Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question
Closed

Purchase Converter Box for Comcast Digital Cable

Last response: in Home Theatre
Share
January 1, 2007 5:32:35 PM

Greetings Forum,

We are in the market for a cable converter box for our not-cable-ready TV. This is for our kitchen TV and is the only one of our three TVs still connected to the roof antenna. The customer support person at Comcast (my cable service provider) is useless. All she wants us to do is rent a box from them. I am quite miffed at their abuse of power. Technologically there is no reason why we can't own the box. I would replace the kitchen TV with a cable ready unit before we would rent a box from them. For this TV we don't need all of the digital channels -- just the basic cable.

The converter box in our family room uses a Scientific Atlanta Explorer 2100 which we rent from Comcast. They are available from ebay, but none of the offers assure compatibility with any service. What are our options?

Cheers,
Dave
January 2, 2007 1:38:21 AM

If you have an old cable-ready VHS VCR lying around, you could use that. Plug the cable into the VCR, and use its tuner to tune into the analog cable channels. Connect to your kitchen TV over S-Video, Composite, or RF (if that's your only option), and there you go.
January 2, 2007 2:43:43 AM

Hi TeraMedia,

Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately I don't have such a unit.

Cheers,
Dave
Related resources
June 11, 2008 5:47:16 PM

I think you should get your own instead of renting from Comcast. You can go to www.dtv2009.gov to get 2 $40 coupons, that will save you a lot of money. I personally recommend Sansonic converter box, it's retail price is $54.99, with the $40 coupon, you will be paying $14.99 plus tax. I've already heard from several friends that this is the only one that works. You can go to www.sansonic.net for more info.
July 13, 2008 7:02:51 PM

Not to resurrect an old thread or anything (though that's already been done here), and no disrespect to lovechild is intended, but do not rely on his/her advice.

The converter boxes that are covered by the $40 coupons are ATSC converters for over-the-air standard definition digital television broadcasts. While such a device will allow you to continue using your old television with your antenna after the digital switchover in 2009, it will be of no use whatsoever for cable service.

Your best bet is indeed as the original reply suggests to get a cheap cable ready VCR, DVR, or DVDR to act as a cable tuner.

Additionally, should you decide that you want to get an ATSC convertor box to continue making use of your antenna, be aware that the coupons are treated as a form of tender at the time of purchase, meaning that their value is deducted from the price you pay AFTER tax is applied. So in the above example you would pay the tax on the full $54.99. The difference is only a few dollars, of course, but is still one you should plan to encounter.

November 2, 2008 5:40:37 PM

I am still missing something here.

I am a subscriber to Comcast Analog cable. Comcast promises to continue with it for some period of time. However, they continue to remove channels from that offering ( the history channel being the last in a series). So I assume they want to drive the subscriber to their digital offering.

But the monthly rental of the converter boxes ( the digital cable to analog TV) are prohibitively expensive (it will double the monthly cost in my case).

So I am looking for a way to buy my own box that will allow me to make the switch to digital.

I have not been able to find any VCR, DVR, or any other boxes that claim to be digital cable ready.

What is the standard that I need to be sure the box or even TV has?
a b x TV
November 7, 2008 6:58:54 PM

A new TV with a QUAM tuner would allow you to pick up any unscrambled digital channels off of the cable. How many you would get is the question?
There are standalone ATSC/QUAM HD tuners available but they would be at least $250 and your old TV would need at least a composite video and audio input which it probable doesn't have. A new TV makes more sense and you would get over the air Digital TV as well.

If you wanted just the analog signals then get an old analog cable box If you can get a model that Comcast used from a local source it should work. Try a flea market or garage sale. Old analog boxes that were hacked to get free premium services are useless today so would be very cheap and pick up the channels still available.

Cable companies rent their boxes to minimize theft of services so they don't want them on the market. Digital cable boxes are much harder to hack than the old analog boxes
Anonymous
December 3, 2008 3:30:31 AM

did you ever get your cable box? I bought one on ebay from a comcast user who switched to satellite. It's the identical Scientific Atlanta box that Cox uses but somehow they know it's not theirs so all I get is a screen with an 800 # to call and be told I have to rent from them. Seems illegal, especially under the present administration that just wants the rich to get richer and let's the cable companies do whatever they want to make more money.

If Comcast would allow you to use it, I'm only asking $20 + shipping from Mesa, az, 85207. Mike fortunare@cox.net
Anonymous
January 25, 2009 2:21:14 PM

I am an RCN customer in Boston, and they have just switched to digital cable -- requiring their cable boxes for each TV (although based on your post, it sounds like I also have the option of getting new TVs with ATSC/QUAM HD tuners). I also had a cable connected to my PC so that I could watch TV. Do you know of any application that I could load to continue watching the new digital TV, or would I have to get a new TV tuner card with ATSC/QUAM HD (do these exist?)??
February 3, 2009 5:16:21 PM

I read this thread and I had to respond. A lot of the comments on the tread couldn't be more misleading. I mean no disrespect to anyone nor am I forcing my information on anyone. Without further delay, here is your answer.

Digital Vs. Analog

On February 17, everything (supposedly) will change over to digital and no more analog.

That means, they will shut down the broadcast of all analog signals. It DOES NOT matter how old your tv is or if it has a digital or analog tuner. Here is why.

TV's have came with Analog tuners for a long time. Analog tuners will not work with Digital signals.

Here is the kicker, newer TV's have been coming with digital ATSC tuners. ATSC tuners are for over the air DIGITAL signals which will not work for cable signals. A QAM tuner, will allow you to pick up UNSCRAMBLED cable TV signals. QAM tuners will not get you the mtv's, hgtv, etc. etc. channels because the cable company SCRAMBLES those signals. End result is you will need a cable box to UNSCRAMBLE the encrypted signal that the cable company puts out.

So to go with a VCR tuner WILL NOT work either. Because the tuner in VCR's are ANALOG (some may have an ATSC or an ATSC and QAM digital tuner but this will not work for scrambled digital signals). They may work now but will not work after Feb. 17th.

