Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Usage Charges: The Bane of Internet TV

The Washington Post published an article describing how the FCC is supporting broadband usage charges. This means that you would have to pay on a per megabyte basis. In addition to your monthly fee to Netflix, you would have to pay a fee to  your broadband provider every time you watched a movie.

Now, it is likely that a usage based broadband plan would include some number of megabytes before the usage charges kicked in. However, these allowances will probably only cover a couple of films per month in addition to normal Internet traffic.

Usage charges will be set high enough to make Netflix streaming and other Internet TV services expensive enough to reduce their competitiveness against the broadband provider's own TV offering.

This is a great idea for the broadband providers and a bad idea for us users.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Netflix Accounts for 20% of Internet Traffic

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle said that Netflix accounts for 20% of Internet traffic during the evening hours, the prime time for TV viewing. At this rate Netflix and the other over the top Internet TV providers will dominate Internet trafic. This will have major consequences.

I expect that the broadband service providers, both cable and DSL, will implement usage caps and use other means to limit the use of their networks for over the top TV viewing. They will see Netfflix streaming and the other over the top Internet TV services as swamping their networks without bringing in new revenues. They will also see these streaming services as important competition to their own TV services as more and more people cut the cord.

This will be viewed as a major network neutrality issue and will become quite nasty. Personally, I wish the broadband providers would get over it and install fiber everywhere.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Comcast's Attack on Netflix Streaming

Light Reading has published an article describing how Comcast is forcing Level 3 to pay to deliver Netflix streaming traffic to Comcast broadband customers. This will raise Netflix's costs for delivering streaming video to Comcast customers.

Netflix streaming is a direct competitor to Comcast's own video broadcast and video on demand services. It is using its position as the broadband service supplier to improve its competitive position. Level 3 is calling this a net neutrality issue.

This will work in Comcast's interest in the short run. However, in the long run it will make "cord cutting" more attractive for its broadband customers. Making Netflix more expensive will make it more attractive for its customers to drop its services and move to over the air broadcast TV supplemented with Internet streaming. This will save most customers $100 per month.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Network Problems

In the last week or so I have had difficulty connecting my VBR231 to my WiFi network. I do not know why, but I have noticed that I also have not been able to connect my Nokia N95 phone to my WiFi network at the same time.

The other night it took several attempts before I could connect to the WiFi network. After I was able to connect, Netflix said that the speed of the connection was slow and that I would seed interruptions while viewing the video that I had selected and gave me the option to cancel. I went ahead and had only one very slight interruption.

I assume it is a problem with the network itself. Maybe weather changes are causing it. Maybe the stars and tides are not in alignment. In any case, the WiFi signal is weak in that room in the best of times. A less determined user would give up on Internet TV with this kind of performance.

Monday, October 25, 2010

U.S. TV Networks Backing Cable

The Washington Post published an article today saying that fewer TV shows will be available free over the net. The gist of the article is that the major U.S. TV networks have decided that they can make more money by backing the cable giants than offering advertising supported free content over the web.

I am sure that they are right in the short run. However, these networks no longer control the TV landscape as they did in the past. People are waking up to the fact that they do not have to pay $100 or more per month to the cable and satellite companies for their TV programming. Over the air digital has significantly improved the variety of free content, and the web is providing interesting alternatives such as Netflix streaming.

The quality and variety of these web-based alternatives will only increase in number over time. Netflix is only $10 per month. Other web-based services will emerge that will provide cost-effective alternatives.

The networks should keep this in mind and not give up on web-based delivery so early. In time they will find profitable ways to use web delivery. In fact, having a strong web distribution channel will increase their negotiating power over the cable and satellite companies.

Monday, October 18, 2010 vs. Broadcast TV

On Saturday we watch the first Giants Phillys playoff game. We made it a big family party. We watched the HD (720p) FOX broadcast with a PIP window with the MLB Pitchtrax also on the screen.

