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Initial experience using CableCard

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Anonymous
November 4, 2004 7:20:49 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

After a couple days of hassling with Time Warner, my CableCard is now up and
running. Bottom line: It's great -- big improvement over using the
Scientific Atlanta HDTV cable box.

TW sent a technician out to "install" the cable card. No charge, though.
(Monthly charge for the card is $1.75 a month vs. $7.95 for the digital
box.) Since it was the first time this particular technician had ever
installed one, the advantage of having him do it over me doing it was not
readily apparent. As long as you follow directions in the manual to put it
in right, it should not be a problem for anyone. (Later in this arduous
process, described below, I had to take it out and put it back in several
times.) You do have to be sure you push it all the way in, so that the
little eject button pops out. Both I and the technician had a tendency to
be too careful and not push it in all the way.

Anyway, the guy put it in and my TV (Sony KDF-60XS955) found several hundred
channels. Next step, get it authorized by Time Warner. But when the tech
called it in, no one was in the office at TW that handles cable card
authorizations! He tried several numbers but never could find anyone.
Incredible! So, we had to blow it off until later in the day.

Eventually, he found someone to authorize the card, which they supposedly
did. But the TV would only show analog and a few digital channels. The
others it would identify but there would be a black screen and the info bar
would say "No Signal". Nobody could figure out the problem, not the tech,
not anyone at TW. At the end of the first day, I went back to the cable
box.

Bright and early the second day, the tech came back with a supervisor. This
guy and I argued constantly. He did have some experience -- not much --
with cable cards but had a tendency to blame problems on the customer. "If
we've done everything we know to do, then the problem is probably with your
set." Yeah, well, I'd heard that before from TW and it never turned out
that way in the end. After another hour or so of them calling back and
forth and scrounging through the diagnostic menus on my TV set and the
supervisor tech and I arguing over the remote, they left. The agreement was
that I would leave the card in until the end of the day while they talked to
some more people. After that, if no new developments, I would take it out
and give up on it.

But late yesterday, I turned on the TV and bingo! there were my digital
channels, HBOHD, the HD tier, everything! The supervisor called to tell me
that the people at TW who were intializing the card had made a mistake in
entering the authorization. Just as I suspected.

Last night, I bought another digital optical cable to run the 5.1 audio from
the TV to my sound system and we were completely up and running! Here's the
verdict: HD pictures are even better than they were before, through the
cable box, and they were stunning through the box. And SD pictures are MUCH
improved. Using my TV's digital tuner instead of the HDTV digital box,
really does make a very noticeable difference. Plus I get to use the
channel selector on my TV remote to change channels and take advantage of
the "Favorites" and "Guide" features of my TV. To anyone who has CableCard
capability, I strongly suggest you give it a try.

A customer service rep at TW told me that there were only 50 or so TW
CableCard customers in the Austin area right now. (Our metro area includes
about a million people.) And, of course, TW is not crazy about the idea
because the cards are still one-way. No PPV or other interactive features.
(Which we did not use and will not miss.) And their service people,
obviously, are poorly trained in this area. It took more hassle on my part
to get the thing up and running than most people would be willing to go
through, I imagine, especially the sort of people who would bow to TW's
"it's your fault" standard explanation. But well worth the hassle.

mack
austin
Anonymous
November 4, 2004 9:09:13 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

How do you archive or time shift your content or does your set have an
output/external feed?
Does your cable system have free VOD content, like OnDemand? If so, does
your cablecard set work with VOD?

--
"Sleep is a poor substitute for coffee."
- Anon

......

> But late yesterday, I turned on the TV and bingo! there were my digital
> channels, HBOHD, the HD tier, everything! The supervisor called to tell
> me
> that the people at TW who were intializing the card had made a mistake in
> entering the authorization. Just as I suspected.
>
> Last night, I bought another digital optical cable to run the 5.1 audio
> from
> the TV to my sound system and we were completely up and running! Here's
> the
> verdict: HD pictures are even better than they were before, through the
> cable box, and they were stunning through the box. And SD pictures are
> MUCH
> improved. Using my TV's digital tuner instead of the HDTV digital box,
> really does make a very noticeable difference. Plus I get to use the
> channel selector on my TV remote to change channels and take advantage of
> the "Favorites" and "Guide" features of my TV. To anyone who has
> CableCard
> capability, I strongly suggest you give it a try.
>
> A customer service rep at TW told me that there were only 50 or so TW
> CableCard customers in the Austin area right now. (Our metro area
> includes
> about a million people.) And, of course, TW is not crazy about the idea
> because the cards are still one-way. No PPV or other interactive
> features.
> (Which we did not use and will not miss.) And their service people,
> obviously, are poorly trained in this area. It took more hassle on my
> part
> to get the thing up and running than most people would be willing to go
> through, I imagine, especially the sort of people who would bow to TW's
> "it's your fault" standard explanation. But well worth the hassle.
>
> mack
> austin
>
>
Anonymous
November 5, 2004 4:55:28 AM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

