Roving TV: A Wireless DVR Receiver Experiment

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In a rare lapse the other night, I forgot to skip through the commercials during our nightly viewing of the classic game show Jeopardy. My natural tendency to tune out commercials kicked in, but one ad in particular caught my eye: it showed a television set being whisked around a house, from room to room, like slides in a projector.

“Hey! We have that,” I exclaimed, as I nudged my fiance to look up from his phone at the TV. The commercial touted the features of AT&T’s U-Verse service, and its wireless DVR receiver specifically. We’ve had a wireless receiver for five months but haven’t opted to put it anywhere interesting—it stays put in the bedroom. We’re not paying extra for the gear—it comes with the channel package tier we already pay for. But the set-top box in our bedroom might as well be wired.

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We agreed to try moving the wireless DVR-connected box somewhere more interesting, but couldn’t quite figure out what that place was. The receiver box connects wirelessly to the access point that sits near the router gateway in our living room—that’s where the base station DVR lives. The range of the wireless signal distributed by the access point is approximately 100 feet.

Looking through AT&T’s marketing for this service, it seems that the company expects consumers to use the wireless box in one of several temporary ways: as part of a sports party (like a sports bar; the living room could provide multiple viewing angles for the same TV channel so every seat gets a good view); as a temporary TV in a guest room or basement for house guests; on the porch or patio; and in the kitchen.

Here’s an AT&T commercial where two teens lament the fact that when they were young, they couldn’t watch TV at all when their parents remodeled the TV room. Their spoiled younger siblings get to enjoy the benefit of AT&T’s wireless receiver and can watch TV in the basement while the paint dries upstairs. AT&T has created at least half a dozen commercials in this vein that come up with relatively contrived scenarios for television relocation.

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After reading the convincing and opinionated comments on last month’s post about ways to watch TV outside, I knew I didn’t want to put my secondary TV and wireless box on the patio. The photo at the top of this post shows where we ultimately decided to experiment with mobile wireless DVR watching. 

Our backyard features a one-room structure (we like to call it "the chalet") that has electricity, but pretty much nothing else. Watching Jeopardy in here—perhaps 40 feet from the television in the living room—was novel, but I don’t think we’d do it again. And its hard to imagine a scenario where we’d have to. Back in the bedroom the wireless receiver goes.

The wireless receiver from AT&T has been available for almost a year and a half. Do you have one? If so, what are some interesting ways you’ve taken advantage of it?

(Images: Rachel Rosmarin)

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