Comcast stopping me from recording with my Panasonic DVD recorder - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 39 Old 05-08-2011, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Starting on March 1, 2011 when I try to record certain channels from Comcast with my Panasonic DMR-EZ485v I get a message saying "cannot copy copyright protected material".

Called Comcast and bitched and was told that the broadcasters are putting something in the broadcast that stops my recorder from recording the material.. Then they told me the only way around it was to rentt their DVR. Well the DVR is $15 a month or $180 a year. Being like a lot of people I am trying to reduce my expenses, not add another one.

Is there any kind of device that I can get to defeat this protection? Are the broadcasters actually putting the protection in the video or is Comcast doing it. Last of all what is the protection system called?

And don't get me started on Comcast's On Demand. What a waste of bandwidth that is. Sometimes they put up shows I want to see but usually not. For instance rather than putting up the latest No Reservations they had a show available from last year for weeks. Sometimes they catch up with episodes sometimes not. Almost as if they don't care.

One of my favorite shows is Nova on PBS but since I go to bed at the same time it starts I can no longer watch it. If don't find away to record their shows I am going to write to PBS saying that since I now have to spend $180a year to watch most of their shows that I can no longer give them contributions. And I have been contributing for decades.

Thanks
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post #2 of 39 Old 05-08-2011, 03:58 PM
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PBS should be NOT! copy protected. Maybe HBO etc. or possibly some upper tier channels but not broadcast, especially PBS channels. That being said arguing this with Comcast may be a exercise in futility you may have better luck contacting your local PBS channel or possibly any of the other network channels you can't record.
If you're recording from a STB utilizing line outputs you could easily insert a filter between your STB and DVDR, if you're recording using your EZ-48v's internal tuner there won't be anything you could to block the CP signal
If you have component outputs on your STB the cheapest filter going would be a component to S-video converter available from Monoprice.com for <$50. S-video to S-video filters cost more than double that.
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post #3 of 39 Old 05-08-2011, 05:26 PM
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Like jjeff said: PBS does not insert anti-recording flags in their broadcasts, your ComCast rep way lying thru their teeth or at best misinformed. ComCast itself inserts these flags out of incompetence or plain greed, hoping to force you into their DVR service.

Unfortunately, you can't fight City Hall, or ComCast, or Time Warner Cable, etc. You can complain until you're blue in the face, they won't fix it. Your only option is to buy a filter box or TBC to wire between your cable box and your DVD recorder. You can use the MonoPrice converter jjeff recommended, or other filters as described in related threads here on AVS (search for "video filters"). A time base corrector (TBC) will also work, the most popular are the AVT-8710 and DataVideo TBC 1000 (look for them used on eBay to save quite a bit off the new retail prices.

Be aware, as jjeff noted, if you have "no decoder box" cable connected directly to your DVD recorder tuner, you won't be able to wire in a filter box. You will need to get a decoder box from ComCast. My understanding is ComCast no longer supports "boxless" service, all subscribers without a box were given little "free" boxes last year, so this should not be an issue for you.
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post #4 of 39 Old 05-08-2011, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

My understanding is ComCast no longer supports "boxless" service, all subscribers without a box were given little "free" boxes last year, so this should not be an issue for you.

Unfortunately those free DTA boxes are only channel 3/4 output and have no line outputs, they won't work with filters You need a set top box with line outputs.
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post #5 of 39 Old 05-08-2011, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

My understanding is ComCast no longer supports "boxless" service, all subscribers without a box were given little "free" boxes last year, so this should not be an issue for you.

It's not that they don't support boxless service, the free DTA's are the advance preparation for them to follow suit with FIOS and eliminate all analog delivery over their cable -- coming soon. Clear QAM locals still qualify as "boxless" for devices with QAM tuners. The FCC currently prohibits scrambling the local channels, but AFAIK they do not have policy that prohibits setting the no-copy flag. Some years back they tried to set a mandate for all broadcasters to implement the no-copy flag on all broadcasts, but were shot down by Congress who decided such a mandate exceeded the FCC charter and could only be legislated by Congress.

