Not all analog channels are going away. The analog locals
are here to stay for the forseeable future. Only analog cable
channels such as USA, TNT, CNN, Fox News, SciFi, and The History channel are going away. You'll continue to get the locals with that 20-year old TV in your kitchen.
Originally Posted by stevewinks
Man that stinks. I hope this is not going to be an industry wide move, though as you mentioned I shouldn't be surprised if it is.
I have Comcast with Expanded Basic and love the fact I don't need STB's. Apart from the fact I don't need to rent/pay for a clunky STB, I'm able to watch one channel while recording another on my DVD recorder. I can also use the TV's channel editting to skip useless channels (something I can't do using Comcast's box). I fear I will also lose the free TVGOS interactive guide the works with my DVD recorder as well.I can't understand why you say "it's about time"?
All I see out of it is losing control of my viewing options and being charged more $$$$ at the same time.
You aren't seeing the big picture, as they say.
Modern cable systems have 750MHz to 860MHz bandwidth. Every analog channel consumes 6MHz of bandwidth, so those systems support 125-143 channels, assuming you take away VOD and Internet. A cable system with 60 analog channels is using almost 50% of its capacity on just those channels.
With digital delivery (256QAM modulation), every SD channel takes the equivalent of 0.6MHz bandwidth -- one-tenth as much. A cable system with 60 digital channels is using less than 5% of its capacity.
With digital delivery (256QAM modulation), a 1920x1080i HD channel supplied with full ATSC bandwidth (i.e. maximum quality) will consume the equivalent of 3MHz, while a 720p60 HD channel will consume the equivalent of 2MHz. Full 1080p60 channels -- which don't exist yet outside of the lab -- consume up to 6MHz. At DirecTV's "HDTV Lite" quality levels, you can reduce that by about 50%.That's right, the 860MHz cable system in Chicago could offer 430+ 720p60 HDTV channels, 285+ 1080i HDTV channels, 143 1080p60 HDTV channels, or some mix of the three, at full quality...if they were to get rid of all other services. Comcast Chicago is keeping ~20 local channels in analog on their system, so those numbers are reduced by about 15%.
In addition to providing superior efficiency, digital delivery also eliminates picture defects associated with analog transmission, such as excess picture noise, ghosting, and snow. Alll that extra bandwidth can be used for virtually an unlimited number of new SD channels, dozens of new full HDTV channels (none of that "HDTV Lite" crap), as well as HDTV VOD and faster Internet. Said a different way, digital delivery provides the consumer with improved service and more choice.
All this comes at the expense of a set-top box, which many cable companies now include (no extra cost) with a cable subscription. The rub is that some cable providers want you to pay for extra boxes for other TVs. I don't know if that is the case with Comcast Chicago. Ideally, a cable provider would include STBs to support all TVs in a household at no extra cost, or at least decrypt the cable channels in the "digital basic" tier so they are receivable with the built-in digital cable (QAM) tuners found on virtually all new TVs.
In a year or two, this will be a moot point with new TVs. CableCard provides displays with the means to decrypt all cable channels, but most manufacturers don't incorporate it because of cost and usability concerns. Current CableCard implementations -- which use unidirectional OpenCable receivers -- cannot access guide information, interactive services, VOD, or channels delivered using Switched Digital Video (SDV) technology. That will all change next year.
Beginning in mid-2008, you will see televisions start to implement bidirectional digital tuners with OCAP in their TVs. With these TVs, you will simply plug the access card (CableCard) into the back of your display, and it will provide you full access to every channel and service you get with a set-top box. You will get the program guide with the same interface you get on the set-top box. By 2010, they probably won't even sell TVs without this functionality.
I'm able to watch one channel while recording another on my DVD recorder.
You can do that already with digital, just not using existing DVD recorders. Some newer DVD recorders have built-in digital (ATSC and QAM) tuners. You split the coax cable, run one end into your TV (or set-top box) and the other end into the DVD recorder. The DVD recorder can record one digital channel while you watch another with your STB/TV. Next year, you'll see DVD recorders with CableCard (and bi-directional receivers) that can pull the guide and program information directly from the cable provider -- no longer will you have to depend on the TVGoS service that is unreliable in so many areas.
As far as picture-in-picture, solutions are available now that integrate to dual ATSC/QAM tuners onto a single chip. As far as I know, Olevia is the only manufacturer shipping a display (747i/742i) that uses such a chip. On the Olevia 747i, you input a single coax feed from your cable company and you can display two different digital cable channels, SD or HD, using both split-screen and picture-in-picture. It will also do split-screen and picture-in-picture using the built-in digital cable (QAM) and OTA (ATSC) tuners.
Most 2007 models seem to be sticking with the highly integrated, ultra-cheap single-tuner ATSC/QAM silicon, which integrates ATSC and QAM tuners onto a single chip, but only one of those tuners can be active at any given time. Starting next year, as new single-chip, dual QAM/ATSC tuner solutions become available (more competition = lower cost), you can expect more television manufacturers to incorporate that technology into their products.
I can also use the TV's channel editting to skip useless channels (something I can't do using Comcast's box).
Newer TVs and DVD recorders with digital cable (QAM) tuners also allow you to delete the channels you don't want. That's not an analog-only feature by any means.
Some software used by cable companies allows you to edit and delete channels you don't want, while other software does not. Verizon FiOS has allowed customers to delete channels from their STB/DVR since day one. Comcast's Tivo software upgrade
for Motorola DVRs does allow you to remove whatever channels you want from the guide and channel +/-. They do charge you a few extra dollars per month for that functionality, but that buys you all sorts of other improvements as well.