[mythtv-users] Monolith Pre-made MythTV Box?

VCRAddict MythTV_01 at appropriate-tech.net
Mon Nov 17 08:07:35 UTC 2008

At 03:24 PM 11/16/08 -0800, Charles Iliya Krempeaux wrote:
 > I should have been more clear describing what I have.

Or, I should not have assumed a USA-ian perspective.  Sorry.

 > I get TV via "normal"/"classic" cable.  It's unencrypted and analog.

So then, you are not (currently) subscribed to any sort of "HD" service.

In which case, most of my earlier comments on how to get HDTV from your
cable box to your MythTV system are a moot point -- at least until, once
you have HDTV playback capability, you decide you want a reliable (?)
source of HDTV program material.  I suspect that urge will come sooner than
later, so keep my earlier response on file for when it's needed.  (Or
seriously consider erecting a terrestrial antenna, which is what will get
you the best HDTV picture quality possible, for FREE.)

 > Also, I live in Canada.  (So most the USA stuff likely won't effect
 > me.)

Well, it obviates the FCC mandate for a FireWire port; but most everything
else I said is still just as applicable in Canada as in the U.S.A..

 > Canada isn't doing the government forced HDTV switch.

Which is specific to OTA broadcasting anyway; so in the context of cable
(or DBS), that's a moot point.

 > We still
 > have, and will continue to have, normal unencrypted analog TV over
 > cable.

"Have", I believe; but "will continue to have", I'm much less optimistic
about -- and frankly, I think you're assuming too much.  

The cable companies (*all* cable companies), for their own reasons, are
making a BIG push to entirely do away with not only all analog services,
but also all "full-time" content feeds, in favor of what is effectively an
all "on-demand" service -- and eventually, it *will* happen.  Their
incentive to do this is several-fold...  

First, as mentioned previously, is pure greed:  By making it effectively
impossible for you to connect your own "cable ready" TV directly into the
coax (or at least impossible for you to get the program content you want
that way), they force you to use (read: "rent") their proprietary STB (or
so-called "CableCARD", which is effectively the same thing) -- and not just
one of them, but one for each TV and recording device in your house.

Second is "Pure Greed, Part II":  The cable companies are *firmly* in bed
with the MPAA and their ilk with respect to DRM and similar obnoxious crap.
 They are of very like minds when it comes to usurping your Fair Use rights
(or whatever the equivalent to that is in your local jurisdiction).  And
you can only expect them to get ever-more Draconian about it as time goes
on, unless there is some sort of *serious* market revolt (and given how
sheepish most cable/DBS subscribers seem to be on these issues, I'm not
holding my breath on that one).

Finally, on the third issue, I actually somewhat sympathize with their
plight (but don't break out the violins just yet; for it is a problem
largely of their own making):  Both cable and DBS are currently suffering
from a serious bandwidth crunch.  Their long-standing marketing campaigns
have painted them into the corner of equating "total number of channels"
with "greater value" (notwithstanding that most of those channels are pure
crap that nobody wants) in the mind of their customer base.  One need only
look at their *current* ad campaigns (at least here in the U.S.; and I
strongly suspect the same general thing applies to at least Canada, if not
elsewhere on the globe) to clearly see that they are still locked into this
way of thinking (cf. the Comcast vs. DirecTV wars).  But especially now
with the advent of HDTV, their distribution systems just don't have the
wire speed to *properly* support sending 100+ channels down the pipe
simultaneously.  (This is also why so-called "High Definition" program
material over cable is, at least usually, noticeably *less* "High-Def" than
OTA HDTV -- they are routinely re-compressing the feeds they get off the
satellites to lower the bitrate before sending it out to their customers.)
So they are migrating as fast as they can to a system which will *only*
send a feed down the wire in response to a request (from the customer's
STB) for that particular channel.  To date, *all* such systems are
completely proprietary; and tho' I've not delved all that deep into the
technical details of how they are implemented, my initial impression is
that it would be effectively impossible (in part for political reasons, as
well as technical ones) to create an "industry standard" way of doing this,
so you could go out an buy a generic TV or DVD recorder or whatever, and
then plug it into any given cable provider's raw coax (or for that matter,
raw fiber if that ever happens) and have it work.

Bottom Line:  Until and unless the cable and DBS companies make
Earth-shattering changes to their fundamental business models (which I just
don't see happening), you can expect the situation to get progressively
worse, not better, as time goes on.  And this has very little or nothing to
do with geopolitical boundaries.

 > As far as being able to play HDTV.  I was thinking about this for
 > videos other than that coming from cable TV.  (Like off the Internet
 > or whatever.)

I'm more than willing to be shown as incorrect on this point, but I again
think you're assuming too much.

The availability of *true* High-Def program material over the internet is
nearly nil.  And even if that were not the case, you would be severely
limited by the speed cap on your own local internet connection.  At least
most of the 'net-based "webcasts", "podcasts", etc., even if they are
billed as "HD format" are even more heavily bitrate-compressed than those
coming off cable or DBS.  Do the math:  As reported by many MythTV users, a
single MPEG-2 compressed HDTV recording can eat up anywhere from
7-15GB/hour.  That equates to somewhere between 16-34 Mbit/second.  So even
if you were lucky enough to actually find the program material you wanted
online in "True High-Def" form, you could not possibly watch it "live"
(i.e., in real time) -- at least, not unless you perhaps have God's gift to
'net connections.  Assuming a more typical consumer-grade net connection
that provides a 1.5-8 Mbit/second max download rate (on a good day, when
everything falls into place just so, and *don't* expect it to maintain that
rate steadily over any significant time-frame), you'd be looking at
somewhere between 2-3 (best case) and 24-36 (worst case) hours of
downloading for each hour of watching.

The only *common* source of non-broadcast HD program material is Blu-Ray
disk.  But I would certainly *hope* that after this fiasco:


(and most notably the fact that _to_this_day_, they have NEVER apologized
for their openly malicious and highly illegal actions, or even admitted any
wrongdoing), you would not even consider further lining Sony's pockets.

 > (But thanks for all the info though.  Very interesting.)

You're welcome.  But again... PLEASE trim your posts!

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