[mythtv-users] Beginner - Practical HDTV and Comcast Questions

Jake Palmer jakep_82 at hotmail.com
Mon Jan 8 22:24:34 UTC 2007

>I have a TiVo (DirecTiVo) which is several years old.  It has a few
>hacks but nothing major.  I've been watching these posts for several
>months but need some practical advice and experience.  I am interested
>in MythTV using Comcast as my providor.  We have virtually no Over the
>Air signals where I live and so don't even own a TV antenna.
>First.  my "must have" features (from TiVo)
>     1)  Season Pass (record all "new" instances of a particular program)
>     2)  Program Extract (standard VCR functionality of recording a show
>to removable media)
>     3)  Web Control (a web interface)
>     4)  Ease of use (it's an appliance)
>Previous posts suggest that none of this will be a problem.

Correct, you can easily do all of this.

>Now the real problem, caused by the cable companies and the changing
>video formats.  There seem to be two main decision points.  Analog or
>Digital and Standard or HDTV.  These questions are specific to Comcast
>although they should be the same for any cable company.
>My TV is capable of 1080i and if I'm going to "upgrade" then I'd
>probably like to enable HDTV.  I really dislike the "cable boxes".  I
>believe that means I'm watching only analog signals and certainly no HDTV.

You can get HD capable cable boxes.  They have DVI, HDMI, or component 

>If I get one of the "listed" HD tuners will I get all of the Comcast
>HDTV content or only the "local" stations which they are passing
>through?  I'm very confused about which stations I can and can't pick up
>and in which quality.  For that matter someday I think they're going to
>discontinue analog.  What will be the impact to PVR's at that point?  I
>don't want to even think about the broadcast flag.

It varies by area but generally you'll only get local broadcast stations.  I 
have Comcast and I get the usual ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS and CW.  Everything 
else is encrypted and is only viewable with a cable box or a cablecard.

>Who'd have ever thought they'd make it so darned hard just to pick up TV
>signals (with commercials).  I guess fair use is about dead, but I
>One disadvantage of the HDTV cards is that they have no on card
>compression.  HDTV is apparently digital already and so is already
>MPEG-2 encoded, thus there is no need for on card encoding.  What about
>all of the "standard" channels?  Can the HDTV cards do analog and
>digital (or is it even needed based on the questions above)?  Also, HDTV
>playback apparently requires a rather substantial machine, not just some
>old junker lying around, so, is it worth it?

XvMC support is much better now which can make HD a little easier on the 
hardware.  I still prefer not to use it, but generally it's just because I 
can't get a color OSD with XvMC.  My Athlon 64 3200 handles HD easily with 
~40% idle.

As for whether it's worth it, that's personal opinon.  You can probably 
build a decent HD capable 2 tuner system with a 400GB hard drive (good for 
at least 40 hours of HD recordings) for $600-700.  To me that's completely 
worth the cost.  Others may disagree.

>Any advice and experiences would be greatly appreciated.  What channels
>can I expect to receive?  Analog or Digital, STD or HDTV?

Figure on 2-71 analog and local broadcast channels in HD.  Generally 
everything else is encrypted.


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