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Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: March 24, 2009 10:27AM
Does anyone else live in an area where Comcast is converting their cable TV signal to digital? This is not to be confused with the switch by broadcast stations from analog to digital, I'm talking about those boxes Comcast is supplying for converting their signal and which will have to be connected to each TV in the house, regardless of age or technology.

I installed one of the boxes on my little Vizio on Sunday and went through the process of setting up everything, including the supplied remote. Comcast claims the converter itself (which is smaller than a paperback book) can be put in another location and then a small "Remote Control Signal Receiver" can be placed on or near the TV. The little receiver looks like a small microphone, the head of it is about the diameter of a quarter, and it connects to the converter by a thin wire.

If you have one of these devices, does your "Remote Control Signal Receiver" actually work?! Mine works to the extent that it will control power to the TV, turning it either on or off, but it will not change channels unless I have the remote within about one foot of the head of the receiver. How useless! Yes, I did try changing the batteries in the remote, thinking that maybe the ones supplied were weak, but it makes no difference. The signal between the remote and the converter box is very strong, but that little receiver doohickey is all but useless.

Did I just get a bad one, or are all of them like this?
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: Robert M
Date: March 24, 2009 10:34AM
Alpha,

What level of cable service do you have and does your Vizio have a Clear Qam tuner? If you have just basic and family cable - no HBO, etc - and your Vizio has a clear qam tuner, you may not need the cable box at all to access the digital channels. The clear qam tuner allows a TV to access unencrypted digital channels without a box. You might need the box to get digital HD channels, though.

Robert
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: March 24, 2009 10:54AM
Quote
Robert M
Alpha,

What level of cable service do you have and does your Vizio have a Clear Qam tuner? If you have just basic and family cable - no HBO, etc - and your Vizio has a clear qam tuner, you may not need the cable box at all to access the digital channels. The clear qam tuner allows a TV to access unencrypted digital channels without a box. You might need the box to get digital HD channels, though.

Robert

Well, I'm not well enough versed in this to be able to explain to you why what you're saying will soon not be true. This is something Comcast is doing, and it effects all subscribers who have expanded basic service - meaning the ability to receive any channel above 29. If I disconnect the little converter box, the QAM tuner will bring in a couple of the digital channels (and I've been using it), but over the long haul, I will need this box if I want to get anything from channel 30 up, and some of my favorites networks are in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Here's a chunk of an FAQ I found, although it's down and dirty and doesn't give much information:


1. What is happening to my service?

Comcast is upgrading its Expanded Basic Cable* channel lineup to digital-quality signals on all TVs connected to Comcast. These new changes will allow Comcast to add hundreds of new high-definition (HD) channels, much faster Internet access speeds and smarter phone service.
(*Expanded Basic Cable package includes 30-50 channels, including many of the most-popular cable channels, like Disney, ESPN, MTV, Fox News.)

2. Why is this happening now?

We are investing in new technology that will deliver digital quality today and enable new choices as soon as possible. Among those new choices will be hundreds of new HD channels and On Demand options that are just becoming available now, as the number of HD TV sets increases exponentially year after year and TV networks and other programmers produce more HD programming.

3. Who will be affected?

Customers may be affected if they:

* Subscribe to Comcast Standard Cable or Digital Cable; and,
* Have a TV connected to a Comcast service without a Digital Set Top Box.

Customers who subscribe to Comcast Basic Cable** are not affected.

4. What if I don't do anything?

Any TV connected directly to Comcast service without a digital device will eventually lose access to some of the channels it currently receives. You’ll keep the 15-30 Comcast Basic Cable channels, (local broadcast TV stations, plus local government, education and public access channels) But you'll lose all Expanded Basic channels, like Disney, CNN, Lifetime and 30-50 others.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: gabester
Date: March 24, 2009 11:09AM
A big part of why my family switched off Comcast cable was the poor quality of their digital box. They ARE required to provide a box with FireWire outputs but it is nearly impossible to get them to do so without subscribing to a DVR package and waiting in line at one of their service center in the hopes of getting the box.

The motorola digital box they provided us included a remote; there was no IR receiver extension like you describe but even if there had been I'm not sure it would have helped the poor range and sensitivity to angles that this box suffered from. We had to have it lined up in an orientation at less then a 5-degree angle and be within about 7 feet of the TV... meaning that from the couch we had to lean forward with an upraised arm to change channels; and clearly it was the box not the remote because we could change TV volume and channels from the same remote without issue and without having to move.