So with all the responses to this thread, the only option you have is to rent a cable box from your cable company so that you will be able to unscramble the digital signal they are putting out.

Here is a quick guide for you to follow:
--------------------------------------
Analog TV with Analog Tuner: You will get nothing!!!

Digital TV with Analog Tuner: You will get nothing!!!
--------------------------------------
Analog TV with Analog and ATSC Digital Tuner: You will need a TV antenna to get Digital signals over the air. Good ole rabbit ears of the past.

Digital TV with Analog and ATSC Digital Tuner: You will need a TV antenna to get Digital signals over the air. Good ole rabbit ears of the past.
---------------------------------------
Analog TV with Analog and ATSC Digital Tuner with QAM capability: You will be able to plug in the coax cable from the cable company and be able to watch all UNSCRAMBLED digital broadcasts by your cable company. Additionally, if you throw in some rabbit ears, you can get over the air ATSC digital signals.

Digital TV with Analog and ATSC Digital Tuner with QAM capability: You will be able to plug in the coax cable from the cable company and be able to watch all UNSCRAMBLED digital broadcasts by your cable company. Additionally, if you throw in some rabbit ears, you can get over the air ATSC digital signals.
----------------------------------------
Analog TV with Cable box from your cable company: You get to watch everything you are paying for.

Digital TV with Cable box from your cable company: You get to watch everything you are paying for.
-----------------------------------------

Notice the pattern? It doesn't matter how old your TV is. It is all about what kind of Tuner you have.

For your reference: Your cable company's cable box IS???
The cable box is a Tuner!!! Not just any tuner but a tuner that they have programmed to unencrypt the signals they are broadcasting. That is the reason why it has to come from your subscriber. You cannot throw a cable box from WOW onto a Comcast cable feed and expect it to work. It is their way of controlling who gets what based on what a person is paying for.

The cable is a Digital to Digital passthru AND a Digital to Analog converter. The reason why they are built like this is so it doesn't matter what kind of TV you have. You can have an old tv or a new tv. Now not all old TV's will work, you might have to buy a box to convert coax to composite, S-video or component. That is a topic for another discussion and is specific to what kind of inputs your tv has.

So the bottomline. Unless you can get a hold of a cable box configured for your cable company provider and is activated to work, then you are pretty much stuck renting. Keep in mind that it needs to be activated. So if you go online and buy one from somebody on eBay, it may or may not work. And if it is working, the cable company can shut it down without setting a foot in your home.

My credentials: I have nothing to do with the cable company or anyone for that matter. I am just like most people that dont want to rent 6 cable boxes from the cable company and also looking for a way to get it to all my TV's without paying monthly.
February 3, 2009 5:36:17 PM

Quote:
I am an RCN customer in Boston, and they have just switched to digital cable -- requiring their cable boxes for each TV (although based on your post, it sounds like I also have the option of getting new TVs with ATSC/QUAM HD tuners). I also had a cable connected to my PC so that I could watch TV. Do you know of any application that I could load to continue watching the new digital TV, or would I have to get a new TV tuner card with ATSC/QUAM HD (do these exist?)??


Here is the answer to this question. They do have QAM TV Tuner cards out there for your PC. One that I have used is made by Avermedia. BUT BUT BUT!!! HUGE BUT!!! This will only work with CLEAR QAM or in otherwords Unencrypted digital cable broadcasts.



February 3, 2009 5:42:10 PM

babblefish said:
I am still missing something here.

I am a subscriber to Comcast Analog cable. Comcast promises to continue with it for some period of time. However, they continue to remove channels from that offering ( the history channel being the last in a series). So I assume they want to drive the subscriber to their digital offering.

But the monthly rental of the converter boxes ( the digital cable to analog TV) are prohibitively expensive (it will double the monthly cost in my case).

So I am looking for a way to buy my own box that will allow me to make the switch to digital.

I have not been able to find any VCR, DVR, or any other boxes that claim to be digital cable ready.

What is the standard that I need to be sure the box or even TV has?


Here is the answer to this question:

What you are looking for is a VCR or DVR that is QAM capable. However all you will get will be unencrypted digital signals. To get the the encrypted digital signal, you will need a box from your cable provider.
February 21, 2009 3:53:00 PM

I'm receiving digital channels from my cable w/o a cable box

I live in an apartment where we LEGALLY get Comcast cable as part of our rent. No box. Converter boxes don't work. However, my DVD recorder (+/-R/RW)has a tuner in it and I get both digital and analog channels from the tuner through the cable connection. My old analog TV has "TV, video 1, video 2" and I have the DVD recorder in Video 1. When analog TV goes kaput, I will not be able to watch any channel on the TV setting, but will get all the cable digital channels on the Video 1 setting. (I have a receiver and attached DVD player hooked in through Video 2 and do not get any television reception there.)
February 21, 2009 4:01:37 PM

Quote:
I'm receiving digital channels from my cable w/o a cable box

I live in an apartment where we LEGALLY get Comcast cable as part of our rent. No box. Converter boxes don't work. However, my DVD recorder (+/-R/RW)has a tuner in it and I get both digital and analog channels from the tuner through the cable connection. My old analog TV has "TV, video 1, video 2" and I have the DVD recorder in Video 1. When analog TV goes kaput, I will not be able to watch any channel on the TV setting, but will get all the cable digital channels on the Video 1 setting. (I have a receiver and attached DVD player hooked in through Video 2 and do not get any television reception there.)


What do you mean you are receiving digital channels? Are you getting ALL digital channels or just some? There could be 2 different things happening.

1. You are getting ONLY unencrypted digital channles. Which would mean you have a QAM tuner in your digital recorder.

OR

2. Your DVD recorder somehow is able to decrypt the encrypted digital signal sent by Comcast.

Bottomline is something has to be decrypting the encrypted comcast signal for you to get it.

My guess is you are only getting the unencrypted digital channels and not all the channels.
February 21, 2009 4:21:47 PM

It's a JVC DR-MV100. We only have basic cable. Its specifications state, "ATSC QAM clear."