The FOX HD broadcast had much better image quality on the TV than the feed. There is no contest. It was also easier to follow the FOX broadcast. It was interesting to watch the Pitchtrax window to see where the pitches were going. The PIP window was small enough that it was a bit difficult to see the Pitchtrax. (Maybe it is time to upgrade from a 42" TV to a 60" unit :-) is great if you cannot get a broadcast feed. It is also an interesting supplement to the broadcast feed. It is not a replacement for the broadcast feed, at least for today.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

VBR231 DVD Quality Problems

I played a favorite DVD the other night - Carlos Saura's Flamenco. The image quality was poor for much of time. Sauras uses a lot of panels behind the musicians and dancers that are lit with bright colors. These scenes produced a fringe around the people similar to what you seen in a 3D movie without glasses. It was pretty distracting.

Other scenes that did not used these lit, colored panels were fine. Other DVDs we have watched have been fine. I think it is a problem with the way Vizio up scales the DVD to HD. It appears to be confused by the lit panels of unusual colors.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fourth MLB Playoff Game

We watched the fourth Giants MLB playoff game. Giants won!

Used the same approach as before with two feeds, one embedded in the other. Worked fine with a minimum of synchronization problems. We are getting used to it and found this approach was OK when listening to the live radio feed, which was about 30 seconds ahead.

The MLB streaming is a fine way to watch a game if it is the only thing available. The Championship games start on Saturday and will be broadcast on a channel that is available over the air to that. I expect we will watch that rather than the MLB streaming feed. I will let you know how I feel about the difference after I watch one of those games.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Game 3

We watched the third Giants/Braves playoff game yesterday. We are figuring out how to use MLB streaming TV. The HD download really improved the video quality - no  more smearing or pixelization. However, the HD software introduced a 45 second delay between the video stream and the live radio broadcast, which made the radio unusable.

The HD software also significantly increased the delay between the windows in the four feed display. One of the feeds was also shown with low resolution and a lot of smearing and pixelization. It was too distracting. We went to a PIP two stream display with the primary stream filling the screen and the second screen shown in a smaller window in the upper left hand corner. We used the Pitchtrax feed as the primary window and the home plate feed as the secondary window. This allowed us to follow the plays pretty well.

The two windows were reasonably well synchronized and had to be resynchronized only once. Generally the audio feed was about one second ahead of the Pitchtrax screen and the Home Plate feed was a couple of seconds behind, which made for a reasonable experience.

With this approach, the MLB TV streaming is still not as good as the broadcast but has become a reasonable way to follow the game.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Playoffs Game 2

We watched the Giants second game last night. I tried another graphics card driver on my laptop to no avail. It still crashes connected to the TV using HDMI. I did run the video for a couple hours on this machine without the HDMI connection, so it appears to be a hardware/driver problem with the HDMI interface.

We watched using four camera feeds - center field, home base, first base, and third base. This was enough to be able to see all of the action, at least most of the time. We tried the Pitchtrax view for a while, but gave up because it was distracting. Pitchtrax shows the arc of the ball and the pitch placement relative to the strike zone.

We got tired of the audio feed and turned on the local KNBR radio broadcast that we prefer. We prefer their audio feed. The problem is that the streamed video is delayed by about 10 seconds, so that the radio feed "gave us a view of the future". This lack of synchronization was rather distracting.

The four streamed windows lost synchronization. You would see the action happen in one window a bit before you would see in in another window. I could bring them back together by refreshing the window. Again, this was rather annoying.

I just found that I can get higher resolution video with a download. I have downloaded it and tested it. It seems to work  fine. I will have more to say after tomorrows game.

Friday, October 8, 2010

MLB TV Day One

Watched a great game with an amazing 1-0 win by Lincecum and the Giants. The MLB streaming experience was clearly inferior to a TV broadcast. I needed to have four windows up to follow the action because MLB does not switch cameras to where the action is. With four screens it was hard to follow and occasionally one of the screens would get out of synch with the others. The image quality was marginal. Lots of smearing and pixelization. This was quite noticeable on the TV.

My laptop gave the best presentation because it provided full screen. However, it would crash after 15 minutes or so and was really unusable. My wife's laptop never crashed but it did not have the full screen option. This meant that the windows were smaller. One advantage to this is that I could use the TV's PIP to bring up a broadcast window along with the four MLB window. A real multitasking opportunity.

After one game, I would say that I would abandon MLB TV for a commercial broadcast at first opportunity.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Streaming MLB Playoffs

Our San Francisco Giants made it to the playoffs and will be playing the Atlanta Braves today. The playoffs are being broadcast only on a cable/satellite channel, so we will not be able to see them. We subscribed to the MLB playoff screening for $9.95, which gives access to all of the playoff games with no blackouts. A pretty good deal - about the price of one beer at the ballpark. The MLB service lets me select up to four camera feeds simultaneously, which should provide an interesting experience.

