The DVR Walkthrough
One of the nice things about AT&T UVERSE is that every account comes with one DVR. However the only let you have 1 DVR per account.
This DVR is an IPTV DVR and not your standard receiver with a bunch of tuners in it. The AT&T U-VERSE DVR allows you to record up to 4 standard definition shows at one time. It can also do 1 HD channel as well (though not if another receiver in the house is tuned to a HD channel... more on that later)
Now lets get into the DVR operation, and to do this you are going to see a lot of screen shots. I will try explaining each one as best as I can. These screenshots were taken by using a SlingBox Pro (with HD Dongle) and then I captured the screen on my PC and saved them. The resolution seen here is not the actual resolution of AT&T U-VERSE, so please do not judge the PQ by the screen shots shown below.
First up the main menu. This is the heart of the system. If you saw the XBOX360 IPTV demonstration from CES then you will notice that it's almost exactly the same. This is because it IS almost the same thing, the Motorola IPTV receivers are using Microsoft software on their boxes.
Lets take a look at some screen shots of the menu.
There is lots of room for expansion of AT&T U-VERSE, the movie selection is small with only 120 movies in the entire library. They also have video on demand for other things such as music and kids shows (shown below) these video on demand shows are FREE, however at the moment there is not much to watch with most areas only having 1 or 2 selections to watch.
Next up we have the guide. The guide is a cool feature and what makes it neat is when you are scroling through the guide there is a PIP window shown so you can see whats on the channel without changing the main channel to that channel. Also when your watching TV you can see whats on other channels by pressing the up and down arrows on the remote. Again the PIP window displays live video from that channel. A VERY cool feature.
Ahh yes. AT&T U-VERSE has over 25 channels of HD, we will get more into that in a little but. Caught a good Green Day concert while I was capturing all of these screenshots.
Now back to the menu (we have already looked at the Guide option, we go down and we can set our favorites.
Under the same menu you can also search for your favorite programs, searching is slow and sluggish as for each letter you type in it goes out and searches for stuff with those letters in it as your still typing them. You can set recordings up from these searches and we will get into that next.
Since this is a DVR you can record shows, with U-VERSE it is very easy to record your favorite shows. One of the feature I like best about U-VERSE is when you are watching a show you like you can press the record button which will record the show you are watching (plus any of the show that was in the buffer earlier before you pressed record) if you press the record button twice it sets up a season pass for that show. (And pressing record a 3rd time cancels the recording)
When a show is recorded it shows up in your recorded programs folder as shown below.
Then you can review your scheduled recordings and series that you want recorded.
Ok lets take a look at the options given to use. First up system settings, you can control stuff like aspect ratios. closed captioning etc from here. (I should note that the box does NOT output in HD (720p or 1080i) and SD 480p at the same time.)
Next up in the options menu is Channel Settings. You can control things such as parental controls, lock out channels and manage your favorites channels list here.
After the options menu we have an option for Help with brings us to a video on demand library of how to do almost everything on U-Verse. Of course having this is only good if their Video on Demand system is functioning. help is available in English and Spanish.
AT&T U-VERSE also has a large selection of Music Choice Music Channels. Here is what Music Choice looks like on AT&T U-Verse.
For those of you with HDTV's you might not like the fact that your giant 60 inch 16 x 9 set only has a picture in the center on SD channels, with U-Verse you can change that by pressing the enter button on the remote, each time you press the enter button the screen is resized or streched, this lets you watch TV as you like it.
And that wraps up our look at the operation of the DVR. The non DVR unit looks and works the same way (just without the DVR features)
The next section is what most of you were waiting for, my review of AT&T U-Verse.