AT&T U-Verse “Couldn't” Connect TiVo...

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by TedE, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. TedE

    TedE New Member

    Mar 4, 2005


    For reasons I won't bore you with here, my wife and I became disenchanted with Wide Open West, did our homework, and decided to switch to AT&T U-Verse.

    I didn't want to lose the use of our beloved ol' single tuner SD TiVo Series 2, so I checked the online tech manual pdfs for the AT&T boxes. I figured that, in addition to the main box for our HD TD, we'd need a second dedicated box for the TiVo. But -- just to be sure -- I went to the AT&T showroom, talked with the U-Verse sales guy, looked at the demo box and its output choices (HDMI, component, S-video, composite, Ch 3/4 RF etc.) and it appeared the composite feed would work just fine with the Series 2. Sales guy seemed tech-savvy and knowledgeable, and agreed that a second, dedicated box would work just fine with our old TiVo. Yes, we understood that the main AT&T box would include a HD AT&T DVR, but we didn't care... and the sales guy quickly dropped that as a selling point. All the appropriate info was detailed on the install order. Total of eight TVs fed by four boxes plus internet.

    A couple of weeks later the install guy arrives. We walked around outside and through the basement. We talked about the kitchen and den TVs which were to be mirrored off the same (third) box, using coax feeds that were already in place. He didn't look at either of the TVs, but said it couldn't be done. When I started to talk about the Tivo, he interrupted and said TiVos couldn't be used with U-Verse, either.

    He kept complaining about how difficult this install was going to be. I attempted to explain that I spoke geek, used to work for the phone company, a cable company and a TV station... knew (and had documented) where every wire and cable in the house went (and why)... and stood ready to answer every question he might have about our setup, and to help in whatever other way he asked.

    But, he never even wanted to look at our main TV room, or to hear how the TiVo would probably work with a dedicated box feeding it a SD composite signal...

    After about half an hour of this foolishness I cancelled the order and asked him to leave. He went away muttering something about having ”wasted two hours.“

    Back in the day when there were such things, I was the Chairman of our municipal cable commission... and would have called this guy's boss in to our very next meeting.

    But those days are gone, so I can only take perverse pleasure in the fact that residents still call on me for cable, phone and internet recommendation and advice.
  2. Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

    Apr 17, 2000
    Sounds like the guy was just lazy and trying to get out of a difficult install. If you want to try again leave the TiVo completely out of the equation and just have him hook a box directly to the TV. Once it's working and he leaves just disconnect it from the TV and connect it to the TiVo yourself.

    The only thing a S2 TiVo requires to work is an available channel lineup and the IR codes required to control the box. Both of which are TiVo's responsibility to maintain, not AT&Ts. So there is no reason they should care how you're actually using the box.

  3. TedE

    TedE New Member

    Mar 4, 2005
    No way. Bridge burned.
    Of course, he never even got into my TV room to see all the goodies. In any case, I probably couldn't have pulled it off; we ordered two boxes for that room... one for the TV, the other for the TiVo.

    Actually, I'm used to cleaning up after cable guys. If I had a nickel for every time I went to a neighbor's and replaced the cable company's Ch 3/4 RF connections with RCA composite or S-Video cabling and stereo audio wiring, I'd be a rich man.

    In this particular case, everything was ready for him... I had removed the WoW boxes, and had all the coax, Cat-5 and A/V cabling in place and plug-and-play ready. All he had to do was plug his boxes into the AC and my wires into his boxes. No brainer.

    But never even went into the room to see how turnkey-ready everything was. Just argued with me about how hard it would be, or how this, that or the other couldn't be done.

    After he left, I had to reinstall all of the WoW gear. Annoying.

    Anyway, my point for posting this here in this forum is not that I had a lazy installer, but that TiVo corporate still has a problem. It appears that cable guys are still convinced that TiVos can not be used with their systems... not good for TiVo.
  4. Arcady

    Arcady Stargate Fan

    Oct 14, 2004
    I'm trying to figure out why you you want to buy a multi-room multi-tuner HD service just so you can connect a 10 year old single tuner SD box to it. Do you not own an HDTV?
  5. Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

    Apr 17, 2000


    I think the confusion is that all current TiVos use CableCARDs for tuning, and U-Verse is not compatible with CableCARDs. Installers may not even realize there are old analog TiVos that can record from any cable box.

  6. TedE

    TedE New Member

    Mar 4, 2005
    Yep. 42”. And an Apple TV gizmo, an HD DVD player/recorder, a faithful old S-VHS, surround sound amp & speakers, universal remote... However:

    My wife and I are retired and on a fixed income, so we budget our monthly expenditures wisely. More to the point, I have retinal neuropathy, so HD is wasted on me unless I stand 6” from the screen. But I do see shapes, color and motion, and --heck-- most TV is only illustrated radio, anyway. I spent much of my career in film and TV, so my imagination has no trouble filling in picture information that I'm missing.

    My wife makes me crazy... her eyesight is fine, but she doesn't see any difference between SD on our beloved old 1984 31” Philips and the newer HDTV flat screen. (Well, she does... she just doesn't care.) She's unaware of the (to me, obvious) need to change the screen format (“Normal,” “Wide,” “Zoom,” “Panoramic” etc.) to match the source... and she doesn't really like it when I turn on “the big speakers.”

    Opposites attract.

    Anyway, between the two of us, the gear we have serves us just fine. When broadcast, and later cable, “upgraded” from analogue to digital it was --for us-- just an annoyance. Our TV wasn't broke, but they fixed it anyway.

