Computers & Electronics

Acanac/Zazeen's internet/iptv/voip venture by IFK

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Oct 15, 2005
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Acanac/Zazeen's internet/iptv/voip venture by IFK

Acanac Inc. … Man I still cringe and have a sour taste in my mouth when I hear his company name. It’s just an experience that I had with them 7 years ago that I want to forget. If you do not know what I am a talking about a simple search on here and you can see what I am talking about.

Now I know most of you already know my history with Acanac several years ago and at some point many of you have seen the reviews on them over the years. I actually only got to test drive their new product offerings because my girlfriend is an actual customer with them. If she was not I would have never had been exposed to their product and service and to be honest, I probably would never signed up for 3 reasons…

1. My previous experience with them being number 1…Let’s be honest I hated Acanac so much that I was not afraid to make that clear on RFD or any place I visited online.
2. The amount of negative reviews online being number 2… As a new potential customer a simple search on them on Google could be enough to deter anyone.
3. Not enough information or video or media coverage on them being number 3… I mean I have seen ads on TTC and in my local paper… but other than that has anyone actually seen or experienced their product?

There is no demos in any retail stores and barely anything on them on the internet aside from a few still pictures and short clips from users who tested IPTV in beta. It’s like the only way you would ever know about them is if you knew someone who had service with them or if you read a negative review online about them and there are plenty of those.

So has anything changed in the last 7 years? Acanac has evolved into something much bigger since I was a paying customer. There was a few Mergers and Acquisitions with some other companies over the years and I think it was good for them because when I was around… they had a lot of growing pains and I mean a lot. So 7 years later after merging and acquiring CIA, 3web and to the new ownership with Distributel … they had a lot to learn and fast and I think putting all the egos aside on DSLR and partnering with the right companies made them smarter. I cannot remember who it was in their company who said it but it was something “like together we are stronger” and it certainly does shine now.
Today they have several re-sellers and ISP partners and also have official CLEC status and what started as a simple hosting company grew into DSL ISP to CLEC to CABLE ISP and now IPTV broadcast provider as well as HOME PHONE and VOIP provider. Pretty impressive right? So let’s see how the experience and conversation with them is now 7 years later… on with the review!

Costs and Pricing …
The product and hardware I am covering in this review and their costs are the following…

Entone Kamai 400 Series STB and Universal remote @ 140.00 one time
SmartRG 505n VDSL2 Gateway Modem @ 99.00 one time + shipping @ 9.95 one time
Acanac/Zazeen “Not so Basic” IPTV channel package @ 29.95 first 3 months and 49.95/month thereafter
Acanac/Zazeen VDSL2 25/10 @ 39.95/month + dry loop fee @ 8.00/month + activation @ 49.95 one time


Now I know what you’re thinking… damn those are some high startup costs. But they are well worth it and I will explain why in the main thread. If you cannot buy the hardware right away Acanac/Zazeen does also offer the option to rent the STB and modem for 7.95 per month each. Also due to the recent rulings IPTV broadcast products must be bundled with their provider… on other words if you want Acanac/Zazeen IPTV you have to bundle their Internet with it. The good news is it’s cheaper than other guys and UNLIMITED!

Hardware and Technical details…
Now before we start my GF has VDSL2 at her place so she had to get the SmartRG gateway modem. You are absolutely able to purchase and BYOD with this provider but for ease of use and setup she opted to purchase directly from the ISP for pre-configured out of the box plug and play. Also Acanac/Zazeen also provide Cable internet and their IPTV product can work on Cable as well. VDSL2 was only chosen because where my GF resides it is a Bell exclusive building only. So no matter where you live if you can get either or you are good to go. In operation while IPTV is running the SmartRG VDSL2 Gateway/Modem handles well. At present I am unsure what encoding specifics are being utilized on their end to deliver IPTV but I can say that the IPTV product uses about 3.5 to 4.5 Mpbs per second so there is still plenty bandwidth to go around. I did not notice any lag or stutter even with 5 machines on the network while IPTV was in use as well and there was not network throttling detected at the time I was testing.