You're obviously more in the technical know than I am. I found Tom's by using Dogpile search engine.

Until three hours on the phone with customer service from Insignia (brand of converter box we have), Comcast and Best Buy (where we got the Insignia) did I realize the converter boxes are useless on cable and only good for rooftop or rabbit ears antennae and only for local channels.

We are getting all of the same cable channels we have on analog now, on digital. It takes some searching to find them, though.
February 21, 2009 4:34:53 PM

Quote:
It's a JVC DR-MV100. We only have basic cable. Its specifications state, "ATSC QAM clear."

You're obviously more in the technical know than I am. I found Tom's by using Dogpile search engine.

Until three hours on the phone with customer service from Insignia (brand of converter box we have), Comcast and Best Buy (where we got the Insignia) did I realize the converter boxes are useless on cable and only good for rooftop or rabbit ears antennae and only for local channels.

We are getting all of the same cable channels we have on analog now, on digital. It takes some searching to find them, though.


Still a little bit fuzzy to me. Do you get lets say MTV in analog and you can get MTV in digital?

If that is the case, you are lucky. MTV would have to be unencrypted for it to work through your QAM tuner or should I say Clear QAM tuner.
February 21, 2009 5:45:58 PM

MTV, no. the country music channel, yes. ESPN, Sci Fi, Discover and some others we don't have on analog. I'm on the phone with Comcast now finding the equipment needed - I saw something in another message board about a Motorola DCT700. It referred me back to COMCAST. They have to activate it if I had one.

I'm on hold listening to classical music now. La, la la...
February 21, 2009 6:08:28 PM

Now I'm on hold with the DTA orderling line.

Tech Support told me they will send us 2 digital adapter boxes at no charge.

The apartment complex is on a bulk account and none of us has a cable box or individual account number so they are setting up an account number now.

I think lots of people are going to be surprised. I could only find this type of DTV information that was truthful about cable vs. rabbit ears/rooftop by going to tech talk boards. That's not much of a percentage of the total population who uses cable and thinks they're either doing OK with the unscrambled channels, or doing something wrong for their converter box to not work with cable.
February 21, 2009 6:26:52 PM

http://www.multichannel.com/article/133776-Comcast_Pick...

great article that covers a lot of this topic. They set up an account for me and the 2 DVA's are on their way. When they get here, I call a toll-free number and then enter in the number on the package and VIOLA - activated.

I had seen a guide on the gov DTV site that talked about how to set up your converter boxes so you could watch TV and record a different channel at the same time. I assume, now, that this is for the rooftop or rabbit ears antenna converters?

http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/converterbox_vcr.h...
February 21, 2009 7:16:14 PM

http://search.dell.com/results.aspx?s=gen&c=us&l=en&cs=...

Next question. I have Win XP Pro with Media Center 2005 update rollup 2. It is analog only. Will any of the tuners at the above link get digital Tv to my computer that is coming off the cable, or will I need to get another digital adapter box? And if I get a digital adapter box, I assume the hardware still won't support DT?
June 20, 2009 7:17:53 PM

jherome

Your post is the very best I've seen so far. I have been trying to sort out what to do since the middle of last month. I thought I was ok since I have cable but now comcast is "enhancing" HAH! their service making all channels over 33 digital that will force us to have a cable box beginning on the 22nd. When I learned this I thought I would just go out and buy two new HDTVs. Problem solved? Not even close!

First, let me tell you about my current system. I live in a small apartment and have two analog TVs--one in the living room and one in the bedroom. Each is connected to a vcr. The living room tv is also connected to a dvd player and the tv in the bedroom has a built in dvd player. I don't have any cable boxes. The cable comes in, is on a splitter and the two cables that come off that are connected to the vcrs and the vcrs are connected to the tvs.

In doing some research, I have learned that my vcrs won't be able to be programmed to switch channels anymore when I'm away. I'm told that I will have to physically change the channel. I have two vcrs in the first place because when I'm away in the evening I sometimes have different shows that I record on different channels at the same time. I also record multiple different programs over several days on different channels if I'm away.

I had planned to buy a combination DVR/VCR with digital tuner to solve the problem but have learned that that even if that would be able to be programmed to switch channels for the near future, Comcast will be making changes so it can't.

I did pick up the boxes that Comcast says I will need for my analog sets to read their new digital transmission. I was excited about buying new HDTVs but I can't afford expensive monthly charges that Comcast will charge for DVRs for both tvs on top of the additional monthly costs for HD boxes. I never wanted cable boxes because I don't have any more space.

Is there any solution you can think of for me? I had also thought maybe Tivo but it looks like that would cost about $400 for the two boxes if I would need two plus an additional $12.99/month/box.

I'm desperate and would greatly appreciate any suggestions you may have.

thanks so much--Kathy
June 23, 2009 1:15:49 PM

hey Kathy, I figured since I got the email that there was a new post and saw what you said, I'd let you know what happened to me. First, I didn't have to buy anything new for media center on my PC. I have the new small cable box hooked up there, as well as on the TV in the bedroom. What you do to record is, you set your channel to 3 on the TV's/VCR's and then you use the small remote that came with the small box to change the cable channels. Leave the device to record channel 3 and then put your cable remote to the channel you want to record and manually program the time. For example, set your VCR to Channel 3, use your cable remote to go to the actual channel you want to record, and say you want to record Price is Right off of CBS at 10am - program your VCR for 10am - 11am to record Channel 3, and then use your cable remote to set the channel to the CBS affiliate in your area.

