[mythtv-users] HD tuner: best bang for the buck

Rod Smith mythtv at rodsbooks.com
Sat Nov 3 19:29:39 UTC 2007

On Saturday 03 November 2007 14:15:54 Cool Frood wrote:
> Thanks for all the info.  One more question.  I have Comcast analog
> cable right now, without a cable box.  I don't intend to go digital
> until they shove it down my throat, the reason being that analog is
> cheaper and more so because I have done the whole IR blaster thing
> before and I prefer not to go down that road again.

Most cable companies encrypt all digital channels except for locals, and at 
present the only way to receive those channels is via a cable box's analog 
output and an analog encoding card. When using a digital (HD) tuning card, 
chances are the only digital channels you'll get are your locals. This does 
vary from one cable company to another, though; some reportedly send some 
non-local channels unencrypted, and some reportedly encrypt even the locals 
(although they're not supposed to do that).

> I've heard that Comcast carries the OTA HD channels (NBC, ABC)
> unencrypted over their analog cable, though I can't confirm whether
> that's the case with me.  If I understand you correctly, these would
> also be ATSC and not QAM, right?

No. In most markets, all digital cable channels are sent via QAM, even if the 
cable company picks them up off the air via ATSC. If you plan to receive 
digital channels carried by your cable company, be sure your tuner supports 

> Also, can anyone confirm that Comcast in fact *does* carry the basic
> HD channels in the clear?

You'll need to specify your location -- and even then, it could conceivably 
vary from one head end to another. If you don't have a digital TV, your best 
bet is to ask your neighbors who do have digital TVs if they can tune digital 
cable channels WITHOUT a cable box. If they can, you should be able to tune 
the same channels with a QAM-capable tuner card.

Rod Smith

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