Review: Rogers Enhanced Channel Guide [UPDATED]

Frequent readers of this blog will recall that the last time that Rogers decided to upgrade the channel guide for their digital cable customers, there was quite the backlash. This forced Rogers to admit to needing to revise it. Part of the reason for the backlash was due to the fact that it was forced upon users without much of a choice. Clearly Rogers have learned from this with the introduction of the Rogers Enhanced Channel Guide. The first thing that you should note is that you have to opt in. In my case I got a letter from Rogers telling me how to upgrade. That required me to go to a website and use my account number to register for the upgrade. The upgrade was scheduled to happen 72 hours later. When it did happen, I was warned that I might be without TV service for up to 90 minutes. I wasn’t home when it did happen, but it did happen within the 72 hour timeframe on my Cisco 8642 PVR. That was painless.

Now what do I think of it? I’ll start with the things I don’t like. In places it seemed slow. For example when rapidly switching channels the display at the bottom of the screen which tells you what channel you’re on and what show is currently on to be three or four channels behind. Not the worst thing in the world, but it is a bit annoying. Also there used to be a feature on the old channel guide that allowed you to hide channels that you don’t subscribe to. That option seems to be gone. That’s a bit annoying if you’re the channel surfing type as you’ll hit channels that you aren’t authorized to see. Again, not the worst thing in the world, but it is a bit annoying. Third, some of the behaviors are kind of different. For example I was watching the coverage of the Tour De France which I had PVR’ed earlier in the day. While trying to fast forward past some commercials I accidentally pressed the HD button which sent me elsewhere. When I went back to the recording I had to start at the beginning and fast forward through the first hour that I had already watched. The previous channel guide allowed me to pick up right from where I left off. Perhaps I pushed the wrong buttons? I’m not sure as it brings up my final point. I can’t seem to find a manual. While there is an FAQ online, it doesn’t help me to fully understand everything the channel guide does. If someone can point me to a manual, it would be very much appreciated.

Now, what do I like about the Enhanced Channel Guide? It has a nice search feature. An easy to use on screen keypad can be used to allow you to search by keyword, actor, director, genre or even channel name and number to find what you want to watch. I’ve used it a few times and once you get used to how the keypad works, it works quite well. The On Demand interface seems to look a lot better as all of the graphics are in some degree of HD. In any case, it looks nice. When you change channels, there is a black bar at the bottom of the screen that tells you the channel you’re on and what show you’re watching among other functions like blocking and unblocking the channel and the program rating. It can also be accessed by pressing the info button and it looks really good. One of the big things is that you can install apps into the Enhanced Channel Guide. Right now the weather App is the only thing available. But you can expect more to come. One of the things on the list is apparently a Remote TV Manager which will allow you to set your PVR to record from your smartphone, tablet or computer. This is something that I’ve been wanting for some time. Overall, the look of the Enhanced Channel Guide is nice, clean and very easy on the eyes.

So, should you get the Enhanced Channel Guide? My advice is to take a look at it at your local Rogers store. Play with it if you can and see if it’s right for you. I’ll note that it only works with certain set top boxes. So if you want it, make sure you have a set top box that it works with. I think this is worth it and I believe that it will evolve over time. At the very least, I think it’s a much better effort than the last time that Rogers did something like this.

UPDATE: My wife and I were browsing around the Enhanced Channel Guide and found the ability to resume a recorded program from where you left off. I shouldn’t have to figure this stuff out on the fly though as that’s what manuals are for.

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