My experience with Pik TV so far

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Rawbbiez
Resident

I've been a PIK TV user for about a month and would like to share some experiences I've had with the service in case anyone out there is contemplating the change. There's a lot going for the technology behind the box itself. Being Android-based was certainly a nice surprise as I have an Android phone and use the Google Apps store quite frequently. The setup process takes full advantage of this, and although you can avoid a lot of typing during the initial setup by using the Google app on your phone, I wasn't able to get it to work for an unknown reason. Secondly, being able to navigate the Google Play store on your box was a new experience and I was quite surprised at the number of regular Playstore apps that seemed to be install-able on the Pik TV box. There are quite a few cons though, which I feel people should be aware of. Beware, the list is quite long so I hope you don't mind the bullet point formatting:

 

1. Setup took over 3 hours. Tech couldn't find my fibre optic line in my condo building and it took him several trips to the basement comm box to solve the issue. It was Thanksgiving Day, though, so his efforts were admirable.

 

2. The controller has serious lag compared to what I was using before. By serious, I mean, after turning on the box and pressing the Guide button shortly after, there's consistently a 5-6 second lag where the box does absolutely nothing before the actual guide appears on the TV. Scrolling the actual guide is also unacceptably laggy, and though it varies, my estimation is a half second delay between remote button press and response on screen. The lag seems more pronounced just after turning on the box and occurs with other menu buttons like Apps as well.

 

3. The volume is too low and there's no way to change it. This might not seem like such a big problem at first, but then consider I have a PC and PS4 connected to the same TV and their volumes are normal. That means I have to switch back and forth every time I change the source to avoid sudden loudness spikes when I want to change from watching Pik TV to playing my PS or using my computer. I would estimate the sound output from Pik TV is about 50% that of my other devices (so while my other devices sound great at about level 12 on my soundbar, I have to put it up to level 24 just to watch TV at a normal volume).

 

4. Video quality is poor. This was the biggest surprise to me, as my previous provider had no picture quality issues whatsoever, and every HD channel was as close to real HD as I could tell. On Pik TV though, channels like CNN look heavily compressed and while I'm not a video technician, just comparing the video quality of CNN on PikTV to Youtube, I would be hard-pressed to say it's even close to 720p, let alone 1080p. My best guess just judging by the washed out colours, sharpness of text scrolling across the screen, and general artifacts (pixellation), is that PikTV only displays 576p and very compressed at that. I can confirm I have no other devices using internet during this time and I've followed the technical support troubleshooting guides. I'm on my 2nd box now and have contacted support more than a couple times to try to get these problems fixed to no avail. The last step that tech support tried (valiantly, I might add), is to try a new HDMI cable. I will try their cable, but I seriously doubt it will fix any problems as I've already tried a few of the spare HDMI cables/inputs that I currently have laying around at home.

 

5. Video freezes or gets stuck buffering randomly. This appears to happen frequently when the box isn't in use for awhile. I would leave the Pik TV box on while playing PS4 or doing stuff on my PC, only to find the video has completely frozen when I switch back to Pik TV. The guide would be unresponsive, forcing me to power on/off the Pik TV box in order to be functional again. 

 

Final verdict: If you're a cord-cutter and used to sub-par streaming video quality, Pik TV might be an OK solution for you. If you're concerned about video quality and want to experience true HD on that HD TV of yours, my advice is to avoid Pik TV and stick to a service (maybe Optik?) that doesn't compress the video signal and/or doesn't use under-powered hardware. For me, Pik TV is a serious downgrade from what I was using before.

Skulchyski
Organizer

We found some of the same issues. However we found with the volume make sure you sync it with your tv or any other device it seemed to put it into a different volume scale.

 

as for video quality hardwiring to our internet has solved that.

 

hope it helps

cousinjunior
Advisor

Sep-19-2018

 

OK, just got my Pik TV box

 

in general things are pretty good, EXCEPT for video quality on the TV channels... NOT so good!

 

I agree and have similar issues with poster "Rawbbiez" above, point #4

 

I have connected my box with an Ethernet cable, and did not set up WIFI at all... this should give me a very fast & solid connection, and I have Telus Fibre service Internet 25 plan

 

I was most recently using over-the-air TV with my $40 antenna, and picture quality was great, and easily as good or better than my previous Shaw "full cable PVR service"... also, using a Roku first-generation box to get Netflix, and picture quality from that was great (plus I could output stereo 2-channel into my nice stereo system...)

