DirecTivo to Cable+S3 transition?

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by as6o, Sep 13, 2006.

  1. as6o

    as6o New Member

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    Jan 18, 2002

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    I've been a DirecTivo subscriber ever since they came out but because of line-of-site issues I haven't been able to receive HD DirecTV. The first real Cable-based HD Tivo solution is now here and I'm interested in switching to Comcast HD + S3. I have a question for the Tivo community:

    *Everything* on DirecTV is digital and looks decent. Some macroblocking but no noise, fuzzy pictures, etc. Looking at the Comcast lineup most channels are in digital which I assume would look similar to DirecTV channels, but a few (like Comedy Central) appear to only be in analog in my area. Does that mean that the S3 will have to encode it to mpeg-2 on the box itself which means that there is a chance for cable noise or, since I'm using a CableCard, are *all* cable channels coming to the box in pre-encoded digital?

    Is there anything else I should be aware of/look out for/adjust my expectations, etc. when switching from sat. to cable?

    Thanks for any clarification or information,

    -Aaron
     
  2. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    7,902
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    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    Yes, there is the possibility of "noise" on those analog channels. The Series3 does have a 3D comb filter which it uses on analog channels, and would filter some of that out, but probably not all. You really won't know the quality of the analog channels on your system until you try it.

    The Series3 also has a higher-quality encode setting than previous Tivos.

    (If Verizon FiOS is available in your area, they do use digital for all cable channels.)

    Keep in mind that some cable channels are still distributed by content providers as analog, so they are encoded to MPEG-2 by DirecTV. Moreover, DirecTV doesn't pass its digital channels as they are received -- DirecTV receives digital channels as ~720x480 via satellite, re-encodes and re-compresses them to 480x480 MPEG-2, and then uplinks them back up to their own satellite. Things are even worse for DirecTV's HDTV, because they take a HDTV feed at 1920x1080 @ up to 19.4Mbps and downconvert it to 1280x1080 @ ~10-12Mbps.

    The quality of the digital channels on DirecTV is nothing like the quality of the original source. The SD digital channels on Comcast should actually be of higher quality than you get with DirecTV, since they typically re-encode to 528x480 or 544x480.

    If you are worried about analog artifacts, I would suggest you retain DirecTV for the moment, and order Comcast basic cable to see how the analog channels look. If they look good (and analog channels can look great, it all depends on the signal quality to your location) on your TV, then cancel DirecTV and order the Series3. Otherwise, stick with DirecTV.
     
  3. as6o

    as6o New Member

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    Jan 18, 2002
    Thanks for the clarification and all of the great info. FiOS is available all around me but not in my neighborhood. :(

    To summarize: Analog is analog into the box and the quality could be worse or it could be better than DirecTV. Digital channels will probably be better than what is available via DirecTV.

    Followup question: What Tivo quality setting will give results similar to DirecTV (assuming a nice clean analog signal)?

    The reason I'm so anal about this is because we are happy with DirecTV's SD content and the S3 is expensive. We'd like to know that we aren't making any quality sacrifices moving to Comcast+S3.

    Again, thanks for the info.

    -Aaron
     
  4. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Well-Known Member

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    May 10, 1999
    Keep track of the thread for your city over in "local hdtv info" at avsforum.com
    ADS (analog digital simulcast) is being rapidly deployed in a lot of areas (ones with suitable bandwidth, currently), cable companies want to move to all or almost all digital eventually & this is the first step. This might be the majority situation in the country as soon as next year, the articles I have read suggest the cable operators are being really aggressive in deployment, some reaching 50% mark supposedly. Don't know yet if in those areas if the S3 w/ Cablecard will map to the analog ch or digital channel (any beta testers out there who are now free to say?)

    Analog as stated could be better, could be worse.
     
  5. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    7,902
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    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area

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    Correct.

    Might as well use the "best quality" setting.

    FiOS fully supports the Series3, so if/when it is available in your neighborhood, you can switch. Be sure to periodically check availability via their address qualification.

    The quality of the Comcast analog channels will all depend on your signal level. There's no way to really know until you try it.
     
  6. as6o

    as6o New Member

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    Jan 18, 2002
    Another question on AC-3 (Dolby Digital): On DirecTV some of the SD movie channels supplied sound in AC-3 for a few movies. Is this the same on Comcast? Or, are only the HD channels in AC3.

    -Aaron
     

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