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post #271 of 870 Old 08-26-2009, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by CRT Dude View Post

You can't simply use a spilter since the DTA is RF only. Going to need an A/B switch which means getting off the couch when I want to switch between locals and cable.

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Most HDTV's have two RF inputs.

Wonderful, but that doesn't help those HDTVs that only have one RF input. The solution, though, is to get a remote controlled A/B switch.
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post #272 of 870 Old 08-26-2009, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by QZ1 View Post

Wonderful, but that doesn't help those HDTVs that only have one RF input. The solution, though, is to get a remote controlled A/B switch.

Now that I think about it, do DTA's have RF pass through? That would solve the problem.

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post #273 of 870 Old 08-26-2009, 05:23 PM
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Now that I think about it, do DTA's have RF pass through? That would solve the problem.

No they do not. A user on BBR was complaining about this as well. It would of been easy to implement with a simple relay, but they choose not to do so to keep costs as low as possible.
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post #274 of 870 Old 08-26-2009, 07:16 PM
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No they do not.

Thx.

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post #275 of 870 Old 08-26-2009, 07:32 PM - Thread Starter
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The point is 99.99% of all HD sets currently and previously sold are only capable of handling clear QAM. Many people do not like any type of decoding box especially for a kitchen or small bedroom. Comcast can clearly differentiate itself from Verizon or satellite companies by offering the ability to get many channels (including some HD channels without a box. Their are good marketing reasons for not employing this simple encoding technology. We will probably know fairly soon what Comcast decides to do.

Here is another good discussion of tru2way technology:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-9953439-1.html
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post #276 of 870 Old 08-26-2009, 09:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulGo View Post

The point is 99.99% of all HD sets currently and previously sold are only capable of handling clear QAM. Many people do not like any type of decoding box especially for a kitchen or small bedroom. Comcast can clearly differentiate itself from Verizon or satellite companies by offering the ability to get many channels (including some HD channels without a box. Their are good marketing reasons for not employing this simple encoding technology.

I understand your points, and they may seem like good reasons to you, but I can guarantee you Comcast has considered them and has decided to encrypt all channels except for locals and public service. End of story.

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We will probably know fairly soon what Comcast decides to do.

You know now.


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Here is another good discussion of tru2way technology:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-9953439-1.html

That article is over a year old.

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post #277 of 870 Old 08-27-2009, 07:41 AM - Thread Starter
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I understand your points, and they may seem like good reasons to you, but I can guarantee you Comcast has considered them and has decided to encrypt all channels except for locals and public service. End of story.

You know now.

Do you have an article or some inside information to support that Comcast will do this?
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post #278 of 870 Old 08-27-2009, 02:05 PM
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The other problem with Comcast requiring a box to get HD expanded basic channels is that they're too damn expensive. You pay $6/mo. for the outlet charge and then another $7-8/mo. for the HD STB. It's ridiculous, and until we see tru2way boxes in the market (ha!), I don't see it changing.
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post #279 of 870 Old 08-27-2009, 06:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

The other problem with Comcast requiring a box to get HD expanded basic channels is that they're too damn expensive. You pay $6/mo. for the outlet charge and then another $7-8/mo. for the HD STB. It's ridiculous, and until we see tru2way boxes in the market (ha!), I don't see it changing.

In my market the additional outlet charge is $3.00 with 7.95 for an additional HD box. How do you justify $130 a year for HD an a bedroom or kitchen set that costs less that $300?
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post #280 of 870 Old 08-28-2009, 02:23 AM
 
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What does the cost of the display have to do with the cost of the service?
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post #281 of 870 Old 08-28-2009, 06:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

What does the cost of the display have to do with the cost of the service?

On a small set which is just used for casual viewing I really do not want to pay $11 per month to view some HD content along with the SD content.
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post #282 of 870 Old 08-28-2009, 06:32 AM
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Boxes may start a bit of resurgence of OTA.

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post #283 of 870 Old 08-28-2009, 06:56 AM
 
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On a small set which is just used for casual viewing I really do not want to pay $11 per month to view some HD content along with the SD content.

It definitely makes sense to make such a value judgment for yourself, and decline the services that you don't find worth it.

By the same token, others might derive substantially more value from that offering, which explains why the pricing is as it is.
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post #284 of 870 Old 08-28-2009, 08:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

It definitely makes sense to make such a value judgment for yourself, and decline the services that you don't find worth it.