I did find that in order to get the HDTV channels, you need the more expensive box. So we have that one in our living room and if you want the HDTV channels from Comcast, you might as well get the DVR box they offer since it doesn't cost any more to get the DVR box than it does to get the HDTV channels. We have that DVR/HDTV box ONLY on the "main TV" in the living room, and are using the smaller Comcast boxes on the Media Center computer (didn't need any other computer upgrades) and the TV in the bedroom.

jherome, thanks for your information - that definitely got me on the right track!
June 28, 2009 6:44:53 PM

Thanks very much--this does help to clarify. I guess I will get the comcast dvr box. Appreciate the hel--Kathy
July 3, 2009 3:03:46 PM

I have one cable box and use a combination of an A-B switch and signal splitters. When I want each TV in my house to tune whatever stations are available, I use the "A" switch (which has a direct connection to the cable). When I want to watch a station available only with the cable box on the other TV's, I use the "B" switch (which has a direct connection from the cable box). Granted, when using the "B" switch every TV can only get the station to which the converter is tuned.
July 12, 2009 8:00:52 PM

One more point of view, and a question:

I am a comcast customer in MPLS. I have 3 tvs, but only one has a cable converter box. My other 2 TV's are hooked up to cable outlets directly and have continued to work just fine after the digital cutover. I think Comcast is 'interpreting' the digital signals, and still sending channels through. Neither of my old TV's go above channel 99, so I am not getting the 'digital' versions of the channels, but all the same channels that worked on these tvs still work after the digital cutover. I am on the extended basic level, so I don't have HBO or other premium channels anywhere. But I do have MTV, VH1, TLC, A&E, etc. on all my TV's.

My question is would I be able to use a DVR with a digital tuner to watch channels beyond 99 on my older TVs using Comcast's signal?
a b x TV
July 13, 2009 12:32:27 PM

I don't think so. I'm in the same boat with an HD set-top box in the living room connected to my HTPC and the bedroom system hooked up directly using an ATI All-In-Wonder X1800XL. The bedroom HTPC only goes to channel 99, though the tuner card could accept up to channel 125.

Comcast in St. Paul, btw.

-Wolf sends
August 17, 2009 2:06:07 AM

i got an htpc my pc came built in with a tuner card im not sure the brand but its atsc and quam clear and fm tuner. ive got windows 7 running on it with activation just updated from vista sorry system.

i used a splitter from my cable to hook up to both tuners. although the tuner card is only considered one tuner by the pc.. meaning i cant use it as a dvr but i can use it as a pvr..it gets both digital and analog cable..

that dude who wouldnt cough up money for a box that his cable provider would give him got screwed he ended getting another box that wont work because cable boxes are pretty much area specific. plus the cable company would have to turn it on and there going to tell him its no good. haha what an idiot should of listened to the post. might as well hack that box now if possible maybe he would get some ppv. usbbdsm cable. he should of gone with an old vcr and pick up analog cable no one said analog cable was gonna go out.

as far as what quam clear tuner gets through most cable providers is the basic cable digital signals and it most often also picks up a lot of the video on demand that some of your neighbors might be watching. still dont know exactly how that works but i can tell you that if someone out there is fast forwarding you will see it and if they stop the vod show you wont be able to turn it on. so your screwed i dont like watching those channels i always get cut off.

defenetely the htpc is my best bet ever since dishnetwork implemented there nagravision 3 and my fta box is useless where i live and for the programming i watch. i would use a hacked cable box but its hard to find one for my area that i can hack. so now im using this htpc i can download tons of movies brand new. watch ppv fight through justin tv. unlimited porn haha. i use hulu desktop its awesome. i get the cable guide just like a real cable box. i get internet tv. hulu desktop offers like a million shows with like a whole lot less commercials and its more like video on demand. i can get youtube. its the way to go...

kathy your way behind the times still using a vcr i dindt even knwo they existed anymore. dont be cheap get one dvr box you can record two things at once theres a billion other ways to get a show.

sandanie your analog tuner card on your htpc will only pick up analog cable you need atsc clear quam tuner to pick up digital from the cable provider and that dont mean your going to get everything haha it will just be the basic digital and open vod. you wont be able to upgrade packages through your new quam tuner either because the cable company relys on the box to tell it to unscramble this and that. im still waiting however on some hacker to make an emulator for a cable box. they seem to emulate everything else why not a cable box. think about it you can emulate the box you might be able to unscramble all signals to your place that be awesome.
August 18, 2009 9:27:43 PM

great posts here. I want to review what others have said compared with my set up...I have a digital DVR box in one room where I pay for all the digital channels from Comcast and a cable in the other room straight into the back of the old-ish TV and we get expanded basic up to 99. The only way to see the digital channels I pay for in the second room is to rent another digital box, correct?
August 19, 2009 4:20:24 AM

Correct dont go buy your own box youll only get your self in the same predicament as the first post...
Anonymous
August 23, 2009 9:51:27 PM

Drogba said:
great posts here. I want to review what others have said compared with my set up...I have a digital DVR box in one room where I pay for all the digital channels from Comcast and a cable in the other room straight into the back of the old-ish TV and we get expanded basic up to 99. The only way to see the digital channels I pay for in the second room is to rent another digital box, correct?


If the TV is pretty old (like say 5 years or so) - and you plug it straight into the cable outlet - you will get all unscrambled signals coming from Comcast up to the channel number your set goes to (usually about 99 or so). I am a Comcast customer. I still have 2 TVs like that. And that's what happens.

I also have 2 newer sets with clear QAM tuners plugged directly into the cable outlet. They will also get unscrambled signals only - but the numbers of the stations will go higher than 99. One is a hi-def set. It will also get unscrambled hi-def broadcasts (basically the network hi-def programs but also - for some reason - stations like HGTV hi-def).

Finally - I have 2 other hi-def sets - one with a DVR box - another with a cablecard. They will get everything.

Note that I also had a super old (15+ years) portable TV that I used for emergencies (could run on batteries). After the "digital switch" - it was ready for the trash (could have worked with a converter box - but that hardly makes sense for a TV I only use when the power goes out <smile>).

So the issue comes down to what you want to watch - and the numbers of the channels your local Comcast is broadcasting on - and whether the signals on those stations are scrambled. For example - if you want to get digital station 153 - and it's not a scrambled signal - you will be able to get it with a new TV without a converter box. Comcast ought to be able to tell you whether or not a particular station is scrambled (but I wouldn't count on it).

