Cox Communications is one of the most expensive cable TV providers on the market, especially when you consider all the hidden costs. But if you want sports and premium channels, have only one TV, and bundle with internet and other services, this provider could make sense for you.
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.
Cox has some of the best channel line-ups we've seen, with more to watch for just about everyone. Family-friendly entertainment is Cox's weakest link, but it's still better than a lot of competitors.
Cox has a great local lineup, including staples like NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, PBS, and The CW. It also includes some great Spanish-language locals like Univision, Telemundo, Unimas, and Estrella. However, it's missing Ion, Cozi, and Comet.
Cox cable TV includes a great sports lineup in its Preferred (mid-tier) and Ultimate (top tier) plans. ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, and the Golf channel are all included in a Preferred plan, and the Ultimate plan adds NFL Network, NFL Red Zone, the Tennis Channel, and the elusive MLB channel. Most competitors typically offer these last three as expensive add-ons, so Cox is ahead of the game here.
Family and education: 3.5/5
Cox has some decent family entertainment, especially when it comes to educational content. You'll get Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, History, National Geographic, and the Science Channel, but you'll miss out on Nat Geo Wild and Smithsonian. The kids will love Cartoon Network, Disney, Nickelodeon, and Nick Jr., but the little ones won't get to enjoy Disney Junior.
News and politics: 4.5/5
Cox has excellent news coverage and politics content. Not only do you get the local news shows, you get most of the big national news channels too. You get C-SPAN, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, Newsmax, and The Weather Channel. Our biggest gripe is that you'll miss out on the international perspective of BBC America.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 4/5
Cox has some decent entertainment options, including Comedy Central, Bravo, CMT, AMC, FX and FXX, two Hallmarks, and Sundance. It's missing some lifestyle channels though, like HGTV and The Cooking Channel, but it has the Food Network and TLC. But what makes Cox stand out is how many premium channels it includes in its top-tier plan. If you spring for the Ultimate plan, you’ll get ten HBO, eleven Cinemax, five SHOWTIME, and nine STARZ channels—at no extra charge.
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.
Although it looks like Cox has a ton of channels, its lineup (which varies by plan and location) is padded with up to 50 music channels. (1) Other than that, Cox delivers a great channel lineup, especially in its top-tier plan. However, it’ll cost you more than other companies.
You’ll get the most bang for your buck (and some sweet premium channels) with the Ultimate plan, but a Premium plan has plenty of channels for most people and the option to add inexpensive premium channels à la carte, which range from $5–$15 per. We don’t generally recommend the Starter plan because you can get most of its channels for free with an HD antenna, though that signal is less reliable than what Cox provides.
Cox Communications has two types of plans. Cox TV includes live TV and on-demand TV. Cox Contour adds the ability to connect streaming apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime to your TV and search their content using a remote. All plans come with a one- or two-year contract, after which you’ll be on month-to-month pricing, which is around $15/month more.
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.
When it comes to equipment and features, Cox is ahead of the pack. From a great app to exceptional DVR features to a search remote that simultaneously searches streaming apps and cable TV, using Cox is a top-notch experience.
Ability to watch: Great
Cox offers some solid features that make for a great entertainment experience. Cox TV uses cable infrastructure to keep you reliably binging your favorite shows. Your first Contour box is free, and every additional one is $8.50/month, which is cheaper than average. Plus, it has the Cox Contour app, so if you have smart TVs and don't need DVR on all of them, you don't need additional boxes. On the down side, the Cox Contour App has low ratings for both iOS and Android, so you might want to opt for more Contour boxes anyway.
Ability to record: Excellent
The Cox DVR service uses cloud storage so you can access recorded shows anywhere with the Cox Contour app. The Contour app also lets you download on-demand content to watch offline from anywhere.
How much storage you get (50–1,000 HD hours) and how many shows you can record at a time (1 to a whopping 24!) depends on which DVR package you buy. Or you can skip DVR altogether to avoid the additional cost.
Ability to find: Great
While at home with your TV, you’ll use a voice remote to sort through your shows—even the ones on streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu. You don't have to remember which app your show is on to find it, which we loved. It made our entire watching experience—not just our live TV experience—a delight.
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 that Cox has solid customer service, and that's been our experience too. Cox also has some good self-help content on its website. We liked having the option to save money by signing a contract or skip the commitment altogether. However, Cox could work on its transparency. It has some hidden fees that you can't see until after you supply personal information. We'd love the ability to build a cart and see what our bill will be before sharing that.
Installation is generally fast and priced about average. If your house is already wired with cable jacks for all your TVs, self-install is a free, easy option. Professional installation varies by location but will run you around $75, which is pretty inexpensive. Learn how to choose between self installation or professional installation.
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.