AT&T U-verse TV Review: A Deep, Unbiased Look

Are you paying a fortune for your current plan but are not too happy with the channels you have? Here’s something you’d be interested in. AT&T U-verse could be just what you were looking for. You’ll get a variety of all those channels you’ve always wanted — not just you, your entire family — for a more or less good price. Just make sure you read the fine print before signing up.

AT&T changed the name a bit in order to create a clear distinction between the two plans they offer. Now they have cable TV service (AT&T U-verse) and the Internet package (AT&T Internet), so bear that in mind when signing up — U-Verse is just TV.

Before you check out their plans, you should take a quick look at their locations nearby. Unfortunately, they are still not available across the entire country, so check if there’s one in your vicinity first here.

Now let’s see what AT&T U-verse is all about.

What Does AT&T It Offer?

Pretty much what everyone wants — a lot of channels for a really good price. AT&T U-verse could go head to head with DIRECTV, which is also a part of the AT&T family and one of the most popular packages in the entire country. The U-Family Package offers more than 200 channels for $35 whereas the DIRECTV SELECT All-included offers around 150 channels for the same price.

It is important to note that just because you have a lot of channels, it doesn’t mean that you’ll have the ones you need. You may want to double-check the channel list first to make sure you don’t miss out on the latest episode of your favorite show, like HBO’s Big Little Lies.

Speaking of which, does AT&T U-verse have HBO? Yes! For the first three months, all of the premium channels will be included in the price. Sadly, after that, you’re on your own. You can either live without your favorite show or pay meager $26 every month. In other words, if you’re in it just for HBO and CINEMAX, this probably isn’t the best fit for you. HBO NOW is way cheaper than this.

What about sports channels? You’re covered there. AT&T U-verse offers a huge range of networks that air pretty much every important sports event — both major league and college — including FOX Sports 1, 2, ESPN, and College Sports, ABC, CBS, and NBC. There’s a but here, though — NFL SUNDAY TICKET. This one’s a no-go since DIRECTV is the only provider, so the biggest NFL fans probably won’t be too excited about that.

Packages

You can choose between 4 packages:

  • U-Family offers 180+ channels for $35
  • U-200 offers 360+ channels for $55
  • U-300 offers 470+ channels for $60
  • U-450 offers $550 channels for $110

Here’s a link for you with more information.

So, is this the only thing you have to pay for? Of course not — it would be too easy. Here’s the part you should pay special attention to.

For this monthly fee, you will get installation, HD DVR, and three months of premium channels. There are quite a few other things the company will charge you for:

  • One-time activation fee: $35
  • HD Access: $7/mo (and it’s not available for the lower-priced packages)
  • For each additional wireless receiver: $10/mo (for one receiver) and another one-time installation fee $49 (for one receiver)
  • Broadcast fee for $7.99/mo

That would mean that even for the cheapest package, you could pay over $100 in your first month, which is definitely more than what you expected.

The duration of your contract is two years. These are the prices for the first year of the contract, so you can expect a slight increase after the first 12 months. There is always a possibility to negotiate, but if that doesn’t happen, you ought to be ready for the additional expenses.

Since DIRECTV is also a branch of the AT&T, you’ll have the option to switch between plans if the other one is more convenient. But, here’s what AT&T U-verse offers:

Features

Total Home DVR

If you compare AT&T U-verse’s Total Home DVR to DISH’s Hopper or DIRECTV’s Genie, it’s definitely not the best option. However, it’s acceptable since you’ll be getting the opportunity to record up to four of your favorite shows.

On the other hand, if you’ll feeling generous and you want to try out one of the pricier packages, you may be in for a treat. Those offer about 460 hours of standard and 165 hours of HD content. Imagine all those House MD episodes you’ll binge-watch on a rainy weekend. You could even start watching Game of Thrones (as long as you’re still in the first three months since it’s on HBO).

One of the more economical packages offers 155 standard-definition and 37 high-definition hours, which is great too.

Mobile App

Your kids would probably have a lot of fun with this one, so make sure they don’t have access to it.

The app allows your phone to play the part of the remote control, which could be pretty handy.  What’s also great is the fact that if you’re a part of the AT&T Internet family, you can stream live TV or other shows on your phone. That also means you won’t even be using your phone data because it will be connected to the existing Internet package.

To top it all off, you can use the app to schedule the DVR to record an episode of some show, in case you forgot to set it up when you were still at home.

Resolution — No 4K

At the moment, AT&T U-verse only offers 1080i or 720p resolutions. They hope to have 4k implemented in the near future, but it could be ages until that happens, so get used to 1080i.