By the same token, others might derive substantially more value from that offering, which explains why the pricing is as it is.

I believe Comcast needs to offer a low cost HD alternative for HD (similar to the DTA) before they choose to turn on the DTA encryption. It will be interesting to see if they hold off on this encryption for competitive reasons.
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post #285 of 870 Old 08-28-2009, 08:53 AM
 
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I don't really see any basis for such a need. Since their competitors aren't offering such a low-cost alternative, there is no reason why they should. If there really is such a "need" then all competitors should be forced to satisfy it.
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post #286 of 870 Old 08-28-2009, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulGo View Post

On a small set which is just used for casual viewing I really do not want to pay $11 per month to view some HD content along with the SD content.

On a small set you can use QAM - no box - for 'some HD viewing'. This is unique among multichannel providers.

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post #287 of 870 Old 08-28-2009, 10:00 AM
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I guess this should in big red letters.
Comcast launches Online OnDemand Beta.
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post #288 of 870 Old 08-28-2009, 04:18 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't really see any basis for such a need. Since their competitors aren't offering such a low-cost alternative, there is no reason why they should. If there really is such a "need" then all competitors should be forced to satisfy it.

That is exactly the point Comcast could differentiate themselves from their competitors by offering this. Comcast does not need to be a lemming and do what the competitors do.
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post #289 of 870 Old 08-28-2009, 04:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CRT Dude View Post

I guess this should in big red letters.
Comcast launches Online OnDemand Beta.

I was invited to join and I did. The picture quality is decent (not HD) and their is a wide variety with the premium content available for only those who have a subscription to the content on cable. It's a nice plus.
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post #290 of 870 Old 08-29-2009, 02:33 AM
 
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That is exactly the point Comcast could differentiate themselves from their competitors by offering this.

Where is your business case showing definitively that doing so would be more profitable than what they're going to be doing? Business isn't a matter of feelings and hopes. It is a matter of learning what is truly important to customers, as reflected in what they're willing to pay the most for, as a group.
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post #291 of 870 Old 08-29-2009, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulGo View Post

I believe Comcast needs to offer a low cost HD alternative for HD (similar to the DTA) before they choose to turn on the DTA encryption. It will be interesting to see if they hold off on this encryption for competitive reasons.

Agreed. Now that they are adding all the new HD channels (which will replace almost all of the SD equivalents), their pricing for an HD STB is out of whack. They will be totally non-competitive with satellite, which charges something like $5 per receiver per month.
As people realize that they have the full expanded basic package in HD (plus a lot more), the value equation of Comcast will go way down as more HD sets enter the home.
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post #292 of 870 Old 08-29-2009, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

Where is your business case showing definitively that doing so would be more profitable than what they're going to be doing? Business isn't a matter of feelings and hopes. It is a matter of learning what is truly important to customers, as reflected in what they're willing to pay the most for, as a group.

Comcast is going through a migration of eliminating analog channels, many people do not like an STB, anything Comcast cam do to mitigate the migration discomfort will keep customers happy. Customers thinking of switching see other choices requiring a cable box for every set, which in the case of my daughter is preventing her from switching to FiOS. If tru2way becomes widespread and many manufactures incorporate it into their sets then Comcast could encrypt all premium channels with less customer discomfort.

In other words most customers do not like change, when they are forced to change many will then look at alternatives. Minimizing the change will help prevent a lose of coustomers.
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post #293 of 870 Old 08-30-2009, 07:15 AM
 
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Which customers, though?

A few years ago, one of the big cellular telephone providers deliberately started charging more for their unequivocally crappier service for older technology than they were charging for the superior service they provided for newer technology. It was a not-so-transparent tactic to essentially thin-out their customer-base of consumers that essentially had demonstrated that, on average, they present the service provider a lower probability of a profitable revenue stream.

Just looking at the numbers, Comcast's total number of subscribers is down, while their revenues are up. I don't know whether it really is deliberate or not, but it isn't too much of a stretch for folks to accuse Comcast of engaging in the same "greedy" ( ) tactic, i.e., trading off low-margin customers for customers that are more "efficient" to serve, i.e., represent a great chance of being a profitable revenue stream.

This kind of tactic is very common and very well-accepted. Verizon did something similar by off-loading the rural northern New England states to Fairpoint, essentially recognizing that it would be better for their business to not even bother serving customers in those states, because they'd be forced, by their intentions to provide uniform quality of service, to spend too much to service those customers in light of what they'd likely be able to expect in terms of revenue from those customers.

