends to vary between markets. The latest box AT&T is using appears to be the Pace IPH8110, a standard black rectangle with the U-verse branding and power button on the left. On the right, you’ll find the AT&T logo and a few navigation controls, while a USB port and indicator lights hold down the center.
Overall, it’s a nice-looking box that doesn’t draw much attention. It should blend in perfectly with your entertainment center. It’s also small enough to tuck away for a more discrete look.
AT&T is another provider that hasn’t moved up to the new generation of touch remotes. Instead, you’ll get a button-heavy black remote that should be familiar to anyone who’s used a TV in the last ten years or so.
Like the DVR box, the exact remote you get can vary between markets, but they’re all basically the same. You’ll find the standard controls for operating the DVR and TV, changing channels, and adjusting the volume. There are also dedicated buttons for U-verse functions like accessing recordings or the on demand menu. There is even a button dedicated to the My Multiview feature that lets you watch up to four different programs on the same TV. The direct shortcut buttons are great—they can save a lot of time, and we recommend everyone familiarize themselves with them, no matter what DVR or provider you have.
Using the U-verse Total Home DVR is a pleasant experience. There aren’t any gimmicky features getting in the way—it’s just you, the remote, and your programming. Menus are simple and intuitive, and the process for setting up a recording couldn’t be easier. The biggest letdown is the low number of simultaneous recordings allowed.
While four recordings might seem like more than enough, it is still well within the realm of recording conflicts, though you can prioritize recordings to help avoid these kinds of issues. Still, when competitors offer as many as sixteen simultaneous recordings, it’s hard to get excited about only four.
This is where most of the action takes place. Navigating the list of shows is easy thanks to a clean, clutter-free menu. The channels and dates are on the left of the screen, while programs and times sit to the right. Shows are highlighted blue, and there are clear breaks when a show ends and a new one begins. Along the bottom, you’ll find a thumbnail image and description of the show you have highlighted.
Scheduled recordings are marked with either a single red dot to indicate that just that episode is scheduled, or three red dots to indicate the entire series is set to record. Setting a recording is as easy as highlighting the show you want to record and pressing the “record” button on the remote. Press again for the entire series, and press a third time to cancel. Simple.
There are also convenient navigation shortcuts available. You can press the channel up and down buttons to jump a full page up or down in the listings. You can also press fast forward to jump twenty-four hours ahead in the time slots, which is a real time-saver.
As for what sort of programming you’ll find in your guide, there are several U-verse plans to choose from. The plans range from U-Family, which offers over 200 channels at just $50 per month, to U450, which offers over 580 channels for $125 per month.
There are also bundles available with AT&T’s phone service and internet. Depending on where you live, you’ll have access to either AT&T Internet or AT&T Fiber. AT&T Internet has wider availability and speeds up to 75 Mbps, while Fiber has more limited availability but speeds up to 1,000 Mbps. If you live somewhere with access to AT&T’s Fiber, we recommend taking advantage of the increased bandwidth. Triple Play bundles start at $89.99 for the basic U-Family TV service and 50 Mbps internet.
Like other cable providers, AT&T offers apps for both iOS and Android to control your DVR and watch TV. Unlike other cable providers, AT&T’s apps are rated decently and seem to work well. The design is clean and simple, much like the U-verse DVR interface, and functions are easy to access. With the app, you can watch both live and on-demand programming right on your phone or tablet, which can be a lifesaver if you’re out with the kids.
AT&T’s U-verse Total Home DVR and TV service offers a ton of channels with a straightforward interface and plenty of storage for your recordings. Unfortunately, it’s hampered by a lack of exciting features and the possibility of recording conflicts. It’s sort of a mixed bag—there’s nothing terrible about it, but there’s also nothing that jumps out and says, “Buy me now!” However, if you throw that speedy fiber-internet service into the mix, things get a little more interesting. If you’re looking to bundle services, the U-verse Total Home DVR is much easier to recommend.
What about DIRECTV?
Don’t forget that AT&T now owns DIRECTV, meaning it can be bundled with AT&T phone and internet service as well. If you live outside of the U-verse coverage area, or like AT&T’s internet and phone service but prefer a different television option, DIRECTV makes a great choice.