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walker18 2005-01-12 03:54 PM

Sasktel Max - Sound and Video
I am thinking of changing from SC to Sasktel Max. I'm just wondering if the PACE box that Sasktel provides has a digital coaxial output for sound. I am not all that interested in 5.1 but I do like using the PCM stream from my SC receiver for the music stations.

Also, does anyone know if the s-video and composite video plugs both output a signal at the same time. I currently have my SC box sending s-video and PCM into my AV receiver and RCA into my VCR. Will I still be able to do something like this with the MAX box?

Thanks in advance.

walker18 2005-01-18 02:39 PM

I did a little digging and it turns out that Sasktel started using a new STB in December. This one does have a digital coaxial output (SPDIF). It also looks like it has a really neat IPG.

Anyway, I just thought I would answer my own question in case anyone else was curious.


Neild 2005-01-21 02:09 AM


Originally Posted by walker18
I did a little digging and it turns out that Sasktel started using a new STB in December. This one does have a digital coaxial output (SPDIF). It also looks like it has a really neat IPG.

Anyway, I just thought I would answer my own question in case anyone else was curious.


What's the overall picture quality and usability? I've heard people complain bitterly about both in the past, maybe they have improved things since though?

walker18 2005-01-25 06:31 PM

I don't get hooked up until Saturday so I maybe I shouldn't say too much until then. My sister is on it in Regina and has always been very happy. I didn't notice the picture quality being too poor when I visited her last time. My father-in-law had it hooked up to a 57" Hitachi and I don't remember thinking it was terrible, however, his TV wasn't properly calibrated so perhaps I just wasn't expecting too much.

I'll check back in after my instalation.

walker18 2005-01-30 02:43 PM

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.

Overall impression:

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.

Neild 2005-02-01 04:39 AM

I appreciate you taking the time to write this review

walker18 2005-02-01 07:58 PM

No problem, Neild. I'm always happy to talk about my HT setup. I was actually a little surprised at the lack of stated opinion about this service when I searched the Internet. Hopefully some people can find the information useful.

PhotoJim 2005-02-28 10:46 AM

I don't subscribe to Max but I have used it at my brother-in-law's place. Here are my comments.

Picture quality and sound quality seem fine. Stereo and Dolby ProLogic only, which isn't awful. No Dolby Digital 5.1. The fact that SPDIF boxes are coming is a good sign on this front. To be fair, not much on Access Communications (or presumably Shaw) is in 5.1 yet so the advantage is fairly small.

Channel changing is pretty zippy, not as fast as with my 6412 box, but faster than my 1000 or 2000. There is no annoying pause-freeze as with the 6412 though.

I haven't noticed any image blocking problems, but I haven't watched enough to know.

You can only have two decoder boxes which is rather limiting. It'd be great for a single person or married couple, but a family with children might want more than two TVs. You can probably jury rig some sort of setup where you can intercept the network output of one box (the signal travels over Ethernet cable through a switch), but you shouldn't have to.

No HDTV yet. I'm sure it's coming, but Access has it now. Granted, at least in the non-rebuilt areas of Regina, Access has some bandwidth issues that create dropout. Then again, I have three cable boxes and the fastest consumer Internet package, so I'm pushing the bandwidth as far as is possible pretty much.

Max isn't for me but it certainly should be on the table of many consumers.

Neild 2005-03-04 01:43 AM

Jim - can you elaborate on the dropout issue? My service suffers from severe dropouts, audio especially. I've been told it is the source networks or Cancom that are the cause, so your note about the bandwidth situation is interesting.

PhotoJim 2005-03-04 09:35 AM

It's brief dropouts of the audio, pretty much exclusively on HD channels. It happens every few minutes for a second or two.

I had a lengthy chat with someone at Access and he stated that it is a download-from-source issue. A bandwidth issue should affect the picture, but I don't have any picture quality issues, so this makes some sense.

Neild 2005-03-05 06:23 AM

Yep I get exactly that when the signal quality is at its best. When it worsens, the pictures and audio will drop, and also the remote control loses its responsiveness. They are now recording the HD channels at the head office so if you have specific dropouts at certain points in a program you should be able to contact them and compare notes. If they have the same dropouts as you it could be the source or the receivers. If they have different dropouts than you that's probably an issue with the local distribution.

robman 2005-05-20 01:44 AM

I've been fairly disappointed with what I've seen of Max so far, mainly because of the video quality. It seems to be pretty blurry, have a ton of "black crush" where all the dark parts of the scene are just black, and a bunch of blocking and compression artifacts.

This was on one of the older black PACE boxes - I see they have some newer silver ones which might be a bit better.

HD will probably be a while in coming to DSL-based TV systems, because the bandwidth required is so large and the available bandwidth is rather limited.

brenda 311 2006-03-09 12:59 AM

i am not allowed to post a new thread and pardon me but
I was wondering if someone can help me??
I have sasktel the ultimate bundle max package.Can someone tell me do they charge for the equipment monthly is that a rental charge?? Also I have a mortorola interactive digital communications box as well as a mortorlolad Cybersurfr wave modem will these work with sasktel for max digital and my internet services with sasktel, they were given to me by a friend that used it with shaw cable??? Please any words of wisdom would be very muchly appreciated:);) :o

BorisBadenov 2006-03-09 10:20 AM

I believe they only charge rental for a 2nd box . The Shaw cable boxes will not work with max.

knowbodies 2006-03-19 02:57 AM

According to the Sasktel MAX newsletter I recieved yesterday, HD and a PVR is going to be available before the end of the year. Additionally, up to 4 settop boxes will be supported though I doubt more than one will be HDTV.

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