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Showing posts with the label WOW

"Comcast Follies", or "I Guess We're Keeping WOW! Internet"

It's been slow going at the AAAD residence, as we've tried out a half-dozen TV/internet/phone providers over the first seven months we've been in the new house. We finally seem to have hit on the right "unbundled" combination: DirecTV's HR34 "genius" box for TV/DVR AT&T standard, basic phone service (VOIP was unable to play nicely with our security system) ...and Comcast cable internet, at least during its six-month introductory rate.   or, at least I THOUGHT that's how it would work. I wasn't really expecting Comcast to utterly fail to install internet service to a single-family home in a Chicago suburb. And yet, that's precisely what happened. 

Brinks is Broadview is ADT - Our Adventures in Home Security

As I mentioned in my last post, it has been a bit of a trick to get our Brinks security system working with our WOW UltraTV VOIP phone system. We only have one "phone jack" in the house, and that's the primary UltraTV box. So for now, we have a bit of a jerry-rigged situation with a phone line running through the house connecting the Brinks box to the UltraTV system. It also seems that, in recent years, there has been some serious consolidation in the home security world - Brinks installed this system when our home was built in 2008, and since then, they've been purchased at least once. Now, the only game in town is ADT. ADT can make our system work over a regular phone line for $29.99 - or they can make it work over a cell signal, for the cost of a new system ($99.99) plus a monthly charge of $44.99. I'm going with option 1. Option 2 does have its advantages, though - a newer security system could be armed and monitored via iOS, which is kind of o

Review: Three Days with WOW Ultra TV (UPDATE: Now with Photo/Video)

Ultra TV Grid Guide It took a couple of days and a half-dozen false starts, but after getting the primary box replaced, we have a fully operational Ultra TV setup. We are going to keep it for at least a few months. Here is the rundown: 1. Install was a bit of a trial. We have a very new home, so this shouldn't have been a wiring issue... But for the first couple of days, WOW simply could get high definition to work. They'd reset the box remotely (or I'd unplug it), HD would work for a couple minutes, and then a black screen and a "Signal Loss Detected" error message. We got a box replacement, and a $10 statement credit. Fair enough! 2. The channel lineup is a bit on the slight side . It's not bad, mind you - but there's no way to get NFL/NHL/NBA networks, no Bravo HD (SD only, which is just odd...) and a number of channels I'd expect to see in "basic" are on the "signature" tier, which I don't get. We also woul

Assessing Project 1 After Move-In

Well, that wasn't easy. But the move is (mostly) done. We'll be unpacking our boxes for some time, but our house is starting to feel like our house . Except that home theater. It's barely even started. (I'll add pictures later tonight.) After a weekend of false starts, WOW! Ultra TV is now up and running, and I'll have a full review ASAP. In the meantime, we're dealing with a few Project 1 issues that are going to take some problem-solving. 1. There's no easy way to get HDMI cabling to the TV . The living room features a fantastic fireplace, with built-in shelves on either side, pre-wired for a TV to be placed on (or hang above) the mantel over the fireplace. But that wiring is part of the problem. We have a power outlet, and a coax connection - this would have been ideal even 10 years ago, but it's completely inadequate for what we're planning - I need a minimum of 4 HDMI cables between the TV and my various components. (We could attempt ONE H

One Day More - Packing for the Move (And More about Apple)

We close tomorrow afternoon, and we'll be furiously packing today, and furiously unpacking on Friday. I'll probably be occupied with moving through the weekend.  Starting Friday, Project 1 kicks into gear. While it will be a series of "good-enough" half-measures at the start, we should be able to review WOW Ultra TV by Saturday, and (if I get the coding right) have a static page for Project 1 (Home Theater) started shortly thereafter, which will have photos of the space and a mockup of what the final design will look like, a checklist of items to be completed, and links to the various posts detailing each stage of the project.  In other news: The Apple Store is now selling the Nest Thermostat .  I love the look of this thing, but it's the functionality that sets it apart. It's iOS controllable, and completely self-learning and programming. Plus, it looks like a Star Trek control panel for your house.  Sony sells their 3D glasses on the

Project 1: It's WOW! Ultra TV. Now off to Monoprice for HDMI.

After some deliberation, we went with WOW for all three services - cable/internet/phone. At least at the outset. I'm eventually going to go with DirecTV - probably this summer - but I don't want it installed until we have a better understanding of where the dish would go. (Potentially, on the pergola we're going to be building off the back of the house.) Despite the odd holes in the channel lineup, UltraTV does have some serious advantages, and I'm looking forward to providing a full write-up after it's installed next week. Now, it's time to start looking at how all this stuff is going to work together. At the outset, we won't have our built-in shelving to the left and right of the fireplace. That's going to come later. For now, we're working with the same AV cabinet we've used for the last few years, which will sit to the left of the fireplace. The space above the fireplace has a power outlet, and a cable connection. No HDMI. Off to M

Project 1 - One Week Until Close, Let's Talk TV Mounts

At the moment, I'm strongly leaning towards WOW for all services, at least initially. Primarily because I'd like to see the new house in person for a few days, and plan out how a DirecTV dish could (or should not) be attached, prior to having an installer show up. Were it not for the installation issue, I'd be going with DirecTV and WOW in an unbundled group. Regardless, WOW works without contracts, so I should be able to make that change if/when we choose - (have to confirm that the $70 phone/internet is available to current customers as well as new customers, however... or it's back to Comcast as a "new" customer.)  With one week to go, our energies are strongly focused on fixing up the city condo - got to make it nice for our tenants. Painting all the walls, filling nail holes, that sort of thing.  However, it's also time to talk about TV mounting and installation .  We have a Sony gorilla glass 55" LED TV. It basically looks like

Unbundled - DirecTV with Comcast (or WOW) Internet

As a satellite television provider, DirecTV is more or less unable to provide broadband to its customers directly. Sure, they occasionally advertise bundles with AT&T, but that would be for DSL - a workable solution, but still, an internet solution which  advertises speeds that are between 1/10 and 1/5 as fast as what we can get from the cable internet providers. (DirecTV's website has other internet-providing partners listed, but they aren't in the Chicago area.)  When I called DirecTV about the AT&T bundles I'd seen online, they had absolutely no idea what the bundle pricing would be and told me I'd have to work with AT&T directly. And, a quick look around the net indicates that this "bundle" isn't much more than 2 companies working in complete separation. I can build that kind of bundle myself! In yesterday's post, I weighed WOW's UltraTV offering against Comcast XFinity's Triple Play. Similar offerings, similar pri

Who plays nicer with Apple: Comcast or WOW?

9 days until our move, and we'd like to hit the ground running. I can't imagine the family will be too excited about going without TV or internet or phone for a few days while I sort things out, so I suppose it's time to make one of the most important decisions a new homeowner will face. Who will be our cable provider? We've been Comcast customers for years. Here in Chicago, they've had good service offerings, and have usually managed to keep us around by sweetening their deal just enough to make switching seem like a chore. But when you're moving, everything is a chore! May as well weigh our options. We need to cover three services here: TV, Internet, and Phone. I'm currently paying Comcast about $150 for a single TV, with HBO (I bring my own TiVo so I'm not currently paying for DVR service), 20 Mbps internet (which seems to top out around 14 Mbps in the city over wifi), and unlimited nationwide home phone. In the suburbs, we'd li