T-Mobile's TVision live TV hands-on: Worth $10 if you're already a customer

The TVision Vibe package offers a great mix of live channels for $10. But the more expensive tiers -- and the $50 Hub streamer -- are less compelling.

Ty Pendlebury Editor
Ty Pendlebury has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
Expertise Ty has worked for radio, print, and online publications, and has been writing about home entertainment since 2004. He is an avid record collector and streaming music enthusiast. Credentials
  • Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
Ty Pendlebury
5 min read
Ty Pendlebury/CNET

There's never been a better time to cut the cord. These days, more than ever, people are looking to save money on streaming, and the selection of robust, affordable live TV streaming services make cable TV totally unnecessary. T-Mobile is throwing its hat into the ring with its revamped TVision service. After spending some quality hands-on time with TVision, I can tell you that it offers one tier that promises particularly good value at just $10 per month. The more expensive options? It's complicated.

TVision began as a not-so-affordable cable replacement in 2019, but the service is now similar in concept to app-based services like Sling TV and Philo. At the moment it's available only to T-Mobile and Sprint wireless customers, while everyone else should be able to sign up in 2021, though likely for higher prices.

The entry-level tier, TVision Vibe, offers a grab bag of solid cable channels for $10 a month. There's nothing else that comes close to that pricing -- the next-cheapest option is Philo, which costs twice as much. Vibe is so cheap because its channel selection is very limited: no sports, news or local channels (ABC, Fox and NBC), and if that's OK with you, it's worth trying out.

In December, T-Mobile added the channels that were once exclusive to Vibe to the higher-end Live Packages, starting at $40 a month. While the company says the offer is only available for a "limited time" it is unable to say when it will end. A T-Mobile representative said that customers who subscribe for the "Live plus Vibe" deal will keep the new channels as long as they keep the account active.

Whichever package you choose the service does offer some excellent usability -- speedy channel surfing and voice search using the optional $50 TVision Hub -- but compared with other apps, its content discovery is lacking. Overall we prefer Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV or YouTube TV over any of the non-Vibe packages, either because the competitors' channel-for-the-money ratios make more sense and/or their apps are better.

What is it? 

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

TVision is a live TV streaming service exclusive to T-Mobile customers, and it includes a live TV guide, on-demand content and up to 100 hours of DVR. There are four different tiers:

  • TVision Vibe: $10 a month, 30 channels
  • TVision Live TV: $40 a month, 35 channels (plus Vibe for a limited time)
  • TVision Live TV Plus: $50 a month, 65 channels (plus Vibe for a limited time)
  • TVision Live Zone: $60 a month, 78 channels (plus Vibe for a limited time)

Vibe includes channels such as AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, Comedy Central and the Discovery Channel, while the Live tiers add local channels including ABC, Fox and NBC (but not CBS) in select markets, as well as Cartoon Network, CNN, ESPN and Fox News. In addition, TVision offers Starz ($9), Showtime ($11) and Epix ($6) as add-ons or stand-alones. See the end of this article for a comparison with other services. With the addition of Vibe the Live packages are much more compelling than they were previously.

The service is compatible with Apple iOS and Android phones and tablets, as well as TV streamers and smart TVs including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Android TV/Google TV. But T-Mobile is hoping you'll opt for the TVision branded Hub.

The $40-plus Live plans include 100 hours of cloud DVR storage, while those on Vibe or the add-ons can add 100 hours of DVR for $5 per month. 

TVision Hub: Useful but not essential

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The TVision Hub is a $50 Android TV box with a separate Google Assistant-capable remote. Though you don't need the TVision Hub to use the service, the remote integrates TVision-specific functions. 

The TVision Hub is virtually indistinguishable from the TiVo Stream 4K and it's also very similar to the Chromecast. All of these products are priced at $50 and offer essentially the same functionality. Though there's very little reason to buy the Hub instead of the Google product if you don't use T-Mobile's TV service, the Hub does offer TVision-specific integration through the remote and voice search. 

