[mythtv-users] HDTV, Myth, and Cable television -- basic questions

Marc Nicholas marc at geekythings.com
Mon Dec 13 22:59:02 UTC 2004


Right off the bat, you need to be aware of two things:

- Watching HD cable requires a card that can 'understand' QAM encoding. 
More than this, many QAM signals are encrypted and you'll need a CableCard 
compatible decoder -- of which I know of none for PCs right now.

- The pcHDTV3000 is meant for Over-the-Air HD signals right now. 
Apparently, the pcHDTV folk have access to QAM firmware but haven't 
released it yet.

- For QAM digital cable, many cable operators will *not* "initialize" a 
device that isn't sold by them. This is analogous to cellular carriers who 
will only 'activate' phones sold by them.

- Believe it or not, Over-the-Air HD broadcasts are often better quality 
than cable HD (QAM). Many North American cable operators have really 
crammed as much as they can out of their available bandwidth :-( Bear in 
mind that some operators advertize programs that are merely 480P as "being 
in HD", too!

Hope that clarifies a few things.


On Mon, 13 Dec 2004, Micah Wedemeyer wrote:

> OK,
> I'm sure these questions have been asked and answered 100s of times already, but
> I couldn't find much by searching the forums.  Moreover, I couldn't find good
> answers searching around the web, either.  Basically, I'm totally confused and I
> want to get straighented out before the broadcast flag thingy goes into effect.
> So, these are some rambling thoughts/questions that I am tossing out there:
> 1. HDTV and Cable television
> Right now, I have Comcast Cable in Atlanta, GA (USA).  I mostly watch special
> interest channels (Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, SciFi, etc.)  These are not
> Hi-Def, as far as I know.  Plus, they will probably be the last to go Hi-Def
> (nothing to support this, just a hunch.)  So, I don't really need HDTV right
> now, especially since I don't have a Hi-Def TV-set.
> But...in the future, I expect that eventually I will want HDTV.  But, I will
> still  want to watch mostly cable channels.  So, finally, a question: What is
> necessary to watch HDTV for cable television?  Do you think Myth will be able to
> do this, or will the channels be encrypted in such a way to make this
> impossible?  Note: I'm not talking about stealing cable, I'm talking about
> paying for a subscription and getting some sort of decryption key or hardware
> decryption interface.
> 2. pcHDTV and Broadcast flag - (Non-USA users: ignore this)
> Considering that I want to watch cable HDTV, would it be wise to get a pcHDTV
> 3000 card?  If I buy one before June, then I can forget about this broadcast
> flag nonsense.  However, I don't currently have the capability to do HDTV
> encode/decode (ie. Epia 10k).  So, I'd buy the card and shelve it until mini-ITX
> systems are fast enough or hardware MPEG-2 acceleration is good enough to do
> HDTV.  Maybe it is already and I just don't know.
> The main question is: Will the pcHDTV 3000 allow for HDTV over cable?  Note: I'm
> not asking for a guarantee here, just a "It's in the works..."  Mainly, I don't
> want to buy a card that is only for OTA HDTV and has no plans for cable.
> 3. MythTV and broadcast flag - (Non-USA users: ignore this)
> Assuming I miss the June date and buy a HDTV tuner card after that, what of the
> broadcast flag?  Anyone have any ideas how this might interact with MythTV?  I
> understand that it is a hardware issue, but perhaps it can be disabled by hacked
> drivers?  More basically, what is the point of it?  Can content providers send
> out a signal and force all copies of tv-show X to delete themselves?
> That about covers it, at least for now.  Sorry if I'm rehashing old territory,
> but it's still new to me.
> Thanks,
> Micah
> Some keywords to help this get flagged in archive searches:
> QAM Quadrature amplitude modulation
> pcHDTV 3000
> broadcast flag
> cable television
> --
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