The Comcast VOD channel has been available, but not working in Elk Grove for a couple of months now.
By the way, if VOD has no HD content, it will be of marginal value to HD customers. Except for CNN, CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC, we've stopped watching most Comcast SD channels since getting a Pioneer HD/widescreen plasma, largely due to poor (Comcast) picture quality.
By and large, we feel we are not really receiving what we are paying premium prices for -- a premium quality cable service. However, we are receiving excellent, though very limited HD service.
This is proving to be a very difficult transition period for Comcast customers.
We did just extract a three-month discount on the basic rate from Comcast, because we told them we have been considering dumping the service and switching to satellite. And we have not subscribed to Comcast premium channels because we concluded that NetFlix and Blockbuster's online/mail DVD rental services offer a much better value at a lower price. We went with Blockbuster, and for the moment, we receive more movies than those offered with a typical Comcast SD movie channel, and DVDs provide much better picture quality (and widescreen). We are now temporarily trying a Comcast package that includes all the Encore and Starz channels with some additional digital channels. But we are doing this just to get one additional HD channel (Starz HD) and we do not bother watching most of these SD/4:3 channels. And as it it turns out, we've been disappointed wih the realization that about 40% of the Starz HD channel content is actually in broadcast in SD/4:3.
Heck, it would be nice to see programmers at standard definition TV stations and cable channels simply recognize the need for more widescreen content, even if a program is broadcast in SD (analog or digital), instead of HD. But even if this change occurred, Comcast would need to improve SD picture quality and the iGuide listing would still need to note if each program is in HD or SD and 4:3 or 16:9 widescreen if customers are to realize the full benefit of the iGuide and make the best use the Motorola DVR to plan recordings.
The truth is that in the past three months since getting an HDTV, we have stopped watching most SD channels, much less record SD content. In part, this is because of the picture quality on the Comcast analog channels (and even on most of the non-HD digital channels) has been so poor that many simply have been unwatchable.
Last night, I noticed that it really was just channels 1-99 that seem to have improved over the past few days (in early June 2005) and that Comcast channels 100- to about 600 (those we subscribe to -- including the premium channels like Encore and Starz) deliver acceptable, but not remarkable picture quality. To me, these appear to be digital channels delivering analog content. Whatever is the source, the picture quality still looks marginal, varies from channel to channel, and just isn't worth watching for the most part. Of course, the few digital HD channels in the 900s are great.
This morning (June 7), I'd swear that Comcast channels 1-99 look like crap again -- they're fuzzy and the brightness and contrast levels vary widely from channel to channel.