Can an analog TV(NTSC tuner only) receive digital cable w/o a set top box? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 44 Old 03-20-2007, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Some cable companies are going all digital.

Our condo currently has Comcast basic analog on a bulk basis so no settop box is required unless the individual buys premium services. While discussing a contract extension I was told that converter boxes would not be required if/when Comcast goes all digital. I don't think this is correct since a NTSC tuner cannot decode digital.

Can anyone confirm this and point me to references which cover this topic?
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post #2 of 44 Old 03-20-2007, 04:02 PM
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AFAIK, a QAM tuner is required to get digital cable.

I think if you Google QAM, NTSC, ATSC, etc. you will find much info.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #3 of 44 Old 03-20-2007, 04:46 PM
 
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Quote:


Can an analog TV(NTSC tuner only) receive digital cable w/o a set top box?

no
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post #4 of 44 Old 03-20-2007, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Targus View Post

no

ditto

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post #5 of 44 Old 03-20-2007, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stingray1 View Post

Some cable companies are going all digital.

Our condo currently has Comcast basic analog on a bulk basis so no settop box is required unless the individual buys premium services. While discussing a contract extension I was told that converter boxes would not be required if/when Comcast goes all digital. I don't think this is correct since a NTSC tuner cannot decode digital.

Can anyone confirm this and point me to references which cover this topic?

This would be (sort of) true if they plan on passing the digital channels through in "Clear QAM" (unencrypted digital). This would allow many if not most new model TVs to pick up the stations using their built-in digital tuners without a box or cablecard. Only older TVs would need a box and if the channels are in the "clear" then the box could be purchased from alternate vendors and even adding a tuner card to your PC would be possible.

This is definitely possible and has been seen in some areas but lately cablecos have been encrypting almost everything. Maybe once analog is shut off completely, they'll pass certain digital tiers through in the clear. Your condo could make such an agreement even if others in your community are getting everything encrypted. You'll probably just have to wait and see. You might want to make sure your Condo management gets the "unencrypted" part in writing.

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post #6 of 44 Old 03-21-2007, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod7501 View Post

This would be (sort of) true if they plan on passing the digital channels through in "Clear QAM" (unencrypted digital). This would allow many if not most new model TVs to pick up the stations using their built-in digital tuners without a box or cablecard. Only older TVs would need a box and if the channels are in the "clear" then the box could be purchased from alternate vendors and even adding a tuner card to your PC would be possible.

This is definitely possible and has been seen in some areas but lately cablecos have been encrypting almost everything. Maybe once analog is shut off completely, they'll pass certain digital tiers through in the clear. Your condo could make such an agreement even if others in your community are getting everything encrypted. You'll probably just have to wait and see. You might want to make sure your Condo management gets the "unencrypted" part in writing.

I think the TV's would need a QAM tuner not just a ATSC tuner to receive most "clear QAM" signals. I have 4 digital receivers's, one has a ASTC tuner w/o a QAM tuner - it only receives 2 "clear QAM" channels. The other 3 have both QAM and ATSC tuners - they receive at least 6 "clear QAM channels".

I don't knpw the exact numbers but I'd estimate that less than half of new TV models include QAM tuners(mostly those with cablecards).
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post #7 of 44 Old 07-07-2008, 06:33 AM
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Quote:
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Can an analog TV(NTSC tuner only) receive digital cable w/o a set top box?

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Originally Posted by Targus View Post

no

But they can if they are connected to cable, correct?

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post #8 of 44 Old 07-07-2008, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Clint S. View Post

But they can if they are connected to cable, correct?

No.
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post #9 of 44 Old 07-07-2008, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

No.

Then that makes all the integrated DTV tuners useless. I don't understand the point of getting a new TV with a digital tuner if it can't receive the channels. I'm not talking about HD, but SD digital.

What about if the cable co. is still broadcasting in analog along with digital?
Thanks.

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post #10 of 44 Old 07-07-2008, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Clint S. View Post

Then that makes all the integrated DTV tuners useless. I don't understand the point of getting a new TV with a digital tuner if it can't receive the channels. I'm not talking about HD, but SD digital.

For over the air signals, TVs MUST have an ATSC (digital) tuner if they also have an NTSC (the old analog) tuner. That is a federal mandate, as the default reception for television is over the air, and that's regulated by the FCC.