"MrMike6by9" <MrMike6by9@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:ErmdnVgIE8EYKxfcRVn-vQ@comcast.com...
> How do you archive or time shift your content or does your set have an
> output/external feed?
> Does your cable system have free VOD content, like OnDemand? If so, does
> your cablecard set work with VOD?
>

I cannot time time-shift HDTV content as HDTV because I don't have any
method of storing HDTV. But my cable, out of the wall, runs through a
splitter. Half goes into the TV, the other half into my Panasonic E-80
DVD/DVR so I can store and time-shift programs via its hard drive. But they
are stored in SD format and playback in 480p. I can get analog HBO that way
but not HBOHD or any channels on the "HDTV tier" that I pay for. But if I
want to store, say, "Without a Trace" for later, I can do that, I just have
to record it off analog cable and watch it in 480p SD, not HD.

There are no video "outs" from the TV, just two audio outs to run sound to a
receiver, one for analog surround audio and an optical digital output for
5.1 digital.

Time-Warner has lots of interactive features but CableCards are, at present,
only one-way. No interactive services with the cable company are available.
If you are user of pay-per-view or VOD or such, then you have to have a
cable box. This is one of the reasons why the cable companies are not
pushing cable cards. In the next year or two, there are supposed to be
two-way cable cards, and I imagine the cable companies will be a lot more
excited about that. Don't know whether those will require just different
cable cards or different TV's. Probably the latter, since you would have to
have a remote and associated internal parts to interact with your cable
company.

mack
austin
Related resources
Anonymous
November 5, 2004 10:49:19 AM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

"Mack McKinnon" <MckinnonRemoveThis@tvadmanDeleteThisAsWell.com> wrote in
message news:k4Bid.20675$IE1.8806@fe1.texas.rr.com...
>
> "MrMike6by9" <MrMike6by9@hotmail.com> wrote in message
> news:ErmdnVgIE8EYKxfcRVn-vQ@comcast.com...
> > How do you archive or time shift your content or does your set have an
> > output/external feed?
> > Does your cable system have free VOD content, like OnDemand? If so, does
> > your cablecard set work with VOD?
> >
>
> I cannot time time-shift HDTV content as HDTV because I don't have any
> method of storing HDTV. But my cable, out of the wall, runs through a
> splitter. Half goes into the TV, the other half into my Panasonic E-80
> DVD/DVR so I can store and time-shift programs via its hard drive. But
they
> are stored in SD format and playback in 480p. I can get analog HBO that
way
> but not HBOHD or any channels on the "HDTV tier" that I pay for. But if I
> want to store, say, "Without a Trace" for later, I can do that, I just
have
> to record it off analog cable and watch it in 480p SD, not HD.
>
> There are no video "outs" from the TV, just two audio outs to run sound to
a
> receiver, one for analog surround audio and an optical digital output for
> 5.1 digital.
>
> Time-Warner has lots of interactive features but CableCards are, at
present,
> only one-way. No interactive services with the cable company are
available.
> If you are user of pay-per-view or VOD or such, then you have to have a
> cable box. This is one of the reasons why the cable companies are not
> pushing cable cards. In the next year or two, there are supposed to be
> two-way cable cards, and I imagine the cable companies will be a lot more
> excited about that. Don't know whether those will require just different
> cable cards or different TV's. Probably the latter, since you would have
to
> have a remote and associated internal parts to interact with your cable
> company.

You are correct, interactive cablecard will not be just a matter of a new
card. The hardware will be different and it is unlikely that upgrades for
any sets will be available to go from one-way cablecard systems to
interactive.

No way around the limitations of cablecard. If you want the likely better
pix quality of not having to use the cable box you will give up guide info
and interactive VOD on sets that currently have cable card.