So although there is no mandate to implement the no-copy flag, there is also no mandate that says thou shalt not implement it. Comcast can do it if they want to. If the OP with the EZ-48 were to record to a RAM disk (which supports CPRM for generation management) there would be no problem for his time-shifting.

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post #6 of 39 Old 05-09-2011, 03:22 PM
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Might be time to drop comcast altogether!

If you are close enough to the antenna towers, you could just go OTA and get HD, etc. that you can record for free!
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post #7 of 39 Old 05-09-2011, 04:03 PM
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I've never "contributed" to crapcast for cable tv-I had to use them for my internet access for a few years until dsl was finally made available-I dropped em' like a hot potato and never looked back.
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post #8 of 39 Old 05-09-2011, 05:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies.

One of the posters said that if I use a DVD-RAM disk that it bypasses the copyright protection. My recorder does not do this. Just tired it. Put it on TCM and hit record with a DVD-RAM in it. It started recording, then I switched to The Weather Channel and it stopped and displayed the copyright protected screen.

BTW, I took a look at the Comcast box and it is model RGN110. Does not say who made it though.

So my best is to get a TBC and this will strip out the copyright protection? Anyone prefer any particular make or model? Would like to keep the price around $150 if possible. I can use the RF line, composite or component out of the box to a TBC.
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post #9 of 39 Old 05-09-2011, 06:05 PM
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If you have spare component outputs then the most economical would be something like this which besides preserving the wide screen aspect will also remove any CP. To get much better you'd have to spend >$200. If TCM is not CP'd but the Wx channel is, it sure sounds like Comcast is sending out erroneous CP signals but with a box like I linked it will enable you to record any channels(and as a added benefit it will allow you to back up any of your commercial DVDs with the addition of another DVD player).
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post #10 of 39 Old 05-09-2011, 06:52 PM
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Try jjeff's suggestion of the MonoPrice Component>Composite converter box before anything else. Its the cheapest option, and apparently it does solve this kind of problem, as long as you don't need the component connection on your cable box for the TV itself (i.e. the TV is hooked up via RF, composite-yellow-RCA-jack or HDMI). Some cable boxes do not allow simultaneous HDMI and Component output at different resolutions, you'll need to play with the converter, your TV and your decoder box to see if it will work for you. If not, you can always return it for refund.

Should you be unable to use the Component>Composite trick, you'll need a dedicated filter or TBC that connects via the usual composite or S-video. These can get pricey unless you shop carefully. The most popular filter on AVS seems to be the Grex, at about $90 new from the mfr. Several others are also good, ranging from $90-$200+ new or used on eBay for less. My personal take is if you're gonna go much over $100, may as well look for a used TBC which offers additional signal repair for things like VHS tapes. New DataVideo TBC-1000 costs $479, new AVT8710 costs about $215 from pro video vendor B&H Photo online. The AVT is much cheaper but has worse quality control: used ones are all over eBay for $100 but most are defective (overheating dysfunction is common). The DataVideo is much sturdier and does not overheat, has good quality control unit to unit, but is way overpriced brand new. Second hand on eBay at $150-225 is a much better deal.
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post #11 of 39 Old 05-09-2011, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zaax View Post

Called Comcast and was told that the broadcasters are putting something in the broadcast that stops my recorder from recording the material.

In this thread, Comcast replies in a similar fashion:

Quote:


Owners of the rights to digital media are reluctant to allow recording of their material using high resolution connections and block the capability.

This would seem to indicate that recording SD via the composite ports might be possible, if the higher def connections (HDMI, component) are disconnected. Also, the Pace RNG110 might have to be set to 480i.

That which may be known of God is evident within man, for God has shown it to them, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20)
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post #12 of 39 Old 05-09-2011, 07:46 PM
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If all your interested in is recording the locals in HD a simple PC HD tuner csrd with clear QAM support will work for you more then likely. I have a now old Dvico HDTV3 gold and it records all my locals fine so far in whatever flavor of HD and sound they are using, no copy flags at all, though it was made just before they were supposed to recognize them.
I capture and stream or burn all my favorite shows and edit them down for watching later and archive them to big external drives on my Networked media player box. If you want to do all their channels except on demand you might want to checkout the new cards that support cable card and all that as they should be able to do most of the allowed to copy channels that they recently encrypted to "improve" our service, which really means force you to rent a better box and stop recording everything with your own equipment.
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post #13 of 39 Old 05-09-2011, 08:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zaax View Post

Starting on March 1, 2011 when I try to record certain channels from Comcast with my Panasonic DMR-EZ485v I get a message saying "cannot copy copyright protected material".

