U-Verse And The NFL


Helaine and I watched the NFL all day. The Eagles debacle was tough to take. We still watched. This is our Sunday ritual.

Football viewing takes place upstairs in the loft where we’ve got a comfy sofa and a wall mounted TV. I’m not sure how large the set is, but it’s the biggest we’ve ever owned. Nowadays it’s considered mid-sized!

Bigger sets really let you see the action. They also let you see the shortcoming of your TV reception.

Here’s the hidden secret of HDTV: What you get from cable or satellite is a shadow of what you could or should get!

In order to pack more signals onto a satellite transponder or coaxial cable each is compressed. Picture details are sacrificed to preserve bandwidth.

Each channel is individually compressed. Not all channels are equal.

I expected AT&T U-Verse to be less compressed than Comcast, my provider back in Connecticut. After all, AT&T’s run from the central office to my house is over a dedicated strand of fiber. The available bandwidth is huge.

Compression artifacts are most easily seen in areas of high contrast. When a football player runs down the field, his body is surrounded by these misshapen and miscolored pixels. And the bigger the screen the more noticeable they are.

You can see some of the distortion in the Fox Sports logo at the top of this entry. The edges should be clean. They are not.

I’m wondering whether AT&T U-Verse actually knows their own product. They should be able to sell a superior video service. Their infrastructure is much more robust than cable or satellite. And yet their video product doesn’t seem better to me.

Make no mistake. I’m not unhappy with U-Verse, their DVR alone is worth the price of admission, but I know it could be so much better at virtually no additional cost.

Sometimes you just shake your head.

The New TV Seems Like The Beginning

Yeah–this TV is going to cost us more money. As soon as I watched a little HDTV, SD (old school analog television) looked shabby.

IMG_2172-1.JPGA few weeks ago our family room TV died a horrific death during a thunderstorm. You can still see the picture, but the blue gun no longer lines up with the other two. It’s not a linear error either. Straight lines from the offset blue channel now form an arc. Everything appears on the TV twice… on the TV twice.

I did a little shopping and some online searching before deciding on a 47″ Vizio SV470XVT1A, which we bought this afternoon. Our old projection model was a hassle getting home. This LCD model fit nicely in the back of the SUV and Helaine and I were easily able to carry it in.

vizio-tv.jpgYeah–this TV is going to cost us more money. As soon as I watched a little HDTV, SD (old school analog television) looked shabby. We’ll need HDTV service and our SD DVR will need to become an HD DVR.

Actually, this whole episode sent me looking at AT&T’s U-Verse service. The website says it’s not available on my street. I suspect it is, because it’s available one street over and I’ve seen AT&T’s boxes in the neighborhood.

If you work for AT&T or know someone who does, will you help? Drop me a line.

The U-Verse package (including moving my home phone and Internet access over) looks like a good deal. Plus, AT&T’s DVR is in the midst of becoming a real media center, feeding any TV in the house from one location. It looks like they offer more than Comcast for less money. Gotta pay for the TV somehow.

Back to the TV for a second. It set up easily and has a very sharp picture. Right now it’s on the floor, but we’ve got a stand on order. This set was bought as much for its ability to fill a ‘built-in’ physical space as much as anything else.