Leonard
Anonymous
November 5, 2004 12:53:35 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

Hate to sound like a n00b, but what is CableCard? Does it work
with Comcast cable? TIA

Cygnus
The Bringer of Balance
Anonymous
November 5, 2004 3:37:32 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

50 is actually more than I would have guessed!

Can't you order PPV by calling in your selection?

"Mack McKinnon" <MckinnonRemoveThis@tvadmanDeleteThisAsWell.com> wrote in
message news:BFsid.14504$IE1.14358@fe1.texas.rr.com...

> After a couple days of hassling with Time Warner, my CableCard is now up and
> running. Bottom line: It's great -- big improvement over using the
> Scientific Atlanta HDTV cable box.
Anonymous
November 5, 2004 5:03:34 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

Leonard Caillouet (no@no.com) wrote in alt.tv.tech.hdtv:
> No way around the limitations of cablecard. If you want the likely better
> pix quality of not having to use the cable box you will give up guide info
> and interactive VOD on sets that currently have cable card.

There isn't any reason a cablecard TV can't get guide data from the wire
and display it. The only interactivity involved is paging through the
data, and satellite receivers can do that without being able to send data
back up the wire.

Now, I don't know if the cablecard spec also requires that guide data be
in some standard format or not, so that could be an issue.

--
Jeff Rife |
SPAM bait: | http://www.nabs.net/Cartoons/OverTheHedge/StarWars1.gif
AskDOJ@usdoj.gov |
spam@ftc.gov |
Anonymous
November 5, 2004 5:49:40 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

"Leonard Caillouet" <no@no.com> wrote

> No way around the limitations of cablecard. If you want the likely better
> pix quality of not having to use the cable box you will give up guide info
> and interactive VOD on sets that currently have cable card.

Given that we did not use the interactive features of the cable box, such as
pay-per-view or downloading movies, it was not a difficult trade-off for us.
We got much better picture quality of SD programming, possibly a little
better HD pictures, plus not having to deal with the cable box, its remote &
scrolling laboriously through its slow on-screen guide, etc. as a trade-off
for something we knew we had but never actually used. Hell of a deal! And
a little cheaper to boot! ($1.75 a month for the card vs. $7.95 for the
box.)

mack
austin
Anonymous
November 5, 2004 10:19:59 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

"John Golitsis" <jgolitsis@nbtelectronics.com> wrote in message
news:10oneivq1pind46@news.supernews.com...
> 50 is actually more than I would have guessed!
>
> Can't you order PPV by calling in your selection?
>
> "Mack McKinnon" <MckinnonRemoveThis@tvadmanDeleteThisAsWell.com> wrote in
> message news:BFsid.14504$IE1.14358@fe1.texas.rr.com...
>
> > After a couple days of hassling with Time Warner, my CableCard is now up
and
> > running. Bottom line: It's great -- big improvement over using the
> > Scientific Atlanta HDTV cable box.


No, you cannot order PPV. I see what you mean -- call it in, then they send
it down the line. Does look as though they could do that, doesn't it? I
had never thought of it. But if they have thought of it, and if it is
possible, they have never said anything to me about it.

mack
austin
Anonymous
November 5, 2004 10:22:17 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

"Jeff Rife" <wevsr@nabs.net> wrote in message
news:MPG.1bf59891ac418a599898d8@news.nabs.net...
> Leonard Caillouet (no@no.com) wrote in alt.tv.tech.hdtv:
> > No way around the limitations of cablecard. If you want the likely
better
> > pix quality of not having to use the cable box you will give up guide
info
> > and interactive VOD on sets that currently have cable card.
>
> There isn't any reason a cablecard TV can't get guide data from the wire
> and display it. The only interactivity involved is paging through the
> data, and satellite receivers can do that without being able to send data
> back up the wire.

The cablecard TV does get info down from the wire because it gets the
program, the name of the program, (in theory but not in practice, at least
here -- info about the program) authorization to turn a particular channel
on or off, and so forth. But I don't think TW Cable here is set up to do
anything but send authorizations down the wire.

mack
austin
Anonymous
November 6, 2004 12:31:12 AM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

> No way around the limitations of cablecard. If you want the likely better
> pix quality of not having to use the cable box you will give up guide info
> and interactive VOD on sets that currently have cable card.


