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TVision Live is not a very intelligent live TV streaming service at the moment, and the lack of device support and features makes it all the more harder to recommend. While it is still a new live TV option and comes with an expectation that it will improve over time, TVision Live is in need of massive improvements if it’s going to complete with Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV and the rest of the competition. For now, consumers should consider looking elsewhere for live TV.
TVision launched in late 2020, albeit in a limited state. At present, only existing T-Mobile customers can sign up to the service and this alone is likely to rule out plenty of consumers. While TVision is expected to become more universally available in the future, there’s currently no firm date on when.
Besides the limited availability in general, TVision is also pretty limited in terms of device support. This includes no support for LG and Samsung TVs, as well as the entirety of the Roku platform. Although these limitations will likely iron themselves out, the service has some very fundamental flaws to also work through. Starting with the user experience.
Experience and ease of use
One of the main takeaways from TVision is how unintelligent the service is. In its current state, it feels like a very basic offering. It has a TV guide and an on demand section, but that’s about it. The entire interface is just very basic. In this sense, it may prove appealing to anyone looking for true simplicity, but the lack of even the most basic features and navigation options results in an underwhelming and at times, frustrating, user experience.
Unlike many other live TV streaming services, TVision lacks the personal experience. Content is not recommended based on the user’s viewing habits, resulting in a very generic home screen. For example, the service does recommend shows and movies, but these are simply what the service deems to be “popular” in general. In fact, it’s not even clear how TVision is making that decision to begin with. Regardless, the home screen’s recommended content is unlikely to be any different to any other subscriber’s recommendations.
That’s not to say all home screen experiences are exactly the same, as there are some sections that are specific to the subscriber, but these are largely limited to the ‘Continue Watching’ and ‘Your Recordings’ sections. The general lack of a tailored experience makes it difficult to find shows and movies to watch.
Further adding to the problem is that there’s a real lack of categories or ways to filter the content that’s available. For example, beyond ‘Shows’ or ‘Movies’ there’s no filtering choices provided. Even in the Shows and Movies sections, the content order is once again weighted by what is generally considered to be popular. Think, “Friends” and “Shark Tank.” Besides any ability to filter, there’s also no option to rearrange how the app orders the catalog, such as alphabetically.
Due to all this, the interface feels more burdensome than it should be. Each time the subscriber attempts to explore the content, they will be presented with the same pre-determined shows, in the same order, and the same navigation hurdles. It is just a tiring experience.
Besides the functionality problems, the apps themselves tend to be extremely buggy and problematic. One of the major problems at the moment is response time. On some occasions the apps can take minutes to launch leaving the subscriber staring at the splash screen. Sometimes the wait is so long that it’s unclear if the app is going to load at all. While app performance will vary across platforms, this loading issue was noted on both smart TVs and smartphones.
If and when the app does load, similar problems were often encountered in the app. On some occasions, clicking through the interface took too long, while in other instances, attempting to watch a live channel or start playback of on demand/recorded content resulted in equally long waits. There was also a number of times when the channels just wouldn’t load at all.
These are beta apps so it should be expected that the experience is not polished, but that’s the point. Bugs and issues are not just expected, but pretty much guaranteed at the moment.
Channels and live TV content
The live TV guide is actually one of the better aspects of the interface. It looks clean, is easy to navigate, and the channel being watched continues to play in the background. Listings are available for the next seven days with the option to record or find out more information for each one.
If clicking on the listing for what’s on now, a small window launches displaying what’s playing on the channel right now. There’s also a “Recently Watched” row accessible at the bottom of the screen for quick and easy jumping between recent channels.
Generally speaking, the selection of channels with TVision is also pretty good. Ultimately, this will come down to which TVision Live subscription is selected when signing up, but even the base Live plan comes with 34 channels, including CNN, ESPN, Fox, NBC, TNT, among others.
In fact, the overall channels currently available is much higher than the listed number, due to TVision Live subscribers also getting access to all of the channels available through TVision Vibe. However, this is understood to be a limited-time benefit and it is likely to change at some point in the future.
In the meantime, however, the selection of channels, as well as the general live TV experience, are some of the service’s stronger points, so as long as ignoring the various app issues mentioned in the previous section.
TVision on demand content
TVision also comes with a decent enough selection of on demand content. Although, as mentioned, navigating the interface is an issue. The problem not only extends to finding content, but even when found, new problems can surface. This is particularly the case when binging shows.
For example, there’s no ‘next episode’ or option to keep watching. Once an on demand episode ends, the viewer is booted back to live TV. Due to this, the user has to go back home and navigate again to the series page to select the next episode. While there is a ‘continue watching’ section, this is only visible if a subscriber stops watching before the episode (or movie) ends.
