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Comcast STB Rant
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vickyg2003
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Joined: 20 Mar 2004
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Location: Florida

PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:13 pm    Post subject: Comcast STB Rant Reply with quote

I just went and picked up my DTA boxes required for Comcast here.

The representative said I would need a STB box for every TV I had, to receive any picture. I plugged in the thing, called to have my service changed over, and there is no way to screen out your channels!

The representative also said that I'd need a box in front of my digital TV, I sure hope she was an idiot, but I suspect that all my digital stations are going to be scrambled when the switchover comes in September. While the DTA box works fine on my analog tv's, I get a fuzzy pink picture on my digital TV if I stick the DTA box between the cable viewing as analog.

But the thing that bothers me the most so far, is that there is no way to filter out the channels that you don't want to see. So there is no way to just select English speaking Channels, No way to filter out the home shopping networks, no way to filter out the government channels, or the school channels... Of the 98 channels we get, we only watch 30 of them, and they have no rhyme nor reason to the order of the channels.

It also requires that new XMP signal, which thankfully we can reproduce, but for everyone else this means a new universal remote.

I thought this day was going to come when I bought my boxes and boxes of remotes, but now I'm not going to have enough remotes !
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The Robman
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want to rant about Comcast, you'll be in good company here...
http://getsatisfaction.com/comcast/topics/comcast_cable_and_the_feb_2009_digital_tv_switch_over
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kevjs1982



Joined: 05 Apr 2008
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Location: East Midlands, UK

PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:13 pm    Post subject: Re: STB Rant Reply with quote

vickyg2003 wrote:
But the thing that bothers me the most so far, is that there is no way to filter out the channels that you don't want to see. So there is no way to just select English speaking Channels, No way to filter out the home shopping networks, no way to filter out the government channels, or the school channels... Of the 98 channels we get, we only watch 30 of them, and they have no rhyme nor reason to the order of the channels.


Aside from the cost that reason is why I will not subscribe to Sky Digital here in the UK - on Freeview (Digital TV through an aerial) there are nearly 100 channels, but once the dross has been deleted (Shopping channels, slapper channels, interactive services, gambling channels, ITV, and most radio stations) I am left with less than 30 channels!

On Sky there are nearly 500 services, most of which are junk (Box Office, god channels, porn, shopping, foreign language) yet you can't delete them and have to page through them - unlike much of the world we have always needed set top boxes for cable tv and additional services (e.g. satellite) so that isn't a big deal - the SCART connector makes it even easier - Press "TV Guide" on the Sky remote and it turns the box on, which causes the TV to change over to the AV channel and shows the TV guide - the Sky remote even changes the volume on the TV so it doesn't present usability issues. Alas S-Video, Component, and HDMI don't have any such auto switching Sad
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vickyg2003
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I sure wish I was back in Chicago area where I had 22 good air channels. But we relocated to Detroit, and they are having hard financial times. It would be really nice if they could relocate the broadcast towers centrally, but there isn't enough money. So I'm in an area where the desirable channels vary from 112 to 332 degrees. And then we'd only get 8 channels, since nobody could expand their channel line ups because there wasn't enough money.

So cable was necessary, since we can't pick up enough channels to keep us entertained. But now we got this dta box that cuts off all of the edges on our digital tv, or we could pay another $96 a year to be able to see the edges on each wide screen tv.

That DTA box really is bad news.
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mathdon
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kevis1982 wrote:
Alas S-Video, Component, and HDMI don't have any such auto switching.

True about S-Video and Component, but certainly not true about HDMI. Apart from what you can do with a nicely programmed JP1 control, HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) gives a much greater integration than does Scart. If I put a DVD in my Panasonic DVD player, it turns on my Toshiba TV, which turns on my Onkyo AV Receiver. The TV knows about the AV Receiver and mutes itself, sending any audio signals such as Vol+/- or Mute along the HDMI cable to the AV Receiver. Changing the volume with the TV remote (or the same signal on my URC-7781) changes the volume of the AV Receiver, with a brief on-screen display in the left bottom corner of the TV saying "Amplifier Mute" or whatever is appropriate. That's not like the TV volume control on the Sky control, which has to be programmed to know the TV and it sends the appropriate IR signal for the TV. With CEC the IR signal is that for the TV, CEC does the rest and changes the volume instead on the AV Receiver. (If you are using the Sky remote set for your TV, this of course means that the Vol+/- buttons control the AV Receiver). Combined with judicious programming of the URC-7781 everything works wonderfully smoothly, but CEC can do a lot on its own. Just one proviso - don't have any Sony equipment. Sony have deliberately crippled CEC so that it only works between Sony devices. CEC should work across devices of different makes, as it does with my equipment.