Note that the answers to the last 2 questions are kind of a moving target these days. Where I live - channels are being moved all the time - mostly to make way for new hi-def stations.

Anyway - I don't know what size your second TV is. If it's a small one - I'd definitely replace it with a new hi-def TV with a clear QAM tuner. Picked up a nice 19" Sony like that for my kitchen a few months ago for about $250 at Costco. If and when the stations I usually watch on that TV (and the other TVs without boxes) get scrambled - I will be forced to go to a converter box. If it's a larger TV - you might pick up one at Costco - see exactly what you get without a converter box - and if those stations are enough for you. And - if you're not happy - you can return the TV (Costco has a liberal return policy) - and rent the converter box instead. Hope this helps. Robyn

August 23, 2009 10:28:36 PM

Quote:
If the TV is pretty old (like say 5 years or so) - and you plug it straight into the cable outlet - you will get all unscrambled signals coming from Comcast up to the channel number your set goes to (usually about 99 or so). I am a Comcast customer. I still have 2 TVs like that. And that's what happens.

I also have 2 newer sets with clear QAM tuners plugged directly into the cable outlet. They will also get unscrambled signals only - but the numbers of the stations will go higher than 99. One is a hi-def set. It will also get unscrambled hi-def broadcasts (basically the network hi-def programs but also - for some reason - stations like HGTV hi-def).

Finally - I have 2 other hi-def sets - one with a DVR box - another with a cablecard. They will get everything.

Note that I also had a super old (15+ years) portable TV that I used for emergencies (could run on batteries). After the "digital switch" - it was ready for the trash (could have worked with a converter box - but that hardly makes sense for a TV I only use when the power goes out <smile>).

So the issue comes down to what you want to watch - and the numbers of the channels your local Comcast is broadcasting on - and whether the signals on those stations are scrambled. For example - if you want to get digital station 153 - and it's not a scrambled signal - you will be able to get it with a new TV without a converter box. Comcast ought to be able to tell you whether or not a particular station is scrambled (but I wouldn't count on it).

Note that the answers to the last 2 questions are kind of a moving target these days. Where I live - channels are being moved all the time - mostly to make way for new hi-def stations.

Anyway - I don't know what size your second TV is. If it's a small one - I'd definitely replace it with a new hi-def TV with a clear QAM tuner. Picked up a nice 19" Sony like that for my kitchen a few months ago for about $250 at Costco. If and when the stations I usually watch on that TV (and the other TVs without boxes) get scrambled - I will be forced to go to a converter box. If it's a larger TV - you might pick up one at Costco - see exactly what you get without a converter box - and if those stations are enough for you. And - if you're not happy - you can return the TV (Costco has a liberal return policy) - and rent the converter box instead. Hope this helps. Robyn




Channels 2-99 are not unscrambled signal well technically they are but they should not be thought of as digital... channels 2 trought 99 are still coming in to your tv sets as analog. cable is cable and thats the way they always have done business. so yes technically their unscrambled because if you look back in the old days when they would scramble their old ppv events you would get diagonal lines sometimes even sound but no picture or you would try to make it out by twitching your eyes.. well you needed a cable box to unscramble signal although there were many people who were able to unscramble scrambled analog signal by just using thin foil. so please dont think of 2-99 as digital in the clear. digital is digital and thin foil is not going to work so you must have a tuner with atsc tuner on it to receive digital even through cable.
August 26, 2009 10:17:42 PM

blazinbear82 said:
Channels 2-99 are not unscrambled signal well technically they are but they should not be thought of as digital... channels 2 trought 99 are still coming in to your tv sets as analog. cable is cable and thats the way they always have done business. so yes technically their unscrambled because if you look back in the old days when they would scramble their old ppv events you would get diagonal lines sometimes even sound but no picture or you would try to make it out by twitching your eyes.. well you needed a cable box to unscramble signal although there were many people who were able to unscramble scrambled analog signal by just using thin foil. so please dont think of 2-99 as digital in the clear. digital is digital and thin foil is not going to work so you must have a tuner with atsc tuner on it to receive digital even through cable.


While everything you just said may have been true for the last several decades, it is not quite true anymore. Most major cities already have or are in the process of transitioning to only digital cable, which means you MUST have a digital reciever or QAM tuner on each TV, computer, etc. even in order to watch channels 20-99. So far channels 2-99 have generally been unencrypted so any clearQAM reciever could get them, but nobody knows if cable companies will leave them unencrypted or will start encrypting them, meaning only a qam with cablecard or a reciever from the company is possible.

The only analog channels left will be something like 2-20. Meaning the locals, HSN, and public access. If you plug the cable straight into the TV, these are the only ones you can get. If it hasnt happened in your city yet, it is probably only a matter of time.
August 27, 2009 7:23:18 AM

stjkatz said:
While everything you just said may have been true for the last several decades, it is not quite true anymore. Most major cities already have or are in the process of transitioning to only digital cable, which means you MUST have a digital reciever or QAM tuner on each TV, computer, etc. even in order to watch channels 20-99. So far channels 2-99 have generally been unencrypted so any clearQAM reciever could get them, but nobody knows if cable companies will leave them unencrypted or will start encrypting them, meaning only a qam with cablecard or a reciever from the company is possible.

The only analog channels left will be something like 2-20. Meaning the locals, HSN, and public access. If you plug the cable straight into the TV, these are the only ones you can get. If it hasnt happened in your city yet, it is probably only a matter of time.



I work for charter and have previously worked for time warner... cable companys biggest exploitation over direct tv and dish netwok and uverse and fios is the fact that you dont need cable boxes to run your tv.... its what sells a lot of customers especially in tough economic times. Cable companys will continue to run analog cable i would say for at least the next 5 to 10 years just enough time to give people the opportunity to get digital tvs ... i mean all that is sold now a days is flat screen tvs and those are all digital so the transition has been met. Now when those 5 to 10 years come and cable wants to shut analog for good so they have more room for hd programming they will leave their regular analog programming what was available open in the clear its my guess.
September 2, 2009 2:43:10 AM

We are also a Comcast subscriber. The big change that has us disgruntled is the fact that Comcast is now scrambling many channels even ones such as the Weather channel! We rent a dvr from them for our main viewing TV but I can't justify monthly fees for bedroom sets!
Comcast gives away at N/C, 2 additional digital converters for unscrambling signals on such "Premium" channels as the Weather Channel but these give away converters also degrade the signal to Low Definition - 480p on all channels!