Good luck!
g=
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: Robert M
Date: March 24, 2009 11:15AM
Alpha,

It sounds similar to what Cablevision did here on Long Island. Cablevision offers several levels of service.

Plain ol'd basic cable and family cable are sent via a combination of analog and digital service. Subscribers without boxes and plain ol' cable ready TVs receive analog only channels. That means they'll get any channel that is analog and will not receive channels that are digital only even if they are unencrypted. Channels like Animal Planet, Sci-Fi and a slew of others that are a part of the basic and family cable are digital only. So, those without boxes and TVs with clear qam tuners cannot get them even if they subscribe to that level of service.

Subscribers with a TV that has a clear qam tuner can receive analog _and_ unencrypted digital channels. So, those with basic and family cable will get all of the unencrypted digital channels. That includes Animal Planet, Sci-fi and others that are a part of the basic cable and family cable packages. They'll also get all of the channels that are a part of the IO digital service. Those without a box or a TV that doesn't have the clear qam tuner are SOL.

Subscribers who have a TV with a clear qam tuner but not cable box will get basic cable, family cable and IO digital channels but may not receive the digital HD channels. If I remember correctly, you need a box for the HD channels. So, when I move my Envision Tv into my bedroom, where I will not have a box, it's unlikely to get HD channels. But, it will get all of the unencrypted digital channels because of it's clear Qam tuner.

Based on what you posted, Comcast is doing something that is similar to what Cablevision did her on LI sometime last year. I'm betting you can get most of the basic and expanded basic channels with a clear qam tuner. You still may not get the HD channels. You'll probably need a box to et those.

Hopefully, others will clarify for you.

Robert

P.S. Here is a summary:

I have Cablevision digital cable.

old cable ready CRT without a box - will get unencrypted analog only channels
old cable ready CRT with box - will get all non-HD analog and digital channels

new HD TV with clear qam tuner but no cable box - will get all unencrypted analog and digital channels
new HD Tv with clear qam tuner and cable box - will get all channels including HD channels.

Hope that helps. (This is what the cable installer told me)

I suspect comcast is similar but they're not telling you what you can get with a clear qam tuner so they can convince you to get a box whether or not you really need it.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: March 24, 2009 11:18AM
Quote
gabester
A big part of why my family switched off Comcast cable was the poor quality of their digital box. They ARE required to provide a box with FireWire outputs but it is nearly impossible to get them to do so without subscribing to a DVR package and waiting in line at one of their service center in the hopes of getting the box.

The motorola digital box they provided us included a remote; there was no IR receiver extension like you describe but even if there had been I'm not sure it would have helped the poor range and sensitivity to angles that this box suffered from. We had to have it lined up in an orientation at less then a 5-degree angle and be within about 7 feet of the TV... meaning that from the couch we had to lean forward with an upraised arm to change channels; and clearly it was the box not the remote because we could change TV volume and channels from the same remote without issue and without having to move.

Good luck!
g=

I have one of those big digital boxes, and the remote for it works fine, as does the one for my HDDVR, but it's this little creature that's causing the frustration. And the remote and the digital converter box itself work well in combination, but, that little tiny device that's supposed to help clear clutter sure doesn't. Comcast is the only cable game in town where I live, and, overall, I've been happy with the service and the tech support, but I'm not happy with this latest "innovation."
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Date: March 24, 2009 11:18AM
Here is an announcement I posted about a month ago for the San Francisco area Comcast subscribers. I am guessing it will be similar for each major region on the West Coast.
[www.sfgate.com]

This is the thread where I posted it.
[forums.macresource.com]



in tha 510.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: March 24, 2009 11:35AM
Quote
Filliam H. Muffman
Here is an announcement I posted about a month ago for the San Francisco area Comcast subscribers. I am guessing it will be similar for each major region on the West Coast.
[www.sfgate.com]

This is the thread where I posted it.
[forums.macresource.com]

I remembered that had been posted here somewhere, although I couldn't remember enough about the thread to find it again. That's it, and Comcast up here is pushing this really, really hard. Having to add these boxes annoys me, but it's going to happen whether I like it or not, and they say the transition here starts the end of this month. I know I can still get along without the converter for a while, but I'd been fiddling with two other TVs over the weekend and figured I'd just get this done while I was at it. If their little gadget worked, it wouldn't be too bad. Except the gadget doesn't seem to work.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Date: March 24, 2009 11:48AM
Quote
AlphaDog
Comcast up here is pushing this really, really hard.

