Which tuner/cable box? Please help! - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 16 Old 08-14-2013, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
collegekid3's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 4
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Hello all,

I would appreciate it if you could read this and help me out, for I am not an expert in cable-TV and this seemed like a place to find people who are.

I am a college student whose college provides an unencrypted cable service with HD channels. The college expects students to bring in TVs with built-in converters (HD-ready).

I am looking to use an HD projector that does not have a built in converter. I would use a standard tuner/cable box, but the only problem is that there is an Over the Air broadcasting station very close to campus, so tuners with OTA enabled may have interference.

Is there such thing as an HD tuner/cable box that is not compatible with OTA, such as converters that are inside some HD-ready TVs?

I basically need something that has a cable-in, can handle a decent number of channels, has decent sound, and has an HDMI-out or the other standard hd wire system (sorry for the lack of knowledge, I am talking about "Y Pb/Cb Pr/Cr").

Thank you for your advice.
collegekid3 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 16 Old 08-14-2013, 01:36 PM
Senior Member
 
RollTide2011's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Moody, AL 35004
Posts: 499
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 58 Post(s)
Liked: 39
TiVO will probably be the easiest solution. you could get an older model from a pawn shop i dont think you would necessarly need the subscription service to do what you are talking about.
RollTide2011 is offline  
post #3 of 16 Old 08-14-2013, 01:44 PM
AVS Special Member
 
holl_ands's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 3,764
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 65 Post(s)
Liked: 69
Can you provide a link to your college webpag that explains the required technical characteristics of the "HD Capable" Tuner? They either mean a DTV with an OTA ATSC format tuner, which ALL DTVs support.....or possibly they mean a DTV which also has a Clear QAM Cable Tuner, which is supported by a much smaller number of DTVs.

If the signals are ATSC, any DTV will work, although you might want to use an TV Coax A/B Switch to switch between the cable feed and an Indoor OTA Antenna if there are channels not carried on the college's cable network.

If you are using an old low-rez Analog TV, all you need to receive ATSC is an inexpensive low-rez "Coupon Eligible Converter Box" with RF Ch3/4 and Composite Video output (Yellow/Red/White). CECBs can be readily found on eBay....or use one of the HD Capable OTA ATSC capable STBs, most with HDMI output, found in the fol. list:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/179095/the-official-avs-hdtv-stb-synopsis

If the signals are Clear QAM, only those DTV's with that capability will work (download and search User Guide for your model).

If you have a DTV without Clear QAM capability, then you can use one of Clear QAM Capable HD STB's in the above list....most will have HDMI output.

If you have a old low-rez Analog TV, the same Clear QAM Capable HD STB can be used, using their Composite Video output (Yellow/White/Red). If your Analog TV doesn't have Composite Video input, look for an STB with Ch3/4 RF output...or buy an inexpensive Composite Video to Analog NTSC (usually UHF RF channel) Modulator.
holl_ands is online now  
post #4 of 16 Old 08-14-2013, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
collegekid3's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 4
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Thank you so much for the in-depth response. Unfortunately, my college does not have a recommended tuner. 90% of students bring a TV that has a converter built in so one can simply plug in the cable in the room, search for channels, and bingo, finished.

My college warns that some tuners get interfered with by a broadcasting station next door. In my mind, that means I am trying to avoid any OTA capabilities. All I am looking for is a DTV, etc. that can decipher the channels from the cable my college has put in each room, which has a good selection of TV channels already, and be able to hook that into my HD projector since there are several HD channels on the cable network my college uses that is a combination of several resources.

I am not sure if it needs an OTA ATSC format or Clear QAM Cable tuner, but since most HD-ready TV's are good-to-go with my college's cable input I am going to assume the former. I can ask my college's network if need be. The only relevant info on the website is that tuner cards are not recommended since picture quality goes down, and that the college's network does support TiVo.

As mentioned before, TiVo seems reasonable.

If a standard DTV or similar fits the bill, then I prefer the cheaper option. I am wondering if there is a device like TiVo but without DVR capabilities, and only supports analogue and digital channels (not OTA)

Thank you for the help.

Edit: I just discovered the TiVi mini. Do you think that would work without a subscription?
collegekid3 is offline  
post #5 of 16 Old 08-14-2013, 03:50 PM
AVS Special Member
 
ctdish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Mystic,CT,USA
Posts: 1,374
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 23 Post(s)
Liked: 23
Cable uses the same channels as over the air and usually others as well. There is not any tuner that will get cable frequencies but not over the air. You need a well shielded receiver.
Cable is usually QAM for their digital channels so you should look for that in your tuner.
John
ctdish is online now  
post #6 of 16 Old 08-14-2013, 05:04 PM
AVS Special Member
 
seatacboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,073
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Liked: 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctdish View Post

Cable uses the same channels as over the air and usually others as well. There is not any tuner that will get cable frequencies but not over the air. You need a well shielded receiver. Cable is usually QAM for their digital channels so you should look for that in your tuner. John
I'm not sure that this is always the case.

