Xbox 360s Will Become AT&T U-Verse Receivers

Starting Friday, Xbox 360 owners who watch TV through AT&T U-Verse will be able to consolidate their “set-top boxes” into one, because the Xbox 360 will act as a TV receiver and DVR.

AT&T and Microsoft announced the setup will take a $99 kit and a service visit. But the functionality will eliminate the box rental fee, so the star-up cost will be offset eventually.

While we’re on the top of “set-top boxes,” now that more than half of homes are equipped with wafer-thing HDTVs that can’t hold a pair of dice — much less a bulky cable box — can we get rid of the term?

AT&T Extends TV Watching to More Devices with Launch of U-verse TV on Xbox 360 [AT&T]

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  1. Alvis says:

    This does not eliminate the need for an AT&T box. The 360 can act as an ADDITIONAL receiver, but not the only one.

  2. c!tizen says:

    so now when it RROD’s you lose cable and recorded shows too, good thinking guys!

    • Mike says:

      Come on not all XBOX 360s have the RROD of death. Take me for example, after three and a half years of ownership I am only on my seventh, yes seventh XBOX 360.

    • Southern says:

      You wouldn’t loose any recorded shows anyway, those will still be on the DVR, just like they are now. The 360 will just replace the current set-top box which connects with the DVR through the ethernet network (or the RG59 cable, however you have it set up in your house).

  3. Southern says:

    WOW, I’m definitely impressed. Will this work with blacklisted boxes I wonder? If so I’ll go to craigslist right now and buy 3 of them.

    • Southern says:

      BTW Phil – more than half of homes are equipped with wafer-thing HDTVs that can’t hold a pair of dice did you mean “water-thin”?

    • benson304 says:

      The article is not being presented accurately here.

      XBox 360s will only be able to stream content from another DVR in the house. Not watch live TV. As far as I can tell.

      • Alvis says:

        “You will enjoy virtually the same U-verse TV experience and features available today, including the ability to watch live TV…”

        Might want to re-read the press release.

      • Southern says:

        Yeah Benson, I just read the press release, and Microsoft definitely says it will stream Live TV AND watch DVR recorded content.

        If this will work with Blacklisted LIVE boxes, I’m going out and buying 3 of ‘em as soon as I find out for sure.

        • common_sense84 says:

          It’s acting like a media center extender. So it should not matter if the xbox is blacklisted from live.

          But when it is connected to the dvr box, it will use up one of its tuners. So if that AT&T box only has 2 tuners in it, only two boxes can watch live tv at the same time. And when they are both watching live tv, no DVR content can be recorded.

          Also the hardware kit is nothing more than an xbox media center remote which is not needed at all to use the media center functionality. AT&T is running a scam. The xbox remote is 20 bucks at walmart. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Microsoft-Universal-Media-Remote-Xbox-360-Xbox-360/4196268?sourceid=1500000000000003142040&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=4196268 AT&T is charging 100 dollars for it.

          As far as I can tell all they are doing is enabling the basic media center feature that exists in any media center, which is what all their set top boxes are. They are running a version of windows media center. Maybe reenabling the basic feature has to be done in person? I don’t know. But what they are charging for this makes it a scam.

          • NinjaMarion says:

            U-Verse allows up to four streams to the home at once, allowing up to four things to be recorded or watched at any given time. If you’re watching the same thing you’re recording, that only counts as one stream. The 360 will act just like a regular box, using up a stream for whatever it’s watching, unless the DVR or another box is watching the same thing, in which case all of them only still use one.

      • internal says:

        Wrong.

        “AT&T is the first TV provider in the U.S. to offer live TV service through an Xbox 360.”

    • HazyCloud says:

      Blacklisted from LIVE? If so, that’s a good question. If I had to guess, no it won’t matter as long as you don’t want to be signed into LIVE.

      • Southern says:

        Yeah, I wouldn’t care about LIVE if I’m just using it as a U-Verse box.

        Although if it can’t be used to watch live TV as benson says, then it won’t be worth it to me. Ah well, guess I’m stuck with that $21 fee every month. *Sigh*

        After 5 years, that damn fee STILL pisses me off. At $84 a year, I’ve already paid for each of those boxes probably 3-4 times over.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      lol,,you still own a blacklisted console, don’t you.

      • Southern says:

        Actually I don’t own a 360 at all, never have. I have a PS/3 that I use as a media center, I don’t even have any games for it. All my gaming is on the Wii. Only bought the PS/3 for the media center part of it because at the time I didn’t want to go out and buy a full fledged computer for a media center, and this was long before the time of Roku boxes, etc. :)

        But as I’m planning on going back to U-Verse (they weren’t available at my new location when I moved until a month or so ago), I would most definitely go out and buy a few blacklisted boxes to use them with UVerse, since you can pick those up for around $50 each, and a brand new one is still like $149..