Making matters worse, there’s not really an option to add on demand videos to the user’s library. All movies and shows only come with the option to play, record or view more details.
Therefore, to watch the next on demand episode, the user has to search for the show again, unless it just happens to surface on the home page, or the user is actively recording new episodes. Even then, and even though recordings are added to the home screen, this won’t allow users to access the on demand episodes of the same show. It is just for the most recent recording.
The search function is also in need of major work. Unless searching for a specific title, it’s far from helpful with discovering content. As an example, a search for “horror” returns random shows and movies. Many were not only unrelated to horror, but most of the results were not even available with the current plan’s channel lineup.
In addition to the on demand content that’s available, TVision does offer the option to add premium networks to a Live package. However, these are mainly limited to Epiz, Showtime and Starz. Technically, T-Mobile markets these as a separate “Channels” option. Which means any existing T-Mobile customers can subscribe to them, irrespective of whether they are also signed up to a Live plan.
Besides the on demand content and access to select premium networks, TVision does also provide some TV Everywhere support. As a result, subscribers can use their TVision account credentials to log in to third-party apps and websites for select networks. Considering the various app issues noted, this is quite often a better option than using the TVision app.
Cloud DVR and recordings
TVision’s Live plans all come with 100 hours of cloud DVR. Generally speaking this is a fairly generous amount of recording space and is certainly more than what AT&T TV, Hulu Live TV and Sling TV include for free with their base plans.
There are some additional controls available as well. For times when a live event may run longer than it should, users can opt to record up to sixty minutes more per recording. There’s also the ability to record new episodes or both new episodes and reruns, as well as choosing which channel they would like to record from – if shown on multiple channels soon. Even after being set, subscribers can easy adjust any of the settings via the ‘scheduled’ section.
However, the DVR is also not without its issues. If recording new and reruns, then multiple versions of the same episode will likely end up being recorded. While YouTube TV does something similar, the implementation is much better and neater. With TVision, multiple recordings are displayed as different listings, forcing the user to scroll more often.
Not only does this result in DVR storage space being used too quickly, but it also makes management of the DVR harder, due to the additional copies that will need to be deleted.
Overall, the cloud DVR works well and the amount of hours provided for free should be enough for most subscribers. However, it is a little limited in terms of features, compared to the DVR offered by some of the other live TV services.
TVision Live price and value
On paper, the price of TVision is pretty spot on. With the Live plans varying between $40 and $60 per month, there’s enough choice to suit different users and budgets. However, the value on offer is another story entirely. At the channel level, TVision Live offers good value, but a subscription is currently bolstered by the inclusion of TVision Vibe. If and when that deal ends, subscribers will lose access to more than 30 channels, including AMC, Discovery, Hallmark, ID, among others.
More of a concern right now is the experience. The lack of features coupled with the performance issues greatly affect the value, and especially as TVision is only slightly cheaper than many of the competing services. In fact, Sling TV is $5 cheaper than T-Mobile’s cheapest TVision Live plan and not only comes with more features, but is far more stable and reliable.
Another value point to take into consideration is device support. Not only is TVision lacking support for many typical devices, but even basic ones. For example, there is no option yet to stream via a browser, ruling out laptops, PCs, Macs, and so on. This is in spite of all account management needed to be done through a browser.
TVision Live review summary
T-Mobile’s live TV streaming service just isn’t ready yet. It is that simple. The whole experience feels too basic and in some cases, dated. The apps are limited in functionality, underwhelming, and suffer massively in terms of performance.
Of course, many of the criticisms here are likely to be fixed or at least improved in time. At which point TVision Live might be a much better option for live TV streaming. If and when the service does improve. this review will be updated to reflect any changes.
TVision additional info
If new to streaming and considering TVision as a live TV streaming service, then there are some additional points to be aware of. As this is a streaming service and provides access to shows and movies over the internet, consumers will want to make sure they meet the internet requirements.
Being aware of TVision’s recommended internet speeds will help to make sure the experience is not worse than it should be. Something that is all the more important when an account and internet connection is likely to be shared by multiple people on different devices at the same time.
TVision’s minimum internet recommendations:
|Speed||What to expect|
|3Mbps+||Single standard definition stream|
|5Mbps+||Single high definition stream at 720p|
|7Mbps+||Single high definition at 1080p|
In addition to a suitable internet connection, consumers will need to choose from three main TVision Live plans. These not only differ on price, but also on the number of channels included with the subscription.
TVision Live plan prices:
|TVision plan||Price p/m||Channels|