The remote offers three new buttons -- Guide, DVR and TVision -- as well as incorporating a number pad for directly inputting a channel's number. 

The TVision app: Zippy but disorganized


T-Mobile's new TVision app works on a variety of devices. 


Having used AT&T Watch TV in the past, and being used to its general sluggishness, I was pleasantly surprised by how zippy the app was -- both when using the TVision Hub and on a (T-Mobile supplied) iPad Pro. Changing channels was quick, and skimming the guide was also very fast. Suffice to say, its general responsiveness is the best thing about the service. But being fast isn't the only thing people care about.

Content discovery is important to any streaming service -- for though you sometimes know what you want to watch, often you're just trying to find something interesting. This is one area where the TVision app does particularly poorly. Sure, it has a standard grid-style program guide like cable, but beyond that it's kind of a mess.

The app is broken up into five main sections: Home, Guide, Shows, DVR and Search. To get the menu onscreen, you need to press the TVision app button on your controller -- pressing the Enter button brings up the playback controls. Unfortunately, the Shows subsection is the worst of all. It's a jumble of random on-demand and recordable shows, but until you click on a title, there's no indication of which it is.

If you're using another device that isn't the Hub -- as most users of the service will be -- the interface is slightly different. For example, the iPad app keeps the options onscreen unless you're watching a show. The back button brings the menu up again, as it does on the TVision device.

Channel surfing is familiar on TVision: Press up or down while watching a program and it'll switch to the next channel. It's fast, taking only a couple of seconds. In comparison, AT&T TV Now could take up to 10 seconds to "flip."

Channel comparison

Below I've included a comparison between TVision and the competition spanning 100 of the top channels. Not every channel is included, but all the major ones are.

Philo subscribers should definitely take a look at Vibe. Though Philo has a DVR and more channels overall, they share a lot of lifestyle favorites like AMC, Comedy Central and HGTV.

The $40 TVision Live package is $10 more than Sling TV Blue but has ABC, Fox and NBC locals in some markets, and a lot more channels overall (at least as long as that limited-time offer remains good). If you're a T-Mobile customer it looks like a pretty good deal, and there are no other streaming services to really compete with that right now. Especially after Hulu hiked its prices to $65.

For more details TVision channel comparison.

