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HD Without Comcast Converter Box ? Sure - Local HD or TiVo HD or Moxi.

post #1 of 94
Thread Starter 
Hello:

I use Comcast for my cable TV in the Boston area.
Have their basic analog package.
No Box or digital packages subscribed to.

Just received a new LCD HD digital TV as a gift.

Question: Should I be able to receive local HD programs (or any others ?) without purchasing a Comcast Box or subscribing to their Digital/HD program packages ? I believe the set has the QAM Tuner that folks have mentioned.

The reason I'm asking is that there are local channels broadcast in HD now, and there also seem to be several others, that imply they are in HD that the set "seems" to pick up.

But not sure if we are seeing them in HD or not ?
Maybe just seeing them "digitally," but not HD ?

Would appreciate your opinions on this.
Do you think we are getting HD on the local channels without the Comcast Converter Box and their higher cost digital/HD Packages ?

I tried calling Comcast re this, several times, but it is hopeless.
Seems to be something none of their reps truly knows anything about, or they just don't want to discuss it.

Thanks,
B.
post #2 of 94
On many but not all cable systems, the local network affiliates and perhaps a few other "freebies" are carried on the cable in "clear QAM". If your set is QAM-capable, you can find and watch these channels by connecting the raw cable signal from the wall (or a split of it) directly to you sets antenna input, and then doing a scan. Consult your sets manual to find out which antenna jack, if there is more than one, and what settings in the scan menu might be needed.

Don't be surprised if the set finds hundreds of blank channels; those are the ones that are coded for conditional access (encrypted), but you should find your locals that way. Your scan will probably also find most or all of the SD analog "legacy" channels in the range of 2-80 or so. QAM channels carrying digital SD and HD programming typically run from about 80 to 125 or so.

Also don't be surprised if the set-indicated "channel" is an unintuitive number like "103.58". That is usually the raw QAM channel (e.g. 103) and the subchannel (e.g. 58) which unfortunately bear no resemblance to either the over-the-air or CATV STB channel number. You may then have to manually delete the unwanted blank channels, or move the usable ones into a "favorites" area for more convenient tuning.

A few enlightened cable systems pass through or add metadata that will identify the source or "real" channel number, but so far that's not common. They'd rather rent you a digital/HD STB which will map the QAM channels to a number that corresponds to their published lineup.
post #3 of 94
Should be in the Local Boston-Comcast Thread.
post #4 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Satori84 View Post

On many but not all cable systems, the local network affiliates and perhaps a few other "freebies" are carried on the cable in "clear QAM". If your set is QAM-capable, you can find and watch these channels by connecting the raw cable signal from the wall (or a split of it) directly to you sets antenna input, and then doing a scan.

These days, most all cableco's have local HD in the clear, as you note receivable by a QAM tuner. Comcast offers all HD locals in the clear.
post #5 of 94
i called Comcast serveral weeks ago and asked for a list of QAM channel #s. The answer was "we don't have that information available for you"
post #6 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by dlcrouch View Post

i called Comcast serveral weeks ago and asked for a list of QAM channel #s. The answer was "we don't have that information available for you"

Just let the tv do a scan. In my area, ATLANTA, they move them around sometimes.
post #7 of 94
We have analog 100 channel expanded cable package and we have been unable to detect any HD programming regardless of whatever digital tuner we connect the cable feed to. Now that I have read these posts I will re-try with both our set-top-box receiver and the tuner in our HD tv.

Have you thought about connecting your set's digital tuner to an over-the-air antenna and enjoy the less compressed high quality HD programming from your local network broadcasters?

We will be watching the Super Bowl via our "free" OTA HD and it's always there even if there is a cable failure.

We just aren't ready to buy in to our cable or cat providers HD "upgrade" for now. Our RP HD tv upgrades DirecTV pretty good but the analog cable output is so bad the tv can't do much with it.
goodluck
post #8 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by dlcrouch View Post

i called Comcast serveral weeks ago and asked for a list of QAM channel #s. The answer was "we don't have that information available for you"

Most CSR's aren't aware of the QAM channels.
post #9 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by imjay View Post

We have analog 100 channel expanded cable package and we have been unable to detect any HD programming regardless of whatever digital tuner we connect the cable feed to.

