OK, I see tons of posts from people discussing all the fine points about this or that TimeWarner-Austin Digital Cable box. What I don't see is anyone asking about, inquiring about, or in any way complaining or discussing that a box is not even neccessary to receive the HD feeds if Time Warner would just get off their collective butt and feed the signal for Local (Network) Channels down the regular cable feed instead of encrytping it and REQUIRING the STB to get it.
If you go with some company other than Time Warner Austin, make sure you order HD, not digital, cable as far as service (you may find that at least a couple locals come in and can be detected by your new HD TV, which may have an open-cable QAM tuner onboard). You should also be able to receive over-air HDTV without an outboard box. Personally I would not buy a TV at this time that doesn't have a QAM tuner as I hate the additional remotes and cabling involved with external STB's. I also care little about the Premium HD channels at this time. For those a STB will always be required.
Regarding the built in QAM tuner and cable reception: It will receive unscrambled analog and digital cable channels. Just connect the cable tv coax directly to the cable input, run channel setup and it'll find the digital cable channels and a number of analog channels. Most of the digital channels may be blank, BUT most people should receive all of the free local digital channels that are available on the cable sysytem. The channel numbers may be different then what the cable system box shows them as, but it works in other parts of the country, even as close as Time Warner in San Antonio. The tuner must be QAM compatible.
My issue with this; Again, I have the new Sony KDF-70XBR950 but for straight network TV I wish I could just use the built-in Sony tuner over cable without having to have the antenna or an addtional remote. After all I pay for basic cable and those network channels, I should be getting the HD as well as standard signals without having to essentially double my bill with one of their crappy, bug-ridden, STB's.My suggestion:
Call Time-Warner Austin and file a request/complaint. None of the regular drones will even mention this is a possibility (deer in the headlights) if you just dial up, so ask for a engineer in the HD dept and ask them to feed the local HD channels through in the clear, unencrypted. Right now they are using this as a source of revenue to rent their STB's or to upcharge for service that even the lowest subscriber is already paying for. If they get enough calls maybe we can drive some change in their procedures. The one I talked to today said I was the first person to ask for the straight feed like the San Antonio folks get. Yeah right.... Just imagine, no juggling remotes.