Tag: TV

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There’s Philo Coal in My Christmas Stocking

I didn’t last long with streaming startup Philo. At 3:37 p.m. PST today, I purchased a gift subscription for six-months of discounted service. By 4:43 p.m., Philo acknowledged my cancellation (without refund, incidentally). I deserve some blame for not choosing the 7-day trial first. But the features are so modern and channel selection so perfect, I didn’t want to miss out the Holiday sale available since at least Black Friday. Besides, I had pondered Philo for nearly two weeks, all while brain-vacuuming professional reviews that offered little less than praise. Nowhere did I read, and perhaps carelessly missed, the dealbreaker: Cough. Cough. Streaming caps at 720p. Say what?

We live in the early era of 4K, which video quality I didn’t expect from Philo. But I fully anticipated watching 1080p on my Pixelbook or days-old Roku Ultra. As expressed, with flaming antagonism, in a requested cancellation reason emailed back to Philo: “I never imagined that streaming quality would be limited to 720p, which is jarring on my 43-inch TV…I hugely regret spending $99 for six months. Ho. Ho. Ho. Bah Humbug. There’s Philo coal in my Christmas stocking”. 

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U-verse, You Suck

Yesterday, as part of third quarterly earnings,  AT&T reported losing 385,000 traditional TV service subscribers—134,000 of them from U-verse. When the company later announces Q4 results, I will be among the next group of losses; for unexpected reason.

One week ago, I lamented giving up U-verse, after being an early adopter (February 2008) and long-time subscriber. Now my mood is “good riddance” and “please let the door swat you in the ass on the way out”. I have rarely seen such horrendous customer service, and if it’s typical, AT&T’s attrition-rate may be more about corporate culture than competition or cord-cutting. 

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Celebrating My AT&T U-verse Death with MTV Live

As I write, Glastonbury 2017 airs on MTV Live—the channel once called Paladia. It’s like AT&T U-verse is sending a goodbye gift ahead of my impending service cancellation. Yeah, I will miss you, too.

The Wilcox household subscribed to the IPTV and Internet service soon as it was available, in February 2008. Despite a couple interruptions along the way, as I tried Cox and cord-cutting, we have enjoyed U-verse—why we returned after foolishly cancelling. Was that twice? Or three times? We get too much value and that despite relatively modest Net throughput, 50Mbps, compared to competitors. But we’re moving households, about five blocks away, and U-verse isn’t available. WTF? It’s the same neighborhood! 

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We’re Just Being Human, Mr. Spock

No fictional character influenced my youth more than Mr. Spock. I identified with the Vulcan’s cool, calculating ways, and adopted analytical attitudes that pushed back emotions. That’s still true as an adult. Surely I am not alone. You, too? That’s my reaction to news today about the passing of Leonard Limoy, at age 83.

In viewing “The Original Series” on Netflix, Star Trek looks a little hokey to me now. The series is heavily influenced by Sixties television era’s demands, which pounded the octagon-shaped TOS into a square action-drama-method hole. Consider the color of the uniforms and panels around the bridge, which surely fit in with NBC Peacock’s broadcasting “In Living Color”. Gene Roddenberry’s “Wagon Train to the Stars” is entertainment-period formulaic, which looks so unsophisticated now. Nevertheless, the science fiction storytelling was groundbreaking for the time, and transcends many of the imposed constraints. 

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Cox Flex Watch Temps Me More

Anywhere from two to three times a week, Cox sends offers to join Flex Watch, which would add $19.99 to my $59.99 Internet service. The cable company guarantees the price for 12 months—no contract—and would provide HD set-top box with access to local networks and some premium, subscription channels. Last year’s offer: HBO and Starz. Last month’s adds Encore. This week, Cox sweetens by tempting with Cinemax and Flix for just $5 more.

The HD box and local channel access doesn’t tempt the slightest. Cox would have to rewire our setup to enable access from the living room, but I’m a believer in the “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to networking. I’ve got 120Mbps Internet pumping down to the bedroom, where there is no TV, and don’t want to risk mucking up what we’ve got. But I am tempted to pay $19.99, or $24.99, for the subscription channels and stream to the tellie content in their apps—which I find offer better experience and more options. But does that cross the line? Is it still cord-cutting? 

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Just When I Cut the Cord, Cox Pulls Me Back In

In July, connected TV service went dark in the Wilcox household, as we pulled the plug on AT&T U-verse and switched to Cox Internet. That reduced our monthly bill from about $130 to $59.99 exactly; there are no taxes or surcharges applied to the Net. Now Cox tempts with a compelling offer: Add local channels and HBO or STARZ, with no-cost HD set-top box for another $9.99 month. Installation is free, and there is no contract. Price is good for 12 months. Should we?

Cox promises 44 channels, plus either of the premium channels (I want HBO). But, realistically, that means 10, since we only watch HD, plus the “Game of Thrones” channel. We already receive five over the air using a Mohu Leaf 50 HDTV antenna, which I have to review. 

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Conan O’Brien Should Out-Fox NBC

NBC’s reasoning for bringing back Jay Leno to late-night TV is baffling. I now understand why TV programming is rife with dumb-ass decisions: The people making them.

Here’s the basic story: Last year, Conan O’Brien replaced Jay Leno as host of the Tonight Show as planned. But then NBC gave Leno his own show at 10 p.m., preempting Conan by 95 minutes, five nights a week. NBC figured Leno could carry the timeslot, saving boatloads of money otherwise spent on producing dramatic programming. Whoops, Leno couldn’t deliver the ratings, and NBC affiliates complained they were losing local news viewers at 11 p.m. The solution isn’t rocket science: Can Leno.

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Movie Time

About a month ago, we switched out the Windows Media Center PC for a TiVo. Of course, what good is a TiVo without a TV to connect to? Quite good, it turns out. Rather than go back to a PC, we returned to a projector.

I shopped around before buying the projector, for which the sale of the Dell Media Center PC paid. Choice—and not the best, but appropriate for the family’s budget: Optoma MovieTime DV10. The picture quality isn’t nearly as wow as I expected, but the overall big-screen experience is more than good enough. No means is it perfect, but perfection we demand spending heaps more money. MovieTime sells for $999. 

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’24’

Jack’s back, and I’m waiting for my daughter to turn over the Windows Media Center PC. I watched 17 nail-biting minutes of “24” before relinquishing the Media Center so that she could watch (again) movie “Castle in the Sky“, which I recorded the other night on Turner Movie Classics. I’ve got to say that a Xbox 360 would come in handy right about now to stream her movie to the TV in her bedroom.

Best running commentary on “24” episodes goes to Dave Barry. And his humor is sharp as tacks tonight as in real time he pokes at every nail-biting twist and turn. I highly recommend Dave’s blog. By the way, Internet Explorer 7’s security features warn that Dave Barry’s blog is a “Suspicious Website”. Ha. How true! 

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Frak That

The second season of “Battlestar Galactica” closed with a major letdown on Friday. I suppose it’s really the end of the first season, cut in two. Series typically air about 24 shows per season, which is almost Battlestar Galactica’s count after two, uh, seasons.

The miniseries launching the series is a marvel. The show captures a quality, a flow of good storytelling that transcended anything else on television. The first season (OK, half season) delivers excellent entertainment and, again, some smart storytelling. Acting, direction, sets, special effects, the drama all are exceptional.