Early IPTV Uses Only a Little of Its Fat Pipe

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Untapped Potential

Unfortunately, U-verse fails to go much farther than that. U-verse does let you easily build "Favorites"--pages in the programming guide with all your favorite channels. You'll also find it easy to block channels or programs that you don't want members of the family to watch.

We weren't impressed with U-verse's ability to "learn" our viewing habits and to suggest titles we might like. There's certainly no reason why IPTV services can't compile "Top 50 most-watched" and Amazon-style "If you liked X, you might also like Y" lists to help bored viewers out, but U-verse doesn't offer anything of the kind.

You can type in whole or partial names of shows, actors/actresses, or subject matter, to search for programs that match. We tried searching with all three types of keywords, and got relevant results for each, though U-verse Search begins searching automatically before you can finish entering your keyword, forcing you to wait for what seems like an eternity before the system acknowledges the rest of the characters. It's annoying.

U-verse uses a Motorola set-top DVR with a 160GB hard drive capable of storing 24 hours of HD or 120 hours of standard-def TV. U-verse doesn't yet offer a DVR that allows you to watch shows that were recorded on the set-top box in the living room elsewhere in the home.

The U-verse remote control contains an intriguing button marked "Go Interactive," but for now the button is dead. AT&T says that it will soon bring up personalized weather, traffic, and sports information. This seems emblematic of U-verse TV and FiOS today: The potential for some wonderful IP-based personalization and interactivity features exists, but that potential has yet to be realized.

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