IPTV in Operation w/3 users on network
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IPTV in SLEEP mode
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Upon looking around inside the SmartRG that came with the service I did notice the firmware is ISP customized. There is Acanac branding inside but nothing was locked down. The only thing turned on was WMM and the default pre-configured WAN PPPOE credentials needed to connect the net. QoS was turned off by default and everything else was setup normally as the included piece of paper in the box specified.
The STB that my GF choose was the Entone Kamai 400 series. It pretty small… about the size of a DVD case and as thick as to DVD cases stack on top of each other. In the box it included everything needed to get set up. HDMI 1.4 cable, IR blaster extender cable, PSU, 15 foot RJ45 cable, RCA and Component AV breaker cable, Universal learning remote and 2 AAA batteries.
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On the back of the unit it has 1x Rj45 Ethernet port and I am not sure what the speed of the port is set to. 1x Optical Toslink port, 1x AV port for RCA and Component breaker cable. 1x HDMI port and I am not sure what version this port is. 2 coax ports for in and out… These also can be used as MOCA adapter and extender if you have MOCA devices or more Entone STB’s and there is an option to set this to ANT in as well although I was not able to test this. There is plenty of holes and vents all over the unit which is needs because this thing gets pretty hot… so when you do set this up you will want to place this in a well-ventilated area.
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The Experience …
Upon booting up you are greeted with a bland bluish Zazeen logo with some text near the bottom. The initial startup took some time almost 4 minutes… After it does its thing the screen goes black then comes back and you are then greeted by a load up indication meter that starts from 0/20 and counts up to 20/20. It then asks you to activate you STB and you have input the settings included on the piece of paper included in the box… once this is put in it automatically downloads an update from the server… this took about 1 minutes then PRESTO... IPTV is up and running. EPG filled almost instantly and all channels are listed. What I did find out is if you press the GUIDE button on your remote you can toggle the on screen EPG to display only SD or only HD or only Subscribed or ALL channels. This comes in handy but at the same time confused me…why? Because I would have opted for a Favorite’s list instead but upon more digging it seems Acanac opted for a multi-user setup in the options instead with parental controls and channel blocking…while this also achieves the same thing it’s also kind of a hassle to constantly switch between users.

Now the important stuff… How good is the picture quality? Does it Stutter or lag or pixelate? Does the picture suffer when users are on the network at the same time? How fast is channel changing? Is HD really in HD? Picture quality is spot on. In fact I would go as far to say it is better then what I have seen with Rogers. There was no Stutter or LAG or Pixilation ever when I was testing at all and with 5 ppl on the network playing games, downloading and on Netflix there was NO effect to the quality of the picture or experience at all. Channel changing is about half a second to a second. Much fast then Rogers and about the same as when compared to Bell. HD channels are displayed in broadcast HD which is 720P. The same as any other provider. Now just like the other guys when you press the power off and on button on the remote the STB goes into sleep mode rather than a full power down. In sleep there was not network activity and upon waking the STB the picture came back instantly… no boot up again. The box does have an auto sleep feature where after long extended periods of watching it will display a notification box in the middle of the screen warning that you are idle and if there is no response from the remote to click ok on the notification box on screen then the STB goes into sleep mode. This is a feature I actually like. There are options in STB to go to YouTube, Picasa and some multicultural channel lineup called Xinflix. Some of the YouTube links were not working either which is a shame or I hope they fix this. The STB has the ability to play content shared on your network from a NAS or shared folder from your computer or any DLNA compliant host. I was able to access my entire PLEX library and playback without a hitch another plus. So far so good!

Conclusion and Verdict …
Hmmmm....The best way to describe the Acanac/Zazeen internet and IPTV experience.. A Solid Product with room for improvement.
Well I hate to say this because even with my history with Acanac I must say they have solid product here and this is from someone who was completely biased towards them when starting this review. The response and speed was smooth. Nothing jerky no audio cut out or picture tearing at all. The experience and quality of the stream on screen was surprising and shockingly very good. So good I really didn't have anything bad to say while I was testing it. The channel line up for what you pay for offers tremendous value compared to what I am used to as well and the name of the package is just that…Not so Basic.

