Telus Optik TV Review - Main Resource Page
Quick link: Summary and Conclusion (pros and cons)
Update - I've been using Optik TV and Optik Internet for more than a year. I break down the good, the bad, and the experience with this Telus Optik TV Review!
It's up and running! I live in Vancouver BC and I've upgraded from Telus TV to Telus Optik TV and Optik Internet. I am just writing up my experience so far. So far I can honestly say it's simply amazing. If you live in Vancouver BC or British Columbia, Alberta, you will want to read my Telus Optik TV review. Trust me.
Having troubles deciding which TV service to go with? Let us help you decide! Vancouver British Columbia, Lower Mainland BC and elsewhere have the option of using Shaw TV but should you?? Adding a Telus Optik vs Shaw summary page. Shaw is trying to remain competitive and have upgraded their services and hardware but is it enough?
You like the ads, but does it deliver?
You've seen the ads. You've seen the Telus Optik TV television ads with the geek. No, that guy isn't me! The fact is Optik TV is the latest and greatest offering from Telus TV. As you know I've been using Telus TV for a year or two now. It's been a worthwhile experience overall, regardless of the few hiccups along the way. But now Telus TV is old and this Optik TV has launched. It had me curious when it first launched. I made the call and guess what Telus told me? They said stick with what you have (the original Telus TV) because I have such a great deal. Once my price protection stops, then look into Optik TV from Telus. Well I'm at that point now!
This Telus Optik review is starting now. From the call I made today until I get Telus Optik TV installed and running, I will post my experiences and my review. No holds barred. Just the truth. So think of this as a journal of sorts. It's my adventure or misadventure in the world of Telus Optik. The future is friendly apparently so what I have got to worry about?
Part 1 - The Inquiry
I called Telus TV and found out that my price protection ends this month. Ah, but if I'm going to switch to Optik TV what's in it for me? I was put on hold after asking about promotions and here is what I got. I get 12 months of price protection. This means what I pay now for old school Telus TV is what I'll pay for the Optik TV. Great! No extra charges for them to replace my existing PVR and set top box. You may or may not have to get your boxes upgraded (new ones) because if they are the newer model, you will stick with what you've got. Luckily I'm getting new ones. Long story, but they are like a slow PC. They get stuck, they freeze from time to time and need to get to the junk yard sooner than later. Yes, junkyard. Sorry did I forget to say recycling bin?
So aside from staying at the same price for Telus Optik TV, I will increase by about $5 per month with the internet. Don't fear, this is well worth it. My speed has the potential to be 4 times faster if all my televisions are off. Faster internet is worth a lot more than $5 a month and I'm happy to upgrade for that price quite frankly.
I asked about getting another set top box and I can get more that my current 1 PVR and 1 Box. I also asked about that part of Optik TV that allows you to connect your Xbox 360 as a set top box. I can get that setup, but it's an additional $5 per month and there is a special remote that is needed. Maybe later, but you may like that option.
The advantages to Optik TV are plenty and I will break those down soon. What I can say right now that has me excited is that I can have HD on 2 televisions now. In addition all the shows that are recorded on the Telus Optik PVR can be played from another Optik TV box. This will be such a huge advantage and I miss this so much. With a PVR it's easy and great to use but the issue because viewing that content elsewhere. It's not like a VCR tape that you could pop into a television setup elsewhere. So Optik TV is going to make watching recordings a heck of a lot more enjoyable.
Part 2 - Using Telus Optik TV: My Review
I've been using Optik TV and Optik Internet for well over a year now. I have a good overview at this point and a good understanding of what Telus Optik TV is all about. I'm not sure if I should keep you in suspense or just spill the beans right now. You are dying to know how good or bad Telus Optik TV is and I understand that. If you are looking to save money, I would say Telus vs. Shaw is a wash. You could get them to bid for you and you will likely get a matching deal from either provider.