That's not to say that suppliers shouldn't concern themselves about what you mentioned. The point is that analog reclamation has a cost and a benefit, and within that, encryption has a cost and a benefit. Those get weighed, cost against benefit, and only based on that will the decision be made. In other words, just because keeping cable networks unencrypted will make some customers happy doesn't mean that doing so is worth the costs that doing that will incur, i.e., the higher costs of installing, maintaining, monitoring, and de-installing traps.
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post #294 of 870 Old 08-30-2009, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
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It will be interesting to see what they decide.
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post #295 of 870 Old 08-30-2009, 10:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Here is another article on this subject....

An End To Unencrypted Digital Cable TV and the HTPC?

Date: August 27th, 2009
Author: Ryan Smith

For those of you with cable TV service, for some time now you've been witnessing the slow transition of cable TV from a pure analog service to a pure digital service. With cable systems finally at their limits for bandwidth, within the last year the cable companies have finally begun what has been dubbed the "analog reclamation" - removing analog channels from their service and replacing them with digital versions that require 1/6th (or less) the bandwidth. Because the reclamation involves removing analog versions of most for-cost channels (what's commonly called the Expanded Basic tier), the reclamation has been tied with the deployment of Digital Transport Adapters - low-cost cable boxes that are little more than a basic QAM tuner attached to an RF modulator. This has allowed cable companies to reclaim this space without deploying otherwise very expensive Set Top Boxes to every TV at an affected household.

A side effect of this has been that computer TV tuner users, such as HTPC owners who in the analog age were accustomed to getting access to the EB tier on their computers with a simple analog TV tuner, were able to access those same channels in their digital form using ClearQAM-capable tuners. This is because the FCC mandated that the security mechanism be separate from the STBs, which gave rise to the continually problematic CableCARD. In the name of cost, DTAs do not have the ability to use CableCARDs, and as such do not meet the separable security requirements. Ultimately this required cable operators to put the digital versions of their EB tiers in the clear if they wanted to use DTAs, and this is why ClearQAM tuners can exist in a useful manner.

That age, however short it was, looks to be coming to a close. DTAs may be little more than a basic QAM tuner, but that "little more" is that they support a very basic form of encryption - a 56bit DES-based cypher known as Privacy Mode - which would allow them to receive and decrypt lightly encrypted channels. The FCC separable security mandate has previously prevented Privacy Mode from being used, but we have known for some time that cable companies and device manufacturers were looking to get a waiver for DTAs. In effect they have been soliciting the FCC for permission to encrypt all EB tier channels with Privacy Mode, so that reception would be limited to DTAs and CableCARD devices.

The FCC has granted their request.

The ramifications are two-fold. For the cable companies, once they implement this Privacy Mode across the board they will no longer have to install and maintain expensive signal traps to keep customers on lower tiers such as Limited Basic from accessing additional channels. For computer/HTPC users, this is an end to being able to directly receive EB tier channels with any kind of commonly available digital tuner. Privacy Mode is not open for licensing, and CableLabs will not license CableCARD for any kind of open (read: not locked down to hell and back) tuner. This means ClearQAM tuners made by ATI, Hauppauge, SiliconDust, and others would no longer be useful for receiving EB tier channels.

For pure digital reception on computers/HTPCs, what would be left would be two things. One would be fully licensed systems that implement head-to-toe DRM, the only way that CableLabs will license CableCARD for computers. This is not cheap, and brings with it all the disadvantages of not building your own system. The other would be utilizing the Firewire output of some STBs, but such STBs can be hard to acquire and the FCC allows broadcasts to include a copy-never (5C) flag that disables this output.

The last option would be to take advantage of the analog hole left by the component video output of STBs, using devices such as Hauppauge's HD PVR that can redigitize the output of STBs for importing into a computer. The drawback of this is a loss of quality due to an analog generation being included in the process, and whatever pitfalls that come from using the STB such a device would be attached to. None of these options are as simple and cheap as things stand today with a ClearQAM tuner.

At this point there's no reason to believe that cable companies won't deploy Privacy Mode across their networks, so it's a matter of "when", not "if" this will happen. It goes without saying that if you're currently enjoying the use of a ClearQAM tuner to receive EB tier channels, you'll want to enjoy what time you have left, and look into other solutions for the long-haul. At this pace, it looks like cable TV and computers will soon be divorcing.