I am going to connect my laptop to my TV and watch the games on the TV. It will be interesting to see how this goes. I know that my laptop freezes when streaming to the TV. I expect that this is due to a faulty driver. I am not sure how to isolate this problem and would appreciate any suggestions.

I will let you know how this works out.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Noisy Drive

One slight annoyance with the VBR231 is that you can hear the drive spinning when you are watching from a disk. Our previous DVD player was absolutely quiet. This is not a major issue, but it is a slightly bothersome.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Netflix vs. Vudu

I made an ad hoc comparison of the content available from Netflix and Vudu. We went through a whole bunch of Vudu titles, watched some trailers, and selected videos we might want to watch. I then went back to Netflix and selected these titles. I added those to my Instant Queue that were available from streaming and added the rest to my DVD queue.
  • We identified 35 videos that we were interested in.
  • Of these 35, 10 were available for streaming on Netflix.
  • We added 24 to our DVD queue
  • There was one video on Vudu that was not in the Netflix database. It was not even available to Save as a future request when the DVD becomes available.
The video that was not available on Netflix was a Japanese film called "Saiduweizu(Sideways)", which is a rmake of the U.S. film Sideways with Japanese characters. We watched it last night and enjoyed it. It had softer edges than the original film.

The advantage of Vudu is that it gives you streaming access to films that are available only via DVDs from Netflix. This is typical of a Video on Demand vs. a Subscription on Demand service. We like video, but there are plenty of interesting films available from Netflix. I expect that Netflix will be our mainstay and that we will use Vudu only on occasion.

Does AT&T Throttle Video Traffic

I am beginning to wonder if AT&T is throttling video traffic to manage congestion on its broadband network.

Last night we started a Vudu video about 6:30 PM. It kept interrupting the stream with the Buffering message. We finally gave up and tried a half hour TV video from Netflix. Netflix ran into the same problem. We gave up and went back to broadcast TV. Since this problem hit both Vudu and Netflix it was not likely to be a Vudu problem.

I went to my PC and checked what was happening on the network. There was nothing wrong with my WiFi network that I could find and there was no significant traffic on my broadband link. I could see nothing with the limited tools at my disposal that showed any problems on either.

About an hour later we went back and watched the streamed Netflix TV program. It worked OK with only one interruption for Buffering. After we finished the video, we went back to the Vudu film and were able to complete it. There were a lot of Buffering interruptions during the first half hour or so, but they stopped as time went by.

I am beginning to wonder if AT&T is throttling video traffic to maintain the quality of service for its broadband data and VoIP services. This makes sense from their point of view, but does not bode well for those of us who are depending on their Internet connection for TV programming.

I am going to watch this and would be interested in hearing if anybody else is having similar problems. If there enough of us, we should complain to the California Public Utilities Commission and the FCC.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vudu Restart Works!

The first time that I tried to pause a Vudu film, the VBR231 hung and I had to power cycle it to get it working again. In that case, Vudu did not remember where I was in the film and I had to search to get there.

Yesterday, Vudu said that it could not continue showing the film. The VBR231 did not crash. When I went back to Vudu, it remembered where I was and restarted the film at that point.

It appears that the Vudu restart works as long as the VBR231 behaves itself.

Network Problems

Yesterday evening I had problems with the WiFi network connection to the VBR231. At first I could not establish a connection. After some fiddling I got a connection but Vudu would not work due to a network connection problem. Vudu started working, but I started to get "buffering" messages and finally Vudu gave up.

I then went to Netflix and watched a half hour TV program with no problems. I then went back to Vudu and restarted the movie that was interrupted earlier and was able to watch it without further problems.

I don't know what the problem was. I guess that it was a problem with my WiFi. The signal in the room with the VBR231 is not strong, and maybe something happened that brought it below an operational threshold.

Problems like this will turn less technically inclined people off to this service. It would help if the VBR231 would tell the user when the WiFi is getting weak or even make a recommendation to move to powerline Ethernet.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Vudu vs. Netflix

We have now used both Netflix streaming and Vudu and have been talking about our strategy for using both of these services. Netflix is a subscription on demand service, so we can stream as many films as we want for a fixed monthly price. Vudu is a video on demand service, so we have to pay for each film that we watch.