  4. backinpgh says:

    Star-up cost…wafer-thing…methinks someone types too fast.

  5. JonThomasDesigns says:

    I use my 4 Xbox360′s as “Cable boxes” with comcast .. With the Ceton InfiniTV 4 you can use 1 cable card and record / Watch 4 different HD stream at once that look perfect .. even HBO/Showtime/etc… and you are only limited to the storage on your PC so i have 4 TB for HD recordings and WMC7 is amazing

    • Southern says:

      1 CableCard that will handle 4 different channels? That’s weird, never heard of such a thing.. Usually you need 1 cable card per channel, although there are some “Dual” cards out there that will do 2 channels at a time.

      • JonThomasDesigns says:

        http://www.cetoncorp.com/index.php

        Check it out .. I love it .. its $399 , a little steap but seeing 1 card tuners were selling for about 200-250 its a bargain

        • Southern says:

          Not bad, not bad at all.. Even Comcast’s own box will only record 2 shows at a time, and UVerse can only do 2 HD shows at a time (or 4 SD shows).

          For you folks on Cable, this might be something interesting to look at.

          • NotEd says:

            Ah, the 2 HD show limitation. I just discovered that after my Uverse install this past weekend.
            Don’t recall seeing it in the documentation anywhere.

            • Southern says:

              I don’t know if it’s in any of the documentation that they give you, but that was so long ago for me that I honestly don’t remember. I know I remember finding out the hard way too, though. :)

            • Chris says:

              My Uverse box does 3 HD recordings at a time plus 1 SD. That’s more than enough as far as I’m concerned. Who needs that much TV anyway?

          • kingofmars says:

            I was just going to mention this solution to you, but thankfully JohnThomasdesigns beat me to it. I’m curious what John is using to network his xboxs to his media center PC. Wifi? Powerline adpater? Or is he going hardwired. I’m looking to do the same thing in my home, but haven’t had luck with wifi or powerline.

            • Southern says:

              I currently stream to my PS/3 from my office server, using TVersity. It allows me to stream pretty much anything, including HULU, YouTube and a few others, along with pretty much any AVI you can throw at it. :)

              I’m definitely hardwired. I tried WiFi, and it was so choppy (even on a 54G) that it was just unwatchable. One quick cable under the carpet from the router to the PS/3 fixed that. :)

        • f5alcon says:

          good luck getting a ceton card though, backordered for months. I have had one on order for 4 months now and still waiting for mine, will bring me up to 7 shows at a time. might get a second card and go to 11 but would have to add raid to my system to handle the load

          • kingofmars says:

            There are limits to the number of tuners (of one type) that media center will recognize. That has been overcomed by things like tuner salad

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        I have a Multi-stream card in my TiVo, which has two tuners, and so can record two channels at once. There are actually two slots, since M-CARDs were hard to come by not too long ago, but since I was able to get the M-CARD, I only needed one. Apparently, the two-stream limitation is actually due to the TiVo’s two tuners:

        [Wikipedia]:There are two kinds of physical CableCARDs:

        A “Single-stream” CableCARD (S-CARD) can decode a single channel at a time. The S-CARD specification was initially specified in the Host-POD Interface (SCTE 28) and POD Copy Protection System (SCTE 41) standards (often referred to as CableCARD 1.0) set of specifications.
        A “Multi-Stream” CableCARD (M-Card) can decode up to six channels simultaneously. Multi-Stream cards were specified in a separate document in 2003.

  6. Running_Fool says:

    $155 to save $7 per month.
    Well played AT&T. Well played.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      I don’t know where you’re getting $155, but even at that point it takes 2 years to recoup the costs…

      But, on the flip side, I can switch from TV to Netflix easily! Yay!

      • Running_Fool says:

        the $155 (sorry, $154) comes from the fine print on AT&T’s press release.
        “Purchase of $99 Xbox kit required. For existing U-verse TV members, additional $55 installation charge will apply.”

        2 years to recover the cost isn’t the greatest deal. Even worse if there’s a chance that you move before the end of the 2 yrs.

    • Southern says:

      Considering I had been with UVerse for 5 years, @ 7/box per month, that was $420 per box.

      Still think $155 is a bad deal?

      Of course none of my AT&T boxes ever died or needed to be replaced.. If the Xbow RRODs on me, I’ll have to buy another 360 and probably pay the $99 again. It wouldn’t be such a great deal then.

