Can I bypass the cable box? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 07-06-2008, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi all, first time posting on this topic, so I hope I picked the right forum area.

I have used CableCards for years, but just got a new TV with no slot. So I picked up a Motorola DCH3200 digital cable box from Comcast. Of course, it gets all my channels, but has some annoyances that are driving me nuts:
  • I cannot delete channels I don't receive or don't want. So channel scrolling is practically impossible unless I want to go through tons of foreign programming, shopping channels, and premium channels I don't subscribe to, etc. I called Comcast and the woman said she doesn't know of a way around that, which is unbelievable to me- every TV I can remember had that basic convenience. As does my new one, if you use it's internal tuner.
  • I have no interest in all Comcast's extra stuff- Comcast Central, what's on, weather, etc.
  • I never order pay-per-view or use On-Demand, so those are just annoying when I come to channels with notices about all that.
So, here's my question. Does anybody know if there is a way to use the cable box as the decoder/descrambler and let my TV do the tuning? I'm not trying to get extra channels or anything like that, just the ones I subscribe to, but I'd really prefer not to use that annoying cable box if at all possible. I saw an "RF Bypass" function in the menu (can be enabled/disabled) but I don't know it's for.

Any suggestions appreciated, so thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 11 Old 07-06-2008, 02:25 PM
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Is there a way to use the cable box as the decoder/descrambler and let my TV do the tuning? I don't believe that is possible. Can you set up a list of favorite channels on the comcast box?
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post #3 of 11 Old 07-06-2008, 02:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by HDMI Guy View Post

Is there a way to use the cable box as the decoder/descrambler and let my TV do the tuning? I don't believe that is possible. Can you set up a list of favorite channels on the comcast box?

Thanks for the response. Yes, I can set up a list of favorites. But if I want to channel surf, it can only start at the lowest channel (not where I'm currently at) and only goes up, not backwards through channels. So it's a pretty clumsy solution. I called Comcast and asked if there was a way to delete channels, and the woman said it's a common annoyance but no, the Motorola box doesn't have any other channel management functions.

It's also pretty frustrating knowing that hi-end TVs these days have better tuners than those STBs, yet you can't seem to use them for anything but OTA or basic cable.
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post #4 of 11 Old 07-07-2008, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by progprog View Post

Does anybody know if there is a way to use the cable box as the decoder/descrambler and let my TV do the tuning?

Sorry, no. It doesn't work that way. The only real choice at this point would be a TiVo HD or a CableCARD-equipped Vista Media Center PC (CableCARD-capable systems are OEM only). The TiVo runs about $250-$300 at retail, plus $400 for a lifetime subscription, or a monthly service fee. The CableCARD PCs start in the $1500 range and go up from there. Of course, at least for a little longer, you may have SDV to contend with (waiting for the SDV tuning adapters to hit), and you won't be able to get on-demand or impulse-PPV content (though it doesn't sound like that matters to you, based on your past use of CableCARD).
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post #5 of 11 Old 07-07-2008, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by demonfoo View Post

Sorry, no. It doesn't work that way. The only real choice at this point would be a TiVo HD or a CableCARD-equipped Vista Media Center PC (CableCARD-capable systems are OEM only). The TiVo runs about $250-$300 at retail, plus $400 for a lifetime subscription, or a monthly service fee. The CableCARD PCs start in the $1500 range and go up from there. Of course, at least for a little longer, you may have SDV to contend with (waiting for the SDV tuning adapters to hit), and you won't be able to get on-demand or impulse-PPV content (though it doesn't sound like that matters to you, based on your past use of CableCARD).

Thanks much for the reply. That's kind of what I was afraid of. I'm amazed they haven't put a channel delete option in these boxes. Seems like they must get lots of calls from people asking "How do I skip all these MLB Extra Innings/Showtime/foreign/HBO/CineMax/PPV/shopping/crappy channels?" (Fill in the blank, there's something to skip for everyone!)

Maybe a firmware update will eventually make these more user friendly. Thanks again for the info.
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post #6 of 11 Old 07-08-2008, 08:36 AM
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The cable company won't really change anything unless they sense the majority of their customers want it. It's just the nature of that business. Firmware updates aren't all that cheap (they can be very time intensive to code and implement on all their boxes), so there has to be a cost benefit for them, like the threat of customers leaving over this.

I honestly don't think most customers care, from what I've seen. I could be wrong, but if I am, one would think they'd have put it in place by now.

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post #7 of 11 Old 07-08-2008, 08:42 AM
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Why don't you use the channel guide to surf, you can at least page up or down!
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post #8 of 11 Old 07-08-2008, 11:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by RCbridge View Post

Why don't you use the channel guide to surf, you can at least page up or down!

Thanks, guys, for your comments. Maybe it's an inconvenience you just get used to after awhile. But after years of using my TVs' internal tuners, which are much faster and only go to the channels that have been programmed in, I'm spoiled by the ease of quickly scanning through just the channels I get. I really prefer this over reading a schedule/channel guide, which itself cannot be set to just your own channel package. On my Comcast system, for example, the 400s are all sports package channels and a bunch of music video channels I don't like. So on my old TVs, from 268 went directly to 503, where the movie channels start. This damn cable box stops at every one of those 400 channels and gives me a box on how to order. There are several long stretches of channels like that, including adult PPVs that I'd just as soon my kids not have to read while looking for DisneyHD!

If most people don't care, then you're certainly right, Tulpa, the cable company won't do anything about it. I have helped my folks with their DirectTV a couple times, and I know that system lets you customize your channels. But it has its own inconveniences, such as being even slower than the cable box. (Tedious channel changes were another reason I wanted to bypass the box.) The best option my be TiVo, which I do already have. I just never like it much as the main tuner because it's slow, but it's certianly more user friendly than the box.
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post #9 of 11 Old 07-08-2008, 01:50 PM
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You are a perfect candidate for a TivoHD, which can be had for $600 w/lifetime service, plus a nominal monthly Cablecard rental fee. If you're like me, you're never going to be satisfied with the Moto DVR's limitations and bugs. The box is meant for the masses who mostly don't care.
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post #10 of 11 Old 07-08-2008, 02:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

You are a perfect candidate for a TivoHD, which can be had for $600 w/lifetime service, plus a nominal monthly Cablecard rental fee. If you're like me, you're never going to be satisfied with the Moto DVR's limitations and bugs. The box is meant for the masses who mostly don't care.

You're right, slowbiscuit. I actually already have a TiVo Series 3 with lifetime service, but as I mentioned earlier, never liked to used it as my everyday tuner because it seemed a lot slower than the TV's internal tuner. But the more I use this Moto DCH-3200, with all the Comcast ads and weather reports and a seemingly infinite amount of crap I don't want, the TiVo's looking better all the time. The TiVo also offers a "Native" resolution mode (essentially a pass-through), while the Moto box requires that you select one output resolution, and it's not a very good upscaler. I think I might use the TiVo exclusively for a few days to see if I like it better as an everyday tuner and just return the cable box if I do. Would even save a little money too....

I love most things about my new Pioneer TV, but I sure wish they hadn't abandoned CableCard support.
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post #11 of 11 Old 07-13-2008, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
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I gave up on the cable box. I just found it too annoying to use on a regular basis, so I returned it after two weeks and now use my TiVo, which I believe is a better tuner anyway.
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