Called Comcast and bitched and was told that the broadcasters are putting something in the broadcast that stops my recorder from recording the material.. Then they told me the only way around it was to rentt their DVR.

To put it simply, Comcast is lying. I have Comcast, and I have been recording from PBS, TCM, everything, even OnDemand, and never had a problem. But, on this board, and on the TCM forums, people have reported various channels, in various places around the country, that they have had copy protection problems from Comcast. I doubt that they will be responsive to your requests to take care of the problem. Apparently, they eventually change something, and the problem goes away. But, PBS and TCM do NOT send out anti-copy signals.
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post #14 of 39 Old 05-10-2011, 08:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjbawc View Post

To put it simply, Comcast is lying. I have Comcast, and I have been recording from PBS, TCM, everything, even OnDemand, and never had a problem. But, on this board, and on the TCM forums, people have reported various channels, in various places around the country, that they have had copy protection problems from Comcast. I doubt that they will be responsive to your requests to take care of the problem. Apparently, they eventually change something, and the problem goes away. But, PBS and TCM do NOT send out anti-copy signals.

I also started experiencing problems with Comcast around March using my RNG-110. Sometimes regular channels like TLC or HIST will stop in the middle of recording with an E25 not allowed to copy. Other channels that used to be digital but moved to expanded basic (e.g. SyFy, G4, etc) always get the do not copy message. However the same show from VOD can be recorded.

Talking to comcast was an exercise in frustration. While I am looking at some of the solutions mentioned above, can someone educate me on how those flags are set? Is it done at the head end? Is it set by the STB? By the content creator?

Thanks
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post #15 of 39 Old 05-10-2011, 11:04 PM
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Well, I'm sure there's some cable professional staff here, who will know better, but I'll take a stab at it. The anti-copy flag can come either from the individual channel company, or can be added by your cable/sat provider. Also, even if the flag is added by the original source channel, the cable/sat provider might NOT pass it along. And, as seems to be happening at local Comcast headends these days, sometimes the anti-copy flag is added inadvertently.

So, the only way to tell what is what is not, from the source, is to compare notes with people in other areas. TCM and PBS do NOT add anti-copy, nor do any of the OTA broadcasters, AFAIK. I have never gotten anti-copy flags from anything on Comcast. I haven't had HBO or STARZ for a couple of years, but I used to record them. So, if they, or any of the scrambled channels I do have, add anti-copy flags, Comcast isn't passing them along in my area.
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post #16 of 39 Old 05-11-2011, 08:37 AM
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zaax, theres no consistency, rhyme or reason to how the anti-record flag is implemented. Some people get it on everything, some people get it randomly, some people don't get it at all. Given the wide variety of reports over the past year or so, I'm beginning to believe the specific location of your home might be an important factor: cable is distributed in "nodes" from neighborhood to neighborhood and some "node" hardware may unintentionally filter out all flags while others across town might accidentally add them (or contaminate the signal in some way that the recorder perceives as a flag). This might explain how kjbawc is practically the only ComCast subscriber on AVS who hasn't had this problem, and how I'm one of the few on Time Warner Cable who never has a problem even on VOD.

Two big factors have combined recently to exacerbate the issue: newer recorders (especially digital-tuner DVD/VHS units like your EZ-48) are much more sensitive to real or spurious flag signals than older models, and the flag is now unexpectedly popping up in ways unanticipated by the stations. About 18 months ago there was a huge spike in anti-record flag complaints: as best we could determine by comparing notes, it seems music publishers began somehow adding the flag to tunes licensed to new TV shows and commercials. Even if the station or producer itself had no intention of setting the flag, if the flag sneaked in thru a random snatch of music from a car commercial or TV scene it would be detected by newer recorders and shut them down. Depends on the recorder and again probably your location (broadcast repeaters, cable head end or node, satellite hardware). Some gear filters it, some gear exaggerates it. The whole thing is a mess, yet another side effect of our grotesque analog>digital TV transition.
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post #17 of 39 Old 05-11-2011, 09:31 AM
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Wow, what a train wreck, CitiBear. Thanks for the insight.