      • ssm316 says:

        I wish they would just sell me the kit instead of having a service call. I don’t wanna have to pay 55 dollars. Question is I have 2 xbox’s is it 99 each?

        • NinjaMarion says:

          That’s part of what’s in the $99 kit, the software installation disc. Seemingly, if your 360 red rings, you’d be able to reinstall the software yourself, and I’d assume the HPNA adapter would still be active from the initial installation (Assuming that the tech needs to do any kind of activation on it). I don’t really see any reason why the existing stuff wouldn’t work on a new box.

          And as for the RRoD itself, streaming already rendered video is MUCH easier on the gpu and cpu than doing rendering and processing on games, so the chances of an RRoD while using it for TV are far lower than gaming.

        • NinjaMarion says:

          Whoops. That other reply was meant to be to Southern. This one was for you… Yes. The $99 is for a remote, HPNA adapter, and the software disc in a kit supposedly. So to use it for more than one 360, they’d each need the HPNA adapter, so you’d need to pay it for each one. That said, the $7 a month savings applies for each box you replace with a 360, so those sizable savings Southern mentioned over time still apply, you just gotta pay more upfront.

  7. smashedpotats says:

    wafer-thing?? i want a wafer-thing!!

  8. Nick says:

    Those boxes basically render any other DVR unusable for recording. It’s the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in a box. As far as the union of AT&T and Microsoft, let me know where to send the gift. They’ll make the perfect couple.

    • Southern says:

      Huh? You’ve never been able to use any other DVR box (other than the AT&T provided one) with UVerse as far as I know, not sure how the 360 changes/affects that.

  9. TerpBE says:

    Using rough calculations and measurements, the Xbox 360 uses about 100W more than a typical cable box, so if you leave it on 24/7 (which I assume you’re supposed to), you’ll be paying ~$10 more on your electric bill, which probably pretty much negates the cable box charge.

    • Southern says:

      No, you wouldn’t need to. It only plays, it doesn’t record. You can turn it off when it’s not being used – although I have no idea what the startup time would be from a cold boot, especially if it has to load special UVerse software after the 360 initializes.

      Even the AT&T reciever box usually takes 3-5 minutes to fully initialize after a cold reboot.

      Good catch on the electricity thing, though – even when at idle, the 360 sucks up 155W of electricity.. ((155*24)/1000)=3.72KW per day, or ~40 cents per day of electricity (@ 10.5cents per KW.. Would naturally be more if you pay more for electricity, or less if you pay less)

      At 40 cents a day, you’re at $12 a month in electricity costs for the 360.

      Any idea what the U-Verse box pulls in idle mode?

      • common_sense84 says:

        There is no special uverse software.

        The uverse set top boxes are based on windows media center. The xbox 360 since launch(2006) has been able to work as a media center extender.

        All AT&T is doing is enabling a feature on their set top box that they purposely disabled.

        The remote isn’t even needed. Xbox does not require the remote for you to use it as an extender. And the remotes cost 20 dollars at walmart. Also the xbox can use any remote that says it is for windows media center. You are not limited to the xbox version. But a controller can do everything the remote can do.

        So it appears all AT&T is doing is forcing you to buy a 20 dollar remote for 100 bucks to get them to send a tech out to enable an extremely basic feature that is built in to every media center that runs microsoft’s media center OS.

        By default if your xbox is on a network with a media center, it pops up a message telling you it found a media center and if you would like to connect to it. There is nothing special here. Microsoft made this process extremely easy so the average person could do it on their own.

  10. liamarbetman says:

    Factually incorrect and riddled with typos. What the hell is up with the consumerist lately?

  11. common_sense84 says:

    This is nothing more than them using an xbox 360 as a media center extender. There is nothing special about this. All this proves is that their cable boxes are really skinned microsoft media centers.

    Their “hardware kit” is nothing more than a media center remote. It’s quite disgusting that they keep calling it a hardware kit. It is just a remote. It is not even needed to use the media center functionality.

    In fact, normally an xbox would automatically detect when there is a media center on your network and ask you if you want to connect to it.

    So it appears their “professional installation” Is nothing more than a tech coming over and using an employee only menu in your set top box to turn on the basic media center functions that were purposely disabled by them to begin with.

    The other down side is that this will use one of your tuners on the DVR box. So if those boxes have two tuners in them, no one can DVR anything while the main tuner and the secondary tuner are being used to watch TV.

    AT&T needs to admit what this actually is, rather than act like it is some kind of special feature. The xbox 360 has had this capability since launch day in 2006.

