Simple Whole-House Video, Thanks to AT&T

Phone company's U-Verse TV service now flings recordings around the house with ease.

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Whole-house video has arrived at our house. Or at least almost whole-house video. We can now watch recorded TV in any room in the house using one recorder in the living room. At least we can watch from any room with a TV and an AT&T box.

It's something I've longed for. In this day of exploding video options, it shouldn't be hard or expensive to take my favorite TV recordings to another room. So far, it has been.

AT&T offers the best option I've seen. It's clean, it's simple, and it works well. It alone is almost reason to keep U-Verse, which is AT&T's pay television service.

A quiet software upgrade launched AT&T's Total Home DVR in our market the other day. The service has always been available as part of the Microsoft software that runs U-Verse. But AT&T is just now throwing the switch in selected markets.

I've tried all sorts of techie tools to get whole-house video working. It's possible if you're willing to use a PC at one or both ends of the cross-home link. Or TiVo does a nice job, but you need a TiVo box and its monthly subscription in every room. Not to mention, you need wiring in place to reliably ship high-definition video around the house.

AT&T's version works across cable that the phone giant installed at no charge with the U-Verse service. I get about 200 cable and local channels, including HD, for $70 a month. For now, the service comes with three receivers, or cable boxes. One is the digital recorder in the family room. I use two others to watch the service in other rooms. More boxes would cost $5 each a month.

From the two remote boxes, I can now call up HD-quality recordings. I can pause, fast forward, and rewind. The boxes talk to the DVR in the family room with little or no delay. It's slick.

It isn't complete. I can't erase a recording from another room. I also can't schedule recordings, though AT&T says that's coming sometime soon.

We don't plan to keep the AT&T service. We plan to go back to living with broadcast alone, supplemented by Internet video and Netflix. I just wanted to try AT&T's new service.

Whole-house video makes it harder to give it up.

As Total Home DVR makes it to your market, let us know what you think.


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