Isn't Picture Quality With Digital Cable Supposed to be Better Than Analog?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by BruceN, Jan 1, 2002.

  1. BruceN

    BruceN Auditioning

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    First off I have a Sony 36" XBR450 (I could not be happier with the TV). Cox Cable recently strung the new wires for digital cable here in Rhode Island and I took advantage of the first months digital for $1 and the first months 8-channel HBO for $1. Previously with analog, picture quality ranged from fantasic to so-so with the majority of the channels being good. I see this same thing with the new digital cable. I was hoping for more. I now plan on switching back to analog when my first month is up. Analog is approximately $40 per month with digital about $55 and digital with HBO about $65. I know that satellite is probably the way to go but we presently have five TV's hooked up and I live in a rural part of RI - I don't think I would have a direct view to the satellite without cutting down trees. Any comments from anyone else regarding differences in your cable reception between digital and analog?
     
  2. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    1. Are you sure you are now getting all digital channels, as opposed to digital capable wires still carrying some of the channels in analog for the time being?
    2. If the original source material is analog, it cannot be better when delivered to you as digital cable.
    2a. The original source material may have been picked up over the air from a station distant from the cable TV headquarters using an antenna on their roof.
    2b. Some cable companies water down the digital channels so, although they are transmitted as digital, the quality is worse than top quality over the air analog broadcasts.
    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
    The original purpose of cable TV was to make over the air stations available to rural or valley residents where the "cable company" put an antenna high up e.g. on top of a mountain, amplified all the channels it picked up, and piped it to the subscribers.
     
  3. RoyGBiv

    RoyGBiv Stunt Coordinator

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    Unfortunately, the answer to your question is that the cable companies want you to think so, but it usually isn't. Also, remember that with "digital cable," the lower numbers which are the local and Boston channels are still all analog. I, too, am in RI with Cox Comm. The picture in Pawtucket has always been awful, especially with locals 10 and 12. (In all fairness to Cox, I have complained to them on numerous occasions and they have come out promptly every time to try to fix it. No one has ever been able to improve the picture, though. The last person who came said, "Well, I guess you need our new digital service.") So, several years ago I got DirecTV, and I put an antenna in my attic. I still have "basic" cable for the few channels I can't get anywhere else, but as soon as WGBH is broadcasting digitally full time, it is gone.

    When Cox came out with their digital cable, I had a chance to see the picture. For the locals it was not any better than what was present previously. The rest isn't any better than I get with DirecTV. Also, with DirecTV I am getting HBO HD and HDNet, and with the DirecTV receiver get all the Boston digital stations perfectly.

    If the picture isn't any better, go back to analog and save the money. Use it to get someone in to do a site survey to see where your satellite antenna could go without having to cut down trees.

    SMK
     
  4. Michael St. Clair

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    In order of picture quality, from best to worst.
    1) BUD satellite (analog or digital)
    2) OTA broadcast
    3) Good analog cable
    4) Good digital cable
    5) DirecTV/DISH (hopefully getting less compressed soon with spot beams...may bet worse first due to must-carry)
    6) Bad cable (analog or digital)
    There are no rules of thumb. Some analog cable in some places is so good it makes all digital cable and DSS look like crap. Some analog cable is so bad it makes anything else look good. And so on, and so forth.
    The truth is, most digital cable is too compressed. But so is almost all satellite.
    Once my local cable company upgraded their infrastructure, their analog cable looks astoundingly good. The digital cable looks better than DBS, but (some would say minor) artifacts are still present.
     
  5. Jeff Whitford

    Jeff Whitford Screenwriter

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    Michael you are in a MAJOR minority as far as having cable that looks better than satellite.
     
  6. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    The purpose of digital cable is not quality but more compression. Standard (analog) runs at a compression rate of 4 or 5 to one. while digital runs at a 12 to 1 compression rate. ie. 12 channels in a 6mhz standard frequency band. This is why cable companies don't want to carry digital broadcast-it can't be compressed any further.Adding a digital broadcast takes the space of 4 analog or 12 digital channels.