    • Southern says:

      If that were true, Common_Sense, then almost ANY box would be able to work with U-Verse, including the PS/3, the Roku, the Western Digital, etc.. And I’m pretty sure that’s NOT going to be the case. They’re going to be installing something on these 360′s that is going to permit FULL interactivity, including viewing the guide, managing your recordings, playing “Interactive TV”, etc.. A regular old “Media Extender” won’t do ANY of those things.

      • common_sense84 says:

        You seem to not understand what windows media center is.

        It is microsoft’s media center. It is included in every single copy of windows 7 home. There was a windows vista version and an windows xp level version that was standalone.

        Microsoft is finally expanding on this technology and is selling it to companies like AT&T to use in their set top boxes. Next year tvs will come out that have windows mce built into them. Essentially a built in tv guide and dvr.

        I have a media center pc that I use for my tv watching. The first time it was on the same network as my xbox, my xbox automatically asked if I wanted to connect to it and use the xbox as an extender. This is a basic feature of windows media center. AT&T purposely disabled this feature in their set-top boxes.

        THIS IS MICROSOFT’S MEDIA CENTER FUNCTIONALITY. It is not in roku boxes, ps/3′s, western digital media devices, etc. Those are not running microsoft windows media center.

        There is no “enable” full functionality on the xbox. By default a media center extender has the exact same functionality that the main media center has. If the media center on the xbox 360 looks different when connected to an AT&T box instead of a normal media center, that means microsoft made it so it will reflect the visual skins applied to the main media center box. That would be a feature they gave it. But based on the video someone posted higher up, the display looks to be a standard media center display.

        There is no software install on xboxes. Microsoft would never allow it. This is using the normal media center extender built into the xbox. If a disk had to be in the xbox to use it, they would have said that. Since it would require switching disks to play a game. And doing that way would be stupid because the xbox already includes the media center extender software in it by default.

        “including viewing the guide, managing your recordings, playing “Interactive TV””

        All of that are standard features of windows media center. If you have a windows 7 home or ultimate computer you can open windows media center right now and take a look. Although not everything will be available if you don’t have a tv tuner configured on your computer.

        “A regular old “Media Extender” won’t do ANY of those things.”

        Again, yes it will. That is the way microsoft made it. The extenders do everything the main media center can do. You could say they “extend” it.

        Here is a clip of the new tvs that will come out with media center built in. http://www.engadget.com/2010/09/14/acer-shows-off-windows-media-center-embedded-at-idf/ Sadly though, it does not say if these tvs will be able to act as extenders. As microsoft has never allowed standard PCs to work as extenders. So they may not allow the tvs to work as extenders either. They sadly restrict you to xbox 360 or other stand alone extenders.

        Here is info on microsoft’s media room. Which is a spin off from tradition media center’s. Thus it appears right now the only extender you can use are ones that support mediaRoom Which the xbox supports.

        http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2007/06/atour-of-microsofts-new-mediaroom.ars

        http://kotaku.com/5444871/uverse-mediaroom-on-xbox-360-wont-replace-your-dvr

    • Southern says:

      The other down side is that this will use one of your tuners on the DVR box. So if those boxes have two tuners in them, no one can DVR anything while the main tuner and the secondary tuner are being used to watch TV.

      Also not sure what you mean by this. the AT&T DVR has 4 tuners, and you can have up to 4 “Streams” going at once. You can either record 4 shows at once (and watch any one of the 4 while it’s recording on any of the boxes), or you can record 2 shows and play 2 shows from the DVR at the same time, or record 1 show and play 3 shows (on different set top boxes, of course)..

      So this really isn’t a change from their CURRENT setup and the $7/month set top boxes, the funtionality seems to be exactly the same.

      Just out of curiousity, do you have U-Verse?

      • common_sense84 says:

        I meant exactly what I said. That the xbox will use on of the tuners. If the main dvr can use 4 streams, than this won’t be a problem. But it also means you can only have up to 4 channel accessed at once.

        I did not know how many streams it can make. Which is why I made an example out of 2 available tuners. And specifically said 2, in the event that there was more than 2.

  12. ogsoleysol says:

    Consumerist = Coca-cola: “There’s no difference between what we’re giving you now and what we’ve always given you. Factually accurate, worthwhile, and well-written articles taste just like Phil Villarreal articles. If you think any different, it’s just because you’ve been brainwashed by the man. So, we’re just going to ignore everything our readership is saying.”

    Adieu, old friend. Thanks for the years of worthwhile and informative reading.