For digital cable, whether HD or SD, needs a QAM tuner. Not every TV has this, but many do, and it's almost always pointed out in the ad copy in places that sell them.

Now cable will encrypt select channels that requires their technology (either a cable box or cable card) to receive. That's on them to decide what they want to encrypt or not, other than the local channels they're required to send without encryption.


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What about if the cable co. is still broadcasting in analog along with digital?
Thanks.

Then you use the NTSC tuner for analog, and a QAM for digital, and a cable box/cablecard for encrypted channels (or just use the cable box for all if you want to simplify.)

TVs will have multiple tuners for some time yet.

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post #11 of 44 Old 07-07-2008, 07:58 PM
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The integrated ATSC DTV tuners are useless for cable subscribers. The integrated ATSC DTV tuners are not useless for those who receive their signal over the air. QAM tuners can only used for cable channels that are not encrypted.
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post #12 of 44 Old 07-08-2008, 03:56 AM
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"Tulpa" & HDMI Guy", I gotcha, thanks for clearing that up:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

For over the air signals, TVs MUST have an ATSC (digital) tuner if they also have an NTSC (the old analog) tuner. That is a federal mandate, as the default reception for television is over the air, and that's regulated by the FCC.

For digital cable, whether HD or SD, needs a QAM tuner. Not every TV has this, but many do, and it's almost always pointed out in the ad copy in places that sell them.

Ok, ATSC is for the local digital channels like network affiliates and QAM is cable. Yes, in the TV's I'm looking at I always see NTSC/ATSC/QAM as the tuner type.


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Now cable will encrypt select channels that requires their technology (either a cable box or cable card) to receive. That's on them to decide what they want to encrypt or not, other than the local channels they're required to send without encryption.

I would assume that's premium channels like channels over 70-75, movie channels, etc. for which a cable box now is required?


Quote:


Then you use the NTSC tuner for analog, and a QAM for digital, and a cable box/cablecard for encrypted channels (or just use the cable box for all if you want to simplify.)
TVs will have multiple tuners for some time yet.

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Originally Posted by HDMI Guy View Post

The integrated ATSC DTV tuners are useless for cable subscribers. The integrated ATSC DTV tuners are not useless for those who receive their signal over the air. QAM tuners can only used for cable channels that are not encrypted.

Understood, thanks again guys.

God Bless,
-Clint
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post #13 of 44 Old 07-08-2008, 07:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clint S. View Post

I would assume that's premium channels like channels over 70-75, movie channels, etc. for which a cable box now is required?

Depends on your cable company and what they decide to encrypt in your area. Movie channels are pretty much always encrypted, requiring you to subscribe to one of the cableco's packages. You don't really know for sure until you scan with a QAM tuner. What you get is "in the clear." Anything else you need to rent something from the cable company.

As a side note, QAM tuners have the quirky habit of receiving your neighbor's video on demand content if you happen to have scanned it at the same time they're watching.

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post #14 of 44 Old 07-08-2008, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

Depends on your cable company and what they decide to encrypt in your area. Movie channels are pretty much always encrypted, requiring you to subscribe to one of the cableco's packages. You don't really know for sure until you scan with a QAM tuner. What you get is "in the clear." Anything else you need to rent something from the cable company.

That's the way it's done now, (box only needed for channels over 72 here). I guess only they will know if that's the way it's going to continue to be done after Feb '09. If not and a box is needed always, we're screwed. Integrated HDTV tuner would be useless, as well as being able to watch one TV channel while recording another would be gone. (Sounds like a lawsuit there if so).


Quote:


As a side note, QAM tuners have the quirky habit of receiving your neighbor's video on demand content if you happen to have scanned it at the same time they're watching.

WTF??? Does this just give you......"more viewing options" (LOL), or can it actually interfere and harm your viewing?

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post #15 of 44 Old 07-08-2008, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Clint S. View Post

That's the way it's done now, (box only needed for channels over 72 here). I guess only they will know if that's the way it's going to continue to be done after Feb '09.

It should continue well past Feb 09. Remember, the digital mandate is for OVER THE AIR, not cable. Cable is not bound to it in any way. They would love to go all digital to save bandwidth and improve anti-theft technology, but they would have to prepare their customer base first. Which they are, piecemeal.

Also, keep in mind cable is not one entity but lots of companies of various sizes, so they're not obligated to switch everything all at once.