If you are a typical Canadian you're doing your homework. Take my review and see what else you dig up. There are always going to be complaints about various products and services. There will be the horror stories and the tales of mistakes and issues. Telus Optik TV is no different. Be careful what you read. The loudest voices out there complaining don't accurately tell the story because most people are just watching Telus Optik TV instead of raving about it on the internet.
I'm going to write this Telus Optik review in a way that's simple and easy to understand. First, so you know my perspective before you read further. I've had Shaw forever, or at least up until digital TV took over. I switched to Telus TV which is essentially Telus TV version 1.0 and had been using that for the past couple of years. I just recently went for the Telus Optik TV upgrade in the past few months.
So I don't know the Shaw digital experience well. Perhaps you do. I do not have a lot of experience with the various Satellite TV providers but I have used the Telus Satellite TV. Perhaps you have more experience. So please take my Telus Optik TV review with that understanding. It's through my eyes and my experiences. What impresses me may not impress you because you've had those features in the past. With that said, let me get on with it.
Should you get Telus Optik TV?
Before you get your hopes up, I recommend that you first check with the official Telus website to see if you can get Telus Optik TV at your home.
This is the most important part of reading a review obviously is whether the product or service is worth paying for. The question is, do I recommend Telus Optik TV or not? I have to say it depends.
I'm pretty irretated to be honest about information I've discovered regarding what Optik TV is now that the original Telus TV ceases to exist. I thought it was a brand which is a premium Telus TV service. I was unaware that the original Telus TV is now branded as Telus Optik TV. I was under the impression that with Optik TV you could watch and record two different HD channels at the same time. PERIOD.
Were you under that impression also? If so you better pay attention to what I'm about to say here. I don't want to sound overly dramatic about this. It's quite possible it's no big deal, but I want everyone reading this to know the information first. You don't want regrets! And also it's important for me to mention that Telus is constantly updating or upgrading their system so if you're not able to get about 19 MB into your home, it still could happen a bit later on.
First if you are under the impression that Telus Optik TV is the same experience for me as it will be for you, I say that's not accurate. What you need to establish with Telus before moving ahead with Optik TV is which of the 3 profiles your home will use. Most importantly you first should determine how many HD televisions you have or will be having in the near future.
So what is a Telus Optik TV profile? This is the speed, or the bandwith your home can receive. So think of this as like water pressure. The more water pressure (the more bandwith) the better the experience. Here are the profiles:
Profile 1 is for those of you who get the minimum 15MB speed. If you get stuck with profile 1, then you need to weigh the pros and cons. The bottom line is with profile 1 you can only utilize one HD live feed at a time. So either 1 live HD show or 1 live HD recording. You can however use 2 SD at the same time for what it's worth. So with profile 1 you can use 1 HD and 2 SD live feeds all at the same time.
You have to ask yourself a few questions. Take these questions seriously or you may have regrets later.
What's the big deal about only using 1 HD live feed at a time? It means watch and record on a different channel does not apply. If you're with a TV service that currently allows that usage, profile 1 will be a shock to your system.
To me. Even though I get the ability to watch and record different HD channels at the same time, I've still had situations when a HD program was scheduled to record at the same time I was in the living room on TV 1 watching HD hockey and my wife was in the bedroom watching her HD show on TV 2. Guess what happens? One person gets a black screen and is cut from their show and the text "all your HD tv resources are in use". Just imagine if you can only have 1 HD feed at a time. How easy would it be to accidentially have a scheduled HD recording start while you're watching an HD show? I bet you would be pretty pissed off about it especially if you signed up for Optik TV without realizing how limiting profile 1 really is.
Obviously if you're not with a HD TV and do not plan on going with an HD TV anytime soon then this is less of an issue. The reality is that most people, once viewing HD will not bother and can't really stand the sight of SD TV. If you do have or are getting a HD TV and can only get profile 1, then you need to at least be fully aware of what you're getting into. Yes you can be and need to be careful with your scheduled recordings. If you're not careful and you get your ass kicked from your live show becuase of a HD recording, you're going to likely swear or throw something at your tv. Just my opinion, but it will certainly be a source of anger depending on the situation. How about missing an OT goal? Not likely, but how about the final moments of a show at the top of the hour? More likely to happen that way.
