If you enjoy this review, check out the newer: Shaw Gateway vs Telus Optik review
I'm not sure about other blog readers out there but I require a reliable, high end, affordable television, phone and internet service. For the last 3 or so years we enjoyed our high speed cable internet, digital cable and VOIP phone through Shaw and it has been great. However technology advances, prices drop and new companies roll in with competitive services. I decided to write this review because I had a hard time finding up to date reviews on todays entertainment bundles.
In our area, the two major players are Shaw and Telus. Of course there are a few satellite companies offering decent television and/or internet packages, but not full service bundles. Shaw has always been the goto company for television and cable internet, and over the last few years their phone service has been great too. Telus has been the big name in home phone since I can remember and other than prices, nothing can really top it. Telus struggled with a shitty DSL internet service until the last year or so when Optik was introduced. Telus now bundles their home phone with a dedicated high bandwidth DSL connection and fully digitial television service. Telus sounds like a clear winner with the stats, but there are some down sides. I've had my Optik service for a while now and I'm going to break it down for you.
Telus has divided their entire network into profiles. The lowest profile they can assign puts you on a dedicated 15mbps connection. That means that your internet will always speedtest at, or around 15mbps. In a perfect world, you could download at a constant 1.5 megabytes per second with that connection, which is a lot faster than what most people need. The major thing to wrap your head around is that your Telus television service requires the use of your internet! If you are watching TV, your internet bandwidth will drop by about a third per television. Now also realize that there are faster profiles that allow for more televisions and that they don't cost more money, but they arn't available in all areas. You'll need to talk to Telus to determin what profiles are available to you, and what each one allows you to do. Either way, whether you get Telus internet by itself, or bundled with the TV service, it's fast and reliable, making it a real value!
Telus really has done a good job designing the TV service. The typical bundle comes with a single 320GB high definition personal video recorder (HDPVR) and a second HDTV box. This allows you to have the HDPVR in your main room and a second TV with HD in perhaps, your bedroom. A key factor in this setup is that the two boxes are shared on their own network. If you record a television show on the PVR, you are able to watch that show at any time on either TV. This is fantastic as it allows you to keep costs down by only having one HDPVR in the house and just have regular HDTV boxes on any other TV's you have. Some important information that I've noted is that Telus has a very large number of HD channels, more than most other services (for now) but they only stream in 720P resolution. That means that if you have a super sexy 1080P flat screen TV, you arn't going to be using it to it's full potential (like you would with a blu-ray movie or select PS3 games). I've also found that the Telus TV interface is very quick and channel surfing is near instant. Telus recently added Facebook to the interface, which at first I thought was a pathetic attempt to mix a social application with TV, but in reality they did a great job. The Facebook application allows you to watch TV on about 75% of the screen, and use the more popular Facebook functions with ease. You can even setup multiple profiles on the Telus interface, all with separate 4 digit passwords for privacy. Something to be careful of is the package profiles available in your area. The TV harnesses your internet bandwidth and if you are on the low end of 15mbps you will only be able to watch/record one HD show at a time. This sort of limitation can be a problem in larger homes or if you wanted to record one, and watch another HD show at once. Keep in mind that you can always watch the high definition show, and record the standard definition (SD) show instead.
The phone service is awesome. I have had it at several homes and have almost never had to complain about it. The Telus phone uses tried and tested phone lines that prove very reliable and do not drop during power outages like internet based lines. Telus has a very wide variety of calling features and the voice clarity is probably unbeatable. The main problem with this service is the price. Services like Shaw Phone, Vonage, MagicJack and many others can cost significantly less, but can suffer from reliability issues and clairty problems. Telus is, and may always be the landline of choice.
I think it goes without saying that Telus has a great package here. The service is superior to it's competition, the technology is current, the prices are lower than most and can even include contracts for those who can't afford initial hardware purchases. The most important factor is to check on the profiles available in your area. Just because the Optik service is available to you, doesn't mean it has all of the functions that you may need. I would still price check and consider other options, but you'll probably find that as of now and over the next couple of years, Telus Optik is the way to go for most.