 

I have tried viewing Netflix from my Pik TV box, and that picture quality seems much better than the Pik TV live TV channels

 

have not tried any "video on demand" so far, so no comment there

 

yes, Pik TV live TV channel for CNN for example is not very good... I would say only 60% "as good" as my old cable service or free over-the-air reception

 

what's up?... I can find no video quality settings at all on the Pik TV box, so assume we are forced to all use the default setting

 

Q1: just what is the technical "video quality" being delivered in my situation and/or for Pik TV live channels?

 

Q2: is Netflix output actually better then Pik live TV?

 

Q3: is there anything that can be done???... does Telus have a fix or plans to improve this situation? (I really want to keep this service since I wanted to increase my live TV viewing selection, and at $10/month, is quite reasonable otherwise)

 

Telus reps -- can anyone comment please?

 

thank you!

 

 

 

 

kjb86
Friendly Neighbour

@cousinjunior have you tried it on Apple TV yet (assuming you have one)?

 

I had Pik about 2 months ago, and it only lasted 3 days for me (and that's because I was busy and didn't have time to wait an hour on the phone to cancel).  It was bad picture quality.  Sure, $10 and it's cheap but come on... my antenna pulls the local stations and I get better HD than Optik/Shaw.

 

So i'm wondering how much better/less compressed the service is with a device that's lightyears ahead of the Pik TV box

cousinjunior
Advisor

are you suggesting that Apple TV box can access Telus Pik TV (through an app?), and thus be able to play the Pik live TV streaming?

 

has anyone out there been able Pik live TV on an Apple box?

 

if so, I am wondering if that will make any difference, because I suspect that the cause of the poor picture quality is NOT the Pik (Android) box itself, but rather the way they process/compress and deliver *the TV channels*

 

I say this because Netflix on my Telus Pik box seems much, much better and I can easily live with that picture quality... so I know the box's graphics processing chips etc. are up to the task

 

ie., what is the weak point and why is picture quality so bad?: the Pik box, -OR-, the way they compress the signal for TV channel streaming?

 

 

PBA
Connector

Apple TV Pik app was release Monday September 17. 

 

Here's my initial impressions: https://forum.telus.com/t5/Pik-TV/Pik-TV-on-Apple-TV-first-impressions/td-p/89789

 

Video quality is mainly an encoding issue. Netflix do an amazing job of encoding their content at many different bit rates and resolutions, and that's why it looks so great.

 

FWIW Pik TV on Apple TV video quality seems on a par with Crave TV.

cousinjunior
Advisor

thanks for the info PBA!

 

RE: "FWIW Pik TV on Apple TV video quality seems on a par with Crave TV..."

 

sorry, but I don't have Crave, so can't relate to that...

 

QUESTION: based on your experience, which has the better video quality for *Pik live TV* channels only: the Telus Pik box --OR-- the Apple TV box?

 

and if there is a difference, is it significant, or something nearly impossible to detect?

 

my guess is that the limitation is NOT with the boxes (and that they deliver identical video quality), but rather with the brutal compression being applied to the Pik live TV... I say this because my box delivers very nice video quality with Netflix (and Netflix is a separate system from Pik live TV)

 

I have found so far that all Pik live TV channels are not that great, in general just not crisp, with poor contrast (muddiness)... sometime slight artifacting around text... some channels seem a wee bit better than others, those with "HD" suffix could be a bit better... CNN (was great with my old Shaw box) is decidedly "meh"

 

PS: I got my new Telus box for only $25(!) so would rather keep that than spend more $ on an Apple TV box, unless there's a compelling reason to do so... thanks!

 

PPS: sure would be nice to hear from a Telus rep or tech, to tell us definitively just what is the Pik live TV streaming at?... certainly not 1080P

Jdmackeigan
Resident
Some similar complaints and some additional ones

Biggest complaint: The Remote!!
1. Lag time
2. Miss having the skip jump button on the optic remote (having just fast forward is a bit harder to control with the lag)
3. The buttons...oh the buttons 😫. Being such a sleek design it’s hard in the dark to tell what buttons are what without the texture difference.

