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Old 04-10-2007, 11:05 PM   #1
Jeff Lam
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Series 3 and Basic cable? Comcast On-demand?

How good of a job does the series 3 do with basic cable over a standard cable line? I don't think it's quite worth the $50-100 per month just yet for digital cable to get only a handful of HD channels, most of which are available free OTA. I do watch mostly local primetime shows and would love to get them in HD on TIVO with an antenna...

When they start getting the majority of programming in HD maybe I'll jump on the digital cable bandwagon. Although I am facinated with the Comcast On-Demand feature... However I wasn't sure if the tivo series 3 box w/ cable card supports the On-Demand... Does it? Or do you need to have the Comcast box to get On-Demand?
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Old 04-10-2007, 11:17 PM   #2
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Series 3 cannot do the 2-way communication necessary for On Demand. You need a cable box for that.
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Old 04-10-2007, 11:28 PM   #3
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Yep, I wish it could but ON-Demand still needs cable box.

Man i hate the cable box it's so ugly and the S3 only makes it look even more ugly.
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Old 04-11-2007, 02:01 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Lam
I don't think it's quite worth the $50-100 per month just yet for digital cable to get only a handful of HD channels, most of which are available free OTA.
~$15 limited basic + $1.50 for the second CableCard would give you the local HD channels. That's what I have. Adding another $12 per month for digital classic would give you all of the non-premium HD channels.
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Old 04-11-2007, 10:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Lam
How good of a job does the series 3 do with basic cable over a standard cable line?
Just to answer that question for you - I switched from a series 2 last month and was still on my basic cable for a couple of weeks with the S3. In my experience, the S3 did a much better job encoding basic cable than my older S2. I had a very hard time telling that the signal was compressed, compared to my S2 which sometimes had issues with certain scenes.
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Old 04-11-2007, 10:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmot
Just to answer that question for you - I switched from a series 2 last month and was still on my basic cable for a couple of weeks with the S3. In my experience, the S3 did a much better job encoding basic cable than my older S2. I had a very hard time telling that the signal was compressed, compared to my S2 which sometimes had issues with certain scenes.
Are you using cableCARDs? If so, you are probably seeing the digital version. You can tell whether or not it is analog or digital by looking in the diagnostics screen for that channel.
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Old 04-11-2007, 10:55 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by pl1
Are you using cableCARDs? If so, you are probably seeing the digital version. You can tell whether or not it is analog or digital by looking in the diagnostics screen for that channel.
Oh.. I am now - but that two week window I was talking about was without cable cards, so it was encoding analog cable then. You're right though - once I installed the cable cards I noticed that a bunch of the analog channels were being broadcast in digital too. Much more than I thought would be.
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Old 04-11-2007, 11:07 AM   #8
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Oh.. I am now - but that two week window I was talking about was without cable cards, so it was encoding analog cable then. You're right though - once I installed the cable cards I noticed that a bunch of the analog channels were being broadcast in digital too. Much more than I thought would be.
Well, you see, I'm running one S3 with cableCARDs and one S3 without them. I find that the S3 with no cableCARDs looks pretty awful with analog cable coming in. It may in fact be better than the S2, though, as you say.
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Old 04-11-2007, 12:34 PM   #9
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It depends on the cable system. I have comcast here and the analog channels look better than the SD digital channels. Fortunately I only have 4 SD channels programmed in. Most of my viewing is HD.
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Old 04-11-2007, 12:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by pl1
Well, you see, I'm running one S3 with cableCARDs and one S3 without them. I find that the S3 with no cableCARDs looks pretty awful with analog cable coming in. It may in fact be better than the S2, though, as you say.
Oh, sure - my observation was certainly relative to the S2. I had them both running side by side for some time while I migrated settings and season passes over to the S3.