On a final note, the loss of ClearQAM access is likely going to be followed by the loss of some fraction of the HTPC market, where users will not find as much value in a device that can no longer watch or record live TV from their cable company. Because of this potential nosedive in the HTPC market, I would be very surprised if Microsoft stayed entirely mum on the issue. They've put a lot of effort into Windows Media Center as a TV viewing platform and HTPC suite over the years, and this drives a stake right through that given the low adoption of CableCARD systems. Microsoft has been diversifying their TV operations over the years by getting satellite companies on-board and making some investments in IPTV/Internet TV, but cable TV is too big to ignore if Microsoft wants to keep pushing WMC. What this may lead to is anyone's guess, but unless they're going to drop the emphasis on TV viewing with WMC something will need to happen to keep WMC relevant in the cable TV space.

http://www.anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=637
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post #296 of 870 Old 08-30-2009, 11:08 AM
 
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I suspect that Microsoft will simply be content to support CableCARD-compatible PC tuners. Microsoft is very good about finding a way to make their offering appeal to a mass-market, a characterization that doesn't really fit the built-it-yourself HTPC market, anyway.
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post #297 of 870 Old 08-30-2009, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulGo View Post

Here is another article on this subject....

An End To Unencrypted Digital Cable TV and the HTPC?

Date: August 27th, 2009
Author: Ryan Smith

For those of you with cable TV service, for some time now you've been witnessing the slow transition of cable TV from a pure analog service to a pure digital service. With cable systems finally at their limits for bandwidth, within the last year the cable companies have finally begun what has been dubbed the "analog reclamation" - removing analog channels from their service and replacing them with digital versions that require 1/6th (or less) the bandwidth. Because the reclamation involves removing analog versions of most for-cost channels (what's commonly called the Expanded Basic tier), the reclamation has been tied with the deployment of Digital Transport Adapters - low-cost cable boxes that are little more than a basic QAM tuner attached to an RF modulator. This has allowed cable companies to reclaim this space without deploying otherwise very expensive Set Top Boxes to every TV at an affected household.

A side effect of this has been that computer TV tuner users, such as HTPC owners who in the analog age were accustomed to getting access to the EB tier on their computers with a simple analog TV tuner, were able to access those same channels in their digital form using ClearQAM-capable tuners. This is because the FCC mandated that the security mechanism be separate from the STBs, which gave rise to the continually problematic CableCARD. In the name of cost, DTAs do not have the ability to use CableCARDs, and as such do not meet the separable security requirements. Ultimately this required cable operators to put the digital versions of their EB tiers in the clear if they wanted to use DTAs, and this is why ClearQAM tuners can exist in a useful manner.

That age, however short it was, looks to be coming to a close. DTAs may be little more than a basic QAM tuner, but that "little more" is that they support a very basic form of encryption - a 56bit DES-based cypher known as Privacy Mode - which would allow them to receive and decrypt lightly encrypted channels. The FCC separable security mandate has previously prevented Privacy Mode from being used, but we have known for some time that cable companies and device manufacturers were looking to get a waiver for DTAs. In effect they have been soliciting the FCC for permission to encrypt all EB tier channels with Privacy Mode, so that reception would be limited to DTAs and CableCARD devices.

The FCC has granted their request.

The ramifications are two-fold. For the cable companies, once they implement this Privacy Mode across the board they will no longer have to install and maintain expensive signal traps to keep customers on lower tiers such as Limited Basic from accessing additional channels. For computer/HTPC users, this is an end to being able to directly receive EB tier channels with any kind of commonly available digital tuner. Privacy Mode is not open for licensing, and CableLabs will not license CableCARD for any kind of open (read: not locked down to hell and back) tuner. This means ClearQAM tuners made by ATI, Hauppauge, SiliconDust, and others would no longer be useful for receiving EB tier channels.

For pure digital reception on computers/HTPCs, what would be left would be two things. One would be fully licensed systems that implement head-to-toe DRM, the only way that CableLabs will license CableCARD for computers. This is not cheap, and brings with it all the disadvantages of not building your own system. The other would be utilizing the Firewire output of some STBs, but such STBs can be hard to acquire and the FCC allows broadcasts to include a copy-never (5C) flag that disables this output.