There are different types of digital tuners. The over-the-air tuner can be called ATSC, 8VSB, or DTV (Digital TV). None of these work for cable.

For HD on cable, you need a QAM tuner, and as already noted most likely the only channels you'll find after doing a channel scan are the HD locals.
post #10 of 94
I have a TV with ATSC,NTSC and QAM. I want to use the TV tuner instead of the STB. Is there a CableCARD reader that is not a Tuner. Something that will decode the signal from the cable company and then my TV's tuner will pick it up. That way I just need one remote. I also installed a A/B switch to go back and forth from Cable and OTA.
post #11 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by CajunViper View Post

I have a TV with ATSC,NTSC and QAM. I want to use the TV tuner instead of the STB. Is there a CableCARD reader that is not a Tuner. Something that will decode the signal from the cable company and then my TV's tuner will pick it up.

What you're asking for does not exist, and is not technically feasible due to the way CableCARD works. It's not a disk/memory card; it's a streaming decryption engine, which the captured bitstream has to be run through to yield an unencrypted stream which can then be fed into the appropriate decoding/display logic. The closest thing would be either (a) a TiVo Series3 (now discontinued) or TiVo HD DVR (which involves a monthly fee), or (b) Sony's DHG-HDD250/500 DVR (also discontinued). Far as I know, there aren't any other widely-available CableCARD set-top box devices, other than the cableco boxes - given that was the intent of CableCARD (to make anyone's box able to receive digital cable), it's a little bit funny.
post #12 of 94
Thanks demonfoo, that answers my question.
I saw that there is a ATI cableCARD reader that sends the signal
to a computer and you use Windows Media.
Maybe they will make one for the HD TV's.
post #13 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by CajunViper View Post

Thanks demonfoo, that answers my question.
I saw that there is a ATI cableCARD reader that sends the signal
to a computer and you use Windows Media.
Maybe they will make one for the HD TV's.

No, that just sucks in the QAM signal off the cable, decrypts a QAM bundle, pulls the appropriate streams out, and feeds the raw MPEG-2 bitstream to the host PC; might as well just get the cableco box then.
post #14 of 94
ok, thanks
post #15 of 94
is I have 8 TV's in my house.

Comcast is telling me they will give me 2 free converter boxes to allow me to see channels 33-82. I already have one HD digital cable box. But, for the other 5 TV's I have, Comcast is saying I will have to pay $1.99 a month per TV to be able to see channels 33-82 ortherwise I just get 2-32.

I think this is total BS. This means to keep the tv's getting what I had before all this, I will have to pay $125 a year when again I paid ZERO.

Is there anyway around this?
post #16 of 94
I'm interested in the discussion in this thread.

I currently subscribe to comcast HD digital package with one HD box to my main tv, two DTA boxes for regular TVs for the kids, 1 regular Box (with on demand) for the garage.

The problem is, I have another HDTV in my own bedroom without any boxes at all. I just plugged in the comcast coaxal and scanned the channels. I'm getting quite a bit of digital channels and some HD channels, but most of them have no channel info and I can't find any guides listing them.

In the bay area (california), these were the HD digital channels I found:
(with the comcast coaxal cable connected directly to my HDTV input)

2-1 KTVU HD
4-2 KRON HD
5-1 KPIX HD
7-1 KGO HD
7-2 LIVWELL HD
9-1 KQED HD
9-5 KIDS HD
11-1 KNTV HD
36-1 KICU HD
44-1 KBCW HD

There seems to be a ton of digital channels as well in standard definition such as TNT SD on 83-7, 83-8 ESPN SD, and so on...

It would be nice to get a program/channel guide. I'd like to know if any of the network HD channels are available without needing an HD box from comcast.

I'll follow this thread to see if anything new pops up.
post #17 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neosum View Post


It would be nice to get a program/channel guide.

You'll need a box of some kind, either from Comcast or a CableCARD host device.

Quote:
I'd like to know if any of the network HD channels are available without needing an HD box from comcast.

Nope.

Quote:
I'll follow this thread to see if anything new pops up.

Like what? Nothing has changed, and nothing is going to change.
post #18 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neosum View Post

I'm interested in the discussion in this thread.

I currently subscribe to comcast HD digital package with one HD box to my main tv, two DTA boxes for regular TVs for the kids, 1 regular Box (with on demand) for the garage.