Vudu seems to have newer releases available than Netflix, however, I think that all of the films available by streaming from Vudu are available as disks (delivered through the mail) from Netflix. It appears that the Netflix streaming content is older or less popular.

The one thing we liked on Vudu was the ability to view trailers to get a feel for the movie before selecting it. We may use the Vudu trailers to help us select movies for our Netflix queue.

We think that we will use Netflix as our primary content provider and supplement it from time to time with Vudu. There are plenty of interesting films available for streaming on Netflix. Netflix's fixed monthly price makes it more cost effective than Vudu, at least for us.


We watched Vudu for the first time. We have about two weeks to go to use up our free credit of $15.

Neither the HDX (1080p) or HD levels of content would work for me. I have a 6 mbps AT&T ADSL connection that was not up to the task. HDX requires 4.5 mbps to 9 mbps. The DVD player started buffering content a few seconds into the film and started buffering again after showing only a few seconds more. At the HD level, we got about 1min.50 secs. into the two minute free test period before it started buffering.

We went to the SD level and had no further problems. The SD level is less expensive than the HD or HDX levels, so we saved some money. The quality was certainly adequate and did not detract from the film. My guess is that Vudu's SD quality is a bit better than Netflix streaming quality.

The Blu-ray player lost its WiFi connection during the movie. It reconnected in less than one minute and there was enough buffering that it did not interrupt the showing of the film. This was the only time that I have seen the Blu-ray player lose its WiFi connection once it has been established for any content.

We did have one problem. We paused the film using the pause button on the Blu-ray player. We then saw a message on the TV saying that it had lost contact with Vudu. We could not restart the movie. I powered the Blu-ray player off and powered it back on. I went back to Vudu and reselected the film. The film did not restart at the point where it was stopped (as Netflix does, at least most of the time). I skipped forward until I found the point where we paused the film and then restarted it.

We did like the ability that Vudu gives you to watch trailers. This is a nice tool for selecting films.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ratings for the Vizio VBR231 Blu-ray Player

Here are my current thoughts on how the Vizio VBR231 stacks up:

  • Playing Blu-ray disks: quality very good, but there is no display showing how long the disk has played.
  • Playing DVDs: quality good, but there is no display showing how long the disk has played.
  • Network setup: D due to requirement to support Shared WEP
  • Network operation: B+ connects immediately except when running a file backup across the WiFi network.
  • Service Availability: B+ due to limited set of applications supported; however Netflix streaming and Pandora are very good.
  • Service set up: A very easy
  • Service operation: A easy to use
Over all I am very happy with the unit , especially at the $150 price point that includes WiFi. I think that Vizio has some work to do on the WiFi support so that it fits more easily into home networks. At a minimum, Vizio should support Open WEP.

We are watching or listening to streamed content nearly every day. It is a great supplement when we cannot find anything interesting the broadcast channels. I think that Internet streaming to the TV will become an important outlet for video content over time. It will be something that the Pay TV providers have to include in their offering. I think that Internet streaming to the TV will bring the cost of Pay TV down as more people "cut the cord" as I have done and replace Pay TV services with a combination of broadcast and Internet streaming content.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Telco IPTV View: Networking the Vizio VBR231 Blu-ray Player

Telco IPTV View: Networking the Vizio VBR231 Blu-ray Player

I couldn't find the manual either. I found the manual for the VBR220 to be close enough. You can find it at:


USB Media Port

The VBR231 has a USB port on the front. You can insert an USB memory into it. If you have .jpg photos or MP3's on the USB memory, you can play them on your TV using DVD player. You can set up a slide show with the .jpg's or play the MP3s by selecting them from a menu.

This works fine and is easy to use, assuming that you can find your way around the menus. The DVD has no capability for rotating photos into the correct orientation. You can do that using the Windows Explorer on a PC before inserting the USB memory into the DVD.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blu-ray disk

We watched our first Blu-ray disk yesterday - Quantum of Solace. Video quality definitely better than a DVD. We were watching on a 42" Vizio LCD TV. I think the experience would have something on a really large screen.

