Digital cable - better than analog?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JeffWilson, Jun 30, 2002.

  1. JeffWilson

    JeffWilson Agent

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    Is Digital cable a better quality signal than analog? It sounds as though the signal is the same and the digital signal allows them to squeeze more in there. But the analog channels that I get (most of them) will look the same, right? Also, what ARE the digital channels out there? I dont know of any, except maybe the music only channels.

    Does digital cable allow for 5.1 separation? If so, how? The signal comes over a 75 ohm cable into my TV. How would the signal get to my receiver? It cant use Audio out because that only is a stereo connection.

    Clearly, I am a bit confused..could someone straighten me out? Thanks!

    Jeff Wilson
     
  2. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    That's exactly it.

    For most of these channels (depending on your cable service), they are analog cable feeds digitized to squeeze more channels into a small space. This leads to horrendous pixelization problems and it sometimes even affects the sound quality.

    The only benefit is if the odd station or two is transmitting in Dolby Digital 2.0 or 5.1, which usually sounds better than FM modulated MTS stereo on regular cable and over-the-air broadcasts.

    Just a handful of Time/Warner Cable (and maybe a smattering from other companies) affiliates are now offering HDTV over their digital cable service.

    Dan
     
  3. Roberto Carlo

    Roberto Carlo Second Unit

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    I have Cox digital cable in Fairfax, VA and, in my experience, the premium channels are far better than analog -- somewhere between laserdisc and DVD quality. The other channels look about the same as analog. I seldom have problems with pixelization or other artifacts. Some channels look bad, but they looked that way on my old analog system.

    To answer your connection question: my Scientific Atlanta 2200 box has S-video and Composite outputs, analogue L/R audio outputs and a coaxial digital output that carries a Dolby Digital signal. Between a quarter and half of the HBO and Showtime movies are 5.1, as well as some of the stuff on Encore. The rest is Dolby Surround, which my receiver decodes using Pro Logic II. The sound can be very good. U-571 rocked the house. Not quite at the DVD levels, but pretty well.
     
  4. Chris Perkins

    Chris Perkins Stunt Coordinator

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    From my own experience with Cox digital cable, I would say that the digital channels(channel 100 and up) are truely top notch- excellent picture quality. In fact, HBO is almost as good as DVD. I use s-video out of my box, which helps. The channels below 100 are not impressive.
    Chris
     
  5. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    For some reason, I got into digital vs. analog cable in this other current thread
    For what it's worth, HDTV comes in from over the air on a good old 75 ohm antenna cable, and it looks (and sounds) fantastic.
     
  6. Michael St. Clair

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    I'm a Time Warner Digital Cable customer.

    Upstairs I have a 27" Wega with an SA 2000 cable box. Downstairs I have a 53" HDTV with an SA 3100 HD cable box.

    Analog channels look great. Digital channels look great. HD channels look fantastic.

    Everything looks equal to or better than DirecTV or DISH.
     
  7. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    Like Roberto, I too have Cox -- but its analog. I've actually noticed some digital artifacts on the signals ever so often -- like the feed is MPEG-2 digital, and is THEN converted back into analog. Its sorta strange -- but I'm an owl when it comes to these sorts of things, so maybe its not noticeable for most people.

    I've done some comparisons between Analog Cable and DVD (whenever HBO plays a DVD I have), and I think DVD blows the pants off of analog cable colorwise. Looking at HBO after the DVD makes it look like they spilled bleach all over the print. Maybe Digital remedies this -- then again, maybe not.
     
  8. Ken Garrison

    Ken Garrison Supporting Actor

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  9. stephen_z

    stephen_z Stunt Coordinator

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    My own personal experience with AT&T Broadband Digital Cable... give me back my analog. Plenty of digital artifacts... pixelized, blotchy skin tones and random moments where background movement blurs. Switchover to digital was mandatory (no longer supporting analog)...and the subscription price went up!
     
  10. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Stephen- Hey neighbor!

    I absolutely agree with Stephen on this one. Analog rules, digital sucks.

    I used to live in Sunnyvale. Sci Fi channel was on analog. $20 a month. (Basic plus expanded basic.)

    I then moved to Santa Clara. The next freaking city over!

    I was forced to get digital because that's where the Sci Fi channel was. I see pixelation. I see the bad transitions between 2 shades of color because they don't use enough bandwidth to make it smooth. And, the Sci Fi channel is on 3 hrs earlier because the idiots use the East Coast feed.

    And all for the low, low price (now) of $50 a month.

    I say, don't get digital unless there's some channel you need on it. or at least bug your neighbors about what the quality in your town on your system is. Not much good asking us...
     
  11. Roberto Carlo

    Roberto Carlo Second Unit

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  12. Roberto Carlo

    Roberto Carlo Second Unit

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  13. JeffWilson

    JeffWilson Agent

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    Thanks to everyone for their comments on this subject. I know that I will be taking the plunge soon and will probably start with Digital Cable and if I dont like it, move onto a dish. One last Q: I know that some SHOWS (i.e. Jay Leno, Everybody Loves Raymond, etc.) are broadcast in HDTV, but arent those on ANALOG channels? Do you get them in HDTV thru your digital cable? If so, I assume you need a HDTV ready TV? Or will I get the HD signal onto my old TV, but just wont see the picture as well as on a HDTV set? Thanks again!

    Jeff
     
  14. Jeffrey Chin

    Jeffrey Chin Second Unit

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    i use Comcast for digital cable & broadband
    picture quality is excellent..perfectly matched w/ replaytv!

    too bad they don't have digital audio for it yet
     
  15. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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  16. Bill Adlhoch

    Bill Adlhoch Stunt Coordinator

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    I have comcast here in suburban detroit

    They told me that I only get 250 lines of resolution via analog and 400 via the digital cable box.

    If i am recording using s-vhs or other highER definition(higher than VHS) wouldnt i always want to record via the outputs of the digital box to utilize s-vhs?

    Or are they just 'saying' that to get more customers and there isnt any real difference in lines of resolution(pixelazation issues aside)
     
  17. Michael St. Clair

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  18. charles white

    charles white Second Unit

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    what's digital about digital cable(other than the audio portion) is the cable provider compresses the NTSC signal by one-third at its head end. that allows the provider to offer more channels and digital services while keeping the same bandwidth.
     
  19. Scott Kriefall

    Scott Kriefall Second Unit

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  20. stephen_z

    stephen_z Stunt Coordinator

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    Kevin,
    Do you see ghost images of green (left side) and magenta (right side) of flesh tone images on your AT&T cable?

    I just purchased a Panasonic CT27SX12 to replace a dead Sony 25" XBR (only the Panny would fit into my girlfriend's entertainment center). I was getting a little frantic that something was wrong with the TV until a popped a DVD in and the picture looked perfect. Is this just one more thing we need to put up with? (some other gremlin artifacts that I assume is due to the service provider... I see them on a small 13" Toshiba non-flat screen).
     

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