The problem is, I have another HDTV in my own bedroom without any boxes at all. I just plugged in the comcast coaxal and scanned the channels. I'm getting quite a bit of digital channels and some HD channels, but most of them have no channel info and I can't find any guides listing them.

In the bay area (california), these were the HD digital channels I found:
(with the comcast coaxal cable connected directly to my HDTV input)

2-1 KTVU HD
4-2 KRON HD
5-1 KPIX HD
7-1 KGO HD
7-2 LIVWELL HD
9-1 KQED HD
9-5 KIDS HD
11-1 KNTV HD
36-1 KICU HD
44-1 KBCW HD

There seems to be a ton of digital channels as well in standard definition such as TNT SD on 83-7, 83-8 ESPN SD, and so on...

It would be nice to get a program/channel guide. I'd like to know if any of the network HD channels are available without needing an HD box from comcast.

I'll follow this thread to see if anything new pops up.

The best you can do is this: http://www.silicondust.com/hdhomerun/channels_us

You can't get this information from Comcast, they don't want you to have it. By having the channel list screwed up on clear QAM tuners, it encourages consumers to rent a comcast box. This is the same reason that Comcast customer service representatives have no clue when you mention clear QAM.

You can't get it from someone else in the bay area, because the channel layout is different in different areas. The list at the above link may or may not be correct for your system as quite often there is more than one layout in a zipcode.

If you have a MythTV setup in a computer with an internal tuner card, there is a program you can run that will extract an incomplete list (it ignores all of the HD channels because the free STBs provided by Comcast can't handle them) of channel numbers, subchannel numbers, call sign and Comcast numbers, but it is not particularly easy to set up and use. In my case, it also comes up with 5 different lists with no indication which is the correct one.

I would suggest you manually go through, find an unidentified channel on your clear QAM turner TV, then channel surf the cable box until you find the same channel, and build a list of channel mappings for your clear QAM TV.
post #19 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAP View Post

The best you can do is this: http://www.silicondust.com/hdhomerun/channels_us

Silicon Dust is a poor resource; most locations are not even close to accurate.

Quote:
You can't get this information from Comcast, they don't want you to have it. By having the channel list screwed up on clear QAM tuners, it encourages consumers to rent a comcast box. This is the same reason that Comcast customer service representatives have no clue when you mention clear QAM.

?

Where do you get these ideas? From the fliers the black helicopters drop in your neighborhood?

You give Comcast way too much credit. It's not a conspiracy, they simply don't have the ability to update the CSR's, who for the most part don't know what QAM is anyway, because QAM users represent such a small part of their subscribers.
post #20 of 94
I am not aware of any Comcast location that does not broadcast local OTA channels usigng clear QAM since the digital cutover. Prior to the cutover some comcast locations suchn as Chicago and Atlantaq and others encryted all of their QAM programs since OTA analog was still aviable from the broadcasters.
It is true that Comcast in many locations does not broadcast the same "channel name" as part of it's PSIP information that is used by the OTA digital broadcast so a user had to map each of these channels separatly in his clear QAM tuner as decribed by DAP in his post.
I get local HD digial chanels in HD clear QAM from a direct cable connecion to my clear QAM capable HDTV without any cable box involved from Cox cable.
post #21 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

I am not aware of any Comcast location that does not broadcast local OTA channels usigng clear QAM since the digital cutover.

That's because Comcast has a corporate policy not to encrypt local HD, that has been in effect for years.

Quote:
Prior to the cutover some comcast locations suchn as Chicago and Atlantaq and others encryted all of their QAM programs since OTA analog was still aviable from the broadcasters.

?

No Comcast service area has encrypted local HD for years, maybe for 5-6 years.
post #22 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnon View Post

is I have 8 TV's in my house.

Comcast is telling me they will give me 2 free converter boxes to allow me to see channels 33-82. I already have one HD digital cable box. But, for the other 5 TV's I have, Comcast is saying I will have to pay $1.99 a month per TV to be able to see channels 33-82 ortherwise I just get 2-32.

I think this is total BS. This means to keep the tv's getting what I had before all this, I will have to pay $125 a year when again I paid ZERO.

Is there anyway around this?