BTW Sky now has a Favourites feature which enables you to display whatever selection of channels you want, without the dross. Or so I understand, I haven't felt the need to try it myself.

BTW2 CEC can handle aspect ratio switching, so if, like me, you don't like 4:3 pictures stretched sideways to fit a 16:9 screen then you can have it switched automatically as you change Sky channels. I know that Scart does that, too, but this is just to say that so does CEC (via the HDMI cable).
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wnewell



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
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Location: DFW, Texas

PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vickyg2003 wrote:
So cable was necessary, since we can't pick up enough channels to keep us entertained.


All the major networks have stations there. With a decent DVR I would think there would be more than enough to watch 6-10 hours a day. I've never had cable or sat, but I record about 10 hours a day worth of TV. It helps to have a recorder with 6 tuners that can record 6 to 30 channels at once though.. Very expensive though. A $200 PC + $200 in tuner cards. Still cheaper than 6 months worth of cable..
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kevjs1982



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mathdon wrote:
True about S-Video and Component, but certainly not true about HDMI. Apart from what you can do with a nicely programmed JP1 control, HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) gives a much greater integration than does Scart.


Didn't know that existed, and certainly haven't seen it in action. Sharp LCD TV, with a Revo PC and Kiss DVD Player... (My only HDMI sources so far).
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vickyg2003
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wes, your right, I should be able to live without cable, but in my area they scattered the dang broadcast towers! I was limited with the type of antenna I could get, because Fox moved into the vhf band, so the antenna had to be uhf and vhf, and be small enough so that I could get it through the tiny access door to the attic since rooftop antennas are not allowed. I did the best I could under the circumstances but couldn't find an antenna that could handle the wide spread and uhf towers and pick up vhf. The antenna I ended up with had to be aimed, so I lost a few of my favorite choices, but I'm aimed directly at Toledo and have suffered with all sorts of pixilation because some days my channels are toledo instead of Detroit.

This whole digital tv thing has not been well thought out at all. I bought one digital tv, and now regret that decision because its going to cost me so much more to operate it. With my analog TV's I'm missing so much content, because they are chopping off the edges with cable, and the new dta is going to chop off the edges and blur the picture (something the ota box doesn't do). I've lost every bell and whistle I ever paid for on my tvs, to this "wonderful" digital tv revolution.
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kevjs1982



Joined: 05 Apr 2008
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Location: East Midlands, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vickyg2003 wrote:
Wes, your right, I should be able to live without cable, but in my area they scattered the dang broadcast towers!


That's one advantage of having a centrally government controlled transmission network - just sling a single UHF aerial on the roof pointing the right way and you get all services. Very Happy (Well, aside from during the transition period during high pressure conditions when services are wiped out due to a more distant transmitter being on the same baring - bah! At least that will be no longer an issue in 14 months time).

No transmissions in VHF band III either as that is used for Digital Radio, leaving VHF band II for analogue FM radio.

That being said the digital transition could have been managed much better (i.e. taking less than the 14 years it has done with the heavy compromises in the interim!)
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mathdon
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kevjs1982 wrote:
mathdon wrote:
True about S-Video and Component, but certainly not true about HDMI. Apart from what you can do with a nicely programmed JP1 control, HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) gives a much greater integration than does Scart.


Didn't know that existed, and certainly haven't seen it in action. Sharp LCD TV, with a Revo PC and Kiss DVD Player... (My only HDMI sources so far).

The problem with HDMI CEC is that each manufacturer has its own name for it. Toshiba calls it REGZA link (look at any Toshiba TV ad and you will almost always see that the set says Regza but almost never says what that is Smile ). Onkyo calls it RIHD (= Remote Interactive over HDMI). Panasonic calls it VIERA link (like Toshiba and Regza, Panasonic sets all say Viera without any explanation!). I see from a Google search that Sharp has something called AQUOS link. I can't tell if that is HDMI CEC or not. Whatever it is called, the various implementations of HDMI CEC should all interwork (mine certainly do) except Sony, which I understand has deliberately restricted theirs not to work with non-Sony equipment.