Mourning the disappearing usage of the -ly suffix. Words being cut-off before they've had a chance to fully form, left incomplete, with their shoelaces untied and their zippers undone. If I quote your post (or post in your thread) without comment, please check your zipper.
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post #18 of 39 Old 05-11-2011, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

... I'm beginning to believe the specific location of your home might be an important factor: cable is distributed in "nodes" from neighborhood to neighborhood and some "node" hardware may unintentionally filter out all flags while others across town might accidentally add them (or contaminate the signal in some way that the recorder perceives as a flag). ...

I think this is what is happening to me. A friend nearby in another town, but still with Comcast, is able to record the stations I can't. So either it's being set by Comcast locally or my cable box is acting up (which I found reports of on Comcast forums). It will be easier to try a new STB than to get someone at Comcast to look into the issue. At worst case I'll go with a connection converter or a stabilizer filter box.
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post #19 of 39 Old 05-12-2011, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks to all who replied on this.

BTW I ordered a Grex today.
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post #20 of 39 Old 05-12-2011, 01:39 PM
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Probably easier than fighting city hall With the Grex you'll be able to record anything that's aired(from line inputs) or plays on something like a DVD/BR player.
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post #21 of 39 Old 05-24-2011, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

If you have spare component outputs then the most economical would be something like this which besides preserving the wide screen aspect will also remove any CP. To get much better you'd have to spend >$200. If TCM is not CP'd but the Wx channel is, it sure sounds like Comcast is sending out erroneous CP signals but with a box like I linked it will enable you to record any channels(and as a added benefit it will allow you to back up any of your commercial DVDs with the addition of another DVD player).

This is a curious looking device - I have been looking for something like this all over. My DISH VIP722K does not have an S-video out. I see an S-video port besides the composite on this device. Can I use this to connect my VIP722K component to my panasonic DVD recorder which has S-video in?

I currently can connect using composite. But I was hoping this would give better quality picture. thanks
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post #22 of 39 Old 05-24-2011, 02:20 PM
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Yes you can but if your VIP already does WS from it's composite output you may actually get better picture quality from it vs going through that converter. Of course if your VIP doesn't output WS over composite(I believe I've read most if not all satellite DVRs do, but it may need to be enabled in the setup) or you need to remove CP then by all means get one. Also if you're using say your DVRs HDMI you might want to verify that component output is still active at the same time(I've read when using HDMI output some DVRs disable other outputs).
Normally I'm a big fan of S-video(never really use composite except for regular VCRs which only have composite) but again the quality of this device even starting with 1080i component and converting to S-video isn't quite as good as a straight composite connection, let alone a straight S-video connection.
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post #23 of 39 Old 05-24-2011, 04:06 PM
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thanks for the reply. I so much figured the quality might not be good with such a cheap device. I do get WS from composite (active along with HDMI which feeds TV) - I haven't recorded anything yet, but feeding component from panasonic back to my samsung TV shows picture as is. I guess my only other option is going the HTPC route - which I wish to avoid if I can. I figure if I buy the magnavox 515 (sell my old panasonic as it doesn't have a hard drive) and also buy something like an LG BD690 that should cover most of my needs
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post #24 of 39 Old 05-24-2011, 07:54 PM
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Have you tried the S-Video connection. That was working for me.
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post #25 of 39 Old 05-25-2011, 06:37 AM
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The 722K model doesn't have S-video out. I had bought an S-video, RCA audio combo cable and was reaching behind to connect them and was so mad to find out that they had dropped s-video from this model. In the next model they will drop component also and just keep composite and HDMI
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post #26 of 39 Old 05-28-2011, 11:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eeegeek View Post
thanks for the reply. I so much figured the quality might not be good with such a cheap device. I do get WS from composite (active along with HDMI which feeds TV) - I haven't recorded anything yet, but feeding component from panasonic back to my samsung TV shows picture as is. I guess my only other option is going the HTPC route - which I wish to avoid if I can. I figure if I buy the magnavox 515 (sell my old panasonic as it doesn't have a hard drive) and also buy something like an LG BD690 that should cover most of my needs
I have recorded from the 722K composite output to a Panny DVDR & the PQ is very good.
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post #27 of 39 Old 05-31-2011, 01:33 PM
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I'd be interested to know which channels Comcast is blocking. Are these the 'on demand', HBO, cable, network or whatever? I'm in the process of buying a Magnavox MDR513H/F7 digital DVR with hard drive for the same reasons as you- don't want to pay $16./month DVR rental but wish to record shows for viewing at my leisure and without the commercials. Obviously I don't want to blow $250. then have them block my recordings. I'm in central Florida and normally 'tape' CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, SunSports, FOX Florida, etc.
Would like to learn if Comcast is blocking these.
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post #28 of 39 Old 05-31-2011, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patbbb View Post