So now any other Hi-Def tvs we own are all down converted to low def by Comcast unless we pay for additional hi-def converter boxes with monthly rental fees! Even channels that are normally broadcast for free in hi-def such as Major networks are now premium channels by comcast!!!!
Anonymous
September 2, 2009 11:44:46 PM

Comcast is encrtyping a lot of channels, I really hate them, I don't want to have to put a box on the wall with my wall mounted digital tv. What a scam, I'm calling dish network maybe they can do something better.
September 3, 2009 3:01:47 PM

This post is very helpful.

I have basic cable, around $15-20/month and use Verizon DSL for another $20/mo.
I don't use a cable box but rather connect directly from the wall and use the TV's internal tuner.

2 days ago Comcast in the Philadelphia surburbs also started scrambling more analog channels such as the Food and Animal Channel. TVs that I have QAM tuners are still able to pick up unscrambled digital versions of these channels but my old analog tube TV in my bedroom didn't fair as well.

I think I was under the impression, maybe like some people, that if you are a cable customer you will not be affected by the DTV transition. I guess they're technically seperate issues but it sure can be confusing when you start to lose some of the channels you're used to getting.
September 11, 2009 2:19:25 AM

Hey SWIPS question... I have same issue with Comcast they are "enhancing" the network and thus scrambling channels that used to be clear.

We lost TLC, History some others... of the channels that you lost and got that lovely you need a Comcast DTA or Cable-box message did the DTA box bring those back? (albeit at the low 480p)??? Don't want to pay the extra money for the cable-box (they say an extra $7 per..)

September 11, 2009 11:02:03 AM

Kublai99 said:
Hey SWIPS question... I have same issue with Comcast they are "enhancing" the network and thus scrambling channels that used to be clear.

We lost TLC, History some others... of the channels that you lost and got that lovely you need a Comcast DTA or Cable-box message did the DTA box bring those back? (albeit at the low 480p)??? Don't want to pay the extra money for the cable-box (they say an extra $7 per..)




Follow up on this - so for the two digital TV with internal digital tuners and the Pinnacle PC Card Tuner (clear QAM). I re-ran Channel Search. Found a good portion of the channels that disappeared up in the 106 to 108 range. With channel #'s like this 107.9, 107.11, etc.

Obviously the analog only tvs I have are SOL for getting the digitally "enchanced" channels still.

So try the auto-channel search on a Digital TV before you get sucked into Comcast's you need the DTA or cable-box mantra!!!
September 22, 2009 8:46:48 PM

If I get my two free digital adapters (these are the ones for the analog TVs that are plugged directly into the cable in the wall) from Comcast and then borrow a couple from someone else who doesn't need them, will Comcast see that I am using more than my two free ones and charge me a monthly fee for other two? I'm pretty sure they can detect cable boxes, but I don't know if they can detect these new adapters. It does say that I have to have them all plugged in before I activate them so it does seem that they would see them.
September 24, 2009 10:07:03 PM

Everyone,

Sorry been away for a while, just been busy.

Bostongirl,

They probably will NOT be able to detect how many you have. The purpose of that adapter is to allow for you to receive the digital signal. Meaning the signal is already on the line but you have nothing to allow the signal to be viewed. I myself dont have one yet so I cannot tell you the exact way this thing works. I have looked at what they look like online and they dont look like much of anything other than a way to actually receive signals.

A caveat to my response however is this, if there is some kind of activation that needs to be done on this digital converter, then my guess is they can track it. However if all you had to do is plug your cable into one end and plug your tv to the other end, I would say you have nothing to worry about.
September 25, 2009 8:43:51 PM

Quote:
Did I screw the pooch??

I have had free Comcast extended basic cable service since I bought my house about 6 years ago. We plugged the cable into the wall, and the TV worked. As discussed in previous posts, we began losing channels, finally ending up with only being able to watch channels 2-34. A friend of mine works for comcast and told me it was due to digital conversion, and that I could get a converter box from Best Buy to restore the channels that I had "lost." I purchased the converter box, and installed it. The box couldn't read any of the channels, including the channels 2-34.

I disconnected the converter box and put everything back. Now I don't receive ANY channels. I then tried plugging the cable from the wall directly into the back of the TV and still I have no picture.Is it possible that Comcast detected the converter box and cut off all cable connection? If not, I will try to troubleshoot the mechanicals. I confirmed that the output from the VCR and TIVO boxes to the TV work fine.

Thanks,

SJSU Fan



Wow, that makes no sense to me.

This is what I do understand. If you bought a converter box from Best Buy, my assumption is that you bought an ATSC converter box or simply put an over the air digital to analog converter. Which will not work with comcast... well then again it opens up a new can of worms.

Was your 2-34 an analog signal and not digital? My guess is it was analog. So no converter box needed. That being the case, if that doesnt work, then either comcast stopped broadcasting analog across the wire OR they disconnected your cable.

Back to your converter box that you bought. The standard converter box would be to convert ATSC digital signals or whats known as over the air digital. The only way to get the comcast digital signal is to get a QAM tuner. Only then will you get the Clear QAM signal. If you want your full lineup of Comcast channels, you will need a box from Comcast to decrypt the digital signals coming from Comcast.

The fact that you get nothing tells me either they stopped broadcasting even analog across the wire which would be really strange to do it all at once.

OR they physically disconnected the cable running to your house.
Anonymous
September 29, 2009 11:28:07 PM

I know the answer to this once, since I just got done installing two units this week.
Each one has to be activated and the serial numbers for each are registed to your account with Comcast. So they only activate what is assigned to you. Also, they told me if I have a power outage or unplug a unit, it should work fine when power is restored. But, if you disconnect the cable, or move the unit to another room, you will need to reactivate the unit. So, you cannot even have it activated at your friend's house and move it to your house, let alone move one within your own house (without reactivating).

