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In his quest to find an alternative to cable TV, Josh Kaplan signed up last fall to test a brand new TV service called Sezmi. This hybrid online, over-the-air broadcast would ultimately cost $4.99 to $19.99 a month when it launched in February 2010. But as a tester, the Long Beach resident got it all for free.
His verdict? Not ready for prime time.
“I really want them to be successful,” said Kaplan, who lives in Long Beach. “I love to hear of an upstart that’s challenging the status quo. I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised by the quality because I wasn’t expecting much.”
Sezmi launched in the Orange County market in February 2010 offering a different kind of TV service. Besides the usual free over-the-air channels like CBS and Fox, the Sezmi box also offers around 15 cable channels, including CNN, Nickelodeon and Discovery. The Belmont, Ca. company has contracts with Turner Broadcasting, Discovery, Viacom and NBC Universal.
The $4.99 price includes the over-the-air channels and Youtube access; the $19.99 price includes everything else. That’s a steal compared to Kaplan’s current TV bill of $175 for Verizon FiOS TV and Internet service, which continues to creep up.
But set up was off putting to Kaplan. He had difficulty connecting the box to his home network so Sezmi sent him a Homeplug kit that routes Internet service over the home’s electrical system. Still there were issues but after “about 4 to 5 days, I happened to get it to work,” he said.
Also, the system’s antenna has to be positioned just right to get the best picture quality. The screen shows users the signal strength of the TV channel, but he ultimately did not get every channel.
“I don’t think it’s ready for prime time because the installation is not as smooth as they’d like you to believe it is. I really had to go through a series of challenges to get it set up. Not that it was difficult but most people are used to Verizon, DirecTV or Dish. Whey they leave the house, everything’s working.”
He had to get used to the idea that there were no channel numbers, but there was a really nice channel guide. You have to page through channels to get to the one you want. If there’s an easier way, it’s not intuitive. “I’m from the school that if I have to read the manual, it’s not for me,” Kaplan said.
But there were features he really liked about Sezmi. The software creates user profiles and if you tell it what you like to watch, it’ll start grabbing other stuff you may like. There are no sports channels but Kaplan doesn’t watch a lot of sports. He’s been watching the Discovery Channel and USA with his kids. The Sezmi service also comes offers pay movies-on-demand library, which feeds his occasional desire to watch a movie. And he’s impressed with the video quality, though he’s not a videophile who wants to see every blade of grass.
“And it’s kind of and it is kind of cool to flip over and have access to Youtube,” he said.
When his test is over, however, he probably won’t keep the service even though he can purchase the DVR for half its $299 price. The good thing is that the monthly service fee is good for all boxes in his house, but with 5 TVS, he’ll have to cough up around $1,350 if he wants every TV connected.
“I don’t think I want to spend $1,200 to buy 4 boxes from them,” Kaplan concluded. “I’ll probably go back to Dish Network because it’s inexpensive.”
For more on TV services, see the following links:
|* Time Warner Cable
* Cox Cable
* Verizon FiOS
* AT&T U-verse
* Dish Network
* Web TV
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