For 25/10 VDSL2 unlimited and Not-So-Basic package it came out to only 94.95 before taxes per month. This is on average almost half of what I normally would have paid to Bell or Rogers if I was still with them.
Even with me being biased based on my history with Acanac it is a product that must be given credit where credit is due. Now this does not mean everyone should go out buying up their products since this is only based on my experience with Acanac in the past and with the product in front of me now. At the end of the day it still comes down to what you the user deems as value and one must consider my experience may differ from yours.
It’s not a perfect product but for the price it’s pretty darn close to it… If you’re a student or someone who has been burned from the other guys and you refuse to go back… it fits the bill right. So let’s hope they continue to build on it and improve what is missing and still needs improvement.
15 replies
[OP]
Banned
User avatar
Oct 15, 2005
12954 posts
1611 upvotes
North York
All pictures in full-size including ones not shown:
https://mega.co.nz/#!RdIQhKqb!7EXAcJagP ... fLEOfNrEj4

PROS -
Great remote!!! This by far was the best and most surprising thing out of the box.
Universal learning function with easy to manage controls in the places buttons should be.
Hell it even felt and looked similar to the other guys remote that you are probably used to.
Excellent local content playback. Whether it was on USB stick or SDCARD or even on a shard network drive. The Entone STB was able to play local and streamed local content without a hiccup.
Experience Feels like actual TV from a Cable or Satellite Company. Everything from the remote to the UI felt very similar to the other guys.
Priced for Value… for what you pay. Very hard to complain.
Excellent picture and sound quality. Not sure what codec and compression they are using but it’s a solid result when in HD.
Zippy performance… everything from channel changing to remote response and UI reaction to user input. This thing did not ever slouch.

CONS -
Has to be bundled with Internet.
Service needs polishing… some features did not work most notably VOD… EPG UI had no video preview of the channel selected. No LOGO of the networks.
YouTube is present but for some reason lots of video links did not work when selected.
Some channels not present. Mostly multicultural stuff.
PVR functions require external USB HDD. If you liked this function expect to shell out more cash.
Startup costs are scary 49.95 for activation Entone STB is 140.00 and SmartRG VDSL2 gateway modem is 99.00!
No PPV at all. Their version of this looks like it will be their Video on Demand or VOD service…which btw is not all there yet.

OVERALL RATING 4.8 out of 6!
After testing this product on and off for a period of 4 weeks on weekends and evenings at my GF’s home I can say that the product and service performed stellar, the pricing is justifiable and very affordable. The only knocks I could give them was upstart costs and certain features that were not ready for prime-time and are still a work in progress. If you’re looking to get away from the big guys and just want contract freedom with no monthly billing hassles… definitely consider this growing company, they completely changed my outlook on them after this review. I was not sure how to accurately grade this so I broke down the scoring into 6 areas totaling a possible 6 max points.

The areas and scores are:

Cost and Pricing 8
Quality 9
Experience 8
Value 9
Features 7
Support 7


Bottom Line …
The upstart costs suck… But the experience helps quickly offset this, added along with the value monthly pricing that offers tremendous value and savings is just a bonus.