I guess though overall YMMV, as aaronwt points out. In my case, I'd actually say that the analog recordings on my S3 with my cable input (comcast, bay area) were nearly indistinguishable from the original broadcast. I don't have any left on there to compare to digital recordings of the same show though...
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Old 04-11-2007, 01:15 PM   #11
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I recently installed an S3 and have been waiting for cable cards for a couple weeks. (The cable guy is coming to install them tomorrow.) I hooked up some rabbit ears just to try over-the-air high-def (OTA HD) out.

I have analog cable and OTA HD coming in, and the only things I'm not getting are ESPN HD, NESN HD, Discovery HD, and HD Net. (I don't subscribe to premium channels.) Analog SD cable looks better than ever, I'd say -- better than the S2. And OTA HD is awesome. I don't see any compression artifacts, which I always notice on the RCN/Motorola HD DVR. Also, there are lots of SD digital broadcast channels here in Boston that I've never seen before and can't get over cable.

I'm pretty happy with Analog cable and OTA HD on my S3. I've even considered ditching cable altogether because most of the stuff I watch is available OTA. However, I'm giving cable card a try anyway, mostly because the wife says she likes crap like HGTV and Oxygen. Oh, and Red Sox baseball is only on NESN.

Even if all you have is over-the-air as an input, S3 is still worth the $600 price tag (Costco). In fact, it enhances the OTA experience so much it might make you forgo cable and therefore pay for itself in short order.
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Old 04-11-2007, 06:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c3
~$15 limited basic + $1.50 for the second CableCard would give you the local HD channels. That's what I have. Adding another $12 per month for digital classic would give you all of the non-premium HD channels.
I don't think that's true. In order to go to Digital classic, you must add expanded basic, prior to adding the $12 a month for digital cable, thus the $50-$60 increase just to get digital classic from limited basic. Were you able to add digital classic with out expanded basic? If so, I'm curious how you were able to.
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Old 04-11-2007, 07:13 PM   #13
Jeff Lam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by russwong
I don't think that's true. In order to go to Digital classic, you must add expanded basic, prior to adding the $12 a month for digital cable, thus the $50-$60 increase just to get digital classic from limited basic. Were you able to add digital classic with out expanded basic? If so, I'm curious how you were able to.
That's what I thought... If it only costs $25 and I can get all the non-premium HD channels I may as well do that.
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Old 04-11-2007, 07:19 PM   #14
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I don't think that's true.
I'm not the only one who has done it, although my local Comcast office did say no. Called Comcast to add digital classic, and my CableCards were authorized pretty quickly. A couple weeks later I decided not to keep it, and those channels were disabled. The CableCard system worked without any problem.
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Old 04-12-2007, 07:29 PM   #15
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Please clarify/confirm

Quote:
Originally Posted by c3
I'm not the only one who has done it, although my local Comcast office did say no. Called Comcast to add digital classic, and my CableCards were authorized pretty quickly. A couple weeks later I decided not to keep it, and those channels were disabled. The CableCard system worked without any problem.

I'm in the Bellevue, WA ComCast area and the local pricing sheet shows that in order to get Digital Classic (or any Digital ***** package) customers must also subscribe to Basic Cable (includes Limited Basic and Expanded Cable).

So, when you say that "A couple weeks later I decided not to keep it", were you talking about Digital Classic, Expanded Cable, or Limited Basic?

I currently have a single S3 with two CCs and I'm trying to cut my cable bill, but I don't want to lose access to the non-premium HD channels. Any help appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 04-12-2007, 07:37 PM   #16
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1. limited basic
2. bought S3: limited basic, 2 CableCards
3. added digital classic: limited basic, 2 CableCards, digital classic
4. cancelled digital classic: limited basic, 2 CableCards

I have never had expanded basic since I started Comcast many years ago. YMMV.
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Old 04-13-2007, 03:43 PM   #17
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Thanks for the clarification