The dynamic range of the audio seems to be quite a bit larger than a DVD. We had to lower the volume during the chases and other noisy parts and raise it in the quiet parts. I am sure that other viewers will like the dynamic range.

It also seemed that the processing delays on the Blu-ray disk were longer than on a DVD. Not a significant issue.

The improved video quality of the Blu-ray disks together with the streaming capabilities of the VBR231 make it well worth the $150 we spent on it, at least for us.

Networking Problems Resolved

The VBR231 now locks on to the WiFi network right after it is turned on. It is doing this quite reliably. I do not notice any networking problems when I stream videos. My laptop is now in the same room and shows "Excellent Signal Strength" and an available speed of 24 Mbps, so there is some degradation. This seems to be more than adequate.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Netflix Browsing

I found out how to browse Netflix's library of streaming titles from the TV. You press the up arrow on the remote and then the right or left arrows to select a category. If you select a video, it displays a description. You can then start it up if you want to see what it is about.

Vudu Services

I have started using the Vudu service. It includes Vudu for video on demand. It supports a number of services that include Facebook, Twitter, flickr, Picasa, Associated Press, New York Times, Weather, Wikipedia, and Stock Tracker. 

I like the videos available from the New York Times website. They are interesting and informative. The AP text  posts are also interesting.


The VBR231 has had trouble initially linking up to the WiFi network after powering up. It won't connect and the user interface becomes sluggish. After powering it off and on again, it will connect immediately.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Preliminary Ratings for the Vizio VBR231 Blu-ray Player

Here are my initial thoughts on how the Vizio VBR231 stacks up:
  • Playing Blu-ray disks:    not yet rated
  • Playing DVDs:              not yet rated
  • Network setup:             D due to requirement to support Shared WEP
  • Network operation:       C due to connection difficulties that have not been resolved yet
  • Service Availability:       B due to limited set of applications supported
  • Service set up:              A  very easy
  • Service operation:         A easy to use
Over all I am happy with the unit for my purposes, especially at the $150 price point that includes WiFi. I think that Vizio has some work to do on the WiFi support so that it fits more easily into home networks. At a minimum, Vizio should support Open WEP.

Vizio VBR231 Blu-ray Over the Top Service

The Vizio supports Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, and media viewing.

Netflix is easy to use and to set up. When you start it gives you a code that you enter into the Netflix website. Once you do that, the Netflix menu appears. You add videos to the Instant queue in Netflix and these videos are displayed on your TV through the VBR231. You then select the video that you want to watch and it starts up. You can pause and restart videos at any time. If you interrupt a video it will give you the option to restart it at that point when you watch it again.

Pandora has a similar set up interface. It gives you a code that you enter into Pandora's website. You then can set up "stations" based on the kinds of music you like. You can set up stations from the TV or from your computer. I set up a Miles Davis station and Pandora did a pretty good job selecting music.

I have not done anything with Vudu. I did test putting a USB memory into the USB slot on the front of the Vizio but have not tested playing any media this way.

The player also supports BD-Live that provides online content in conjunction with a Blu-ray disk. I have not tested this feature yet.

Networking the Vizio VBR231 Blu-ray Player

I was apparently able to get the WiFi on the Vizo Blu-ray player up right away. I started to stream a movie. The first sign of a problem was that it complained about the speed of the network connection. I watched the video for about 10 minutes without a problem.

I then started to explore other features. I started using Pandora and found that it would not reliably stream audio. Later on, I found that the Vizio would not maintain a WiFi connection.

Yesterday morning I read the manual and noticed that the Vizio supports only Shared WEP. I changed my WiFi router to shared WEP. The Vizio connected to the WiFi easily after that and maintained stable connections.

Shared WEP provides an inferior level of security and Windows 7 will let you use it only by making a manual connection. I had to do this for both of our computers. The Microsoft Help screens were not accurate and it took me a while to figure out how to do it.

Yesterday afternoon I had trouble establishing a WiFi connection. I think it was because a file backup operation was saturating the WiFi network. After I interrupted the backup, I had no trouble establishing a stable connection and was able to watch a video for about 40 minutes. The video started quickly and streamed without any problems. Video quality was good, it seemed to be better than streaming directly from a laptop.