The last option would be to take advantage of the analog hole left by the component video output of STBs, using devices such as Hauppauge's HD PVR that can redigitize the output of STBs for importing into a computer. The drawback of this is a loss of quality due to an analog generation being included in the process, and whatever pitfalls that come from using the STB such a device would be attached to. None of these options are as simple and cheap as things stand today with a ClearQAM tuner.

At this point there's no reason to believe that cable companies won't deploy Privacy Mode across their networks, so it's a matter of "when", not "if" this will happen. It goes without saying that if you're currently enjoying the use of a ClearQAM tuner to receive EB tier channels, you'll want to enjoy what time you have left, and look into other solutions for the long-haul. At this pace, it looks like cable TV and computers will soon be divorcing.

On a final note, the loss of ClearQAM access is likely going to be followed by the loss of some fraction of the HTPC market, where users will not find as much value in a device that can no longer watch or record live TV from their cable company. Because of this potential nosedive in the HTPC market, I would be very surprised if Microsoft stayed entirely mum on the issue. They've put a lot of effort into Windows Media Center as a TV viewing platform and HTPC suite over the years, and this drives a stake right through that given the low adoption of CableCARD systems. Microsoft has been diversifying their TV operations over the years by getting satellite companies on-board and making some investments in IPTV/Internet TV, but cable TV is too big to ignore if Microsoft wants to keep pushing WMC. What this may lead to is anyone's guess, but unless they're going to drop the emphasis on TV viewing with WMC something will need to happen to keep WMC relevant in the cable TV space.

http://www.anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=637

?

- Firewire STB's are by federal law mandatory for cableco's to supply to customers on request.

- All Comcast customers can still, and will always be able to receive local HD channels in clear QAM.

- If an HTPC user really wants to maximize the experience, they will get a CableCARD.

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post #298 of 870 Old 08-30-2009, 10:23 PM
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?
- If an HTPC user really wants to maximize the experience, they will get a CableCARD.

No Ken, it actually limits your experience, since ANYTHING recorded with the CableCARD is no longer transferable to another machine. This means a very common and "fair" use case like transferring a show to a laptop to watch while disconnected (airplane, hotel, etc...) is no longer possible.

I'm also very suspicious that Microsoft is already working with Comcast to limit access to the current clear QAM extended basic channels. First off, I'm running Vista Media Center + TV Pack with all the latest patches. I have two ATI DCTs with NO CableCARDs installed. As they announced sometime ago, Comcast has finally begun to turn off all the analog channels in my area (lost AMC, USA, A&E and a few others this week, still getting ESPN and ComCentral). I assumed VMC would automatically pick up the digital channels when they showed up, or at the very least a channel scan would find them. Well after much digging around, I found the maintenance hack for my DTA and used this method to find the channel numbers to enter into the "Add Missing Channel" interface. Each one takes over a minute to enter, because VMC spends at least 30 seconds thinking about it once you hit OK. While I was then going through the further pain of matching this channel to the right guide listing (combine the sources, then hand delete the analog sources), I realized channel scan DID FIND ALL THE CHANNELS! But for some reason, they are marked encrypted (each one has a small lock icon next to it), when they obviously are not. Anyone know what's going on here? (I've posted to thegreenbutton as well, but MS has been oddly quiet there lately...).


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post #299 of 870 Old 08-31-2009, 04:26 AM
 
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It isn't CableCARD that limits copying, it is the content owner or distributor asserting copy protection. All CableCARD does is respect that. I don't see it as an ethic to have a way to disrespect rights, especially given that there are so many in our society prone to transgressive, self-motivated behavior.
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post #300 of 870 Old 08-31-2009, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

It isn't CableCARD that limits copying, it is the content owner or distributor asserting copy protection. All CableCARD does is respect that..

Unfortunately that's not true either. Because of the fear of lawsuits, ATI developed their bios such that all content (PBS, public access, etc) is encrypted when a CableCARD is used. They also mis-interpret the broadcast flag. So they are forcing the most restrictive rights across all content.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker1 View Post

I don't see it as an ethic to have a way to disrespect rights, especially given that there are so many in our society prone to transgressive, self-motivated behavior.

The ethical problem I see is forcing everyone to go out an buy TVs with digital receivers, and then render those receivers useless. Oops, throw out that TV and buy one with a CableCARD slot. Don't forget the extra $10/month to rent the CableCARD on top of your subscription costs. It has little to do with ethics, and much more to do with money. The new corporate mantra is reduce service and raise fees. (Airlines, Telcom, Banking, etc...)


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