TVision through T-Cellular sprang from T-Cellular’s acquisition of streaming TV carrier supplier Layer3 TV previous this yr—a transfer that left a large number of folks scratching their heads over T-Cellular’s technique. TVision, in the end, is dependent no longer on wi-fi carrier however on stressed broadband, and it’s lately to be had in only some markets: Chicago, Dallas-Fortress Price, Los Angeles, New York Town, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.
Being a resident of a Philadelphia suburb, TechHive requested me to provide TVision a shot to look if it was once a awesome choice to conventional cable and satellite tv for pc TV. The quick solution for cord-cutters is “nope.” TVision prices $100 per thirty days ($90 per thirty days in the event you’re already a T-Cellular buyer), plus $10 per thirty days for every further set-top field you make a decision to put in in your house. You’ll to find numerous less-expensive possible choices in our roundup of streaming TV products and services, none of which contain apparatus leases.
And in spite of T-Cellular CEO John Legere’s boast of “taking up Large Cable,” you’ll additionally wish to subscribe to certainly one of a restricted selection of ISPs to get right of entry to TVision: Altice, Constitution Spectrum, Comcast Xfinity, RCN/Wave, or Verizon Fios. To be honest, T-Cellular additionally says its long-term plan is for TVision consumers to make use of the 5G wi-fi community that T-Cellular is construction out—however that gained’t occur earlier than 2024. (T-Cellular says it’ll be capable of ship speeds upper than 100Mbps to 66 p.c of U.S. citizens through 2021.)
The longer solution for cord-cutters is extra nuanced. Not like every other TV supplier, TVision doesn’t have carrier tiers, so that you don’t wish to come to a decision which channels you wish to have and which you’ll are living with out. It’s an all or not anything or proposition, however “all” comprises greater than 150 channels—together with your native community associates—plus on-demand get right of entry to to 18,000-plus techniques. And TVision doesn’t tack on charges for high-definition or 4K solution, DVR carrier, or regional sports activities networks. You’ll be able to upload top rate channels akin to HBO and Showtime a los angeles carte.
TVision lacks a cellular app, and it’s solely unavailable while you’re clear of house. You’ll be able to’t remotely get right of entry to your DVR recordings, both. You’ll be able to use every community’s app—offering they have got one—to get right of entry to their content material, however that can require separate log-ins to every channel. T-Cellular makes use of synthetic intelligence to floor the sorts of content material you favor to observe, so there’s no less than one get advantages available in comparison to each conventional pay TV (i.e., cable and satellite tv for pc) and streaming TV products and services akin to Hulu + Are living TV, Sling TV, and PlayStation Vue. However saving cash isn’t certainly one of them.
Putting in place TVision carrier
Not like cable or satellite tv for pc TV, putting in TVision is a wholly DIY affair—you don’t wish to look ahead to a technician to come back to your house to mount anything else, pull cables thru your partitions, or set up any packing containers. (T-Cellular will ship an installer to your house if you are feeling the will.) DIYers will nevertheless wish to set up a field, and it should be hardwired on your router. The tool you hook up with every TV will hook up with this field wirelessly, over a hidden community (those packing containers even have stressed ethernet ports if in case you have the infrastructure to profit from them). The primary and satellite tv for pc packing containers come pre-populated along with your account data, pre-paired to one another, and fully able to move. I used to be gazing TV inside 10 mins of plugging within the hardware.
Every member of a TVision family can create their very own profile, and you’ll want to profit from this selection to get the entire good thing about what the carrier has to provide. That’s as a result of TVision will customise the TV-watching enjoy to every particular person’s viewing personal tastes, one thing you’ll understand after only some makes use of. The house display is split into 3 sections: A field within the decrease left-hand facet exhibiting content material from whichever channel you had been final tuned to, a quadrant of are living previews above that, and a stacked record of are living and recorded displays to the proper of that. Icons for more than a few streaming apps are stacked to the proper of that. Those apps don’t come with Netflix or Amazon High Video, however T-Cellular says those apps and extra are coming quickly).
After only some days of viewing, TVision’s AI had already advanced a good suggestion of my favourite channels and techniques and was once already suggesting related content material on this area. After the primary complete week, TVision even knew which channels I generally tend to observe at a given time of day. I used to be inspired with the rate at which this selection realized, and it briefly turned into certainly one of my favourite facets of TVision.
Very fine quality video—more often than not
I skilled a couple of circumstances of choppiness and degraded video high quality, however the high quality of TVision’s video (and audio) was once higher than maximum streaming products and services I’ve used—it was once very as regards to that of cable, even with two packing containers streaming on the similar time. TVision is the usage of the similar HEVC codec that Layer3 TV used, which is in a position to streaming 4K video the usage of as low as 10- to 15Mbps of bandwidth. However it’s price noting that T-Cellular recommends having broadband carrier of no less than 50Mbps all the way down to get the most efficient enjoy (my broadband downlink pace measures about 450Mbps).
Some channels performed better than others, and the box installed in my upstairs location exhibited more dropouts than the box that was physically closer to the main box connected to my router. Changing channels was a bit slow, and changing channels too quickly exacerbated the problem—to the point where the box seemed to hang, and I had to reboot it. If you decide to try TVision and you have the flexibility to hardwire the boxes to your network, do it.
Local DVR at no additional cost
Nearly everyone time-shifts their TV viewing these days—except for live events such as sports—so a DVR is a necessity for many of us. Some streaming TV services—including Sling TV—charge extra for DVR service in the cloud. A TVision subscription includes a whole-home DVR that can record up to eight programs simultaneously—provided you have the bandwidth to handle that much data. If your ISP imposes a data cap, that could be problematic. The 1TB DVR has enough capacity to store about 400 hours of high-definition TV.
I ran into some problems programming the DVR while in front of my TV. The program guide loads slowly, and the user interface would sometimes report that the recording request had failed when it hadn’t. Programming the DVR from the TVision web portal wouldn’t show up on the DVR itself for up to an hour. The web portal isn’t useful for much else beyond maintaining your TVision account; adding, deleting, or changing your subscription lineup; and contacting tech support.
Still rough around the edges
There’s a lot to like about TVision, especially if you want to save a little money without agonizing over which non-premium channels to take and which to give up. But it feels like you’re paying $90 per month to be a beta tester (and that’s including a temporary discount for T-Mobile customers that’s available to all for a limited time). While video quality was very good most of the time, the quality on some channels was less than stellar in my experience. And the inability to access TV programming while you’re away from home is a major shortcoming compared to most cable and satellite TV offerings (not to mention many of the competing streaming services).
TVision as it exists today is far from the la carte TV programming that cord-cutters crave, but if you don’t want to make any TV-entertainment sacrifices and you live in one of the few areas where the service is available, it’s not a bad deal. Just be prepared to live with a few bugs while T-Mobile works out the kinks. We’ll keep our eye on TVision, especially as T-Mobile builds out its 5G network, and will update this review accordingly. But for now, it gets only our very highly qualified recommendation.