System:
1.As an android box I feel it runs pretty decent and the app choices are nice.
2. Works like an Apple TV with iPhone which is a nice plus!
3. On an alternative device that has storage you can schedule recordings off the Pik app (still trying this one out but neat feature), would be nice if you could do this on the box itself so you could pick your select shows you watch and have them all in a list instead of searching through everything. I have yet to find a search bar on the box but on a different device using the Pik app there is one.

Pik tv app:
1. It’s kinda like watching Kodi, it buffers lots and kicks you out of the show.
2. Limited show selection included in each channel
3. Limited channel selection
4. On demand comes out way later than live tv
5. Only a few on demand episodes are available at a time when watching recent series making it hard to wait and binge watch.
Community Power User
Community Power User

@Jdmackeigan wrote:
Some similar complaints and some additional ones

Biggest complaint: The Remote!!
1. Lag time (the remote isn’t the reason, the box performance is getting better every update)
2. Miss having the skip jump button on the optic remote (having just fast forward is a bit harder to control with the lag) 
(You can’t expect full optik tv features in a value product)
3. The buttons...oh the buttons 😫. Being such a sleek design it’s hard in the dark to tell what buttons are what without the texture difference. (You can purchase third party remotes with backlighting) 

System:
1.As an android box I feel it runs pretty decent and the app choices are nice.
2. Works like an Apple TV with iPhone which is a nice plus!
3. On an alternative device that has storage you can schedule recordings off the Pik app (still trying this one out but neat feature), would be nice if you could do this on the box itself so you could pick your select shows you watch and have them all in a list instead of searching through everything. I have yet to find a search bar on the box but on a different device using the Pik app there is one. 
(Android TV vs cheap android boxes)

Pik tv app:
1. It’s kinda like watching Kodi, it buffers lots and kicks you out of the show. 

(If it buffers a lot you have connection issues. I have no issues on wifi or hard wired connection). 

2. Limited show selection included in each channel

(channel operators decide the content to air)

3. Limited channel selection 

(PikTV is meant for cord cutters or those who don’t want to pay a lot for tv, but have reasonable selection at a lower price. If you want a full selection of channels then Optik TV is for you)

4. On demand comes out way later than live tv 

(On demand content can take a few days to appear, after a show has aired *see
below) 

5. Only a few on demand episodes are available at a time when watching recent series making it hard to wait and binge watch.

(*On demand content is provided by the channel providers, they select what can and can’t be viewed and the time to be made available)

cousinjunior
Advisor

UPDATE:

 

1. video quality of Pik Live TV

- based on what I'm reading and seeing for myself, it seems that the root of the problem lies upstream with the *low-quality encoding* of the material (not the Telus box itself, not my HDMI cable, not my internet connection since I'm Ethernet hardwired)... Telus must be compressing the bejeezus out of everything, to reduce bandwidth needed to deliver the material to all its subscribers... guess that's why Pik TV data transfer does NOT count as part of your Telus Internet plan?... on the other hand, Netflix looks very nice through the Telus box, solid HD quality... so, guess I just have to live with less-than-true-HD quality for Pik TV

 

2. !!! now I have a problem: Pik Live TV goes dead after 1 day!

- after the initial setup, Pik Live TV seems to work correctly

- then evening comes along, and the box goes to sleep overnight...

- try to watch Pik Live TV the next day, and NO GO!... all I get is a black/blank screen, with a very small white rectangle appearing in the very top left corner of the screen... upon closer inspection, the white box sees to contain the bottom half of a green Android icon (cut off)

- the only fix is to clear the cache and data for the Pik TV app (that worked once), or, having to completely reinstall the Pik TV app

- note: the box itself is updated, and, the Pik TV app is updated

- also tried a full reset of the box and full re-initialization of everything (what a time-consuming pain...)... yes this brings it back into working order, but sadly, for only 1 day

- *** ANYONE ELSE seeing this behavior, and if so, were you able to fix?

- note: Telus is sending me a new box, but somehow I think I'll just get the same problem, considering that my current box is brand new

 

thanks

cousinjunior
Advisor

received my (new) replacement Pik TV box today... will install and report back...

 

Q: should I use "sleep mode" yes or no?

 

what exactly does that setting do, and is there any risk in using it?

Pnewton
Resident

By far, my biggest complaint is the lag on the remote. The box is borderline unusable. Sadly, its been more than an month since purchase and I can no longer return it.

Community Power User
Community Power User
Remote lag is non existent on Apple TV. But the hardware is more powerful then the android box.