I used to have satellite TV. It’s pretty much the bomb, because you get all the time shift channels, allowing you to watch The Simpsons or Dragon’s Den from the Nova Scotia or Toronto feeds a couple hours before they get to the mountain time zone (WHOO! REPRESENT!). Also, it’s pretty easy to get cheap TV, assuming you’re not above being a little bit of a badass. Since apparently my landlord is opposed to me attaching a satellite dish to the side of his building, I had to go with cable. Here’s my Telus Optik TV review.

In Calgary, there are two options for cable, Telus and Shaw. There are three satellite companies too, (Shaw, Bell, and Telus) but those weren’t an option for me. They might be for you if you live in a place that allows you to mount (giggity) a dish on the side of your building. Rogers doesn’t offer service out here, and Bell is limited to satellite. When cable is your only option, you really don’t have that many options.

I fired up the internet machine and did a little research. Here’s a summary of what both Telus and Shaw were offering.

Shaw

TV – Personal TV + Best of HD, includes 68 standard definition channels, and 56 high definition channels. You get most of the popular channels in HD. Costs nothing for the first month, $39.95 for the next two, and then $74.90 for the rest of the two year contract. Shaw will give you a free HD receiver.

Total first year cost: $79.90 for the first three months + $749 for the next ten months = $828.90

Internet – Because you might as well bundle it to save a little cash. Hi Speed 10 gives you 10 MBPS of download speed, 512KBPS upload speed, and a limit of 125 GB per month in data, and it includes a modem rental. It’s a pretty basic plan. It’s free for month one, $29.99 for months two and three, and then $55 per month thereafter.

Total first year cost: $$59.98 for the first three months + $550 for the next ten months = $609.98

Total internet/cable cost, after the first year: $1,438.88

One note before we move onto Telus. I didn’t actually phone Shaw. You could probably get a small discount on this, or a free PVR, or something, if you phoned and talked to someone.

Telus

TV – Telus Select Optik TV includes the essentials and up to six additional bundles, which Telus calls “theme packs.” This includes up to 245 channels (71 in HD) but many of those are music channels. I get 78 channels after going through my guide, excluding all the foreign language channels and all the music stations. Good numbers, considering many of those Shaw channels repeat themselves in both standard definition and hi-def. The cost is $40 for the first six months, and then $73 afterwards, but this drops down $5 per month if you subscribe to internet. Oh, and they threw in a free PVR for only a one year contract.

Total first year cost: $210 for the first six months + $408 for the next six months = $618

Internet – They force you to use at least internet 15 with Telus Optik TV, since the TV runs through the phone lines. It offers 3-15 MBPS download speed and 1MBPS upload speed. Wifi modem rental is included, and they limit you to 150GB of data per month. If you bundle it with TV you’re paying $30 a month for the first six months, and then $50 a month afterwards.

Total first year cost: $180 for the first six months + $300 for the next six months = $480

Total internet/cable cost, after the first year: $1098

Total savings, compared to Shaw: $340.88

$340 in yearly savings? This was my reaction.

Happy face

I’ve been using Optik TV for a few days now, and I’m pretty satisfied. I’m watching BNN as I type this, and the high definition looks great. All the features go off without a hitch, and you better believe I pause live TV whenever somebody bugs me, mostly because I can. One downside to that is that now you can’t tell loved ones to go away because you’re missing your show.

The install went smoothly as well. My apartment doesn’t have a phone jack near the TV, so the install tech had to string cable to bridge the distance between the jack and the TV. He was in and out in an hour, including install and giving me a quick tutorial on using the service. It was smooth, and Telus will throw it in for free if you sign up for at least a year.

During my research one issue Optik TV owners brought up was the internet speed goes down when the TV is on. I haven’t really noticed this so far, but my sample size is admittedly small. I’m happy with the internet speed all the time, including when I’m watching.

To summarize my Telus Optik TV review, I’d recommend it to anybody in Western Canada who can actually get it, since it’s still only in limited areas. You can phone Telus and find out.

Or, if you’re looking to switch your cable provider, just contact me. I know a person or two in Telus, so I’ll make sure you get a good deal. In exchange, I’ll get a discount on my bill. Everyone wins.

Tell everyone, yo!