Digital Cable Box

cas66ragtopJuly 20, 2011

Years ago, way before digital TV/HDTV was out, I purchased supposedly "HDTV ready" televisions. I knew the change was going to happen, and I figured I would be ready for it when it did.

Then the federally mandated change happened. All my TVs still worked just fine. I was happy. I thought I made the right decision buying these TVs.

Wrong! Here lately, I cannot pick up about 12 channels. The friendly cable provider has one channel where they are advertising that you need a Digital Cable Box - for EACH TV in order to see these channels. Wonderful. I went the cable provider's website and they do not list the cost of these boxes, but they do say it is a monthly fee. Even more wonderful.

My question is: Can't I somehow just purchase ONE box and wire it between the TVs myself? I have absolutely no desire to pay monthly fees on two boxes. I would rather OWN the boxes and have no extra monthly fee.

I talked to a friend, and he said there is no way around this. He said even if you do find a box to purchase, you would still have to pay a fee to the cable company so they can "flick the switch" that will allow you to see the digital channels.

Its bad enough they have a monopoly, its even worse they keep playing the same old crap all the they want to suck more money out of you while giving you nothing in return. I could care less if it is analog versus digital or if it is High Def or not. The difference in picture quality is NOT a big enough deal to me where I want to pay extra for it.

Does anyone know a way around this? I can't exactly call my cable provider and expect them to give me an honest answer, so thats why I came here.

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What you are looking for is a DTV converter box that can decode both ATSC and clear QAM. Clear, meaning the non-encrypted/non-premium channels.

Terrestrial DTV (ATSC) uses what is known as 8VSB modulation, while cable systems use QAM modulation.

The only DTV converter box I'm aware of that also decodes QAM is the Channel Master CM-7001.

Of course, you could also use one of the cable company's boxes and split the output signal to both televisions but obviously you couldn't watch separate channels.

Here is a link that might be useful: Channel Master Website

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 12:03PM
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Thank you, Yosimitebill, I will look more into that. I still don't know if there is any truth behind the cable company still needing to "flick the switch" (and charging an extra fee) to allow me to use these boxes. I posted under "electronics" first and got no answer, so I thought "home entertainment" would work better. Thanks again

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 8:16AM
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The truth is that most cable companies including comcast are moving away from analog and clear QAM signals. So even if your TV has ATSC tuner there are few or no unencrypted channels available.

You will need a box to "decode" the encrypted digital signal. In my local area comcast offers a "free" (for 3 tv's) tuner that outputs a wretched analog via channel three signal over coax signal. Think back to VHS quality days.

For about $10 - $15 per box per month you can get a HD box that outputs a variety of digital and HD signals.

The only other option is called Cable Card, a cable card is a small card that allows the decryption of the cable co's signal. Few if any TV's now have cable card slots (unfortunate!). There are cable card devices out there and your cable co is required by law to support them. Some examples of cable card tuners are Tivo Premiere, Moxi DVR, Computer based cable card tuners (Silicon Dust, Ceton, and ATI). This option allows you to own the tuner and rent for small fee the cable card.

The cable co. wants you to have a box on every tv, it gives them control and allows them to up-charge for HDTV. There are a few options for "sharing" boxes between tv's but none that are compelling nor do they work well. Some of the sat companies boxes are designed to be shared to multiple tv's.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 8:47AM
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