What exactly does Digital Cable TV give you?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by KevinCK, Jun 26, 2002.

  1. KevinCK

    KevinCK Auditioning

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    Just yesterday i signed up for and picked up the Digital terminal for my cable TV. This isn't HDTV. Just plain old Rogers Digital TV. It's a 60 day promotion where i don't have to pay anything extra. The terminal has all the regular connections including S-video and a digital co-axial audio output. I hooked it up to my DD/DTS receiver and 32" analog tv with s-video. I'm no newbie to these connections.
    How different is this from regular analog cable?
    Benefits i realize:
    - Interactive programming TV guide. Allows you to browse through the tv guide and look up information on programs. Even lets you set your vcr to tape a program through this menu if the VCR is compatible.
    - 40 ish radio stations available through it
    - Easier access and instant ordering of PPV type channels... which i won't be doing.
    - Many more channels available if you want to pay for them... which i don't.
    - Movie channels will have digital sound. Some get 5.1.
    - Can set timers/alarms to remind you about shows. Can lock channels. Can set a favorites list. Not all that important to me.
    Benefits i'm really not sure about:
    - Of course the adds say that i'll get "digital video quality on your regular tv". Does this apply to my regular channels (2 - 60ish) or only to the specialty or movie channels? I split the cable and also plugged it directly into the tv. So flipping between regular analog cable and video-1 (the digital terminal's output) i see practically no difference whatsoever. Maybe if i had a bad analog cable signal, then this digital one would be better?
    Are there any other benefits to this? My regular cable before picking up this box was perfectly fine. In fact i had a pretty terrific cable signal in my building. Since i don't plan on ordering specialty channels and i don't plan on ordering movies, i won't ever be using the digital audio capabilities. The only real benefits seem to be the interactive TV guide and the 40 radio stations.
    Am i missing anything or is that it?
    Thanks for any replies
     
  2. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

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    It sounds like you got it.
    I get "digital cable" through Comcast. I have only a COMPOSITE video connection and no digital audio output. My benefits include the interactive guide, about 20 channels not available on analog cable, and 12 HBOs (although I generally don't watch movies on HBO). The digital channels (above 100) do look quite good, but I get occasional blocky digital picture break-up. All this for the low, low price of $75/month [​IMG] . I really need to talk to the condo association about getting a DISH/DirecTV system for the building.
     
  3. Michael Lomker

    Michael Lomker Stunt Coordinator

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    It really does vary depending upon what cable company you have, but the lower channels are analog whether or not you use a cable box. The digital channels would be the ones that you could receive before. Whether or not they have a better picture than analog, once again, depends upon your cable system.

    On many cable systems the analog picture quality is much worse than digital (or satellite, which is all digital). You'll also notice the difference more on larger or HDTV televisions than you will on the older ones.
     
  4. AllanN

    AllanN Supporting Actor

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  5. PaulSmith

    PaulSmith Auditioning

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    Kevin,
    I too was looking at getting Digital cable from Rogers. It seemed like a good deal especially when bundled with high speed, until I found out that all the normal channels are still analog.
    Channel 2 to 70 are still analog. If you look on www.rogers.com and look up the digital channel line up you can see the digital channels don't start until channel 71. A call to Rogers confirmed that channel 2 to 70 are definitely analog, NOT DIGITAL.
    I don't think that the interactive display or the radio stations are worth the cost of the terminal. I'm not sure if you can have satellite dishes up at your building but I think that Express Vu is a much better deal that Cable, or Digital cable. It has the interactive display, radio stations, all channels are digital and costs less than cable.
    Hope this helps,
    Paul
     
  6. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

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    Allan,
    I know about these rules. I haven't approached them yet. I rent a condo as an apartment, so I am not the property owner and I don't have any direct contact with the condo association. I am, however, friendly with my landlord who is on the condo board. I asked her about the possibility of getting a satellite system for the building and she thought that would be a good possibility.
    What I should have said was, "I need to get off my ass and get the process rolling." [​IMG]
     
  7. AllanN

    AllanN Supporting Actor

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  8. KevinCK

    KevinCK Auditioning

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    Thanks for the info. When this free trial is up, i think i'm just going to return the damn thing. Because by then i'll have to start paying the rental fee for the terminal and none of the features seem worthwhile.

    I'm pissed off enough that have have to order all the channels. I want basic cable (30 channels). But the wife also wants about 6 other channels. Of course 3 are in Optional Package #1 (20 additional channels) and the other 3 are in Optional Package #2 (another 20 additional channels). So i have to shell out for the entire VIP package which includes all 70ish channels. Bah!