My impression is they were planning to nuke and pave the system community by community after the switch that was supposed to happen in Feb. The change seems to be going on in a stealthy manner so people do not find out about it until their area is about ready to be converted. Do you have a mailer that lists a webpage with the specifics? I could not find it in their default navigation links.



in tha 510.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: March 24, 2009 12:00PM
I've tossed all the mailers I got, although I have another bill due in any day so there might be another one. I'll look more carefully and see if I can find a place to get more details. They've been sending inserts with the bills and have also been doing separate mailings, telling everybody to get their boxes ordered and set up. The date I've been given is March 31, but I know that isn't set in stone.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: GGD
Date: March 24, 2009 12:13PM
Quote
AlphaDog
Quote
Filliam H. Muffman
Here is an announcement I posted about a month ago for the San Francisco area Comcast subscribers. I am guessing it will be similar for each major region on the West Coast.
[www.sfgate.com]

This is the thread where I posted it.
[forums.macresource.com]

I remembered that had been posted here somewhere, although I couldn't remember enough about the thread to find it again. That's it, and Comcast up here is pushing this really, really hard. Having to add these boxes annoys me, but it's going to happen whether I like it or not, and they say the transition here starts the end of this month. I know I can still get along without the converter for a while, but I'd been fiddling with two other TVs over the weekend and figured I'd just get this done while I was at it. If their little gadget worked, it wouldn't be too bad. Except the gadget doesn't seem to work.

I'm in a similar situation with Comcast in the SF Bay area. They offered 3 boxes for free which I ordered but have no intention of unpacking or setting up until they complete their transition and actually drop the Analog expanded basic channels.

I got 1 full size Motorola DCH-3200 which is huge and I have no place to put it (set top boxes no longer fit on the top of the set with LCD TVs)

I got 2 of the small boxes (Pace DC50X) that sound like what you're dealing with.

I have two Digital HDTV with NTSC/ATSC/QAM tuners, and two old CRT Analog NTSC TVs.

Right now my area is in the middle of the transition, the Analog channels are still there, and the digital copies of them are also there in Clear QAM, but at different channel number (78-xx, 79-xx, 83-xx, 84-xx, 85-xx, 86-xx, 89-xx, 91-xx, 95-xx, 98-xx, 99-xx, 118-xx, 119-xx, 120-xx, 127-xx and 129-xx). Even more annoying, the numbers aren't even the same between my two HDTVs, within each channel block there are the same channels, but their subchannel number is different. For example there are 11 channels in the 129-xx range, and both TVs get the same 11 channels in that range but on different subchannels. On one TV Comedy Central is 129-5, but on the other it's 129-11.

My hope is that once the transition is complete that Comcast will remap all of the channel numbers so that the digital version are on the channel numbers where the analog ones used to be when using just a Clear QAM Digital TV and that there will be no need for a converter box on those TVs.

For the Analog TVs I will use the converter box when forced to when the Analog channels get turned off.

One thing about those small DTA converter boxes, I think they if you use them on a Digital TV they are actually a downgrade in service because it looks like they convert everything to Analog and the only connection to the TV is via an RF/Coax antenna connector (on Channel 3/4) so the TVs Digital tuner will never get used and I suspect that you won't be able to received the local HD channels anymore once the converter is in place.

The full size convert looks more promising since it an has HDMI output. But it's huge, and I do wonder how much power it sucks. They did advertise this transition as having no additional monthly cost, so I'm thinking of asking them to supply the electricity to power these boxes.

I don't have any good feeling about when the Analog signals will go away. On my mailers it says that you need to order the equipment by April 6th, but I imagine that they'll need to allow extra time beyond that date for equipment to be delivered and for sending second/third notices to those that haven't ordered equipment. And by not activating my boxes, I'm probably being viewed as one of those slow-poke customers delaying the transition.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Date: March 24, 2009 12:25PM
Quote
GGD
On my mailers it says that you need to order the equipment by April 6th, but I imagine that they'll need to allow extra time beyond that date for equipment to be delivered and for sending second/third notices to those that haven't ordered equipment. And by not activating my boxes, I'm probably being viewed as one of those slow-poke customers delaying the transition.

