Technology Can Be a Headache Sometimes

Been a teensy weensy bit busy lately, so I haven’t posted in a while, but I think it is finally time to share my extraordinary story about AT&T. Gonna geek out a little, so bear with me.

I’m about as patient as they come when it comes to new technology. And AT&T’s U-Verse service is new here, so of course there are going to be hangups. Well two technicians, calls all the way up to Tier 4 support, and four days of them basically living with me…and I finally got up and running on Monday. They had to do some serious work down at the fiber optic hub at the end of my street. Then someone at their division forgot to match the work done in the computer systems. Yadda yadda yadda. It’s working. Sorta…

I’m thrilled with the internet connection. Despite having signed up for the mid-grade service, I’m getting premium speed. 9.4 mbps down, 1.4 mbps up, with about a 90 ms ping. That ping is actually a little high; not sure how it will affect online gaming. (For the noobs: ping is the term to describe how long it takes a command to be sent to a server after you command it.)

But the high definition TV is another story. In short: it is poor. It is hard to describe in words what is happening on these channels. I can liken it to this: when I make a video, I can choose to render it in high, medium, or low quality. The HD channels look like a video that has been rendered on low quality. Motion turns into little fuzzy blocks, an artifact called macroblocking. Solid colors appear to jitter a little or pulse when it should be, well, a solid color. You can make out the gradations of brightness and it doesn’t change smoothly as a sharp picture should. These abnormalities are a result of the TV signal being too compressed on their lines. This is something I read about from other users in advance and was worried would happen. With as critical an eye as I have for this, I don’t think I’ll be able to keep the TV service.

Further there is a firmware issue with the box that AT&T “may or may not know about”. Simply, it is not passing audio codecs correctly through the HDMI cable to my receiver. Shows sounded like mush, comparatively to my Comcast signal. I tested this with an optical cable and it worked correctly–a nice, crisp sound. So something is definitely wrong with the HDMI firmware.

I was so looking forward to this. No more Comcast; gain the ability to set a recording from anywhere with internet; no more Comcast; and no more Comcast. As much as I hate being their customer, their picture quality is (it’s hard for me to write this) far superior to AT&T’s. The third technician that came out saw what I was talking about. I feel like he knew what he was saying and he told me “I’m sorry to say that this may be the best quality that we offer.” If that’s the case, no thanks. I’ll just stick with the internet.

This has been a long hard battle with many retreats going back to canceling Dish Network. Dish would have been ideal, because of the (now) four providers to choose from, they have the most superior system. But not having local HDs is a deal-breaker. DirectTV just added them two months ahead of schedule, so hopefully Dish won’t be long. Unless AT&T cranks up their bandwidth over their lines, then their service is going nowhere. Well maybe they will…the average consumer buys into the fact that they are getting “high definition” but as each provider scrambles to provide the most HDs, it forces them to put more information on the same amount of pipe flow. The only way to do that is to reduce the information sent per channel, which means poorer quality. And at that point, it is no longer HD by definition. I see past that, but it’s all we got…

Technology Can Be a Headache Sometimes

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