One of the first customers to receive Comcast's HDTV in Baltimore Area!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Steven_ R, Oct 3, 2002.

  1. Steven_ R

    Steven_ R Agent

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    They just finished installing the HD Digital Cable Box in my house. Very excited to say the least. I was ready to get a satellite or OTA system until yesterday, when I saw that Comcast was going to start limited HD service. So, I jumped right on it and was one of the first customers to get the new box. For now, I can receive the local NBC and ABC HD signals and HBO and Showtime. Have not had much of a chance to play with it yet. But a few annoying issues already - in order to view 1080i signals, I have to go into the cable box menu to change from 480i to 1080i and back to view analog TV. So, if the digital cable box is the only TV tuner you use, then it's a real pain to switch between the limited amount of HD viewing material and normal/analog TV. Also, as I've mentioned in other posts, I need to get some kind of switch for the digital cable's component video output and my DVDs output since my TV has only one set of inputs. However, you can't beat the price - no additional charges, the same per month fee ($2.95) I was paying for the old "digital" cable box. It has a 5.1 optical and coax output as well. The biggest surprise so far is that the 1080i image while far better than any analog TV is not that much better than some of the better DVDs I've watched using an interlaced DVD player and my Sony's (61HS10)internal line doubler. Don't get me wrong, the picture is great, but I wasn't as blown away as I expected. One question for those of you who already have a cable or satellite HD box - there are 3 choices in the menu for display - Pan and Scan, Letterbox, and Crop. My TV is 4:3 with the 16:9 squeeze. When I used the 1080i signal, the screen was of course letterboxed, but it seemed the same whether I used the cable box in pan and scan as it did in letterbox. Am I losing any resolution one way over the other?

    In any event, after almost 2 years of living with a HDTV ready TV, I've now finally got HD!

    Steve
     
  2. Stefan A

    Stefan A Second Unit

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    This is good news. I has no idea it was currently happening in Baltimore. Do you know if it is heading towards Harford County yet?
     
  3. Jo_M

    Jo_M Stunt Coordinator

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    So what's the total cost of digital cable service + the HD channels? It can't just be $2.95.
     
  4. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    Steven,

    Does this box automatically downconvert 1080i to 480i on the Hi-Def channels if you do not change the output to strictly 1080i? I am guessing no, but theres always a possibility.

    The reason I am asking this is I have an non-HDTV ready television, but 1080i downconverted to 480i should still have a better picture then my standard cable channels. Also it would be nice having a Digital Cable Box that actually has digital audio and component video output.

    J
     
  5. Steven_ R

    Steven_ R Agent

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    I don't remember what the cost of the Digital Service alone is - but I do recall that adding HBO only vs. Digital Cable Plus HBO (which gives you 10 or more channels of HBO) was about $5.00 per month more. That includes the cost of renting the digital box - which is $2.95 - whether you choose the analog box or the new HD box.

    I live in Owings Mills, and I think I read that the HD service is now available everywhere in the Baltimore area where service has been upgraded to the fiber optic network. So, if you can get Digital Cable in Harford County, then I think you can get the HD service too.

    As far as downconverting the 1080i signal, I'm not sure if it does that, but I'll try it out tonight and let you know.

    Steve
     
  6. Ufanco

    Ufanco Auditioning

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    Hi I am waiting for Comcast to call back and set up day to install cable box (Harford Co. Maryland) what brand and model # box did Comcast give you Steven_R? I would like to read up on this box before they come out to install.
     
  7. Bill Lucas

    Bill Lucas Supporting Actor

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    I hate to break the news but if it isn't much better than DVD through your TVs line doubler the signal isn't exactly what it should be. High definition should best your DVD setup by a wide margin.
     
  8. Steven_ R

    Steven_ R Agent

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    Bill - that's exactly my concern. Although, if the Sony doubler in effect turns 480i into an effective 960i, isn't it possible that the 1080i signal isn't going to be that much better?

    I've heard that Comcast and other cable companies are getting the HD bandwith with lots of compression. Could that be a cause of a less than stellar HD image? Also, what broadcasts should I watch to see the best of HD? I understand that there's some programming and movies that are not "true" HD.

    Thanks

    Steve
     
  9. Steven_ R

    Steven_ R Agent

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    Ufanco - the box is a Motorola DCT5100/1000. Pretty wild, in addition to the usual digital cable features, it has a slot for Smart Media cards, and a cable modem for PCs - although I'm told neither of these features has been activated.

    Let me know if you find out anything about this box because it did not come with a manual. As I noted in my post, it is a major pain to switch between 1080i and 480i - be sure the tech who installs it shows you how to do it.