Additional pictures:
[IMG]http://i58.tinypic.com/jtq4ap.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://i61.tinypic.com/ulp2t.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://i60.tinypic.com/10de36d.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://i60.tinypic.com/11sknlk.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://i61.tinypic.com/34oalmq.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://i57.tinypic.com/o90cqs.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://i59.tinypic.com/2mepd87.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://i62.tinypic.com/20uvmsg.jpg[/IMG]
[OP]
Banned
User avatar
Oct 15, 2005
12954 posts
1611 upvotes
North York
hope this answers most of the questions for those of you on the fence or are just curious out there.
if anyone wants to ask or see something in detail not shown feel free to ask and i will try to get it posted when i have time.
PM's are always welcome.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Jun 12, 2007
14050 posts
3436 upvotes
London
I'm interested in the level of available support. My past experience with acanac is things are great until you have a problem, then its literally waiting for hours in the technical support telephone queue
[OP]
Banned
User avatar
Oct 15, 2005
12954 posts
1611 upvotes
North York
in my experience with this product the fastest response i got was via email or direct pm on their official forum.
i havent tried calling in since most of my issues were small ones during testing. like what is my stb box password and stuff like that.
but one thing for sure once this thing was setup it was flying circles around my old bell fibe equipment.
l69norm wrote:
Sep 5th, 2014 9:41 am
I'm interested in the level of available support. My past experience with acanac is things are great until you have a problem, then its literally waiting for hours in the technical support telephone queue
Deal Addict
User avatar
Aug 6, 2009
3074 posts
597 upvotes
Aurora, ON
Thanks, I enjoyed your review. I keep looking to these IPTV products and doing my math and I'm definately getting closer to making a change.
I am surprised, given your comments in the past re acanac, that you didn't go with vmedia :)
I've had acanac in the past and had absolutely no complaints, I switched because start.ca was a better deal for me.
Thanks again - very impressive.
Newbie
Feb 17, 2014
4 posts
Do not use if you watch sports. The picture quality just is not acceptable and it freezes far too often. The person I live with seems to love it and I'm assuming it is because he covered the start up fees but It's not a very good service. They seem (or at least he keeps saying) that they come up with excuses for everything but bottom line is that you can not trust it to complete a game without issues. A lot of the time it looks basically like you are streaming it on the internet. Which, you are, but I was promised an extremely clear picture. I'd go as far as to say it is hard to watch. It hurts the eyes. Also on many, many occasions the TV stops. It will freeze for a while and then start playing. Which wouldn't be a huge deal, except for when you are watching live sports and you mis 10-20 second spurts. I like the idea of this, because I am as sick of the big companies as everyone else but until they fix their problems I would suggest you stay away. You also have to use their internet, which does not seem to work very well for gamers. Granted, we have 4 people in the house, all using WIFI with their phones but while the TV is on, if anyone is downloading, streaming, or anything like that gaming online will be frustrating.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Aug 6, 2009
3074 posts
597 upvotes
Aurora, ON
adamnewton wrote:
Sep 28th, 2014 12:04 pm
You also have to use their internet,...
Which internet package are you subscribed to?
Deal Guru
User avatar
Oct 24, 2012
11421 posts
2397 upvotes
Montreal
I don't see the price advantage.
It's basically 98$ a month after the 3 month discount expires and has a total of 250$ start up cost.

At that monthly price, I can get 30/10mbps cable with HD cable TV service with all basic channels + 10 picks of my choice from all other channels (Videotron), or pay 5$ more a month and get 20 picks.
There is no 250$ start up cost as well.

Another thing i notice about Zazeen, at least for the Quebec channel list: A lot of useless channels are repeated for "per city"

4x TVA
4x Telequebec
4x V
4x Radio Canada (French CBC)
3x CBC
3x CTV
Yay local news selection I guess? I care about a car crash in Sherbrooke... ?
Deal Addict
May 16, 2012
2631 posts
767 upvotes
TORONTO
there are different iptv boxes out there. I own one since I love watching various sports events that are never broadcasted on canadian tv and it works great. it contains all the canadian and us channels that i would ever want to watch (including the movies). In addition, it has tons of channels from all over the world as well (middle east, italy, portugal, south america, poland, france, etc). I pay 20/month for the service and find it to work great.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Mar 12, 2008
595 posts
110 upvotes
Windsor
So who is this IPTV provider. Could you give us a name, if I may ask?
Euro2012 wrote:
Oct 11th, 2014 3:27 pm
there are different iptv boxes out there. I own one since I love watching various sports events that are never broadcasted on canadian tv and it works great. it contains all the canadian and us channels that i would ever want to watch (including the movies). In addition, it has tons of channels from all over the world as well (middle east, italy, portugal, south america, poland, france, etc). I pay 20/month for the service and find it to work great.
Member
Feb 21, 2012
239 posts
167 upvotes
Gananoque, ON
Euro2012 wrote:
Oct 11th, 2014 3:27 pm
there are different iptv boxes out there. I own one since I love watching various sports events that are never broadcasted on canadian tv and it works great. it contains all the canadian and us channels that i would ever want to watch (including the movies). In addition, it has tons of channels from all over the world as well (middle east, italy, portugal, south america, poland, france, etc). I pay 20/month for the service and find it to work great.
$20/month? Impossible
Sr. Member
Feb 27, 2007
723 posts
11 upvotes
Mississauga
Thank you for your review.

On a side note:

Late last week we made some major changes to our network architecture. We are also currently waiting for delivery of two new 10Gbps switches. Hopefully this will once and far all resolve the random black screen and freezes during peak hours.
Please let mean you if you have experienced any issues over the last 7 or so days?
Jr. Member
Jan 8, 2007
183 posts
27 upvotes
Toronto
How is the audio quality?
5.1 channel available?

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