They arrived as scheduled and worked all day Friday. The AT&T installers found our '70s condo was a bit difficult to work with. They were, however, open to suggestions, courteous, careful, and a pleasant pair of guys to have working in our house. By the end of the day I had emptied three closets and one bookcase to accommodate the new wiring: some of it coaxial cable and some of it cat. 5e. The upstairs and the main floor weren't very difficult, all things considered, once the old cable paths were figured out and partly replaced. The TV for the basement, however, was another matter. Thank goodness the U-verse system is network-based! The cat. 5e cable run I had put in between the second floor and the basement (with great difficulty) a few years ago was put to good use; it now carries data packets for our restored broadband Internet access and the set-top box for the TV down here. The guys arrived at about 9 AM and left after 4 PM. There was only one shortcoming which, for us, turned out all right: the head installer couldn't get our high-definition TV to display images via its component inputs — the highest quality outside of HDMI (which the TV doesn't have) and the only true high-def display it can give us. Hi-def TV via a regular composite video input isn't worth much! After they left, I explored the installation manual for the set-top box. I discovered the unit's output resolution could be safely changed because, much like a modern computer, it will test a setting before making that setting permanent. If the setting doesn't work, the unit safely returns to the one that did work. I changed the setting to 1080i and it looks very, very good.
Overall the image quality of the TV is very good. Standard "cable" channels look fine, better than we were experiencing with DirecTV satellite service, and high-definition channels look very good but not excellent. Local HDTV broadcasts, especially, suffer some loss of clarity. Whereas they were razor-sharp (you could see the actors' pores) viewing local HDTV shows via antenna, the local channel HD now is only a little better than standard definition. The color seems to have been shifted; we noticed so-so sharpness, garish colors, and marked red flesh tones watching The Ghost Whisperer on local HD Channel 19 via U-verse. Unpleasant, really. That is our only disappointment. We'll likely purchase an HD tuner to use in watching local broadcasts over-the-air to enjoy the incredible quality we know is available for free locally. Adjusting to the new array of channel numbers and the new remote controls, well, that's a learning process!
Internet access is, technically, the same speed as we had with our DSL. We selected the U-verse "Pro" access which is advertised as 3 Mbps download, 1 Mbps upload. This morning testing via the Speedtest.net site, I found we were getting 2.9 Mbps down and 943 Kbps up. Close enough to keep AT&T honest and, interestingly, noticeably faster than my recent experiences with DSL. I'm thinking it may be the higher-capacity "residential gateway" router AT&T installed in Her office. The gateway router provides all TV and network access to our house.
What exactly is AT&T's U-verse technology? Can't say. It does, in fact, come down our street and to the phone box on our house via POTS wiring, not, from what I can tell, over fiber. From the phone box it enters the house and the residential gateway (router) via coax cable. Inside the house it's cat. 5e to the set-top boxes and computers. The router has built-in Wi-Fi with WPA encryption … good signal strength in the house and very fast access. Whatever U-verse technology is, it is nice to have excellent TV quality available again. Oh, and to be saved from "dial-up h3ll." Trying to live without broadband Internet was, we believe, harder than living without 200 channels of TV.
Would we recommend U-verse? Yup! Except for the misunderstanding concerning DSL disconnection, the whole thing went as promised. Installers did what they needed to do while taking our needs and preferences into account. Video quality is very good. HD quality is mixed but not excellent (very good on "cable" HD channels, not-so-good on local HD channels). The price is right. We're happy!