You often have to hunt in the manual, probably under something like "Advanced Settings", to find out how to turn this feature on. You may have it without knowing it.
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The Robman
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Vicky, you don't need to use the same antenna for VHF and UHF. There are adapters that let you combine your separate UHF and VHF antennas into a single coaxial connection.

Back in the old days, TVs would often have separate connections for each antenna, then when they started combining them into one, people needed these adapters. I don't know if you can still buy them (at Radio Shack, etc) but if you can't, I bet you'll find one attached to an old antenna at a thrift store.

I don't know if it's possible to combine multiple UHF antennas together without having them interfere with each other, so maybe someone else can shed some light on that.
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kevjs1982



Joined: 05 Apr 2008
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Location: East Midlands, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Robman wrote:
I don't know if it's possible to combine multiple UHF antennas together without having them interfere with each other, so maybe someone else can shed some light on that.


You can use something called a Diplexer to achive that.

The only problem is the way channels overlap - historically not too much of a problem in the UK as our transmitters were grouped - i.e. one transmitter would have it's channels in Group A (E21 to E34), where as another would have them in Group B (E39 to E56) and another in Group C/D (E48 to E68).

Combining a Group A aerial with a Group C/D was obviously easy, and overlapping Group B and GroupC/D transmitters tended to use channels at the bottom and top areas of there respective groups - you just needed a diplexer with the cut off in the correct place.

Alas the launch of Channel 5 and later Freeview (DTV) meant that overlapping coverage areas started to have channels which overlapped meaning a diplexers could no longer be used.

If your transmitters are the same (all coming from transmitter 1 are at the lower end of the UHF band, and transmitter 2 are at the top you may be able to find a suitable diplexer).

Alternatively you could do what I did when our main DTV transmitter was out of region (i.e. West Midlands) and the local news was carried on a different transmitter where the signal was unreliable due a big hill being in the way. Have the main STB on the out of region transmitter (West Midlands) and the old STB with broken remote connected to a different aerial and left on the appropriate channel.

The VHF/UHF diplexers are still available over here - primarly for combining TV and FM/DAB aerials on the same cable.
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The Robman
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vicky, can you list the UHF channels (by number) along with which antenna angle picks them up?

I suspect the answer will be a mish-mash where Ch2 and Ch7 would come from one antenna and Ch5 and Ch9 would come from another.

I found a page where people have been discussing this very issue:
http://www.dennysantennaservice.com/1440603.html

A more obvious solution would be an antenna rotator, but that won't help much if you're trying to use a PVR.
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vickyg2003
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is my dilema in a picture.


If I point at C, D, E, I can't get F, G, and g1. If I move more towards F I get too much Toledo interference and loose just about everything. If I point at G, I get G1 beautifully. Those are MY favorites

I looked into the cost of combining UHF antennas lr before I signed with cable and found that at that time the cost was prohibitive, and everyone assured me that the broadcast towere were going to be relocated into a central location so it would be a waste of money. Its almost 2 years later and nothing has moved. And if I go anymore in the between area, TOLEDO interferes and I lose almost everything.

Rotor is not acceptable, because we have TV's everywhere! If we are going to be charged for each tv we'd go broke. We don't watch enough tv to justify what we are paying now. I'm going to have to revisit OTA.
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wnewell



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
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Location: DFW, Texas

PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With the right antenna, you should be able to get B thru G without any problems. Unless the stations in Toledo are broadcasting on the same frequency, they shouldn't affect anything, and with the right antenna, you might get those stations too. From antennaweb, you're only about 11 miles from all the stations. What antenna do you have? Sounds like a yagi with a narrow field of reception. I like the Channelmaster CM4228HD and use it here with excellent results for both uhf/vhf at 40+ miles from the towers. It has one of the widest range of reception you can get. It's about $50 online and worth every penny of it. I'd bet it'll pickup every station in Detroit and probbably Toledo too. There shouldn't be any inference from the Toledo stations as they don't use any of the same frequencies as the Detroit stations.
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