My point is that profile 1 in a HD home will not be as natural. There will be that extra thought involved when setting up your sheduled recordings. And no, you won't be bothering recording SD because that takes away the bumping issue. Really, you would record SD if you could get the same content in HD? I highly doubt that. I personally would not consider recording SD after having the HD channels.
So read my Telus Optik TV review knowing the glaring issue with profile 1. So the key to remember is? You cannot record and watch different HD channels at the same time. If you do, you get kicked from your live HD show and will get a black screen. You will need to cancel the recording immediately in order to free up resources to go back to your live HD show.
Profile 2 is for those of you who get 19.2 MB speed. This is the profile that I'm under. I can honestly say Telus Optik for me is simply an incredible experience. Worth every penny. Your internet speed takes a hit if you have 2 HD feed going at the same time, but for most people it's really a non issue.
Profile 3 is for those of you who get 25MB. Enjoy the best television experience possible!
So to clarify, if you're only able to get profile 1, then take some time to think it over. If you're getting profile 2 or profile 3, then I recommend Telus Optik TV.
Run, don't walk! Seriously, this is to me, television on steroids. It's television 2.0. It's the evolution of TV. I can't say it any other way. It's brilliant and worth every penny that it costs. Can Shaw compete with Telus Optik? I don't see how. I really don't. I can educate myself more on what Shaw offers but I simply can't see any other television company in Vancouver or other areas that can give you what Telus Optik gives you. Maybe close, but that's about it. I have a growing list of reasons why I think Telus Optik TV is the best thing ever. If you've been using Telus TV and not Telus Optik TV, you don't know what you're missing.
If you're coming from Shaw TV or other TV service you need to also need to consider whether you're going to have Telus internet service also. I'm not sure if Telus Optik TV can be installed unless you also get the Telus Optik internet service. Read my Telus Optik TV cons page for more details about how internet speed is or isn't affected by what you're watching on Telus Optik TV.
The only disappointing news is that you need to call Telus Optik and see what profile is available at your location. I don't know details, but I just know that not all areas can get Telus Optik TV profiles 2 or 3 just yet. I don't know if at some point soon most areas will have access. Just make the call and hope for the best.
Conclusion and Summary: Why is Telus Optik TV so great?
I don't want to answer this in a weak way, but everything makes Telus Optik TV great. I really actually don't know where to start on this. I sound like a fanboy and that's fine. I just don't want anyone to miss out on the next generation of television. Optik TV really is the evolution of TV.
Okay, so let me explain my reasons for saying why Telus Optik TV is so great. A lot of my likes are related to the PVR experience so I'll mention that right off the bat. Some of the things I mention may seem minor but until you get to experience them, you will not realize just how terrific the subtleties really are.
Reason 1 Why Telus Optik TV is great:
Main feature that is amazing? Your second TV and digital box is virtually identical in function to your main TV with the Telus Optik PVR. This means two main things. With Telus TV (not to be confused with Telus Optik TV) you had one TV that could run a PVR and HD channels. Your second TV could not run HD or have a PVR at the same time.
With Telus Optik TV the second box isn't a PVR, but it operates as a clone of the PVR on your main television. It acts like a PVR and does everything that your PVR does in the other room of your home. The digital box in the Telus Optik TV is networked to the main PVR. This means set recordings, pause TV, can view and watch HD programs, setup recordings, etc, etc, can all be done via the second digital box.
Make sense? Yes with Telus Optik TV you can't use 2 PVR's, but you only need the 1 because the basic digital box can operate the PVR through the network.
Reason 2 Why Optik TV is great:
The end of having to watch commercials! Fast forward on a PVR like never before! Telus TV had a PVR but it doesn't have the abilities of Telus Optik TV when it comes to smart fast forward. That's my name for it anyways.