Do you still have any of the mailers? Do they list websites that give information on the switch?



in tha 510.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: GGD
Date: March 24, 2009 12:35PM
Quote
Filliam H. Muffman
Quote
GGD
On my mailers it says that you need to order the equipment by April 6th, but I imagine that they'll need to allow extra time beyond that date for equipment to be delivered and for sending second/third notices to those that haven't ordered equipment. And by not activating my boxes, I'm probably being viewed as one of those slow-poke customers delaying the transition.

Do you still have any of the mailers? Do they list websites that give information on the switch?

Yes, I got two mailers, the first one was a letter with enclosed channel line-up charts and pamphlets, and a "Unique Digital ID#", and it said that you could order the equipment online at [www.comcast.com] or by calling 1-877-634-4434.

So I tried to order online, and the end result was that it told me that I needed to do it by phone.

The second mailer was just a large postcard that said to call that phone number.

There is a FAQ and some other links at that web page [www.comcast.com] but there is nothing mentioned about not using the converter boxes and using a clear QAM tuner instead.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: LyleH
Date: March 24, 2009 12:39PM
To answer your specific question, I installed two of the small digital adapters a week ago. To use it, I have to put my TV on channel 3. I tested one using the remote that came with it, and it will change channels from 20 feet away both with the digital adapter and the Remote Control Signal Receiver.

Actually, I got 2 of the free adapters. I use the second one to tie in with my VCR so I can record on one channel while viewing another. I set my daughter's units the same way.

LyleH
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: March 24, 2009 12:42PM
"only connection to the TV is via an RF/Coax antenna connector (on Channel 3/4) so the TVs Digital tuner will never get used and I suspect that you won't be able to received the local HD channels anymore once the converter is in place."

If I understand what you're saying correctly, you're right. If I disconnect the small box from my Vizio and use a straight cable connection, I can get some of the digital channels, but those go away with the converter box.

However, I noticed that the actual three foot piece of cable supplied for these small converter boxes (DC50X) is different from what I consider "standard" cable. I didn't use it initially (it's white, with blue connectors, and it was much longer than what I needed in addition to being ugly!), and the quality of the picture was awful until I used that specific piece of cable. Apparently the new cable is different and designed to carry a digital signal.

Several years ago, my husband had ordered digital service so he could access pay per view, and, since I already had that box, Comcast did not send me a new large one. Mine, though, is a Motorola Starfone SFT2, and it does not have an HDMI connection. It's really stripped down, but it doesn't matter, because the TV that it's currently hooked up to is an older set (with a wide enough top so the box can sit on top!)

I, too, hope they eventually do more work on their new "system" so we can get rid of all of these converter boxes. What a royal pain.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: March 24, 2009 12:44PM
Quote
LyleH
To answer your specific question, I installed two of the small digital adapters a week ago. To use it, I have to put my TV on channel 3. I tested one using the remote that came with it, and it will change channels from 20 feet away both with the digital adapter and the Remote Control Signal Receiver.

Actually, I got 2 of the free adapters. I use the second one to tie in with my VCR so I can record on one channel while viewing another. I set my daughter's units the same way.

LyleH

Your Remote Control Signal Receiver actually works?! OK, that does it; I'm calling Comcast to complain. Thank you!!!
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: timg
Date: March 24, 2009 01:17PM
Just to throw some fuel on the fire, I, too, have recently been required to convert to digital.

If your Vizio has the ClearQAM tuner in it, you can bypass the little box altogether. The caveat is that the channels won't be where you expect them to be and you won't be able to access any "premium" services that are encrypted.

I added a HDHomerun network tuner after the switch and it can pick up all the expanded basic channels, including the HD versions of the local broadcast channels.

And by the way, I am NOT happy with the little converter boxes - they randomly lock up and need to be power cycled to work correctly again. I know this because there is one connected to my Tivo and I get several shows a week that are nothing more than a still picture.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: BigGuynRusty
Date: March 24, 2009 02:40PM
Pictures.:
[picasaweb.google.com]#

BGnR



"Good heavens, Miss Sakamoto! You're beautiful!"
"If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster."
"Near the day of Purification, there will be cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky."
"A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans."
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: olnacl
Date: March 24, 2009 03:12PM
Quote
timg

And by the way, I am NOT happy with the little converter boxes - they randomly lock up and need to be power cycled to work correctly again. I know this because there is one connected to my Tivo and I get several shows a week that are nothing more than a still picture.

