Made up of brands Wave, RCN, Grande, and enTouch, Astound offers internet-based entertainment that uses TiVo, Sling TV, and the Google Play store. Fabulous first-year pricing includes internet, but if you want premium perks or a provider you can grow old with, swipe left on this one.
Hawaiian Telcom is a solid choice for TV service for Hawaii residents—with a couple caveats. You have to be on Oahu to get TV service, and there aren’t any standout features to help it rise above competitors DISH and DIRECTV.
Although Astound doesn’t have the massive channel counts that some providers have, the channels it does have will scratch just about any itch. However, if you want Spanish-language channels or comprehensive sports coverage, it might not be the provider for you.
Astound has most of the channels you need to stay up-to-date on local events, including ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, Comet, and The CW. But you won’t find Cozi or any Spanish-language local channels.
Unlike many competitors, Astound’s lowest-tier plan (Basic) includes Fox Sports. Its mid-level plan (Signature) is pretty standard and includes sports like ESPN 1 and 2, Fox Sports, TNT, TBS, and USA. You’ll also get NBA TV and Motor Trend, which are less common. But you’ll miss out on the Golf Channel, and because Astound doesn’t provide Spanish-language channels, its international soccer coverage isn’t ideal.
Family and education: 3.5/5
Astound has solid family-friendly channels, especially ones with educational content like Animal Planet, History Channel, Discovery, and National Geographic. But you won’t get Nat Geo Wild, the Science Channel, or the Smithsonian Channel. You’ll get some decent cartoons with Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network, but your littlest ones will miss out on Nick Jr. and Disney Junior.
News and politics: 3/5
Astound provides plenty of coverage for most people. You’ll get lots of local news of course, along with national channels like CNN, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC, HLN, and C-SPAN. You’ll even get a bit of international perspective with BBC America. But you won’t get Newsmax, The Weather Channel, or any Spanish-language news.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 3.5/5
Astound has a wide variety of entertainment channels. Exercise your funny bone with both Comedy Central and Laff, or watch a serious cowboy movie on INSP. Learn some home improvement skills with HGTV and TLC, or leave home behind while watching the Travel Channel. Create culinary masterpieces with the Food Network and Cooking channels, or fill up on celebrity gossip with E!. You’ll also get all three Hallmark channels, Bravo, Paramount, and IFC.
Hawaiian’s best content is its family-friendly channels. You’ll also get some decent sports content and news content, but its international content is what stands out most.
Hawaiian has about half the local channels you’d expect. You’ll get the big ones like ABC, CBS, The CW, FOX, NBC, and PBS, but you won’t get any Spanish-language locals.
Hawaiian Telcom offers a pretty standard sports channel selection. You get the usual ESPN, FS1, NFL Network, and other common channels, but not MotorTrend or NBA TV. That said, we think most sports fans will be able to find something to watch here.
Family and education: 4/5
If you have kiddos (or just love cartoons and educational content yourself), Hawaiian Telcom is a great provider. It has more family-friendly channels than most TV providers, including Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, both Nat Geos, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr., and Disney and Disney Junior. History and science lovers will be satiated, too. But you might miss Cartoon Network and Family Entertainment TV.
News and politics: 3/5
You’ll get most of the news coverage you want, including CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and Fox News. But if you want Newsmax, the Weather Channel, or Spanish-language news, you’re out of luck. We also love how much international content you get, especially channels from Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 3.5/5
Whether you like movies, prime-time programming, reality shows, or cooking, Hawaiian has some channels for you. But you won’t get everything. You’ll get Comedy Central but not Laff, for example, and Grit but not INSP. But we think most households will be mostly happy with the lineup.
Astound’s base plans are pretty standard compared to competitors, and initial costs are low. However, if you start adding custom channels, costs quickly add up. Plus, after a year-long honeymoon with great introductory rates, Astound turns up the heat and quickly drains your bank account. Although Astound leans on Sling TV to deliver its live TV channels, it offers a better experience and more channels than just Sling alone.
Astound sells its TV and internet plans together. First, you’ll pick your internet plan, then you can add a TV plan. Whichever TV plan you choose, you’ll stream all your shows over your Astound internet connection, so getting the right internet plan is critical. If you’re a small household that doesn’t stream a ton of HD content, a 110 Mbps internet plan could be plenty. But if you want to take full advantage of Astound’s 4k streaming capabilities, we recommend at least the 400 Mbps plan.
For a small local TV provider, Hawaiian Telcom offers a really great value. The channel count is quite high, with some plans offering 395+ channels. Best of all, you can bundle both TV and internet together for well under $100 per month, depending on the specific plan details. Compared to some other providers, that’s a steal—particularly regional providers, which tend to charge more than major national brands like Xfinity.
Astound has put together a great list of equipment and features that allow you to easily find and watch or record your shows with relative ease. That said, we'd love to see more DVR storage included in Astound plans.
Ability to watch: Great
Getting your first TV set up with a Stream 4k box is free, and additional boxes cost just a few dollars per month. You'll also need an Astound Wi-Fi router, but you'll need that for your Astound internet service anyway. Astound uses the Sling app to deliver your streaming experience. The interface can be confusing at first, but once you get used to it, it's a decent experience.
Ability to record: Good
If you ever want to leave your couch (like, say, to run out and get more popcorn), you can use the Astound TV+ app to watch shows in line at the quickie mart, tap into a respectable 125 included hours of Cloud DVR storage, or schedule a future recording. Register up to 12 devices, and watch on up to five at a time.
Ability to find: Great
Astound leans on TiVo’s Stream 4k device to combine the capabilities of a DVR, live TV (via Sling), and streaming services (via Android apps). If that sounds like a lot of stuff to try to sort through while your popcorn gets cold, you can use the voice button on the remote to tell your TiVo what you’re looking for—or ask it to give you a few curated options.
Hawaiian's equipment covers all the basics and provides a decent experience, but it doesn't offer any exceptional features.
Ability to watch: Fine
Hawaiian Telcom equipment is pretty standard. You’ll pay around $9 per month for every cable box you rent. It also offers the usual selection of TV apps (for watching content and managing your DVR on the go), TV Everywhere support (for streaming your favorite shows wherever you are), and on-demand programming.
Ability to record: Fine
The DVR is fairly average—you can watch and record up to six shows at once, and then manage your recordings online or on your smartphone with an app. Unfortunately, it can only store up to 130 hours of HD content, which is far less than the best DVRs on the market.
Ability to find: Good
Hawaiian Telcom doesn’t have a voice remote to help you find your shows, but otherwise the interface is pretty good. You can sort your recorded shows by date, by channel, or alphabetically, for example. Parental controls are easy to set up and you can block content by channel or rating.
Most customers report an overall positive experience, but Astound’s large price hikes are understandably unpopular. The good news is, you won’t have to sign a contract, so if increasing prices are getting you down, you can jump ship anytime.
Astound has a free self-setup option and often runs promotions for free professional installation (otherwise around $80). If your house already has working coax outlets, you’ll probably get off scot-free with no installation costs.
Hawaiian Telcom customers seem pretty happy with their service. The website has a great support section with lots of troubleshooting help, and live chat and 24-hour phone help are also available. We don’t love how many equipment fees aren’t included in advertised prices, but at least they show up before you enter your payment details.
Installation itself is pretty standard, and the process is relatively straightforward. There’s a one-time activation fee of $34.99, but you may be able to waive it by activating online.