Here is how it works. Like other PVR's on the market, each time you press the fast forward button, the speed increases. Usually it's like 1x, 2x, 4x, 8x, etc. Well with Telus Optik TV the fastforward is 1x, 2x, 3x or 4x. What makes this smart, is that if you use 2x or faster, the recording will rewind slightly once you press play to stop the fast forwarding. Remember though, on the first of 1x fast forward the smart fast forward will not be activated. So the faster you are fast forwarding, the longer the rewind will be when you press play. Make sense?
As an example, if you're watching a PVR recording and you get to a commercial, you will fast forward. Before Optik TV was available, you would be stuck trying to time the end of the commercial and the start of your show. Yes, 99% of the time you fast forward too far into the show and then you have to press play, then rewind, and then play. Well with Telus Optik TV your worries are over. If you're at the commercial and you fast forward at x2 speed, when you reach the start of the show and press play, the PVR will automatically rewind a second or two and most times, it's perfectly at the start of the show.
It's amazing. If you get really good at the timing you can fast forward at 3x and when you reach your show and press play, the rewind is a second or two longer than when you're doing this for 2x. Equally at 4x fast forward the rewind is even more generous. It's very intelligent!
Trust me. This may be the nicest feature of Telus Optik TV. You have no idea until you have it. You won't want to watch live TV programs. It just makes life so much easier. Afterall, watching TV is supposed to be easy. Using the smart fast forward is the only true way of appreciating it. Words can't really do it justice!
Reason 3 Why Telus Optik TV is great:
Two click recording! Here is how recording with the Optik TV PVR works. See a program in the guide you want to record? Click record and a red dot appears and it's set. Click the record button a second time and now the Telus Optik PVR will record that same show anytime it's on around the same time. It's just that easy folks!
Reason 4 Why Telus Optik TV is great:
More versatile remote control. This means you can use just 1 remote (Telus Optik TV remote) and not have to switch back and forth with your default television remote as often. With so many tvs on the market there are often issue with incompatibility regarding volume especially. With Optik TV you can adjust volume through the digital box. If you have an oddball television, for example a big 27" lcd monitor or similar which is designed for computers, you can use the Telus Optik remote for volume control. So now, thanks to Telus Optik TV you can stop worrying about compatibility issues and finding codes.
The other fantastic aspect of the Optik TV remote is that you can mute from the digital box. Trust me, using the one remote for volume and operating Telus Optik TV is a real treat. Of course I'm speaking to those people who use the television speakers and are not controlling their volume through an amplifier. You should be able to hit the mute from the Optik TV remote, but controlling your amp volume via the remote will not happen that I'm aware of. With that said, having the ability to mute is still very very handy.
Reason 5 Why Telus Optik TV is great:
It's user friendly! This means for those who aren't tech savy need not worry. My wife falls under the "opposite of tech savy" and she can utilize Optik TV with ease. You think all television and PVR's are simple to navigate and use? Try something like Telus Satellite and you will clearly see the difference. In addition, Telus has a section on your PVR that has video "how to's" and that is updated constantly as new features are added to Optik TV.
Reason 6 Why Telus Optik TV is great:
If you had the original Telus TV then you know this one. Remember powering on the PVR or digital box and the TV was supposed to power on at the same time? If the TV went on and the PVR didn't then what? Or perhaps the PVR turned on buy the TV didn't. Then of course they are out of synch and if you press the power button again, one will turn off and one will turn on. Kiss that irretation good by with Telus Optik TV. You can wake up the Telus Optik TV PVR or digital box by pressing OK on the remote. If your TV is on and the PVR is off, you will see a Telus green screensave type page and prompts you to press OK on the remote control. You may have to think about how beneficial this is, but trust me, it's a real treat not having to look around for the TV remote or manually turning it on.
What is bad about Telus Optik TV?
It was easy to write about all the great things that Telus Optik TV offers. Coming up with the bad isn't so easy. I'll do my best to come up with an accurate list of issues with Telus Optik TV and be assured that I will update this page with cons as I discover more frustrations with Optik TV.
I've been using Telus Optik TV for quite a while now and if there are complaints with the service or hardware, I have the expertise to say what it is.