Although Comcast in our area is starting to gradually encrypt QAM channels, as of today many of the local OTA channels show up in different places on the dial than their OTA RF frequency or their OTA "Virtual Channel".

For instance, KONG-DT is carried OTA as virtual channel 16.1 and "real" channel 31. However, on most Western Washington Comcast systems, KONG-DT is reassigned to different virtual channels and different QAM frequencies. The Comcast virtual channel usually is mapped to 6.1 and the "real" QAM channel is frequently moved around - it definitely is not on RF 31.

On Comcast-supplied cable boxes, KONG-DT is either Channel 6 or Channel 106, NOT 16.1.

Comcast-supplied cable boxes can ONLY tune and decode cable channels - they cannot receive OTA transmissions. To my knowledge, the FCC allows cable companies to prevent Americans from purchasing their own cable boxes, so in many cases you either can only obtain a limited number of Clear QAM cable channels or in some cases, you receive literally NO channels without a company-owned cable box or a company-activated personal CableCard.

Also, some local subchannels in the Seattle area either are not retransmitted at all on Comcast, but are mapped to different QAM channel locations than on the OTA station.

The writer is fortunate in that his college campus has a "custom" closed-end cable system where everything is supplied to campus residents in Clear QAM, meaning no set-top boxes or CableCards are required. By contrast, on most Comcast systems, the "expanded basic" channels like ESPN, CNN, Food Channel et al are encrypted and cannot be viewed without a leased Comcast cable box or a registered CableCard. Only the "limited basic" channels - mostly OTA broadcasters - are carried in clear QAM, and Comcast is in the process of encrypting even those channels over the next few weeks.

One more thing: As for pre-2007 TV sets, Digital TV Converter Boxes (known as CECBs) were specifically "downgraded" by the Federal Government so that they cannot tune QAM frequencies. CECBs can only decode ATSC OTA signals, and only display them in 480i Standard Definition.

There are some late-model, post-conversion set-top boxes on the market which CAN decode both ATSC and Clear QAM, and display in either SD or HD. Hope this helps.
seatacboy is offline  
post #7 of 16 Old 08-14-2013, 05:10 PM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
collegekid3's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 4
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Thank you for the info. I am going to try a TiVo HD box first. My school claims that will work, but now I know if I encounter connection problems I can get into more technical conversations and try a box that supports Clear QAM. Much appreciated.
collegekid3 is offline  
post #8 of 16 Old 08-14-2013, 07:22 PM
AVS Special Member
 
tylerSC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Mauldin SC, 29607
Posts: 4,288
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 197 Post(s)
Liked: 100
PHD- 208 from ePVision is a good HD tuner box, and can be set to either cable or OTA. TiVo does not work well without a pricey subscription and an internet connection. But a current TV with a built in DTV tuner should work, as all TVs now receive analog, digital, and clear qam signals. Just set your TV tuner to cable rather than OTA. I don't think you should need an external box. Although sounds like the college may have its own MATV system. And you may still want to try an antenna, as you may receive more local/regional channels in HD OTA than are offered by the cable. Just use an A/B switch.
tylerSC is online now  
post #9 of 16 Old 08-14-2013, 10:39 PM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
collegekid3's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 4
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Thanks for the recommendation

I just bought a TiVo series 3 HD used. Its on the way. Are you sure I can't even watch TV through it without a subscription?


Even if it doesn't work, I'll pay the subscription, since this is for short-term anyway, and the PHD-208 looks pretty expensive.

To be clear, all that I am working with is a projector, so basically a monitor that needs the clear QAM tuned properly and without interference from a strong OTA signal that is right next to my college.
collegekid3 is offline  
post #10 of 16 Old 08-15-2013, 08:30 PM
AVS Special Member
 
holl_ands's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 3,764
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 65 Post(s)
Liked: 69
If students are simply plugging in Digital TVs (or HDTVs), the college network is PROBABLY ATSC, since Clear QAM capable sets aren't all that prevalent, meaning many sets wouldn't work without an external STB. [Fortunately TiVo supports both] Ask you neighbor whether they are doing a channel search for OTA (ATSC) or Cable (QAM). BTW, what's the name of your college????
holl_ands is online now  
post #11 of 16 Old 08-16-2013, 09:56 AM
AVS Special Member
 
seatacboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,073
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Liked: 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by holl_ands View Post