    Steve
     
  10. Jed M

    Jed M Cinematographer

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  11. Ufanco

    Ufanco Auditioning

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  12. Stefan A

    Stefan A Second Unit

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    I wonder why this isn't very well publicized in the Balto area. If it wasn't for this thread, I would know nothing about it. Even their web site doesn't mention one thing. How did you get your info?
     
  13. Ufanco

    Ufanco Auditioning

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  14. Stefan A

    Stefan A Second Unit

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    I have taken the first step. I have a guy coming this Thursday to set me up with Digital Cable. Once that is complete, I have to call back to have the guy come back and set me up with HD. Since I currently have only Limited basic, my bill is going from $9.00 (or so) to $66.00 a month. So, if this isn't as good as I am expecting (as has been suggested in this thread), it's going right back.
     
  15. Ufanco

    Ufanco Auditioning

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    Let me know how it goes for you Stefen I all rdy have the digital cable box just waiting for a call back from cable to set up a date to have the new HD box installed (been 5 days already). It seems kinda weird that comcast would make 1 trip out to set up digital cable then another to remove that box to install the HD box. You think that they would install the HD box instead.
     
  16. Stefan A

    Stefan A Second Unit

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    Yeah, I am totaly confused about that - why not do it all at once. They know that ultimately I want HD, so why make the techs/installers do a separate trip. Maybe they think we don't understand what HD is and they want to insure that we have the right kind of TV. Still, they could have the HD supplies with them in case. Dumb.
     
  17. Stefan A

    Stefan A Second Unit

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    Ok, I had digital cable with the HD box installed today. I have a different box than the original poster. I got the Scientific Atlanta 3100 box. As far as I can tell, I don't have to go into the box's menu to switch between analog and HD, like Steve said he has to do. Strange that we got different boxes since we are in the same general area. From the little I have watched today, I can't say that I am blown away by the picture. On the other hand, the sample I saw (Ace Ventura pt 1) is fairly old. It was as good and maybe slightly better than dvd. Tonight I look forward to watching some shows that were filmed in HD.

    Problems so far:

    1. Can't figure out how to set the pin # for parental control. The problem is that in the set-up menu it says that the parent lock is enabled. I want to turn it off but it keeps on asking for a pin #, which I never programed. I called comcast and they said that I probably have a box that was used and the previous users code is still there. She said I have to take the box to a comcast office and exchenge it. This whole thing doesn't seem right.

    2. I wish we could get CBS HD programing

    3. Would have been nice to have gotten a manual for the box.

    4. Have to switch between inputs on my TV between HDTV programing and everything else. Actually, it is not 100% neccesary, but when you watch programming other than HDTV on that input, the program locks to a strange aspect ratio.

    I will report my experience with true HD after I see it.
     
  18. Steven_ R

    Steven_ R Agent

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    Stefan - the problem you are describing in point #4 is the same problem I have with the cable box settings. I use my Sony TV's Video 5 component inputs, and if it detects a 1080i signal, it locks in a 16:9 aspect ratio and looks great. If there is a non-HD signal, then the picture is letterboxed on all 4 sides. I can switch to a different video input on the TV, but then I loose the component video inputs and just use a coax input that goes from the new cable box, to my VCR, then to my TV. I assume if you can change the settings on your box, then you can keep the same video input on your TV. I agree that it would be nice to have CBS in HD and like you, I think the picture is good, but not as spectacular as I hoped (it looks like a good DVD image).
     
  19. Stefan A

    Stefan A Second Unit

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    I see what you are saying Steve. I was confused because you are making the change from the box and I am making the change from the TV. No manual came with my box so I have no idea if it is possible to change it from the box.

    One of the big things that is bothering me is the aspect ratio from hbohd. I am noticing that 2.35 movies are filling up my widescreen TV. Does HBO stretch their 2.35 material? Does this happen with your setup?
     
  20. Steven_ R

    Steven_ R Agent

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    Now that you mention it, I have noticed that every movie on HBO HD is presented in 16:9. Maybe one of us should post a new message to find out if that's something unique to HBO?
    I have discovered something else about the new HD Cable box. It appears that I can leave it set at 1080i and run two sets of cables out of the box - the component video cables go into my TV's HD inputs, and another single RCA/Composite video cable into the non-HD input. That way, if I switch to the Video 5 (HD) setting on my TV when there's 1080i material, it looks fine, and for all non-HD material I just switch to Video 4 (non-HD) input on my TV and it appears to display in the proper format. Plus, I think that non-HD material looks WORSE using the component video cables and the HD TV input. Picture seems less sharp and has more noise than watching the non-HD material through the other inputs. Has anyone noticed this on other HD boxes, whether cable, satellite or OTA?

    Steve
     

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