You aren't using Cable Card(s) in your TiVo? - or is it an earlier (non-HD) model? Can the analog Tivos control a cable box?



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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: March 24, 2009 03:20PM
Quote
BigGuynRusty
Pictures.:
[picasaweb.google.com]#

BGnR

Yup, that's the little critter. Did he post pictures of the large box he probably got? I only found one album under his name, but I'm wondering how much the new large converters being distributed differ from the old one I have.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: timg
Date: March 24, 2009 03:23PM
Quote
olnacl
Quote
timg

And by the way, I am NOT happy with the little converter boxes - they randomly lock up and need to be power cycled to work correctly again. I know this because there is one connected to my Tivo and I get several shows a week that are nothing more than a still picture.

You aren't using Cable Card(s) in your TiVo? - or is it an earlier (non-HD) model? Can the analog Tivos control a cable box?

This is a Series 2 - no HD. Yes, it can control a cable box - it came with little IR extensions that control the cable box.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: GGD
Date: March 24, 2009 03:31PM
Quote
AlphaDog
Quote
BigGuynRusty
Pictures.:
[picasaweb.google.com]#

BGnR

Yup, that's the little critter. Did he post pictures of the large box he probably got? I only found one album under his name, but I'm wondering how much the new large converters being distributed differ from the old one I have.

This is the full size converter that Comcast sent me.

[www.motorola.com]
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: March 24, 2009 03:50PM
Quote
GGD

This is the full size converter that Comcast sent me.

[www.motorola.com]

That's the one they sent you for free? It's a lot different than the one they told me to keep as the "big box" of the three free ones they provide. Your Motorola DCH3200 is very similar to the DCH3416 that was just installed last week for my HD service, which also has the DVR feature. I'm being ripped off I think! Did you also get a new cable with that box, similar to the piece of cable that came with the DC50X? It was using that cable that made the picture better after installing the digital converter, but the "other" digital converter box still uses the older cable, which is apparently not capable of transferring the digital signal to the set. ???

I think I need to have another talk with the Comcast people. Fortunately I haven't called yet to complain about my remote receiver, so I'll just add one more thing to my list. If I have to go through all of this, I want what other people are getting! smiling smiley



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/24/2009 03:51PM by AlphaDog.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: GGD
Date: March 24, 2009 04:21PM
Quote
AlphaDog
Quote
GGD

This is the full size converter that Comcast sent me.

[www.motorola.com]

That's the one they sent you for free? It's a lot different than the one they told me to keep as the "big box" of the three free ones they provide. Your Motorola DCH3200 is very similar to the DCH3416 that was just installed last week for my HD service, which also has the DVR feature. I'm being ripped off I think! Did you also get a new cable with that box, similar to the piece of cable that came with the DC50X? It was using that cable that made the picture better after installing the digital converter, but the "other" digital converter box still uses the older cable, which is apparently not capable of transferring the digital signal to the set. ???

I think I need to have another talk with the Comcast people. Fortunately I haven't called yet to complain about my remote receiver, so I'll just add one more thing to my list. If I have to go through all of this, I want what other people are getting! smiling smiley

I'm a little confused about where you're using that white cable that came with the DC50X. I looked at it, and it's a pretty standard shielded TV coax cable with threaded connectors.

The output of the DC50X is Analog, so if it's being used between the TV and the DC50X, then there is no digital signal at all. If it's being used between the wall jack and the DC50X, then there is a digital signal.

But with a digital signal, you really shouldn't see picture quality issues at all, either you receive it, or you don't. I suspect that you either didn't connect the old cable tightly enough, or the ends may have been flexed too much over the years causing an intermittent connection.

I did look in the DCH-3200 box, and there were two coax cables similar to the white one that you have, except both of these are black, and there was also an HDMI cable.

