Early IPTV Uses Only a Little of Its Fat Pipe

'PIP Browsing'

The attractive, Microsoft-developed programming guide in U-verse looks similar to those you may have seen on Comcast and TiVo systems, but it includes some thoughtful additions: A picture-in-picture (PIP) box runs in the corner, showing you what is playing on the channel that you're currently browsing in the guide. On several occasions, however, that PIP grew extremely jittery. Our host said he'd noticed this problem numerous times since his U-verse was installed.

Once you've selected a channel, you can work with U-verse's "PIP Browsing" keys to browse other channels without leaving the one you're on. Browse one way, and the next channel shows up in the PIP box in the corner; underneath it is a little bar showing you the time already expired in the current show on that channel. This helps you avoid switching over to a show that's almost over. Pretty cool.

Microsoft took pains to make changing from one channel to the next "instantaneous." Though it's not quite there--you experience a lag of about half a second before the next channel appears--as with FiOS, changing channels on U-verse is appreciably faster than on standard cable systems.

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