So, the purpose of this post is to help someone purchase a cable box and get it registered with Comcast. I have succeeded in doing it, and would imagine that it should be possible anyplace on the Comcast system-- but I make no guarantee that this will work for you.
My cable system uses Motorola DCT series boxes. If your cable system is using Scientific Atlanta boxes, you can NOT use a Motorola box (not even the one discussed below).
First, I found a good deal on eBay for a Motorola DCP-501. This box is really a DCT2000 box inside a Home Theater box (digital stereo 5.1 surround sound, built-in DVD/CD player, tons of A/V inputs, and AM/FM tuner). It was a listing that showed the unit as 'still in the original box' (never used). Several problems you may run into here. If the seller on eBay is not being honest to tell you where they came from, don't touch it! As far as you know, they raided the local cable truck and now are trying to sell the boxes on eBay. Yes they are new, but they may be in the Motorola database as 'assigned to a cable company', thus USELESS to you for use with Comcast. If you can talk to the seller first and find out that it is just 'store overstock' or close-out special from an electronic store, you may be in luck. If you are unwilling to take a risk of this cost (they are just over $150 on eBay now), you can buy 'new' from amazon.com (»www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de···n=507846
) for just over $250. If you buy new from amazon, Comcast will still run the serial number check, and it will show it is a retail box.
So, in summary: be _very_ cautious of anything like this on eBay. Don't bother with the DCT2000 (dct2224 or dct2244, or dct2500 series) boxes.. They were not sold retail in the US, so they will not attempt to register them.
Now, assuming you have a shiney-new box in front of you, equip yourself with a phone and some time (lots of time). This whole process took me many calls, and just about 1 week of waiting for the box to be provisioned.
Hook the DCP-501 up to the cable system and your TV. You can fool with the million settings to get your speakers working just right while you are waiting.
If your box is brandy-new, you will have a sticker on the front display. It has two 'numbers' or bar-codes on it. These numbers identify your box. They will need both to begin with.
So, get a pen and paper ready and start calling into the comcast TV call-center. Best choice is the one that asks you if you want to "add or remove a service".
With the CSR on the phone, Identify yourself (as you always must do) and then tell them that you decided to pick-up a Mototola home theater box (the dcp501) and would like to have it provisioned. It is highly possible that the CSR will inform you that Comcast does not allow customer-owned boxes. I ran across this when I started this trek-- half of the people I talked with were not trained (did not attend the home theater demo), and did not know what I was talking about. I actually had one CSR on the motorola site, reviewing the box. His comment: "Cool!".. So, your mileage may vary. Worst case, call back. Sorta like rolling the dice..
After telling the CSR you would like to provision the box, you can help educate them by showing/telling them how they can find them on amazon.com. If at all possible do NOT mention the word 'eBay'. It is a definate turn-off for Comcast (as most all equipment up there for sale is used/stolen/broken. The amazon link to the box is here. Have the CSR browse to amazon.com and put in DCP-501 to find it if they want to see proof it can be purchased by customers as a new item.
Ask them kindly to send your box information to provisioning. Give them the unit address (those numbers with the bar codes) and serial number of the box. Don't be a wise-guy to them. Let them tell you all about how they check for stolen equipment. If you bought it new, you are all set. Some CSRs find this process soo fascinating that they want to stay involved. They may ask to call you in a couple of days to update you on the progress. Go for it! Now that you have someone who is willing to 'give it a try', don't loose them!! (get their name and number or email, so you can also update them if it just starts working (gets provisioned)).
Like I said, this took me about one week to get it active. The box functions really well. It is like a fast DCT2000. The remote that comes with the box has many additional features over the DCT2000 box, so dont loose it! If you have a silver Comcast remote, it will work when the dcp501 is in CableTV mode. To get the DVD working or other features, you are stuck with the big remote. [a side-topic: if you want to re-program any of the big DCP-501 remote, it IS a JP1 remote.. see: »www.hifi-remote.com/jp1/index.shtml
for more info about this stuff. No, the Comcast silver remote is NOT a JP1. ]
So, there is a lot of information here to go through. be patient and work with the Comcast CSR(s), as this is new to them too.. be nice, it will pay off.
Some other interesting things I found:
Comcast does not have a way to bill you the 'outlet fee' separate from the 'box rental fee' anymore, so they will put in a 'service credit' (never expires) for the $7.50 (or whatever your box rental/outlet fee is). They also put my dcp501 as the 'additional outlet'. I do not have any other Comcast cable box on my account. I'm would imagine that you can share this information with the CSR to help them get it all in your account.
Well, I hope this helps people who choose to get a box like this one. At the time I got that box, I did not have a 5.1 surround receiver, so I grabbed it-- nice upgrade to the home theater I had previously.
If you are one of those who must have the latest and greatest gadget, google the DCP601 box. It is the HD version of the dcp501. I have not found any place to buy it from. The following text is from Motorola's site (a PDF -- NCTA 2004)
Motorola DCP601 Digital Video Home Entertainment System with DVD Player
The Motorola DCP601 is a 6.1 channel audio/video processor that
combines HD decoding and digital cable functionality into a home theater
system. Part of Motorola's Digital Convergence Platform (DCP) family of
home theater systems, the Motorola DCP601 integrates a top-quality
audio/video processor; a progressive scan DVD player which can upconvert
for higher resolutions on HDTV monitors; AM/FM stereo receiver;
HD decoding capabilities and an digital cable-ready receiver -- all into one
unit offering high functionality with plug-and-play convenience.
[see page 5 at: »www.motorola.com/mot/doc/1/1275_MotDoc.pdf
Well, best of luck with your choices and I hope you find this information helpful...