Vizio VBR231 Blu-ray with Over the Top Support

Last Saturday we saw the Vizio VBR231 Blu-ray player at Costco (a large warehouse retail operation) for $150 for the first time. It supports Netflix streaming and includes WiFi support. This was $75 less than a similar Sony unit that Costco has carried for a while. We bought it.

When we got the VBR231 home it would not power on. I was able to reach Vizio's support Sunday morning and after trying a few things, she said that I should return it. I took it back to Costco on Sunday and the new one worked. It played a DVD just fine.

Watching Netflix on the TV using the Laptop

We watched four or five videos streamed from Netflix using the computer. The first couple worked fine. Image quality was significantly below what we experience from DVD's and from over the air digital broadcast. However, the convenience factor was strong enough overcome the degraded image quality. The last two we watched caused the laptop to lock up and crash after between 10 to 30 minutes. This required a reboot and was very annoying. Most people would have given up after one or two crashes and decided that using a computer to stream Netflix just did not work.

This soured us on the experience and we did not go back to it. I would rate our viewing experience as a D due to the crash. I would rate the quality a C+.

Connecting the TV to the Laptop

The first challenge was to connect our Gateway laptops to the TV. We bought an inexpensive six foot HDMI cable on Amazon.

Our laptops are now two years old and were delivered with Vista. We upgraded to Windows 7 as soon as it came out last October. We experienced a lot of instability with Vista, especially on my wife's computer. She uses Kodak EasyShare to manage her extensive photo library. EasyShare is pretty unstable and would take Vista down frequently, too often corrupting the file system. Windows 7 has been much more stable. It catches the EasyShare failures without crashing or corrupting the file system.

I did have a disk failure a month or so after upgrading to Windows 7. I made a clean Windows 7 install at that time without first loading Gateway's Vista first. I then loaded all of the drivers that Gateway said I should use. However, the sound card driver that I loaded did not support the HDMI interface. This left this computer able to display video on the TV but without audio.

I had a difficult time getting Gateway to address this problem. The standard answer was that I had to go back and load Gateway's Vista on the computer and test it that way. They would not address problems with Windows 7. I even got this useless answer from the paid support group I had signed up with to solve my disk problems last December. Pretty disappointing.

I kept after them via their email support and after a number of iterations they sent me a new audio driver that solved the problem. This audio driver included an HDMI option. The only problem is that I would have to go into the Control Panel every time I wanted to watch a video on the TV and select the HDMI driver. I would then have to change it back when I was not through. This is OK for a geek like me, but not for my wife or any other ordinary consumer.

I would rate this set up process a D- because I came close to giving up. My wife's computer had this driver already loaded on it, so I would rate the set up as a C on her computer. I would rate the operation a C on both computers because it is necessary to manually change the sound settings.

Netflix the Driver

We had given up our Netflix subscription for about two years because we were not watching the DVDs we received. They would come and sit around the house for months. (Netflix is the US web-based service that sends out requested DVDs using postal mail. The DVDs are selected using a web interface. It was a natural extension of the Netflix service to offer over the top, Internet delivered streaming video delivery as well as postal delivery.)

The availability of streamed delivery over the Internet that would allow us to select a movie to watch immediately was a major factor in attracting us back to Netflix. We could buy a DVD player, a DVR, or a special set top box that supports the Netflix streaming service. Our laptops have HDMI interfaces and could support the Netflix streaming service as well.

We decided to start with our laptops. That would provide a good feasibility test, especially for our WiFi network.

New Over the Top Emphasis

I stopped following the Telco IPTV market last year when I retired and closed down TelecomView. I have maintained an interest in over the top IPTV services and have started using it myself. I will now use this blog to document my experiences.

I cut the cable and converted to over the air broadcast services several years ago. I have been pleased by the variety of digital channels that are available here in San Francisco and see no need to pay $100 per month or more for a cable or satellite service, especially when I can get HD broadcasts from the major networks for free.

I did want to subscribe to AT&T's U-verse IPTV service. Microsoft even offered to pay for my subscription since I was an analyst covering this space. However, the City of San Francisco and AT&T reached an impasse that caused AT&T to decide not to offer U-verse in San Francisco. Given the size of the remotes required, I cannot blame the city for objecting. At this point I would not put the money out for the service, even if I could get it.

I will follow this post with others that discuss my experience with bringing video services to my TV over the Internet.