Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

HDTV: Shaw vs. Telus

Friday, July 27th, 2012 3 comments

I’ve been using Shaw for internet and cable TV for years.  And I’ve been leery of the quality of the Telus Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), especially when the last bit of the feed into my condo is over twisted pair wires originally intended for voice-only telephone.  But I noted the picture quality at my son’s (detached) house was quite good with Telus.  Further the Telus internet upload rate was claimed to be double that of Shaw’s for the same price.

But my main incentive to explore Telus was my desire to see all the games of the Montreal Canadiens, which would require the French sports network, RDS, which Shaw only offers in Standard Definition (SD).  Telus offers the HD feed.

So to make a long story a little shorter, I switched to Telus, despite the dire warnings from Shaw that I wouldn’t get the internet speeds promised, I found that I did get the promised 1Mb/s upload, and 14.5Mb/s download consistently.  And I found the following:

  • Music channel audio quality (which I use a lot) is much better with Telus, although they do not show the title of the current song playing like Shaw.
  • The Telus user interface is more responsive and much easier to use, for example I can filter the program guide to only the channels I am subscribed to, or further to just my favourite channels
  • Telus can record 3 HD programs simultaneously as opposed to 2 for Shaw.  (Telus does not promise you can get 3 HD, but the software tests the line quality and if it’s good enough, allows this.  Otherwise it degrades the capability to SD signals, only promising one or two HD recordings, the balancing being SD).
  • The Telus HD PVR hard drive was much quieter.
  • It was cool (but useless) to have the caller ID display on my TV screen when the phone rang.
  • The Telus PVR doesn’t auto-prompt to extend time on live recordings like Shaw, but does allow a max of 3 hours extra as opposed to 2.
  • The Telus PVR storage is vastly larger: 200 HD hours vs. 20 on my four-year-old Shaw PVR.  Not an issue for me as I don’t watch much TV.
  • Telus offered a free Samsung Galaxy Tablet on a 3-year contract.
  • …and finally the picture quality: Telus was much more pixelated and blurry than Shaw on movement in HD scenes (terrible for sports) and the SD quality was appallingly bad, even on static images.

So the Telus technician came back and worked hard on improving the quality, to no avail.

So it’s back to Shaw for TV, but I’ll stick with Telus internet.  And hope that Shaw offers RDS HD before the hockey season starts.  Bad news is that the quote I got for the package I wanted from Shaw was incorrect, it’s actually $3/month more.  Good news is that Shaw is giving me a six-month discount for switching back.

EDIT: So I just had Optik TV disconnected, and I have to say that the Telus customer experience was much better than that with Shaw:

  • Telus gave discounts, both on my initial order (took $5/month off on the long-term bundled rate) and even after I cancelled the TV they kept the discount for my remaining Internet service, which I had ordered at the same time and kept. They considered that I had my home phone with them for years as well, and had met my end of the bargain in trying to use all three services, so I got the full bundled pricing. They also let me keep the Samsung tablet.
  • Shaw stuck to listed prices and had no wiggle room. One Shaw rep misquoted me and the next rep did not honour that pricing and so I’m paying more for the TV.
  • Telus reps were friendlier, more understanding.
  • The Telus tech worked his butt off to try and make it work, including giving me his mobile number, and talking to me on his day off

So I’d definitely recommend Telus over Shaw from this point of view. Dang twisted pair!


Speaking of footy…

Monday, June 28th, 2010 8 comments

Often it’s considered that association football (soccer) is not a big deal in Canada.  But I remember even as a kid in the Montreal suburb of Beaconsfield that there were 100 organized teams in a population of 20,000.  I think though that once kids reached a certain age opportunities vanished for growth, or interest went elsewhere.   Hence the fact that Canada has only once made the World Cup (1986) and was eliminated in the first round.

So what is there about soccer that appeals/does not appeal here?

The lack of scoring

I don’t think this is a big factor, the superb ball-handling, er ball-footling, skills of the players are amazing, as is the playmaking. 

The refereeing

It’s almost impossible for even a good referee with his assistants to see the details of every move, especially with the rampant theatrics (see cheating, below).  But there’s a danger of assuming that a fair outcome is what is intended.  Questionning calls adds an element of spice and controversy that I’m sure inspires much post-game discussion.  With such a low-scoring game, a single bad call can determine the outcome.  So perhaps the emphasis in the sport is more on adding excitement than having the best team win.  If fairness was important, they’d have replay reviews, even if it did slow the pace of the game somewhat.  So, if it’s the dynamic discussions after the game and in-game arguments at the pub you like, give a bonus to the game for this.  If you prefer a more meaningful outcome, the game misses the ball on this one.

The cheating

All sports have fakery, but the blatant and transparent trickery of so many of the players is hardly sportsmanlike, and makes the players look like pansies.  This I’d guess is a big turnoff here for anyone new to the game.  The commentor’s lame excuses of “it’s all part of the game” and “all teams do it” are just a further turnoff.  Big minus for the game.

The timing

Compared to the anal retentive pseudo accuracy of the timing for games like hockey and basketball (where tenths are second are meaninglessly counted towards the end), the playful and vague way the game is timed, with the referee throwing a mental die to determine added/stoppage/injury time is a refreshingly relaxed approach.  And I like the fact that they don’t whistle down a play in mid-flight, the referee will blow his whistle at a lull at whim.  Add that to the almost continous play, and you can score points for footy on this one.

Commercial interruption in broadcasts

The playing time is not interrupted with TV commercials in Canada and the US.  Yum. 

The competition

In Canada, our version of football, hockey and baseball (and to a lesser degree basketball and a myriad of other sports) are well entrenched.  And when that’s what Canadians grow up with, that’s likely what’s familiar and comfortable. 

But if that’s the case then since so many kids play soccer here, why isn’t it more popular?  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation thinks it is, carrying as many as 16 World Cup-related programs per day, including up to five games on two networks. 

But I wouldn’t expect to see Canada winning the World Cup soon.

Categories: Entertainment, Sports

How about those Italian women?

Saturday, February 11th, 2006 2 comments

The Olympic hockey team, that is. To field a team in a country where only a few hundred women play hockey is gutsy. And they were tiny (some 55kg, 160cm, etc.). But they played a very disciplined defensive style despite being so dramatically outclassed by the Canadian team. The 16-0 final score doesn’t reflect their tenacity and determination.

Categories: Sports

Sports dabble

Monday, February 6th, 2006 Comments off

Yesterday I watched a couple of periods of Canadiens hockey and the Super Bowl.  The last Super Bowl I watched was VII, so it’s been a while.  At least three Seahawk rushes (including one with a TD) were called back due to penalties and fizzled.  And what happened to the Seahawks at the end of the halves?  Strange plays.  Entertaining overall though, and today at some point I’ll catch up on the commercials.  In Canada, the commercials are mostly replaced with boring, ordinary spots.

It’s not been quite so long for hockey, perhaps only 20 years or so, and it was good hockey.  I still am amazed that a bizarre play that started in the 70s is still used: throw the puck into the corner or behind the net, giving up possession.  No, not on a line change.  There is something there I must be missing.

Categories: Sports