Hope that helps! I am here because I too am looking for a way around this Comcast-created issue!!
Anonymous
October 18, 2009 1:47:33 PM

Well, this is becoming more complicated than I knew. I already pay comcast an outrageous sum for their various services, but obviously, from what I read here, they are using their conversion to "all digital" to try to milk more from me.

Our transition started about a week ago, and in anticiplation, I ordered and installed to two "free" converters for my "ancient" analog equipment. I just got a brand new digital Audiovox KLV3913 12" undercabinet unit for my kitchen (HDTV/DVD Combo). I figured I would need nothing from comcast for that unit.

Wrong!

I hooked it up last night and did a scan for channels. Everything was great up to cannel 50.0 However, I got the Comcast "call us" message on 10 channels between Channel 58 and Channel 72, I got channel 70 eith no problem and got every channel between 75 and my hightest channel #254 with no problem.

I'm gessing these are the "newly scrambled" channels that were part of our subscription.

As a different confusion, for me, is that the channels this new unit have a decimal point and other numbers that follow. For most of the channels, if there is regular definition it will be on, like 23.0 with lower "high def" at 23.1 and 1040i high def at 23.2

Some of the channels have from up to 12 "sub-channels" not always the just different definitions. Like for station 75 I have 75.0 through 75.12, for channel 101 it is 101.0, 101.7, and 101.12.

I havn't seen this before. If someone understands this system and can point me to a link where I can educate myself, maybe I'll learn what channel I need to tune to watch what I want.

Thanks. Steve
October 23, 2009 5:23:48 AM

Steve,
Any of those channels with wierd numbers, ie. 51-3 are digital channels.

Our setup: we pay cable for basic cable, plus $5 for SportsView package so spouse can view tennis channel and extra football games. (You have to ask directed questions to realize you are not required to pay for expanded basic in order to get the basic sports package!) We also pay for one analog $1.75 cable box a month plus TV guide fee. So with that box any TV old or new will get basic channels (1-30), various unscrambled junk channels, and the sports package. Our new lcd TV with QAM tuner plugged DIRECTLY into the wall will also get all of the latter except the sports package, all of the main network unscrambled HD channels and ALSO "extra" HD channels whose analog equivalents are scrambled on Expanded Basic! (a wierd scattering of channels including AMC and ShowTime movie channels!) As a consequence we have put a splitter on the cable, and use the TV input from "ant" direct from the wall" when we want to access these HD channels, and on "video 1" (connected to cable box via red/white/yellow video cable) when we want to access the rxtra sports channels. Unfortunately the HD channels do not match the channel numbers from the guide, but I won't complain, as they are free.

In short, there are still some unscrambled HD channels accessible directly on the cable if you have a QAM tuner.

Enjoy while you can!

Note: We recently added a $6.75 per month HD cable box in order to turn a HD equipped 22" computer monitor ($99) into a HD TV with no computer necesssary. We plug the audio into the ipod speaker next to it. Works fantastic, and now we have an extra HD TV and can access HD channel guide which helps us figure what is playing on those "extra channels". The numbers still don't match. We still don't get the scrambled HD channels, and, interestingly enough, don't get the "extra" channels referenced above. So the Showtime movie channel that we are getting direct from the wall will NOT play on the HD cable box (as the box knows we aren't paying for it so it just posts a message to "order, etc") Wierd stuff.

One small negative is that every box you get from them multiplies the charge for channel guide also.

Terri
Anonymous
October 27, 2009 6:59:39 PM

jherome said:
I read this thread and I had to respond. A lot of the comments on the tread couldn't be more misleading. I mean no disrespect to anyone nor am I forcing my information on anyone. Without further delay, here is your answer.

Digital Vs. Analog

On February 17, everything (supposedly) will change over to digital and no more analog.

That means, they will shut down the broadcast of all analog signals. It DOES NOT matter how old your tv is or if it has a digital or analog tuner. Here is why.

TV's have came with Analog tuners for a long time. Analog tuners will not work with Digital signals.

Here is the kicker, newer TV's have been coming with digital ATSC tuners. ATSC tuners are for over the air DIGITAL signals which will not work for cable signals. A QAM tuner, will allow you to pick up UNSCRAMBLED cable TV signals. QAM tuners will not get you the mtv's, hgtv, etc. etc. channels because the cable company SCRAMBLES those signals. End result is you will need a cable box to UNSCRAMBLE the encrypted signal that the cable company puts out.

So to go with a VCR tuner WILL NOT work either. Because the tuner in VCR's are ANALOG (some may have an ATSC or an ATSC and QAM digital tuner but this will not work for scrambled digital signals). They may work now but will not work after Feb. 17th.

So with all the responses to this thread, the only option you have is to rent a cable box from your cable company so that you will be able to unscramble the digital signal they are putting out.

Here is a quick guide for you to follow:
--------------------------------------
Analog TV with Analog Tuner: You will get nothing!!!

Digital TV with Analog Tuner: You will get nothing!!!
--------------------------------------
Analog TV with Analog and ATSC Digital Tuner: You will need a TV antenna to get Digital signals over the air. Good ole rabbit ears of the past.

Digital TV with Analog and ATSC Digital Tuner: You will need a TV antenna to get Digital signals over the air. Good ole rabbit ears of the past.
---------------------------------------
Analog TV with Analog and ATSC Digital Tuner with QAM capability: You will be able to plug in the coax cable from the cable company and be able to watch all UNSCRAMBLED digital broadcasts by your cable company. Additionally, if you throw in some rabbit ears, you can get over the air ATSC digital signals.

Digital TV with Analog and ATSC Digital Tuner with QAM capability: You will be able to plug in the coax cable from the cable company and be able to watch all UNSCRAMBLED digital broadcasts by your cable company. Additionally, if you throw in some rabbit ears, you can get over the air ATSC digital signals.
----------------------------------------
Analog TV with Cable box from your cable company: You get to watch everything you are paying for.