Have you priced DBS ? That makes your $2 / month / TV look cheap.

I would calmly suggest that you evaluate whether you REALLY need all 8 TVs to be able to indepently watch , or if you might be able to get by with sharing the digital tuner box between TVs in some cases.
post #23 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooper View Post

Have you priced DBS ? That makes your $2 / month / TV look cheap.

I would calmly suggest that you evaluate whether you REALLY need all 8 TVs to be able to indepently watch , or if you might be able to get by with sharing the digital tuner box between TVs in some cases.

Check the date of the post you're replying to. It's 5 months old.
post #24 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

That's because Comcast has a corporate policy not to encrypt local HD, that has been in effect for years.
.

Ken,
I must have misunderstood the following quote from your link 17 post then:

Quote:
I'd like to know if any of the network HD channels are available without needing an HD box from comcast.

Nope.
post #25 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

Ken,
I must have misunderstood the following quote from your link 17 post then:

Quote:
I'd like to know if any of the network HD channels are available without needing an HD box from comcast.

Nope.

Since the poster already said he had local HD, and listed the channels he already was getting, 'network' meant HD channels not available OTA or cable QAM.
post #26 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

You give Comcast way too much credit. It's not a conspiracy, they simply don't have the ability to update the CSR's, who for the most part don't know what QAM is anyway, because QAM users represent such a small part of their subscribers.

It would add about 5 minutes to the training of CSR's to teach them about clear QAM. Given the many stories of CSR's adamantly denying there is any way to get HD without their cable box, they are not just uninformed, they are misinformed.
The reasons I give for comcasts reluctance to release info on actual channel numbers, and CSR ignorance of clear QAM, I admit are from my own paranoia, but I find them plausible.
post #27 of 94
Plausible perhaps, but incorrect. I've personally spoke with a very few Comcast CSR's that actually know what QAM is. Comcast tells me they instruct the CSR's to escalate the QAM questions to a supervisor, but the average caller doesn't know what to ask or how to get a CSR to escalate, and the CSR gets reviewed on the number of 'successful' calls they handle. Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending what Comcast does, just trying to explain it.

As far as the actual channel numbers go, due to system upgrades and changes, they change all the time, and the info does not get sent to CSR's, again due to the reasons above.

One thing I will say positive is that Comcast made it corporate policy to pass local HD in the clear, years before other cableco's did. But yes, the execution is very poor.
post #28 of 94
Here's a little anecdotal info:

A Comcast CSR, who's been on the job for about 9 months, has spoke with roughly 7500 Comcast subscribers. In that time, he/she has spoken with a total of 3 customers about QAM. And this is a CSR who fully well knows about QAM.

On the other hand, they speak to at least 3 customers a day who do not have their TV on the correct input/channel for their cable box.

You make the call.
post #29 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

Silicon Dust is a poor resource; most locations are not even close to accurate.

My previous response to this was inadvertently deleted.

I said that the silicon dust site was the best source of raw channel numbers, I did NOT say that it was a good source. As far as I know, it is also the ONLY source besides creating the list yourself.

Comcast has an internal list of which channel is where, and could easily publish this for those who have a clear QAM TV and do not have a cable box, but they choose not to. More than that, they refuse to give this information to websites that deliver television schedules, giving them only the Comcast remapped channels instead. Comcast could completely eliminate any need for the raw channel number mapping if they would use the standard existing method of channel mapping that OTA signals use. Instead they insist on re-inventing the wheel, using a proprietary system that only works on their cable boxes.

I am aware that Comcast plays musical channels on a regular basis, but looking at their spectrum, I can see no plausible reason for this other than to make it inconvenient to use a clear QAM tuner. In spite of having a limited basic trap in my system so I can't see channels between 35 & 70, I can currently see 16 completely empty channels on my spectrum analyzer. This does not include any channels above channel 130, the highest channel that comcast is currently using.
post #30 of 94
AFAIK not all Comcast locations publish the "Channel Name" in the PSIP data for their QAM channels that is the same as the "Channel Name" that is contained in the OTA digital channel PSIP data such as "2-1, 7-1, 7-2" etc. Instead these Comcast locations place the actual QAM channel information as the "Channel Name" such as 102-4 or 103-6 instead. Some local area forum links contain the translation list.
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