Quote:
Originally Posted by c3
I have never had expanded basic since I started ComCast many years ago. YMMV.
I'm surprised that the CCs weren't disabled or that you weren't asked to return them after dropping Digital Classic. Maybe they're just happy that they get to charge you $1.50/month for the CCs on top of your limited basic fee?
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Old 04-13-2007, 03:49 PM   #18
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I'm surprised that the CCs weren't disabled or that you weren't asked to return them after dropping Digital Classic. Maybe they're just happy that they get to charge you $1.50/month for the CCs on top of your limited basic fee?
Why would my CableCards be disabled? I had no problem getting CableCards installed with just limited basic.
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Old 04-13-2007, 03:50 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilrod
I'm surprised that the CCs weren't disabled or that you weren't asked to return them after dropping Digital Classic. Maybe they're just happy that they get to charge you $1.50/month for the CCs on top of your limited basic fee?
FCC mandates MSOs to provide customer requested CCs.
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Old 04-13-2007, 04:01 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilrod
I'm in the Bellevue, WA ComCast area and the local pricing sheet shows that in order to get Digital Classic (or any Digital ***** package) customers must also subscribe to Basic Cable (includes Limited Basic and Expanded Cable).
Digital Classic having a pre-requisite of Expanded service or not is a local Comcast service area policy decision. If your prices/service list (FCC-mandated) says that, then you won't be able to get Digital Classic w/o Expd. (except if the CSR errs, assuming the system would even allow it).

Our area's list allows this, as there is no pre-requiste listed. The trouble in such areas similar to mine, is they put stumbling blocks in front of the customer. Even here, the website shows services in a tiered manner- Basic, Expd., Digital, Premiums. (Heck, it is FCC mandated that one get Basic + a Premium) Obviously, the website is just a sales tool. As for the list, it shows Basic as the only universal pre-requisite. Digital Classic or Plus is required for a DVR.

Talking to CSRs will get varying info. But, if it is in writing to allow it, telling the CSR that (sometimes they need to talk to a Supervisor) usually gets it done. Some have to go the office with the list. In rare occasions, they defy what is in writing, so one would have to complain to the Local Franchsing Authority, and then the FCC, but usually people don't bother pursuing it that far.
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Old 04-13-2007, 04:04 PM   #21
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OK, this seems clearer now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QZ1
FCC mandates MSOs to provide customer requested CCs.
In my area limited basic is still all analog, so there wouldn't be a need to use cable cards at all. Thus, my incorrect conclusion that ComCast would stop sending digital signals (or put a filter on the line to block them) after a subscriber dropped all digital packages.

I didn't know about the FCC mandate.

Thanks.
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Old 04-13-2007, 04:13 PM   #22
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Back to square one. :D

Quote:
Originally Posted by QZ1
Digital Classic having a pre-requisite of Expanded service or not is a local Comcast service area policy decision. If your prices/service list (FCC-mandated) says that, then you won't be able to get Digital Classic w/o Expd. (except if the CSR errs, assuming the system would even allow it).
OK, so it looks like it all depends on the local service area. This would be similar to how some folks are charged A/O fees and/or HD programming fees for a single S3 + 2 CCs, but I see no such fees with the exact same setup.

Last edited by wilrod : 04-13-2007 at 04:14 PM. Reason: Fixed typo
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Old 04-13-2007, 04:38 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by wilrod
OK, so it looks like it all depends on the local service area. This would be similar to how some folks are charged A/O fees and/or HD programming fees for a single S3 + 2 CCs, but I see no such fees with the exact same setup.
That is somewhat different. I have seen a link posted to Comcast's national site that says the second CC in one device is now up to $1.91. Locally is it $1.50, and in many other areas, a similar fee has been confirmed on the price list. The problem is local implementation of the new dual CC billing code, in regards to service authorizations, without needing the A/O billing code.
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Old 04-13-2007, 07:19 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilrod
In my area limited basic is still all analog, so there wouldn't be a need to use cable cards at all. Thus, my incorrect conclusion that ComCast would stop sending digital signals (or put a filter on the line to block them) after a subscriber dropped all digital packages.

I didn't know about the FCC mandate.

Thanks.
Basic entitles you to broadcast network HD as well, hence the need for CableCARDs.
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