Digital TV with Cable box from your cable company: You get to watch everything you are paying for.
-----------------------------------------

Notice the pattern? It doesn't matter how old your TV is. It is all about what kind of Tuner you have.

For your reference: Your cable company's cable box IS???
The cable box is a Tuner!!! Not just any tuner but a tuner that they have programmed to unencrypt the signals they are broadcasting. That is the reason why it has to come from your subscriber. You cannot throw a cable box from WOW onto a Comcast cable feed and expect it to work. It is their way of controlling who gets what based on what a person is paying for.

The cable is a Digital to Digital passthru AND a Digital to Analog converter. The reason why they are built like this is so it doesn't matter what kind of TV you have. You can have an old tv or a new tv. Now not all old TV's will work, you might have to buy a box to convert coax to composite, S-video or component. That is a topic for another discussion and is specific to what kind of inputs your tv has.

So the bottomline. Unless you can get a hold of a cable box configured for your cable company provider and is activated to work, then you are pretty much stuck renting. Keep in mind that it needs to be activated. So if you go online and buy one from somebody on eBay, it may or may not work. And if it is working, the cable company can shut it down without setting a foot in your home.

My credentials: I have nothing to do with the cable company or anyone for that matter. I am just like most people that dont want to rent 6 cable boxes from the cable company and also looking for a way to get it to all my TV's without paying monthly.


(mph) Just an added note to jherome's above 'expose'. However, everyone should realize one important point about COMCAST's
migration to Digital. They are "encrypting" the digital output of all digital channels that are "not" local. I have a new HD tv with all
of the possible tuners, ASTC, NTSC and clear QAM; the only digital channels a new digital HD TV can pick up, are local ones and
others which are Un-Encrypted. We here in Arlington, VA are also slowly losing our analog channels. When I tried to tune in the
CADTV channels with the QAM tuner (ie., the digital cable channels), only local media outlets could be obtained. This is why you
will always "need" a box. When you think about it, it's silly, deceiving, and dishonest! Most of those above who threaten to
go "satellite" or Verizon "FIOS" recognize that pretty soon we will all need a box no matter the service. We just threaten to leave
COMCAST because we've been their customer from their "service inception", in my case, for almost 30 years (1980), and "this
is how they wish to treat me?" Good Luck Everyone!!!
October 28, 2009 5:16:15 AM

I just felt like adding something here.... I too subscribe to Comcast in the Chicago IL suburban area and as of midnight, I've got 20 channels left in the 'basic' tier. I do still get many channels on my 2 QAM tuners (1 in my plasma TV, 1 in my HTPC), but my Tivo and older 'non-Qam' digital TV are very blah now. I will not add set top boxes to these TVs, and am seriously thinking of going to Antenna. I could live with the fact that the QAM tuners get the digital versions of the channels on completely wrong stations now (58 is FX, the QAM broadcast is on 109.32), but I'm sure they will start pulling those too. With the fact that you can get almost everything online now, and AT&T is offering TV in my area and the antenna service is pretty damn good (I often flip over to my digital antenna service on the non QAM TV for PBS in HD), I can't see the reason to stick with Comcast. I'd love nothing better than to see them take a major subscriber hit over this nonsense.

Good luck to everyone with your situations, but I'm going to cut bait at this point. I've been paying Comcast 60 bucks a month for years and see no reason to make it more than that. They are bloodsuckers and as one poster added above, the only reason most people were willing to stick with them was that you could get a good amount of service without adding a box (especially those of us who went out and got TVs with clear QAM), and now they are removing that single advantage.



October 29, 2009 6:13:58 PM

For those that do not decide to cut from cable company:

I have just put an "RF-Link" device in my house that works great>

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002EXJ8Y/ref=ox_ya_o...

Basically broadcasts encrypted AV signal from your authorized cable box to any destination that you like, as long as it has composite input. It also has a RF signal extender, which allows us to use the cable box remote in my bedroom, sending the signal through the walls to the cable box in the main room. Picture is not true HD, but it's darn good.

Cool technology. Has great reviews, check it out. There's apparently something called "Angel-Trax" that has a tuner too, but I"m sure that would only be the unencrypted channels anyhow.

We are going to eliminate the other HD box and the charge for the guide on that box as well.

TRS
November 1, 2009 3:35:42 AM

I have comcast and have the same problem. Some of our favorite channels just got switched from standard cable to digital starter so now 3 of our 4 tv's can't get them without their box. I contacted RadioShack and they sell a converter for $60 that they say will give you all the channels they keep switching to digital starter and they say they can't keep them in stock. I was told they could order me one. I checked their web site and could not find the box they were talking about. I will have to stop in to see if they know what they were talking about. I live in west of Pittsburgh Pa. Comcast is a monopoly and I am ready to switch to direct TV but I want to keep my comcast high speed internet. The price on it will go up $17 if I drop the tv cable. You can't win!
November 11, 2009 10:16:36 AM

I have comcast I got two of there boxes for my tvs I have to tell you they both didnt work for my tvs. I programmed the remotes and i could not change the channel. THe mute would work, u could punch in the # but i wouldnt change. I heard that alot of tvs are not programmed for the pace box. It was very aggravating.
I have a older tv and the other is from 2005. I called they said change your remotes. So i changed my remotes. After i got new remotes from comcast its still didnt work for my tvs to change???

For me I had to upgrade my tv, next i will upgrade the other one. I have to tell you if alot of my channels get zapped i am going to dish network or direct tv.
November 13, 2009 11:25:26 PM

I am in Southern New Jersey and am having the same problem with Comcast changing analog to digital. Since I have to use channel 3 or 4 on my VCR to access the digital channels from their digital starter box I can no longer make a timer recording with my VCR on any channel above 23. I have split the signal between the VCR and the digital starter box so that I can timer record on the existing analog channels. I can only record the digital channels if I am watching the same channel while recording. What is the point? Is there a digital to analog converter for digital cable?
!