    12 to 1 compression is not going have much quality to it.
     
  7. Michael St. Clair

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  8. Jeff Whitford

    Jeff Whitford Screenwriter

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    There is no Time Warner cable either here or in Florida when I lived there. I sell TV and DSS for a living but if I thought I could get a better picture somewhere else I wouldnt own DSS. Most cable systems suck.
     
  9. MTrotter

    MTrotter Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm on Cox Digital Cable in Texas. The lower channels, including Fox News, CNN, Weather Channel, etc. look exactly the same as before. That's because they ARE the same: analog cable. The only channels I watch that are truly digital are Speedvision, ESPN2, and The Golf Channel, and these channels are noticeably softer and less detailed.

    BTW, some of the local channels and Fox News look fantastic, but they also did before I got the digital cable.

    IMO, the only reason to get digital cable is in order to get a channel you can't get on analog cable.
     
  10. AbelM

    AbelM Second Unit

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    Also, are you guys using Cox's advantage of an S-Video? That's the point of having digital cable is to get better resolution, via the connections you use. Yeah if you use their sh!tty RF crap, it'll look the same, but switch over to S-Video and it is a decent upgrade. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  11. MTrotter

    MTrotter Stunt Coordinator

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    Regarding s-video connection, the cable that comes to the house from the street, as well as all the cable in the house is coaxial, so I am not clear how s-video will help.
     
  12. AbelM

    AbelM Second Unit

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  13. JoeDelan

    JoeDelan Stunt Coordinator

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    With most Digital Cable systems, the Only Digital part of the service is the premium.

    Here in Alexandria, VA, I have COmcast digital and the only ones I get digital are all Premium channels(HBO, PPV, SHO, MAX) and all stations above 100. The rest are just the regular Analog. But I must say the HBO picture is fantastic! As is it for all of the Digital Channels.
     
  14. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I get separate digital and analog feeds from AT&T Broadband in my house. The analog wins, hands down. Digital cable is intended as a means of being able to send the signal to greater lengths without degradation. But the results are hardly worth it. The video is largely mediocre. Also, most of the analog cable signals are in stereo, whereas the digital signals of the same channels are in mono.

    It's a last-gasp scam on the part of the cable industry.
     
  15. Michael Hudson

    Michael Hudson Stunt Coordinator

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    In Austin where I live the digital channels like HBO ect look as good if not better than when I had Direct TV. As far as local stations they look pretty bad. I do like the fact that Time Warner has a lot of channels with Dolby Digital 5.1.
     
  16. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    My friend switched to digital because they moved Sci-Fi channel to digital only

    Analog cable- VHS quality

    Digital cable- EP VHS quality, compressed to hell

    DBS-slightly under SVHS quality
     
  17. Drew Eckhardt

    Drew Eckhardt Stunt Coordinator

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    While in theory there's good over-the-air NTSC (arround here we have an output power restriction due to a government research facility, live in a valley, and get reflections off the mountains. I sortof got two channels poorly the last time I tried), good analogue cable (the quality of ours is bad and we had in election in which we voted to not renew the local franchise's monopoly in which we were over-ruled by Federal law), and good digital cable (in the friend's setup I saw i the first 70 channels were noisy, and the ones that are digital were no better than Dish) in some places (scenic Boulder, CO) those aren't viable options.

    The HOA doesn't permit BUDs, leaving DBS as the sole source of acceptable television. Before I became aware of DBS I opted for movie rentals, books, and Usenet as substitutes....
     
  18. Michael St. Clair

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  19. Ferdinand C

    Ferdinand C Auditioning

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    FWIW-

    I'm with Michael on this one. My analog picture with Time Warner cable is pretty good. My XBR 450 actually improved some of the channels signals over my old 27" Sony but maybe that's because the coaxial cable is hooked up directly to the TV vs via my old setup through the VCR. Anyways, I'm wondering if Time Warner's digital service will be a better improvement.
     

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