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Originally Posted by Clint S. View Post

Integrated HDTV tuner would be useless, as well as being able to watch one TV channel while recording another would be gone. (Sounds like a lawsuit there if so).

Not sure what the grounds would be for the lawsuit. That you can't get what you want? As long as the cablecos pass the locals (which they should, by law), anything else they do is up to them, because they have full authority over what content they give you. It's all in the terms of service, and it's also a model that satellite has been operating on since the beginning (their service always requires a box.) So, honestly, I think any lawsuit would be largely fruitless.

What you can do is defect to another provider like satellite, over the air, or something like Verizon (which is like a cableco, I guess.)

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WTF??? Does this just give you......"more viewing options" (LOL), or can it actually interfere and harm your viewing?

Doesn't harm anything. It'll just show up as an extra channel. You might see it pause and even rewind if your neighbor is controlling it.

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post #16 of 44 Old 07-08-2008, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

It should continue well past Feb 09.

Yeah, but that's not what I meant. "That's the way it's done now, (box only needed for channels over 72 here). I guess only they will know if that's the way it's going to continue to be done after Feb '09." I was saying that it's this way right now, and only they can answer the question if that is going to remain the same way after Feb. In other words, after Feb. FAIK they could require a cable box for ALL channels period (and I'm hoping that will NOT be the case because that will screw things up bad...as I mentioned below*). If you're saying it's going to remain this way, then that's good.

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Remember, the digital mandate is for OVER THE AIR, not cable. Cable is not bound to it in any way. They would love to go all digital to save bandwidth and improve anti-theft technology, but they would have to prepare their customer base first. Which they are, piecemeal.

Right.

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Not sure what the grounds would be for the lawsuit. That you can't get what you want?

*Naaa, I was just thinking out loud, typing out load so-to-speak. Millions watch one channel while recording another and if they (Cox or whomever) would require a box for all channels that would pi$$-off millions of people who may bring some kind of a CA lawsuit because of losing that age-old ability.

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What you can do is defect to another provider like satellite, over the air, or something like Verizon (which is like a cableco, I guess.)

I've been hearing a lot lately about Verizon FIOS or something like that, I'm not sure what it is other than something fiber optic, I haven't looked into it yet.

Thanks.

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post #17 of 44 Old 07-08-2008, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clint S. View Post

In other words, after Feb. FAIK they could require a cable box for ALL channels period (and I'm hoping that will NOT be the case because that will screw things up bad...as I mentioned below*)

I'm just saying the date is largely irrelevant, because over the air and cable are separate issues. Most of the confusion over this is because people are misstating the Feb 09 over the air analog cutoff as pertaining to cable.

Really, the Feb. 09 cutoff should not be mentioned at all when talking about cable.

(It's stuff like that that make people think they can get a voucher for an ATSC tuner and use it on their cable, and people are going to be disappointed when they find they were misled.)

Quote:


Millions watch one channel while recording another and if they (Cox or whomever) would require a box for all channels that would pi$$-off millions of people who may bring some kind of a CA lawsuit because of losing that age-old ability.

Well, they do provide DVRs with dual tuner capability, and I think a TiVoHD with a cable card also has dual tuners. And the locals and stuff like PBS, the only thing they're legally required to broadcast in the clear, can still use separate QAM tuners.

Plus, the majority of digital tiers have been encrypted for a long time now. So unless there is some basic cable station that gets encrypted that pisses off enough people (I dunno, Food Network maybe), I don't see a lawsuit over that happening.

Maybe over broadcast basic itself being encrypted.


Quote:



I've been hearing a lot lately about Verizon FIOS or something like that, I'm not sure what it is other than something fiber optic, I haven't looked into it yet.

Well, most if not all the cable companies use fiber optics. Verizon just takes it a little bit further to the customer (up to the home rather than a neighborhood node.) In the home, it uses the same copper wire everyone else uses.

Other than that, they provide TV/phone/Internet service like your cableco will. Maybe a different rate structure.

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post #18 of 44 Old 07-09-2008, 05:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

I'm just saying the date is largely irrelevant, because over the air and cable are separate issues. Most of the confusion over this is because people are misstating the Feb 09 over the air analog cutoff as pertaining to cable.

Understood.


Quote:


Well, they do provide DVRs with dual tuner capability, and I think a TiVoHD with a cable card also has dual tuners. And the locals and stuff like PBS, the only thing they're legally required to broadcast in the clear, can still use separate QAM tuners.