And yes, that's the big box that they sent me for free, at least that was the understanding that I had from the flyers and the phone call, but I haven't gotten a cable bill yet to confirm. The free offer for me was supposed to be 1 big box + 2 small boxes, since I never had any cable boxes in the past (and of course they never reduced my bill because of that either).
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: olnacl
Date: March 24, 2009 06:16PM
A ComCrap installer who spent quite a while at my house trying to fix pixelation issues on my projection TV changed out all the cables from the wall to splitter to various devices. One cable he replaced (the one on the left) had a slightly smaller diameter center hole than the ones he made up (right). He claimed that smaller center hole would affect/influence picture quality. As he was not charging me for the cables, I didn't argue and I have noticed that particular cable end differs from even the in wall cable that's been in the house for years. That the cable was Made in China is highly likely.

Edit - we are not yet switched to digital feed down here in S FL, so I'm still getting expanded basic channels (up to 99) w/o a box. Since our HOA has a contract with ComCrap, we are provided with 2 older style cable boxes (SA Explorer 2200 - including composite and S-video outputs) at no charge if we choose to receive the (non-HD) digital tier.









Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/24/2009 06:54PM by olnacl.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: Bimwad
Date: March 24, 2009 06:34PM
I've found the Pace DTAs to be cheap, crappy POS, which is probably what they needed to be since Comcast is handing so many out for "free."

I have one and a Motorola box hooked up to the same wall outlet, and the DTA will have random dropouts and display the misleading trouble screen that made diagnosing problems on another unit on another outlet a massive hassle.

The onboard IR receiver is finicky, and uses a new protocol that few current universal remotes can handle.

Comcast could have dispensed with the deployment expense of these things if they just allowed people whose TVs have QAM tuners to use them with properly-mapped unencrypted channels, but they would lose a measure of control, and it's just too logical.

They wanted to paint a picture that their customers wouldn't need to worry about any digital transitions, but they've undertaken one at the same time as the OTA transition, creating even more confusion, and requiring new equipment that will expose the inadequacies of the wiring in a lot of older houses and forcing that to be upgraded as well.

Not quite the "You're Ready" situation they were pushing a few months ago.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/24/2009 06:35PM by Bimwad.
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Re: Comcast digital converter box question
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: March 24, 2009 06:36PM
Quote
GGD
I'm a little confused about where you're using that white cable that came with the DC50X. I looked at it, and it's a pretty standard shielded TV coax cable with threaded connectors.

The output of the DC50X is Analog, so if it's being used between the TV and the DC50X, then there is no digital signal at all. If it's being used between the wall jack and the DC50X, then there is a digital signal.

But with a digital signal, you really shouldn't see picture quality issues at all, either you receive it, or you don't. I suspect that you either didn't connect the old cable tightly enough, or the ends may have been flexed too much over the years causing an intermittent connection.

I did look in the DCH-3200 box, and there were two coax cables similar to the white one that you have, except both of these are black, and there was also an HDMI cable.

And yes, that's the big box that they sent me for free, at least that was the understanding that I had from the flyers and the phone call, but I haven't gotten a cable bill yet to confirm. The free offer for me was supposed to be 1 big box + 2 small boxes, since I never had any cable boxes in the past (and of course they never reduced my bill because of that either).

Since this is moving into territory I hadn't anticipated, I sent a message to my son, although he won't get it until he gets home from work. Like you, he never had any boxes with his cable service, and Comcast sent him one large digital receiver (with which he now gets on-demand and on-screen program guide) and one of the small DC50X boxes. I've asked him to give me the model number of that large box, and I also asked him about cables that came with each receiver. It will be interesting to see what the model number of his big receiver is and if it's the same as the one you got.

OK, regarding that white cable... This was continuing to confuse me a whole lot, so I did more research. I think the difference is in the rating of the coax cable. RG59 was standard for a long time, but there is now an RG6. Here's a link to an article in which the differences between the two are discussed. Toward the bottom, it says "For any broadband CATV or satellite system, RG6 is recommended by all the experts." You are right, and that new cable I got still carries an analog signal, but apparently the shielding is better than the piece of RU59 I already had, and that probably explains why the new one gives me a good signal on the set and the old piece of cable did not. Or something.

Now it still doesn't explain why the Comcast tech told me there was a cable capable of carrying the digital signal, but I can see where someone who understands the difference between these various cables might have confused somebody like me, who really wishes she had never heard of any of this. sad smiley

You know, there are simply times when the best a person can do is know that one thing works and another doesn't!
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