I'd be interested to know which channels Comcast is blocking. Are these the 'on demand', HBO, cable, network or whatever? I'm in the process of buying a Magnavox MDR513H/F7 digital DVR with hard drive for the same reasons as you- don't want to pay $16./month DVR rental but wish to record shows for viewing at my leisure and without the commercials. Obviously I don't want to blow $250. then have them block my recordings. I'm in central Florida and normally 'tape' CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, SunSports, FOX Florida, etc.
Would like to learn if Comcast is blocking these.

Luckily AVS has a forum for that too.

Just search for your city and type of service here and check what others are getting... Orlando BHN and Orlando OTA are currently high up in the thread list, for example.

By the way, you should be able to tell what channels the Mag will tune by direct connecting your Vizio HDTV to the incoming cable and scanning for analog and digital channels... the Mag will tune the same channels without a box.


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post #29 of 39 Old 05-31-2011, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patbbb View Post

I'd be interested to know which channels Comcast is blocking. Are these the 'on demand', HBO, cable, network or whatever? I'm in the process of buying a Magnavox MDR513H/F7 digital DVR with hard drive for the same reasons as you- don't want to pay $16./month DVR rental but wish to record shows for viewing at my leisure and without the commercials. Obviously I don't want to blow $250. then have them block my recordings. I'm in central Florida and normally 'tape' CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, SunSports, FOX Florida, etc.
Would like to learn if Comcast is blocking these.

Other than the locals(ABC, NBC, FOX, etc.) you'll probably need a STB to be able to record your other channels. It's very unlikely Comcast will be restricting recording the channels you mentioned but if they are and your STB has component(3 video wires) output, then something like this will enable you to record ANY channel. If your STB only has composite or S-video outputs you'll need something like a Grex or Video Filter which are >$100. Don't get one of those cheap DTA's, they only have RF output and no way to install a filter between it and your DVDR.
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post #30 of 39 Old 06-01-2011, 10:15 PM
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This is as good a place to post this as any, I guess. I sympathize with zaak, though I haven't encountered his problem . . . yet. Anyway, as of today (1 June) Comcast has forced me to accept a Sisco digital box as all of my channels are now digital. Big whoopie. On the plus side, I now have many more channels (some of which I could care less about), but the negatives for me far outweigh these. With my components as now wired, J must set all recorders on Ch3 to record whatever the box is set on. This is of course God knows how many steps back because I must manually set the cable box for one program and program my recorder to record channel 3 at the programmed time. As of this writing. I have not tested to see if I must leave my TV on as well, though I suspect not, as the input goes from the wall to the box to a splitter which feeds my 3 recorders. These, by the way, are a Philips 3575/3576 and and 2 Pannys--an EH55 and EH75. Of course the Pannys have analog tuners so I would use them to record the lower channels, but even the Philips with its digital tuner is controlled by the Comcast box under the current wiring. The Sisco box is simple RF in/RF out (it was free so you know there were no bells and whistles).

One last thing. I'm not trying to get anything beyond the extended basic we're paying for. No HBO, nothing premium, I just want the versatility I had before if I can get it. Thanks!

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