I got TDS TV yesterday!
When I started at TDS, TDS TV was only available in Tennessee. But, starting last year we began rolling it out to other places including Dane County, Wis. where I live. Well, I got the word last week that my neighborhood was “turned up” so I immediately called and ordered (I even mentioned it in my last blog).
Now, I should stop and mention a bit of TDS process before I go any further. As employees, we call the 1-800-CALL-TDS number and order services just like everyone else. And, when you have an install date there’s no “secret code” that tells your installer they’re at an employee’s house. We may work for TDS, but we’re customers just like everyone else. So, we really don’t get any special treatment or favors (I’ve gotta work on that 😉 ). Anyway, on to my story…
The painless installation
Jeff, my installer, had called in the morning to give me an ETA. He came during that time window with five boxes in hand, ready to go. I invited him inside and the first thing he did was take off his shoes (how nice is that?). Then, he asked for a tour so he could get the lay of the land, so to speak. I walked him through the house to show him where all our TVs are located. We have four TVs in the house (two are upstairs, two are in the basement). After looking at our wiring and our set-up, Jeff talked to me about where to put the DVR.
Because my house has both Cat 5 cable and coaxial cable, the DVR could have been by any of our TVs. And of course, the DVR is a Whole-Home DVR so, strictly speaking, it didn’t matter where it was located in the house because we’d have full functionality everywhere. But, for wiring purposes, Jeff suggested we put it by our basement TV. His reasoning? Then we could tuck the modem nearby in our unfinished area since the DVR and the modem do need to be near each other.
I was game for whatever he thought was best, but was a bit worried at first. We have a wireless router in our study in addition to the modem and so I thought we’d have to move that too. I was picturing trying to use my iPad in my bedroom two floors up and not getting a signal. But, Jeff said this wasn’t a problem. He switched the study’s phone outlet (that we didn’t use) to an Ethernet outlet (because we have Cat 5) so we could keep the router right where it is right now. Easy peasy.
And get this—because the idiots who built our house (you know, me and my husband) didn’t put the outlet in a good spot in our lofted space, we had a coaxial cable running along the wood trim to the TV. The cable was white to match the trim in an effort to be somewhat inconspicuous, but we didn’t realize it was a rather light-weight wire and couldn’t handle TDS TV. Jeff noticed this and, because we have Cat 5 cable in the same spot, he gave me a choice: he could run standard, black-coated coaxial cable or he could use a gray-coated Cat 5. I know it’s only because I have a newer house that I had this option, but I appreciated Jeff keeping the aesthetics in mind and asking (and yes, I went with the gray).
After he had an install plan, Jeff didn’t need any more answers from me and buzzed around doing…well…install-y stuff so I just continued about my day. I was working at home so he did his best to keep the Internet up and running for as long as possible, with the least amount of down time he could manage (I think it was only down for about an hour).
So easy, a child can do it
Once the DVR was installed I was able to do a little playing around with the system while Jeff finished up. My son, who was home sick, immediately wanted to find “the kids channels.” Without any instruction he found Cartoon Network on the paper Channel Guide, turned it on, and excitedly pushed Record to save the show that was on (something called “Almost Naked Animals”–who thinks of this stuff?). Seriously, TDS TV is so easy to use my 9 year-old can use it! :-).
Jeff did remind me that, if we wanted them, we had to put parental controls in place for each set-top box (not just the DVR). This is nice because you can customize your viewing based on location. To set parental controls, push the Menu button on the remote then use the arrows to go to Settings and you’ll see Parental Controls listed there. Begin by setting a PIN code and then you can start making your selections. In less than a minute I set the family room TV to only show movies that were PG-13 (or tamer) and blocked ordering pay-per-view. I’ll have to go back and review whether we want to block any specific channels, but I was pleased I was able to do all that so quickly.
The install took a total of about 4 hours. During that time Jeff didn’t need me though, so he didn’t disturb my groove. Moreover, he deftly managed to deal with our very affectionate cat who constantly wanted to both snuggle and “help,” and my son riddling him with questions.
Now that I’ve seen TDS TV for real I’m extra glad we switched. I noticed that the picture looked better even on our 720p TV. Jeff said it has to do with the way TDS TV runs through the boxes to the TV (I honestly didn’t quite catch it all—something about HDMI and digital). All I know is that it looks great, it’s easy to use, and I’m excited to start exploring and setting up our recordings.
I’ll keep you posted about how things are going!