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Review: Zazeen and VMedia IPTV

JD

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Well, it's a New Year and it's a new IPTV provider on trial ;)

Similar to my previous thread: http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/member-reviews/66325-review-vmedia-compared-rogers.html, this one will be Zazeen vs. Rogers.

Thankfully this time around, Zazeen was kind enough to offer 25 members over on DSLReports a free 3-month subscription to their service. At least I won't be out any money this time if things turn sour like they did on the VMedia front.

I'll get some pictures up probably on Friday, but initial impressions are looking good thus far. My family has already said "it's better than that other company you tried". Watching the Leafs game on TSN tonight and it looks pretty good, no stuttering/lag. It does appear "softer" compared to Rogers though.

CP24 looks significantly worse though. On VMedia, it was basically the same as Rogers, but on Zazeen the text isn't crisp/sharp which makes it harder to read.

...more to come!
 

JD

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Well I reached out to VMedia today, and they offered me a free month as well, so now I can compare everything side-by-side :thumb:

For "static" content like the news, VMedia and Rogers are pretty much equal. Zazeen seems to be a bit blurry, almost like an out-of-focus picture. If I wasn't flipping between sources, I likely wouldn't have realized how blurry Zazeen is.

For "moving" content like sports, Rogers is the best, with Zazeen a close 2nd and VMedia a distant 3rd. Even though Zazeen isn't as sharp/crisp, the motion is fluid and there's no lag/stutter. In the Raptors game that was on tonight, I'd argue that Zazeen was better to watch than Rogers. On Rogers you could see compression artifacts around the players heads and such. On Zazeen, since it's kind of blurred, this wasn't visible at all. VMedia still doesn't seem to have solved the fluidity issues though, they've put out a bunch of firmware updates that were supposed to fix the 'micro-stutter' but it still seems to be there. Not as bad as it was back in June 2014 though.

Channel selection is a toss up. Zazeen includes some of the additional channels that my household would want, but VMedia also offers these as addons via their uChoose program. VMedia also carries all the SportsNet channels, something Zazeen has been saying "coming soon" to for a while now.

I will note, SD channels on Zazeen have proper audio. They sound the same as the HD channels. On VMedia, SD channels have horrendous audio quality compared to the HD ones. I'm not sure why they opted to do this, but it makes the channel surfing experience far more jarring.

Channel changes are the quickest on Zazeen I think, with VMedia a close 2nd. They can likely trade blows here, but it seems VMedia can be inconsistent. Rogers is just absurdly slow. Guide performance, I'm going to say Zazeen wins here, scrolling through seems to populate very quickly where as VMedia lags at times. Again, Rogers, let's just ignore because it's terrible.

The delay in "live" TV compared to Rogers seems to be lower with Zazeen as well, I'd estimate 30 seconds. VMedia appears to be about 1 minute.

Also worth noting, VMedia had some network interface die on them tonight around 7PM which meant a bunch of the Bell-owned channels were down for about an hour. This was one of the issues I saw occurring fairly frequently when subscribed to them previously, and obviously this doesn't look good. Hopefully it's a less frequent occurrence now, but it should still be mentioned.

Rogers VIP is $77/month, Zazeen is $50/month and VMedia is $45/month. The end question will be, is the $20-30 savings worth it?
 

JD

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Working with Zazeen to do some troubleshooting, it seems during "peak hours", I'm not getting the full 5Mbps bitrate, and it's dropping down to 2-3Mbps which is likely the cause for it looking so blurry.

I noticed last night though that on TSN5, Rogers was in blackout, where as VMedia and Zazeen were both showing the Ottawa Sens game. Could be beneficial to hockey lovers ;)

I tried the PVR functionality on the Zazeen box last night with a 60GB Vertex 1 SSD. Pausing Live TV seemed to work well, and it appears to record whatever channel you're on automatically, so you can "replay" live TV to go back and see that missed fight. If you have a show recording and tune into the channel directly, it doesn't play the recorded segment, rather it's the live stream. You have to go into the DVR menu option and click the recording to make it play from the beginning while it continues to record. I've never used PVR/DVR though, so I can't comment if this is "better" or "worse" than Rogers.

I'm still waiting on the firmware update from VMedia which fixes PVR functionality, so I haven't bothered testing it yet. It was originally released on Feb 3 but they pulled it since people were complaining of issues.
 

Nexzen

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Apr 7, 2015
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Still with Zazeen?

How has the service been so far? Are you still using Zazeen? Thinking of switching from Bell Fibe. Thanks for your review, was looking at VMedia as well, seen your last review.
 

JD

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I have a larger thread over here: Rogers, VMedia, Zazeen - A comparison - Canadian Broadband | DSLReports Forums

But yes, I do still have Zazeen, still on the free trial. They have a public free trial now too for 1 month, so no harm in giving them a shot before you cancel Fibe.

As mentioned, Zazeen's picture quality is still a bit lower than Rogers and I'm assuming Fibe. It's definitely leaps and bounds better than VMedia though. I got accustomed to the picture after about a week of watching it.

That being said, they're currently using GPU's to encode the channels, but are looking at switching back to CPU-based encoding, which I suspect will result in having better codecs/encoder settings which should help make the picture look better.

Basically think of it as "investing" in the company, by being a subscriber, they'll have more capital to be able to improve services. You might not save a ton of money, but at least you'll know you're helping the smaller businesses survive against Rogers/Bell.

I would definitely recommend everyone take part in their 30-day free trial though. Make your own opinions and decisions. :thumb:
 

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