Reason 1 Why Telus Optik TV isn't so great:
If you have profile 1 you aren't able to watch and view different HD channels at the same time. Profile 1 is certainly not geared to the multiple HD TV home.
Reason 2 Why Telus Optik TV isn't so great:
Know of the Microsoft blue screen of death? Well with Telus Optik TV, when you use over your allowable HD feeds at the same time, one person will get a black screen with the text "all available HD resources are in use". The Telus Optik TV BSOD is about equal to the Windows BSOD depending on how unlucky you are. So how this works is whatever you were watching is no longer there and until you either cancel the recording or you tell the person on your second TV to get off of their HD channel, you will not be able to view your program.
Personal experience? This happened during the Canucks playoff overtime game. Was I happy? Think opposite of happy and then times that emotion by about 10. I'm on profile 2 and a third HD feed is not allowed.
Reason 3 Why Telus Optik TV isn't so great:
Again I need to talk about profiles. Sorry folks! If you won't have Telus internet along side Telus Optik TV then perhaps this won't be an issue to you. It's a bit technical and I'm not sure if having a seperate internet service or package outside of Optik TV will be affected by your TV viewing habits.
The bottom line is this. The bandwidth or speed into your home from Telus Optik TV is like water pressure. HD TV channels use a lot of that "water pressure". If you use 2 HD TV feeds at one time, it most likely will affect your internet download speed. I can say for me, 2 HD channels on at the same time drops my internet speed. A big deal? Not really actually. The reason it's not a big deal to me is because I get extremely fast downloads which are unaffected so long as 1 HD channel is being used. I don't even think about it actually. If you're downloading files or streaming HD content, sure it can slow that down. Regular internet usage will be unchanged even with the 2 HD TV feeds being used. Website content can only load so fast!
Just be aware. At least you have control over your HD channels and can decide whether you really need that super fast download speed.
Reason 4 Why Telus Optik TV isn't so great:
This con is perhaps a non issue for yourself, so that it for what it is. I do not like SD TV channels showing up in my guide when I have the same channel in HD TV. When you have hundreds of channels, or even around one hundred channels, scrolling through TV channels you will never watch is a pain. To fix this you need to painfully edit, or shall I say untick those undesirable TV stations from showing up in the guide. This takes a while and could clock you about 30-45 minutes depending on your remote skills. Just be sure to save! There is just too much clutter, like the international TV station and radio stations that make surfing the guide a real pain. If there is an easier way, I'm all ears. Let me know about it. I was told by the tech this is the way to do it. With this said, Telus does update the software on a regular basis with improvements so perhaps there will be a much quicker method of customizing your guide.
Reason 5 Why Optik TV isn't so great:
This is a somewhat minor quibble, but it can be a slight hassle if you're in a hurry. When using a second digital box (not the PVR box), when you are setting up a recording and pressing the button once or twice, the system can stall. You won't be able to press anything to navigate and there is a moment when you're uncertain if you've properly set up the recording. The issue is obviously with networking and the transferring of information to the main PVR box. Of course if you have a different connection or wiring setup, this may be a relative non issue. I will just say that in my experience, sometime there is a lag on inputs. It will delay you and will frustrate you if you're in a panic to set up a recording from that second digital box. It's not all the time but happens occassionally. It's not a reason for passing on Telus Optik TV but certainly be aware that it might be a pain for you from time to time.
Reason 6 Why Telus Optik TV isn't so great:
This isn't so much a knock on the Telus Optik TV experience which is why I leave this for last. I just think the billing and pricing is very confusing for Telus Optik TV especially if you're like me with internet and phone sevice part of the package. How do you know what you originally agreed to price wise? Is it easy to know when prices have changed? Is it easy to figure out? Not in my opinion.
Certainly not a deal breaker but it's important because of this. If you get a special deal or something similar you may get confused when it ended or if that deal was even honored in the first place. My advice is to write everything down at the time of signing up. And I mean write it all down and keep it somewhere to reference later. If you get a fixed price, make sure you know the start and end date of that.