If students are simply plugging in Digital TVs (or HDTVs), the college network is PROBABLY ATSC, since Clear QAM capable sets aren't all that prevalent, meaning many sets wouldn't work without an external STB. [Fortunately TiVo supports both] Ask you neighbor whether they are doing a channel search for OTA (ATSC) or Cable (QAM). BTW, what's the name of your college????
Wow, that is a very interesting point. Most of us haven't encountered a cable system that used ATSC instead of QAM. I do know what you mean that Clear QAM tuners are not universal (my older Samsung has ATSC and NTSC but no QAM). Offering students and other college-based end users a campus-wide ATSC distribution system for receiving shared video programming seems incredibly innovative and forward-thinking.
seatacboy is offline  
post #12 of 16 Old 08-17-2013, 12:12 PM
AVS Special Member
 
egnlsn's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Taylorsville, UT
Posts: 2,238
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked: 31
Just because a channel is unencrypted does not mean that it's ATSC. If a TV set (or STB) has a QAM tuner, it will see ALL QAM channels. If a channel is encrypted, it won't be able to do anything with it, but it will still see that it's there. If a channel is unencrypted, it will display it.

Given the cost (<$2k per modulator (channel)), it's rather unlikely that a college or university would install a QAM system.

CIAO!

Ed N.
egnlsn is offline  
post #13 of 16 Old 08-18-2013, 04:07 PM
AVS Special Member
 
AntAltMike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: College Park, MD
Posts: 3,598
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 32 Post(s)
Liked: 29
Not that any of us here have a statistically significant sample base, but I can't remember the last time I checked a late model digital TV that couldn't tune clear QAM, though I admittedly don't check as often as I used to because the local cable companies now provide so little programming in the clear that I only infrequently run into a situation where it is even worth checking. FWIW, I've never checked the tuners in any of the portable (9" and smaller) digital TVs.

Some TVs will actually acknowledge and demodulate ATSC (8VSB) signals that are in the VHF band even when they are set for cable TV tuning, but my informal tally is that fewer than half will do that. My primary market has a broadcast VHF channel 7 and 9 and the nearby adjacent market uses 11 and 13, so I do have a lot of familiarity with tuning those ATSC broadcast signals with a TV set for cable STD.

I have frequency shifted ATSC off-air to cable STD channel frequencies and when I do that, LG TVs will tune them even if it finds them at superband, hyperband and ultraband frequencies. Unfortunately for me, and for customers whose needs could best be met by mixing cable analog channels with broadcast UHF, is that when TVs are set in digital tuning mode, they do not have the "capture range" that they do when set in analog mode. If I feed a UHF analog broadcast channel 14 into a TV set on cable TV STD tuning, it will tune it as channel 65 because the capture range of the analog tuner is 2 MHz or greater, but if I feed that tuner a digital, ATSC channel 14 signal, no digital TV set on cable TV STD will find it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by seatacboy View Post

...Most of us haven't encountered a cable system that used ATSC instead of QAM. ...

I remember in the early days of broadcast ATSC, there was a cable company in the Detroit DMA that was sending out 8VSB, but that lasted only for about a year. They probably were just doing it on the fly using whatever they had for processing equipment on hand. No cable company would do it today because they can fit two or three QAM HDTV channels in 6 MHz of bandwidth versus one using 8VSB, and such a modulation format would be useful to too few customers to make ot worth allocating the bandwidth to it.
AntAltMike is online now  
post #14 of 16 Old 08-18-2013, 06:12 PM
AVS Special Member
 
holl_ands's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 3,764
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 65 Post(s)
Liked: 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by egnlsn View Post

Given the cost (<$2k per modulator (channel)), it's rather unlikely that a college or university would install a QAM system.

Whether ATSC or Clear QAM, they'll still need a set of Modulators and a Network Management System....which are probably about the same cost per box if new, although QAM-256 has twice the capacity of ATSC and hence can carry at least twice as many programs per carrier....and hence a set of QAM-256 Modulator(s) might be half the cost of an equivalent set of ATSC Modulators. It is also likely that a University could get their hands on some obsolete surplus QAM-64 Modulators at rock bottom prices.....

The real issue is what is the University/College REALLY transmitting....it could be either....
holl_ands is online now  
post #15 of 16 Old 08-18-2013, 07:46 PM
Senior Member
 
RollTide2011's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Moody, AL 35004
Posts: 499
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 58 Post(s)
Liked: 39
The college probably has a bulk agreement with the local provider.
RollTide2011 is offline  
post #16 of 16 Old 08-18-2013, 08:21 PM
AVS Special Member
 
jjeff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Minneapolis MN
Posts: 9,933
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 156 Post(s)
Liked: 99
My guess is they use a MDTA and everything is on analog cable(unscrambled). They may also have a few clear QAM for locals but I doubt any of the cable type channels would be in digital.
jjeff is online now  
Reply HDTV Technical



Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off