A recent comment from an anonymous blog reader brought up the topic of Telus Optik vs Shaw Gateway. One of my most read posts is my review of the Telus Optik service. Telus offers a solid television package with Personal Video Recorder (PVR) abilities and they do it for a decent price. Our other local home service provider, Shaw has been getting hammered by Telus since Optik was released, and continues to get hammered on a quarterly basis. However Shaw would not sit on the sidelines forever, they have been offering their new service, Shaw Gateway for several months and it wants to prove that Telus can be outdone. Outdone... but at what cost?
I'm going to start with the positives. Shaw Gateway has superior hardware. The PVR and remote HD boxes have HDMI ports that can output in 1080p resolution (best television quality to date) and the head unit carries a 500GB hard drive. These Shaw boxes are also 3D and DLNA ready meaning you won't be left behind when 3D television channels become more popular and you'll be able to integrate your local video, music and picture content from your home computer network. The DLNA feature is really nice (assuming it's implemented properly) as it could save you from getting a separate media server device. A big bonus with Shaw is that they do offer a higher end internet bandwidth. Telus Optik currently tops out at a constant 25mbps (approximately) while Shaw can get you well above 50mbps, if you are willing to pay for it. These internet speeds were once only to dream of, and now they are a constant reminder of how technology is rapidly advancing.
I think it's important to note that Shaw Gateway is also capable of the PVR Anywhere technology. Being able to pause live TV and resume your shows on any one of your other TV's is a great feature that both Optik and Gateway share. Also keep in mind that Shaw Gateway and Telus Optik are both capable of steaming up to 3 HD channels at the same time, and the ability to record more on the side. Keep in mind that both services will likely evolve and you may need software, hardware or even service updates to obtain the new features.
I find that Telus Optik is the solid choice for a great service at a fair price. Telus customer service has improved drastically over the last 2 years and is there to help you and keep you happy. Shaw is now the new kid on the block and is hoping to win back a lot of the lost Optik customers with their fancy Gateway service. Gateway is great but keep in mind that once you get the hardware and installation done, you need to be happy with the programming and it has always been my experience that Shaw loves to gouge people with content costs. You might get into Gateway for a good price but don't get wrangled into paying an extra $80 for another 5 HD channel packs that you didn't realize you wanted. I currently have Optik with about 80 HD channels and I will not pay more than $110 a month during my 3 year contract.
As always, be sure to call the companies and find out exactly what you can get for your dollar before you sign the dotted line. Also watch out as if you are an existing customer with either company, they will likely spit in your face when you ask for a mailed in promotion or deal. I would love to hear some experiences from current Gateway subscribers.