Well, I am now connected to Sasktel Max for my TV and Internet.
Although it has only been one day, overall, I am quite pleased with it. Here is the scoop (as I see it).
1) Local Programming - I am very happy to now have local programming again. After being on *C for a number of years I am not used to having much in this department. There are, of course, the local TV stations, but Max goes further. There are a number of Sask. radion stations; and not just from Saskatoon and Regina. PA, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Swift Current all have listings as well. There is also a homepage that you can easily access to get up to date weather, news, movie listings, horoscopes, etc. It is actually very useful.
2) Program Guide - Compared to *C this is much better. The guide looks very nice and is searchable in a number of ways including program name, category, time, and channel. I did a quick search using the word Battlestar and had a complete list of showtimes and dates within seconds. Very nice. It also has a mini-guide feature so you can search and watch at the same time. The timers are set up so the box can either remind you or automatically tune to a station. This is nice to differentiate between timers for recording and just to remind you of something coming on later.
3) Price - by bundling this service with my existing Sasktel services I am getting almost 2x the specialty channels I was getting through *C at about half the cost.
4) Picture and Sound
a) Picture - On my 27" TV the picture quality was acceptable. It seemed like the colors may have been a little washed out on some stations, but that may just have been the source material. I watched Dodgeball last night and the color seemed natural. I did notice that at the end of the movie there was a scene where a lot of paper was flying around in the air and there did seem to be some artifacts present. That would suggest to me that there may be a fair bit of compression in the video, but on the whole it was fine.
b) Sound - Although the new STB comes with a digital co-axial output for sound, it does not seem to be active. This would obviously eliminate any 5.1 material and it does not allow a PCM stream to go to the AVR. Since I don't watch anything unless I tape it first, this is not a concern for me, but if you value this, then beware.
5) Video on Demand - This is great. Although the selection of new release movies is not huge Sasktel has recently signed a deal with Sony (as mentioned in another thread) and this should improve. I have two toddlers in the house and so I rarely have the energy to go to the video store to rent once the kids are in bed. I haven't taken advantage of PPV because they were never starting when I was ready to watch. Last night I was able to watch Dodgeball because I simply started it at 8:47 when I sat down to watch it. I was also able to pause it to go get snacks and use the facilities. Very nice feature.
I am quite impressed with this service. I do not have a big TV and so picture quality was not a huge concern. However, I do have a decent sound system (Yammy RXV-2400 with Infinity Alpha 20s) and although the sound out of the box is analog, I find the music stations sound very good. Surround sound is not 5.1, but with the lack of source material in this format this is not a major concern of mine. If you need more than two STB this is not an option and is a weakness of this system, although in speaking to the installer he indicated that they are currently upgrading their wiring to allow either 3 STBs or one HD connection.
Although this is not going to replace satellite for many people, I think for the price this is a very good alternative.