Sunday, March 02, 2008

Cable, Uverse, and AppleTV

So, I have recently been going through the process of attempting to save money and rethinking how much money we spend on TV. When we moved here, we set up our house with Internet, Phone (unlimited local and long-distance calls), and cable (digital with a DVR that we rented from Time Warner monthly). It cost us about $150 a month. This is A LOT, but we thought that it would be nice to be able to call anyone anywhere (in this country at least) without any added cost. We liked the internet service as it was usually quite fast, and though we did not really want digital cable with all of its 275 or more channels, we did want the DVR and you have to get digital cable to rent the DVR. We LOVED having the DVR. It was fantastic to watch tv when we wanted to instead of planning a night around when something would be showing. We ended up watching much less TV that way since we weren't surfing for something to watch, but only sat down to watch when we had something already recorded (not to mention that it took less time to watch a show since we could fast-forward through the commercials).

As this next year approached, we began to wonder if we could afford to send both kids to preschool or if it would be too much of a stretch for our budget. So, I began researching ways to save money. Lo and behold, I got something in the mail from AT&T about how you could bundle their phone, internet, and TV services and I would not have to pay for 275+ channels. I could pay for uverse100 which only had 100 channels. I could buy a refurbished Tivo for only $50 with the rebate and could then pay for a lifetime of the product tivo subscription. All this and we would save $480 a year. This seemed substantial to me and worth the loss of unlimited long distance calls (especially since we use our iphones for most long distance calls anyway).

My experience with AT&T has been less than stellar. To begin with, they messed up my order from the very beginning and I had to go through all of their call holding while waiting a second time to go through their verification by a third party process. I think it must have taken me 2 hours just to get the order in. They scheduled me for Feb. 12. That day came and so did the TV and internet guy. Unfortunately, the phone guy did not come. After calling in 4 or 5 times and spending (no joke) about 3 hours of talking with several different representatives and waiting on hold, I finally got it straightened out and had to go through the third party verification process AGAIN. They said they would come the 22nd. About the 18th I get a call saying they cannot come then. Can they come the 27th? No, I have to take my son to preschool. Can they come the 28th? yes. (ARGGGGG!!!!!!!!). Will they remunerate me for the days I have had to pay for service with TIme Warner even though I was no longer using them? (I was told not to cancel with TW until my phone was switched so I wouldn't lose my phone number. HOwever, when the TV and internet guy came, he had to pull out the TW router in order to install the AT&T one, hence the loss of my ability to access my phone line or set my home security alarm.) Yes, they would make a note to the adjuster's office that I was to be reimbursed.

So, on the 12th my tv and internet were working. I decided to try setting up the Tivo. No go. You have to have a working phone line to set up your Tivo. So, I have to wait until the 28th.

On the afternoon of the 27th, the AT&T people show up. They are a day early and I was not expecting them, but I tell them to by all means go ahead and connect the phone. They do.

So, I set up my TIvo. After MANY hours of much internet research and time on the phone with Tivo helpers, I finally get the Tivo to control uverse on my TV. Unfortunately, for some reason my Uverse is no longer working. I disconnect it from the Tivo to see if that is the problem. not the problem. Uverse simply will not work. It will show a program for 10 to 30 seconds and then freeze. No matter what channel you put it on, it is the same.

Macon says he is ready for Apple TV.

I research it. We can get the biggest Apple TV for less than the subscription service we paid to Tivo (which they refunded to us very kindly). We can buy all the episodes to all the shows we watch (which are not that many) for $350 a year (which is less at least $150 less than we would have paid for uverse). So, we make the switch.

We hooked up the Apple TV in less than 15 minutes. We had no problems doing it once we told the TV the right source to look for. We immediately rented "3:10 to Yuma" and watched it that night after putting the kids to bed. Good movie.

The only show I cannot get that I want to watch is "Smallville". It is beyond me why they will sell you episodes of now canceled "Veronica Mars" but will not sell you episodes of currently running "Smallville". Ah, well, I can live without the show. All of our other favorites are available via itunes.

So, my conclusion is that dropping cable and picking up Apple TV is a FABULOUS and very EASY way to go! We still watch TV when we want to and do not have to plan our lives around when something crops up on TV. We don't even have to fast forward through commercials because there aren't any! woo-hoo!

I think the only thing I will miss is being able to click over to the weather channel. But then, I do have


Paul Stokes said...

Kellsey, keep us up to date on how that all works with the Apple TV. With regard to ATT, we have dealt with them before, especially at the office, with the same frustrating results. Some marketing person at headquarters gets a great idea; ATT's marketing machine gets in high gear; and then they forget to bring their fragmented operations division up to speed. (The operations division is fragmented by years of half-digested mergers and aquisitions.) So much for "top down" planning. It infects large instituions, both public and private. At least you can hold the private ones accountable by spending your money elsewhere.

Scott said...

But what about the Backyardagins, Clifford, Dora and all of the other educational, helpful, mind-numbing programs that buy the parents 20-30 minutes of reprieve at a time?

We just got a DVR and 90% of the shows we regularly record are kid's programs, though I justified the upgrade for the additional sports programs (plus TWC ran a special).

Kellsey said...

Scott, we just bought the entire season 2 of the Backyardigans for less than it costs to pay for a month of cable.

When I counted the shows we watch and would want to buy I included episodes of Blue's Clues and Backyardigans (with room to spare for Dora or others). Having included those shows in my line-up, it still costs at least $150 less per year than paying for at&t's cheapest cable option and $630 less a year than paying for digital cable and DVR from Time Warner. So, I would say we could still have whatever shows Aidan wants to watch either on Apple TV or DVD and it would still be a huge savings.