On that, I haven't looked into any of this yet deeply, but I guess a DVR is just like a VCR except uses a HD, right? No "subscription" BS needed like for Tivo or ReplayTV?

Thanks for all the info.

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post #19 of 44 Old 07-09-2008, 07:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clint S. View Post

On that, I haven't looked into any of this yet deeply, but I guess a DVR is just like a VCR except uses a HD, right? No "subscription" BS needed like for Tivo or ReplayTV?

I think they're talking about the DVRs you rent from your cableco or a TIVO with subscription service.

If you're interested in a DVDR with 160GB HDD and no subscription, click my signature for lots of organized info. That unit will tune any QAM channels that your cableco sends "in-the-clear" (not scrambled), and you can tell which those are cuz it's usually the same analog and digital channels as your analog/digital (NTSC/ATSC/QAM) tunered TV can tune.
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post #20 of 44 Old 07-09-2008, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by wajo View Post

I think they're talking about the DVRs you rent from your cableco or a TIVO with subscription service.

If you're interested in a DVDR with 160GB HDD and no subscription, click my signature for lots of organized info. That unit will tune any QAM channels that your cableco sends "in-the-clear" (not scrambled), and you can tell which those are cuz it's usually the same analog and digital channels as your analog/digital (NTSC/ATSC/QAM) tunered TV can tune.

Thanks for the info. The one at the Philips website says it doesn't have a QAM tuner: "TV System : NTSC, ATSC". Same thing at the one at Sam's website, but a user review mentions it does have a QAM tuner. Also the one at Walmart says "receives both analog and digital stations" but below that in the specs it just says "TV Tuner type: Reception System: NTSC-M". I don't understand.

What I would need is one with dual tuners (to record one channel while watching another if Cox decides a box is needed for ALL channels), and just the HD, I don't need DVD recording (DVD player only would be ok if such a thing exists). Smallest HD is ok because I can add a larger one if needed. If you know of a good one like that, I'd really appreciate the info.

I agree with that first reply on that thread, that IS a great wealth of info and I'll save that post and thread!

Something else I'm confused about (no surprise there), is at the FCC website they state, and this is a quote:

"Q: If I Buy a DTV, Will My VCR, DVD Player, Camcorder, Video Games, Or Other Equipment Still Work?

A: VCRs, DVD players, camcorders and video games will continue to work, even if they are only analog-capable."

How can an NTSC VCR continue to work????? They must mean playback only of existing tapes. ? (I realize if it's connected to cable it doesn't matter I don't guess, but they don't say that).

Thanks again.

God Bless,
-Clint
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post #21 of 44 Old 07-09-2008, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clint S. View Post

Something else I'm confused about (no surprise there), is at the FCC website they state, and this is a quote:

"Q: If I Buy a DTV, Will My VCR, DVD Player, Camcorder, Video Games, Or Other Equipment Still Work?

A: VCRs, DVD players, camcorders and video games will continue to work, even if they are only analog-capable."

How can an NTSC VCR continue to work????? They must mean playback only of existing tapes. ? (I realize if it's connected to cable it doesn't matter I don't guess, but they don't say that).

You can connect composite/S-Video outputs from your cable or satellite receiver box to your VCR (depending on the inputs it provides), and record programs that way - so its recording functionality isn't dead, but obviously there will be significantly less you can record via the NTSC tuner after the 2/09 cutoff hits.
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post #22 of 44 Old 07-09-2008, 10:42 AM
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Yeah, the VCR's tuner will work with cable as long as they continue to send analog (varies from company to company.) For OTA, you'd have to have a converter or a source with video outputs after Feb 09.

Theoretically, there are ways to get stuff like that to continue working with the right adapters, but it becomes a question of whether you want to go to all the trouble.

That FCC release is a tad misleading. Just a tad.

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post #23 of 44 Old 07-09-2008, 12:40 PM
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The US-version Philips does have a QAM tuner - those places just aren't listing it for some reason. But there's only one model. No dual tuners, though. If your TV had QAM/NTSC tuners you could watch one thing while recording another.

As far as other choices, if you have AT&T in your area, they may have U-verse available to you.
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post #24 of 44 Old 07-09-2008, 02:07 PM
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I am sorry but this thread is confusing me.

Situation: My sister has cable and a cable box, no problem, she's set.

She also has another cable line running to her bedroom with no set top box. She is just getting the lower local channels on the bedroom unit. She has a NTSC TV.