    Any Canadians here? Is there a cheaper way to do this? ExpressVu or any other minidish services available to people in Ontario, Canada? Where can i find that type of information.
     
  9. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    My hunch about Digital Cable is that it can be a good thing or a bad thing.

    I still have analog cable, but I've gotten my eyes sharp enough that I'm starting to notice digital compression artifacts that pop up ever so often. Depending on the bit rate, the Digital Cable may have this too.

    As anyone with crappy DVD transfers can confirm, there can be a WIDE range of difference with regards to picture quality on DVDs. Usually, a higher bit rate means a better picture. If the cable company is squeezing 250 or so channels on a cable line (which, I think, has bandwidth for about 130, right?), you might start getting some problems. I've heard some people say that Digital Cable looks no better than Analog -- so caveat emptor.
     
  10. TomMadden

    TomMadden Agent

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    With my cable company, here's what I got with Digital Cable:

    1. A bunch more channels that should have been part of the regular cable lineup. Things that are part of most every basic cable line up.
    2. A lot of compression artifacts
    3. A program guide that took forever to come on the screen. It was so slow that it was almost unusable.
    4. An extra $15 added to my bill.
    5. "Surly" customer support.

    I was so disgusted, I now have DirecTV. It's much better. I lived with the analog cable that the company put out for quite some time, and I should have known better. It was the most antiquated system - you had about 80 channels on cable A and 80 channels on cable B, and a mechanical switchbox in between! All for a wonderful $44/month (the digital cost $59). The only good thing about the digital cable was that it got rid of that #&@^ switchbox.


    Anyway, this was my experience. The city where my parents live has two competing cable companies. Much of the city is covered by both of them. The result - two companies that have pretty good hardware, decent technical support, and much lower rates. My parents were paying around $35/month for the digital service the last time I asked them.
     
  11. Rick_Brown

    Rick_Brown Second Unit

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    Compression artifacts - are these sometimes referred to as pixelation? This is definitely caused by a too weak cable signal feed. I complained to Rogers and they came and installed a booster - no more artifacts.

    I can't see any reason to go for the digital cable service unless you want some of the extra channels and movies.
     
  12. Justin Ward

    Justin Ward Supporting Actor

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    Hi Kevin,
    I live in Nova Scotia and we have a Star Choice dish. We've had the reciever for a while so it only has composite. But if you got the new one they have optical audio out and their HDTV models don't cost much more(TMN broadcasts some of their line up in high-def I think). We pay about $50 a month with TMN which includes all the network stations, 30 music stations, radio stations, kids channels and much music, TNN and other channels. The reception is never an issue. The setup is easy enough, me and my dad set it up in about an hour.
    If you have Star Choice out there in Ontario it is a good choice.
     
  13. PaulSmith

    PaulSmith Auditioning

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    Kevin,
    Go to www.bell.ca. There you will find prices on channel line ups Channel Line Ups . You can get all the channels your wife will want for $39 a month. I recently signed up for Express Vu and I'm very happy with the service. Much better picture than analog cable in my area anyway.
    Paul
     
  14. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    I am told that some digital cable systems are digital only so more channels can be crammed onto the cable. Digital artifacts are rampant. Some if not all of the analog channels may be digitized but still based on composite video as opposed to Y/Pb/Or. Meanwhile an ordinary cable box then cannot receive them.
    The significance of digitized analog channels is that they still need a comb filter in your home theater and the filter in cable boxes on average is mediocre. Using the cable box' composite output may give better picture quality than the S-video output, if your TV has a very good comb filter.
    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
     
  15. KevinCK

    KevinCK Auditioning

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    I went and looked at express vu from www.bell.ca. I can get all the channels that she and I want in their "Super 7 bundle" for $38.99 + tax. This is far more channels than i get with analog cable and the VIP bundle with Rogers, it's digital, and costs about $6 less per month than i'm currently paying. It was tempting until i thought about it more closely.
    I don't really need or want all the extra channels it gives me over what i'm getting now. We have pretty darn good cable reception to begin with, i have no complaints about the quality. If i wanted more tvs with expressvu i'd have to buy/rent more of the terminals/receivers which would cost more. I'd have to pay the initial charge for express vu to get the equipment (it's either $99 or $199 i think). So at $6 savings per month (less if i get another terminal for a second tv) i'm not really going to save any money and i'm just going to get more channels that i don't watch.
    I guess i'll just stick with regular Rogers analog cable.
     

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