    But thanks for asking.
  7. TheWGP

    TheWGP Hmmm...

    Oct 26, 2007
    Interested in hearing what happened with WOW - I'm a happy customer but I will say I'm concerned that as they get bigger they may go downhill.
  8. TedE

    TedE New Member

    Mar 4, 2005
    Well, you asked...

    We’ve been with WoW since it began as Ameritech close to 15 years ago. We added phone and internet as soon as each became available.

    We dropped WoW’s phone service for Ooma VoIP a couple of years back; WoW offered essentially only two tiers... cheap low-tech service with limited calling and no bells and whistles, and expensive hi-tech service with lotsa calling minutes plus Caller ID, call blocking, call forwarding etc. We were willing to pay for the bells-and-whistles, but made few calls. No plan came close to meeting our needs.

    The deal-breaker, though, was Ooma’s ability to call-forward to our cell phone, which WoW could not do. But I digress... about WoW cable...

    We have eight TVs or TV-like devices, including our big flat-screen TV, the TiVo, old TVs in the laundry room and guest room, a PC tuner, the ol’ VCR & DVR etc. All worked fine with WoW’s raw cable, ≈100-channel SD analogue RF feed with no boxes.

    We did have two SD digital basic boxes for awhile --one for the big-screen TV, the other for the TiVo. Both brought in maybe 200 channels, plus PPV and music (neither of which we wanted or used).

    When WoW’s prices went up (yet again) we turned in the two boxes and downgraded to all raw cable (again, ≈100 channels. We watched maybe 12-15 of them, at most. Downgrading lost us only a few channels we occasionally watched (BBC, NatGeo, Starz), but after adding the HD Apple TV gizmo with Netflix and podcasts, we added more than enough viewing options to fill the void).

    While we were at it, we upgraded our OTA antenna to pull in more of Chicago’s then-new digital HDTV stations, including many new subchannels not on cable.

    Between dropping WoW phone and the WoW digital boxes, and adding digital OTA and the Apple TV, we saved around $60 per month... and were perfectly happy with our programming options, thank you.

    Nothing was broken. But WoW fixed it this summer, anyway.

    We got most annoyed with WoW when they dumped their basic analog feed (the raw cable that brought in ≈100 channels to all our devices) and went (almost) all-digital.

    All that remained in raw analogue were SD OTA and PEG channels. As I mentioned, we have eight TV-like devices; virtually all of them, including the big flat-screen HD (but non-QAM) beast in the TV room, would require WoW’s “Digital Adapter” in order to continue receiving the ≈100 most basic of basic cable channels.

    So I ordered a couple of the D-to-A adapters and tried them. Pure junk. Ch 3/4 RF output only. Mono (we have a surround sound amp and speakers). The vampire power bricks run hot and are energy hogs. They can’t be set to skip unwanted stations when surfing. Etc. All very annoying.

    So, no single deal-killer; just a thousand little cuts.

    I wrote WoW and the adapter manufacturer to see if either offered at least a composite video w/ stereo adapter... No.

    So --no matter what-- we’d require some sort of extra-cost digital box for every device to regain what we had lost... which prompted us to investigate other options.

    Which lead to the U-Verse choice. Obviously it didn’t have a raw cable feed either, but I figured that, since we had to get some sort of boxes anyway, four U-Verse boxes and some workarounds would do the trick... and the U-200 service offered more channels for about the same money.

    But --since U-Verse didn’t work out (see the original post above)-- we kept WoW, added two digital boxes and upgraded our WoW service to “Digital Basic HD”. The rarely-used old laundry & guest room TVs are still on OTA-only raw cable, which is fine... the kitchen TV is a QAM unit which is OK in principle, but the new four-digit channel numbering makes my wife crazy in practice.

    But, it all sorta works and we’ve sorta gotten used to it. But we’re still unhappy.

    Frankly, we’re waiting for on-demand broadband streaming to effectively replace cable and DVRs as we know them. The virtually identical “packages” all cable companies offer borders on outright thievery, and represents 1970’s technology and marketing savvy.

    Heck, we had a backyard C-band satellite dish in the 80’s and cherry-picked our channels. (Do cable companies even know they are no longer monopolies, and that selling what people want to buy always trumps offering only what you want to sell?)

    I know, I know... “The networks and other content providers require the bundling.” And if the railroads hadn’t decided they were in the railroad business rather than in the transportation business, we’d all be flying New York Central and Santa Fe Airlines.

    (An aside: Best way to kill a business: Base your business plan on, “But, we’ve always done it this way.”)

    Ah, if Steve Jobs had only been in cable.
  9. That Don Guy

    That Don Guy Now with more GB

    Mar 13, 2003
    Benicia, CA
    I assume you mean that you intended to use one U-Verse box for two different TVs (which, of course, would both be displaying the same thing)? How did you intend to change the channels on the box if you're not in the same room?
    You dodged not just a bullet, but an 88mm shell. Currently, there is a notorious U-Verse bug where, after an Emergency Alert System message, all of the buttons except the power button are disabled, so anything coming from the IR Blaster would be ignored until you did a manual power off/power on. (Any recordings that are scheduled on the U-Verse DVR still take place without any problem - it's just things like trying to change the channel, or bring up the list of recordings, that won't work.)

    Another question: how many splitters are in your house? For some strange reason which I can't remember, when I had U-Verse installed, they all (actually, in my case, there was just one) had to be changed.

Share This Page

spam firewall