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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I live in Mass with AT&T Broadband for my Internet access & cable TV. Does anyone know what is the resolution for regular cable TV in # of lines? And what is it for digital cable TV? No one at the AT&T customer service dept. has the answers for me.


Also, any one heard anything about AT&T providing HD digital cable TV in my region yet? That will save me a lot of hassle and money to go the DirecTV HD route.


Back to the digital cable TV, I assume that signal still comes in via coaxial cable into the digital cable box? Then I read it from the newsgroups that one should always try to use the composite video (plain yellow RCA) to connect to a TV in opposing to the coaxial cable. This is the get better picture quality supposedly? Is this true? What if I further convert this composite cable into S-Video? My 7-year-old 35" tube TV does have S-Video input (no component video inputs).


Any info will be greatly appreciated. The installation is scheduled for Thurs. morning.



Edward
 

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While I'm not in your area I can tell you the "Digital" cable is over rated and looks a little better than regular CATV with the digital channels. My guess about the number of lines would be about 300 to 350. The digital channels I would campair to a "clean" VHS movie.


Dave
 

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I think I'd reduce my cable TV service to the local channels, which here costs $7.95 to get 2 thru 13. I'd get a satelite for everything else. I had digital cable from Crumcast for 6 weeks last winter. The colour was slightly better, if it had more detail I was hard-pressed to see it. The box was so bad it screwed up the sound. The regular cable without a box had better sound. Digial cable ain't much IMO. Best wishes!
 

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I can't comment specifically on AT&T's digital offering: we have Time Warner here. My understanding is that there are some things in common, though.


The resolution varies from one CATV franchise to another. It depends on how much they're willing to compress the sighal. With more compression they can cram in more channels = more revenue. More compression causes more digital artifacts (sometimes called pixelation). Rapid scene changes cause visible squares in the picture.


One advantage (other than more channels) is that digital signals are relatively noise free.


The digital signal does still come into your cable

box over a copper coaxial cable. It's delivered to a translator box in your neighborhood over fiber optic cable. There it's translated to copper cables which connect to nearby homes.


The channel you've tuned to on the set-top-box is supplied as channel 3 or 4 on an RF output, as baseband video on a compoosite output and often as Y/C on an s-video connection. S-video is better than composite is better than RF.


Normally the RF output only gets monaural audio. Digital STBs usually include analog stereo outputs as well as a coaxial Dolby Digital connection. Most digital channels only deliver DD2.0. That's all that's uplinked by the content providers. Most of them are actually monaural, with the same audio on both L&R, but Surround Sound is common, too. A few of the premium channels (like HBO and Showtime) sometimes transmit DD5.1 audio. Some cable franchises take a while before they can supply any DD signals.


Converting the composite into s-video yourself usually won't gain anything. It'll only help a little if you have an expensive 3D comb filter that's a lot better than the one in your TV.


I hope this clarifies things a little.
 

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Just another word to the wise. Time warner misrepresents it's digital cable service. Unless you know who to talk to, or explain in excruciating detail they will not tell you that most of the cable service is still in analog. Here in the capital region ( albany, ny ) "Digital Cable" has approximatly 20 true digital channels before you have to start paying for movie channels. All channels under 100 are still transmitted only in analog and you are paying 10$/m for an expensive converter box.


Clipped from cablesites.com


Here?s What You?ll Get!


*

Over 225 digital channels ? including all your local broadcast channels

*

28 Digital Networks

*

FREE 2nd Cable Hook-up

*

The Navigator ? on-screen, interactive program guide

*

Universal Remote Control

*

Music Choice ? 40 channels of digital music

*

Access to 38 screens of Pay-Per-View


................


The conviently forget to mention that your broadcast stations are not in digital. I would be gald to go to digital cable if ALL channels were digitized at the office with HQ feeds and transmitted as the noise on my analog service sucks.


You can draw your own conclusions, but as far as I can tell there is no reason to get digital service unless the premium digital channels make up a majority of your viewing.
 

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Our local TW franchise also continues to transmit the channels below 70 in analog. Quality varies a lot in different locations. I'm lucky to have a strong clean analog signal. Some of my friends don't get so good a signal. Remember that the franchise is required to provide signals for people who use only analog TV sets. Many people still use analog decoder boxes, too.


We get 44 non-premium digital video channels here. I personally enjoy the various Discovery channels: only one of the 5 is available in analog. There are also 40 digital music channels, 50 premium movie channels (Disney, HBO, etc) and I dunno how many pay-per-view. Each of the premium movie channel franchises typically includes a half-dozen or more digital channels for no additional cost over what you'd be paying for their one or two analog channels.


Bagger Vance is showing on HBO right now. The DD5.1 audio is amazing.
 

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Having had AT&T "digital" cable for some years in Massachusetts I'll give you my take on it. First of all, the only "digital" channels are those above channel 59. (i.e. premium movie channels & PPV) The balance are all "standard" definition which is what you currently receive without the added cost of the "digital" service.


I can't prove it, but I'm willing to bet that their "standard" definition service is heavily compressed 480i while their "digital" service is simply less compressed 480i.


I will admit that the "digital" channels tended to have better PQ than before I had their "digital" service, but I didn't feel the extra money was worth it for the few premium channels I had.


I would heed the advice of others and consider satellite. The "heavily compressed" digital channels on satellite are still better than the "digital" channels on cable, and there is simply no comparison between the less compressed satellite channels and anything you'll find on cable.


As for HDTV, you can all but forget about it from AT&T. Before I switched to satellite they flat out told me that HD was a "future technology" (their words, not mine!) and until the majority of their subscribers were demanding it they had no plans to provide it. If they didn't even have any plans for HD a year ago you can bet they're still years away from implementing it even if they wanted to.


I have heard that throughout the country people are receiving excellent service and PQ from their various cable companies and some are providing HD, but my experience tells me you'll never get that with AT&T in our neck of the woods.


As for your cables you are correct. In order of preference you should be using component, s-video, composite (RCA) and coax. Unless they've changed, even the digital boxes from AT&T only had composite and coax outputs. (and no digital audio output either, so forget 5.1)


I don't mean to be so negative, but in my six years with AT&T cable they did little to impress me. I do use them for my internet and phone service without complaint, however, so they aren't all bad. :D


Just my opinion...YMMV.
 

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The one advatage to using coax for your connection is that the audio signal is sent along that line as well. If you go with composite or s-video, be sure your box (or whatever you use to decode the signal) has left and right audio outputs to match your composite or s-video output.


Ken
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi Guys, thanks for your advice. I have had the digital cable by AT&T since Thurs. and I want to post this for closing.


Maybe my old analog cable was really bad, I see an improvement in ALL channels including the low-numbered analog ones. They are cleaner now. As for the mid-numbered premium channels (60 - 200), they are very clear. Last but not least, I am very happy with the high-numbered channels (200 and up). Everything looks really good on my 8-year-old 35" Mitsu tube.


Unfortunately, AT&T is really cheap and didn't activate the S-Video output from the box. Its remote control is also a nightmare. But I am getting TiVo tomorrow so I will use it as an S-Video converter as well.


In short, I am glad that I upgraded from cable to digital cable. Next step will be DirecTV HD of course - provided that both equipment, TV & copyright issues are more finalized.


Edward
 

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Im my area TW only has about 20 normal digital channels plus premium move, PPV and Music Choice. IMO, PQ on both analog and digital cable here sucks.


Steve
 
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