Fiber-Optic and Coaxial Cable Delivery

These fancy words that usually only experts understand mean that you’ll get the best possible experience when you’re watching your favorite TV shows. You won’t experience many glitches, nor will you miss out on any of the action. Just imagine all the colors and details you’ll get to enjoy!

Excellent Customer Support

What happens when the signal is out on a rainy Saturday night? No worries! AT&T U-verse tech support is there for you pretty much 24/7, so expect to get your signal back in no time at all.

When it comes to customer support, although they are not available all the time, they still have pretty good business hours. They work Monday through Saturday from 8 AM to 7 PM (5 PM on Saturdays), and they have pretty good reviews too.

If you’re not a fan of talking on the phone and you don’t want to send an email either, they also offer online chat. Bear in mind, though, that over the chat, they need to make sure they are talking to the actual account owner. That would mean you might spend a few extra minutes confirming your personal information.

What You Won’t Like

Fees They Don’t Mention

Now back to the “read the fine print” part. AT&T U-verse really doesn’t mention a lot of important information. In all honesty, you’d probably come across the same issue with other companies too — but there were quite a few one-time fees and other fees that no one mentioned.

Don’t get too carried away by the flashy monthly fees (which are pretty good). Most users won’t focus too much on the additional fees that are not initially mentioned but are omnipresent. So, be smart about it. Read the Terms and Conditions closely before signing up for anything.

Installation Cost — It’s Not Really Free

The only way it’s completely free is if you do it yourself. Otherwise, good luck. If you choose to have AT&T do it for you, be ready to pay $99 for it. You could also just get the All included U-Verse package, which will cost you an entire fortune if you compare it to one of the lower-priced packages.

On the other hand, there are some packages that will waive the installation fee. The odds are those packages won’t be available in your area, unfortunately. So if you don’t want to pay close to three month’s worth of cable for installation, you may want to find someone who has some experience with setting it up. Failure is not an option.

HD Access Conundrum

This one you definitely won’t approve of. You’ll pay $7 a month, and if you have one of the lower-tiered packages, HD is not even available! So why should you pay for it? It just feels like a way for them to upsell. If you have one of those TVs that cover half of your wall, you’re going for HD. Even those with regular TVs would want the real thing.

More Fees

The one-time activation fee for $35? That definitely isn’t cheap. Shouldn’t AT&T include it in the price, especially for the pricier packages?

What if you change your mind? Well, make sure that doesn’t happen. You’re signing a contract for one year (at least!). So, if you get buyer’s remorse, just bear in mind that you’ll have to pay $15 for every month until your contract expires.

The same applies if you decide to change plans. If you want to switch to a different AT&T package (like DIRECTV), they may surprise you with an additional fee.

Also, remember that HD DVR? It is free unless you’re on U-Basic. But no one mentioned that either, did they? The HD receiver is included, but if you want more than one (the maximum you can have is three), be ready to pay more.

Of course, you probably didn’t expect it to be free of charge, but unexpected costs seem to pop up. Aside from that one-time $49 fee, don’t forget there’s a monthly fee too ($10). So if you have a big family and live in a really big house, good luck!

Even More Fees?

What’s a broadcast fee and why are they charging it additionally? It’s not a lot, as it costs only $8, but why do you need to pay for that? Shouldn’t it already be included in the cost?

Apparently, every single cable company would disagree, as this is a way they recover the fee they have to pay to major networks. Should it already be included in the monthly price or charged additionally? That’s a more complex question that’s not necessarily exclusive to AT&T.

Your local or state government will probably have a say there too, as they will add some additional taxes and fees. In all honesty, these fees can vary from one location to the other. In other words, there isn’t an estimate, so just be ready for a few additional dollars there too.

Bottom Line — Is It Worth It?

AT&T U-verse has one of the highest channel counts in the industry. It will cover the needs of your entire family, and it will probably be just what you were looking for. 

You’ll have the HD wireless receiver, which is great. However, you’ll have to pay extra for HD service, which isn’t ideal. The Total Home DVR has four streams, which sounds fantastic. It is also accompanied by plenty of storage space, which you’ll like if you prefer to binge-watch TV shows.

On the other hand, all those additional costs and loopholes seem to be piling up around every corner. Although it does seem like a reasonable price at the beginning, the initial cost of getting started with AT&T U-verse could be over your budget. And you probably won’t notice it either since they don’t mention these fees.

Still, if you exclude that initial cost, which you’ll undoubtedly have with every single company, you definitely have to admit that AT&T U-verse offers good value for money, from the lower-priced packages to the ones that are for those with really big TVs.

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