Originally Posted by Rammitinski
Another unusual, rare thing: getting TCM in a basic cable tier. If you ever change providers, you'll be likely to have to upgrade to a higher tier to get that. So, if you want to keep that, and you absolutely have to use an external tuner, you'll want to make sure to ask for one of those that can change channels on it's own, like I mentioned (unless you just plan on leaving it on that channel all the time, like I think somebody here might even possibly do).
Comcast here in Portland puts TCM on their "mapped" channel 501 in one of the digital tiers that requires a "digital" converter box. As with many other channels in this "digital tier," what Comcast is actually delivering is an analog signal out of that "digital" converter box. As a big TCM fan I may only record TCM through channel 3 or as a "line in" feed from the Comcast converter box composite output.
What recorders do I use to record TCM? There is one Panasonic DMR-EZ28V, three DMR-EZ17 models, one Philips 3575 and one Magnavox 2160, all of which have NTSC, ATSC and QAM tuners. Once these recorders have been connected to the Comcast analog output "digital" cable boxes the QAM tuners are no longer of any use.
With one Philips 3576 and one Magnavox 2080 connected directly to the Comcast coax cable, I've grown to appreciate tuning and recording the actual digital signals (on the many sub-channels in the 73-135 range) that these QAM tuner equipped devices access and record as actual digital content.
Of course, Comcast does not document the digital sub-channels in the 73-135 range since any such documentation might have triggered regulatory oversight that would complicate Comcast's plan to encode these sub-channels.
One Comcast Customer Service Associate (that I spoke with around a week ago) said that anything my QAM tuners were receiving on those (73-135 range) sub-channels was merely "bleed through from the analog channel" (i.e., channels 32-71). Then I described and compared the picture quality differences between the analog feeds of networks on channels 32-71 and the beautiful digital feeds of those same networks found on the sub-channels in the 73-135 range. Then that associate apologized for his idiotic "bleed through" statement and admitted that what I was seeing on those QAM-tuned sub-channels are actually digital or HD feeds of those networks. He mentioned enjoying those channels himself on his own HD TV at home. As to what would become of those QAM-tuned sub-channels he said he is "not qualified to say." Then he very quickly "clammed-up." Perhaps he had just revealed too much.