Will she need to pay the additional $8.00/month for the STB from the cable company just for those locals or since they are required to send locals un-encrypted, is there a digital/analog coupon eligible converter box?

It seems to me if they are sending an analog signal now the TV gets it, if they change to a digital un-encrypted signal in the future a convertor might work.
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post #25 of 44 Old 07-09-2008, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KentStater72 View Post

Will she need to pay the additional $8.00/month for the STB from the cable company just for those locals or since they are required to send locals un-encrypted, is there a digital/analog coupon eligible converter box?

If it's just the locals she needs on that TV and the cable company doesn't do anything screwy, she will probably just need a QAM tuner.

It is NOT the same as the coupon eligible converter box.

Quote:


It seems to me if they are sending an analog signal now the TV gets it, if they change to a digital un-encrypted signal in the future a convertor might work.

The confusion is resulting from people assuming those converter boxes also work for cable. They don't.

The coupon eligible converter box is an ATSC tuner. It works with antennas. You can get a voucher to offset some/most of the cost from the government online. But it will NOT work with cable.

The tuner needed for unencrypted cable is QAM. You can't get a discount with them (because the government is not forcing cables to go digital; they're doing it themselves.) But you can buy a QAM tuner, or buy a TV with one built in.

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post #26 of 44 Old 07-09-2008, 06:12 PM
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"If I buy a DTV, will my VCR, DVD player, or video game continue to work"?

Some people are concerned whether or not an old VCR or game system will work with a new digital tv. The answer is yes, for now anyway. Almost all VCRs have composite video and audio. All newer game systems do also. Really old game systems like the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Colecovision, Intellivision, Oddysey, etc. only output analog RF channel 3. All current digital tv sets have analog tuners, so they will work with classic game systems. Probably in the near future, new tv sets will only have digital tuners. When that happens owners of classic game systems will need an external RF NTSC tuner with composite video out to use the classic game system with a new tv.

Do any of the really old VCRs (late 70's-early 80's) have only channel 3 NTSC outputs and no composite video? If so, same problem coming as with classic game systems. Classic electronics is a major hobby for some people (not myself, although I do own a Colecovision).

How can we say "the digital transition is complete" when thousands of low power stations are still broadcasting in analog?
LOW POWER ANALOG NEEDS TO DIE NOW!!!
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post #27 of 44 Old 07-09-2008, 06:23 PM
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I wondered about older game systems that used RF outputs. Granted, I don't think TV makers should have to add legacy inputs for those things twenty/thirty years later, but it would be nice if there were adapters. And of course some of those games are ported to PCs and such.

And yeah, there are some VCRs with only NTSC outputs. I owned two of them, but they've long since died.

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post #28 of 44 Old 07-09-2008, 06:28 PM
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Local channels are no problem. Some tv's can pick up the signal since local stations broadcast them stronger locally. However some cable companies encrypt their signal, as what almost everyone on the previous posts commented about, and might be a problem if you are trying to get higher channels later on.

A converter is easy to acquire and a splitter can always be used in case you want to have some cable as well for your other TV's

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post #29 of 44 Old 07-10-2008, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by demonfoo View Post

You can connect composite/S-Video outputs from your cable or satellite receiver box to your VCR (depending on the inputs it provides), and record programs that way - so its recording functionality isn't dead, but obviously there will be significantly less you can record via the NTSC tuner after the 2/09 cutoff hits.

I guess to record one channel while watching another with that method, the cable box would have to be by-passable and its tuner used as the VCR's tuner in a manner of speaking, and then using the TV's tuner to watch the other channel.

(Has anyone else stopped receiving email notifications? Why is this such a buggy thing at so many forums?)

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post #30 of 44 Old 07-10-2008, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

The US-version Philips does have a QAM tuner - those places just aren't listing it for some reason. But there's only one model. No dual tuners, though. If your TV had QAM/NTSC tuners you could watch one thing while recording another.

Ok thanks. Are there any of these type devices like the Philips that have dual tuners?

The TV I get is going to have that (QAM/NTSC/ATSC), but that's only good as long as you can continue to receive NTSC signals, correct?


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As far as other choices, if you have AT&T in your area, they may have U-verse available to you.

Odd that they say it's not available in my area when I'm on BellSouth DSL and phone services, which is now AT&T. I also had AT&T as my ISP before BellSouth.

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