I hear the new Toshiba integrated sets come with a guide to solve that
problem.
Anonymous
November 6, 2004 2:08:29 AM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

"Eli Renfro" <erenfro@optonline.net> wrote in message
news:AiSid.32429$fF6.9239530@news4.srv.hcvlny.cv.net...
> > No way around the limitations of cablecard. If you want the likely
better
> > pix quality of not having to use the cable box you will give up guide
info
> > and interactive VOD on sets that currently have cable card.
>
>
> I hear the new Toshiba integrated sets come with a guide to solve that
> problem.

My Sony KDF-60XS955 has a guide. It has a guide with channels running down
the left side of the screen, an "info bar" up above that gives information
about the channel you're on, which plays in the background. It also has a
"Favorites" menu of 13 "favorites" (should be more) with a little preview
screen (preview screen only works for analog channels, unfortunately) with
each channel identified (you can "label" them differently, if you want).

You can display the "info bar" every time you go to a channel (irritating)
or just if you hit "Display" (my choice). The info bar tells the name of
the channel (such as DISHD) and info about it (not there) also what kind of
signal it is (1080i, NTSC). Pretty cool.

Problem is that all the info has to be included in the information sent down
by the Cable Company. They don't want to give you this because they don't
like the idea of you having a CableCard in the first place. They want you
to have an interactive box. They only give you the CC because the
government makes them.

Anyway, I expect that all sets that have a CC slot have a "guide". But the
info that goes into that guide comes from the cable company, so don't hold
your breath.

Guide or no guide, the CC is WAY better than the box!

mack
austin
Anonymous
November 8, 2004 7:24:21 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

Most of these CableCARD sets have some kind of 3rd party guide software in them.
Toshiba, for example, uses TV Guide software which is actually quite slick.
Only thing is, I'm not sure how it gets it's data. I'm pretty sure it comes
from VBI data on the channels.

Combined with the TV Guide software, you get the same 'look and feel' as you do
with a digital cable box. You just can't order PPV automatically or use any
kind of VOD.

"Jeff Rife" <wevsr@nabs.net> wrote in message
news:MPG.1bf59891ac418a599898d8@news.nabs.net...
>
> There isn't any reason a cablecard TV can't get guide data from the wire
> and display it. The only interactivity involved is paging through the
> data, and satellite receivers can do that without being able to send data
> back up the wire.
Anonymous
November 9, 2004 6:54:12 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

My CableCard from Time Warner does not have any kind of "guide" information
at all, except just the name of the channel. My Sony TV has a guide that
provides a place for the number / name of the channel selected plus
information about the program. But that information has to be included in
the digital signal which it is not, except for the channel # and the name
(such as CNBC, Bravo, HBOHD, whatever).

I don't know whether that is the fault of Time-Warner or the producers of
the programming. Probably both. The CC technology is new, so producers may
not know to include "guide" info with their programming. And Time-Warner
has no motivation to include it, since they don't want you to have a CC in
the first place -- they want you to use their interactive box.

mack
austin


"John Golitsis" <jgolitsis@nbtelectronics.com> wrote in message
news:10ovp021bd7l447@news.supernews.com...
> Most of these CableCARD sets have some kind of 3rd party guide software in
them.
> Toshiba, for example, uses TV Guide software which is actually quite
slick.
> Only thing is, I'm not sure how it gets it's data. I'm pretty sure it
comes
> from VBI data on the channels.
>
> Combined with the TV Guide software, you get the same 'look and feel' as
you do
> with a digital cable box. You just can't order PPV automatically or use
any
> kind of VOD.
>
> "Jeff Rife" <wevsr@nabs.net> wrote in message
> news:MPG.1bf59891ac418a599898d8@news.nabs.net...
> >
> > There isn't any reason a cablecard TV can't get guide data from the wire
> > and display it. The only interactivity involved is paging through the
> > data, and satellite receivers can do that without being able to send
data
> > back up the wire.
>
>
Anonymous
November 10, 2004 7:34:31 PM

Archived from groups: alt.tv.tech.hdtv (More info?)

This software is in the TV itself and is not part of the CableCARD technology.
The aforementioned Toshiba sets have this guide software no matter what way you
get your signals (off-air or cable)

"Mack McKinnon" <MckinnonRemoveThis@tvadmanDeleteThisAsWell.com> wrote in
message news:EK5kd.44256$tL5.1207@fe2.texas.rr.com...

> My CableCard from Time Warner does not have any kind of "guide" information
> at all, except just the name of the channel.
!