My Digital Cable Experience

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Sean W. Evans, Feb 6, 2002.

  1. Sean W. Evans

    Dec 14, 2000
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    First and foremost, drop all preconceptions, this is just an account of my experience of switching from cable to satellite to digital cable. I live with my grandmother and when I was young (15 years ago) I started playing around with connecting televisions in rooms without cable, this required running new cable runs and doing all of the connecting. This led me to always tweak the connection whenever the picture was not up to my standard (which at the time, was a picture with less static then before). Cable in those days, mid 80's, was bad, shiver kind of bad. But we had it going quite decent by the time I graduated from college. Channels above 10 were nice and we accepted the fact the 2-9 were as best as they could be.

    Anyhow, when I graduated from college my first boss convinced me to get satellite and boy was it ever a difference, and this is on just a coaxial connection. I then got into DVD and HT, and so I upgraded and went to a composite connection(before I found this website).

    This was great, but while I had satellite, the rest of the house had cable, because it was too expensive at the time to run rg-6 to all the rooms and pay for additional receivers, so I payed both a cable and satellite bill, all the while knowing the satellite was a most awesome picture.

    Finally the local cable company received digital cable and I could get all my satellite needs (HBO was all I ever had or wanted as I already had basic cable) and cable needs in one easy bill and for ten dollars less a month and everybody could still have their regualr "tv" in their rooms.

    I had recently upgraded to a tv with s-video and the digital cable box provided that connection and something my sat box had not had, a digital coax connection for my receiver. So now I could watch HBO movies with the accompanying 5.1 soundtrack if available. This was all well and good, no satellite on the outside of the house or the seperate rg-6 line going just to my room, instead all lines came from the cable drop and split to their respective rooms.(as my grandmother likes the outside of her house to look nice and I do agree).

    But some concerns haunted me when the installed the digital cable box. From reading on this forum, I knew that rg-6 was better then 59 for digital applications. But the techs from the cable company said they would not need to replace any cable(it was rg-59, 20+ yrs old) as the box reported a +5db reading and that was within their tolerable range. Picture looked great and everything was fine, so I thought nothing of it.

    Well, two weeks later late at night, the digital channels were "tiling" and the sound distorted, the db reading was up to +20, out of range the box said. I thought it was something in my setup, so I spent till 2am in the morning troubleshooting and the db reding went down by 2db, but that was it, still tiling. So I called the cable company and they said there were outages in this area and they were fixing it, well when they did, the reading was still at +14db for digital and +10db for analog. I could not accept this, I went into the office and found out that with all digital cable box installations, if the drop is rg-59, then it should be (I believe it must be) replaced with rg-6.

    So I had them come out that day and they found that at the pole, the beginning of the drop, was gnawed through quite well by our local squirrels and that alone could be causing the tiling. So they re-ran a new drop and even went under the house. This is where they found that the old spliiter (20+ yrs) was also no good. In the end, the readings went from digital +15, analog +10, to digital -10, analog -7. That is quite a difference and I see no more tiling.

    So I say this to anyone, if you get either a satellite, or a digital cable box, make darn sure that the tech makes the drop rg-6, it will make a world of difference.

    Also, if anyone wants my opinion of digital cable(as I have had satellite also (DirecTV)), here it is: if you need to maintain a cable connection because of family or other reasons and also want satellite type quality and channel availability, the digital cable is worth a try. The picture is just as good, sometimes better(and not that expensive (I pay $55 for some 100+ channels). The new set-top boxes have digital coax out, s-video(Scientific Atlanta 3000 is what I have). Mind you, in my set-up, the other rooms only have analog channels as they have no box, I only use a box in my HT/room. But this set-up is perfect if you have an existing cable installation, no need for a seperate drop, as long as the exsiting one is rg-6. When I had satellite, had a seperate drop of white rg-6 cable run from the satellite(one side of the house) to my room(the total other side), this was not aesthetically pleasing). So there you go, digital cable is fine in my opinion, and a good alternative, if done right, to satellite.

    I use Charter Communications as a cable provider here in the mountains of Southern California.
  2. Rich Gio

    Rich Gio Extra

    Jan 7, 2002
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    I was planning on going to digital cable....that is UNTIL I looked at the back of the box my catv company (comcast northwest NJ) was offering. Get This...the only audio hook up available was the component (analog RCA) jacks. Correct me if I'm wrong but....THAT IS NOT...I repeat NOT Digital!Maybe they should call it "Semi Digital"...or "kinda sorta digital"

    I'm now looking into Direct TV.

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