Top 100 channels compared

ChannelTVision Vibe ($10)Philo ($20)Sling Orange ($30)Sling Blue ($30)TVision Live TV ($40)AT&T TV Now ($55)YouTube TV ($65)Hulu Plus Live TV ($65)
Total channels in Top 100 2740263860457562
ABC NoNoNoNoYesYesYesYes
CBS NoNoNoNoNoYesYesYes
Fox NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
NBC NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
CW NoNoNoNoNoYesYesYes
MyNetworkTV NoNoNoNoYesYesYesYes
ChannelTVision Vibe ($10)Philo ($20)Sling Orange ($30)Sling Blue ($30)TVision Live TV ($40)AT&T TV Now ($55)YouTube TV ($65)Hulu with Live TV ($65)
A&E NoYesYesYesNo$NoYes
ACC Network NoNo$No$$YesYes
AMC YesYesYesYesYes$YesNo
Animal Planet YesYesNoNoYes$YesYes
BBC America YesYesYesYesYes$YesNo
BBC World News YesYes$$Yes$YesNo
BET YesYesYesYesYesYesYesNo
Big Ten Network NoNoNo$$$YesYes
Bloomberg TV NoNoYesYesNo$NoYes
Boomerang NoNo$$$YesNoYes
Bravo NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
ChannelTVision Vibe ($10)Philo ($20)Sling Orange ($30)Sling Blue ($30)TVision Live TV ($40)AT&T TV Now ($55)YouTube TV ($65)Hulu with Live TV ($65)
Cartoon Network NoNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
CBS Sports Network NoNoNoNoNo$YesYes
Cheddar NoYesYesYesNoYesYesYes
Cinemax NoNoNoNoNo$$$
CMT YesYes$$Yes$YesNo
CNBC NoNoNo$YesYesYesYes
CNN NoNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
Comedy Central YesYesYesYesYesYesYesNo
Cooking Channel NoYes$$No$No$
Destination America NoYes$$No$No$
Discovery Channel YesYesNoYesYes$YesYes
Disney Channel NoNoYesNoYesYesYesYes
Disney Junior NoNo$NoYesYesYesYes
Disney XD NoNo$NoYesYesYesYes
DIY YesYes$$Yes$No$
E! NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
EPIX No$$$No$$No
ESPN NoNoYesNoYesYesYesYes
ESPN 2 NoNoYesNoYesYesYesYes
ESPNU NoNo$No$$YesYes
ChannelTVision Vibe ($10)Philo ($20)Sling Orange ($30)Sling Blue ($30)TVision Live TV ($40)AT&T TV Now ($55)YouTube TV ($65)Hulu with Live TV ($65)
Food Network YesYesYesYesYes$YesYes
Fox Business NoNoNo$YesYesYesYes
Fox News NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Fox Sports 1 NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Fox Sports 2 NoNoNo$Yes$YesYes
Freeform NoNoYesNoYesYesYesYes
FX NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
FX Movies NoNoNo$$YesYesYes
FXX NoNoNo$YesYesYesYes
FYI NoYes$$No$NoYes
Golf Channel NoNoNo$$$YesYes
Hallmark YesYes$$YesYesNoNo
HBO NoNoNoNoNo$$$
HGTV YesYesYesYesYes$YesYes
History NoYesYesYesNo$NoYes
HLN NoNo$YesYesYesYesYes
IFC YesYesYesYesYes$YesNo
Investigation Discovery YesYesYesYesYes$YesYes
Lifetime NoYesYesYesNo$NoYes
Lifetime Movie Network NoYes$$No$NoYes
ChannelTVision Vibe ($10)Philo ($20)Sling Orange ($30)Sling Blue ($30)TVision Live TV ($40)AT&T TV Now ($55)YouTube TV ($65)Hulu with Live TV ($65)
MLB Network NoNo$$No$YesNo
Motor Trend YesYesYesNoYes$YesYes
MSNBC NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
MTV YesYes$$YesYesYesNo
MTV2 YesYes$$Yes$NoNo
National Geographic NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Nat Geo Wild NoNoNo$$YesYesYes
NBA TV NoNo$$No$YesNo
NBC Sports Network NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Newsy NoYesYesYesNoNoYesNo
NFL Network NoNoNoYes$NoYesNo
NFL Red Zone NoNoNo$$No$No
NHL Network NoNo$$No$NoNo
Nickelodeon YesYesNoNoYesYesYesNo
Nick Jr. YesYesYesYesYesYesNoNo
Nicktoons NoYes$$Yes$NoNo
OWN YesYesNoNoYes$YesNo
Oxygen NoNoNo$YesYesYesYes
Paramount Network YesYes$$Yes$YesNo
ChannelTVision Vibe ($10)Philo ($20)Sling Orange ($30)Sling Blue ($30)TVision Live TV ($40)AT&T TV Now ($55)YouTube TV ($65)Hulu with Live TV ($65)
Science NoYes$$No$No$
SEC Network NoNo$No$$YesYes
Showtime NoNo$$No$$$
Smithsonian NoNoNoNoNo$YesYes
Starz No$$$No$$$
Sundance TV YesYes$$Yes$YesNo
Syfy NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Tastemade NoYes$$No$YesNo
TBS NoNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
TCM NoNo$$$YesYesYes
Telemundo NoNoNoNoYesYesYesYes
Tennis Channel NoNo$$No$NoNo
TLC YesYesNoYesYes$YesYes
TNT NoNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
Travel Channel YesYesYesYesYes$YesYes
TruTV NoNo$YesYesYesYesYes
TV Land YesYes$$Yes$YesNo
USA Network NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYes
VH1 YesYes$$YesYesYesNo
Viceland NoYesYesYesNo$NoYes
Weather Channel NoNoNoNoNo$NoNo
WE tv YesYes$$Yes$YesNo