View Full Version : A "box" just to receive expanded cable?
05-14-2009, 09:02 PM
Grrrr. I called Comcast yesterday to downgrade my service, figuring I'd cut my bill nearly in half. I was then going to buy a TiVo box and pay for service upfront, so my DVR cost would go down and I'd get a decent DVR interface. Only to learn that effective next month all subscribers to "expanded basic" service will need a Comcast box. WTH? My TV is only a year old and didn't require this previously. Technology moving in the wrong direction. Anyhow, I'm not having two stupid, ugly boxes just to watch Top Chef and Alton Brown, so I guess I'm stuck with krappy old Comcast for my DVR unless anyone knows of a workaround. :mad:
05-14-2009, 09:25 PM
So far I don't need a box to receive up to Channel 99. There are some channels above that which would be nice to receive like TMC, IFC and Sundance but it's not worth it to upgrade for the amount of stuff I would actually wind up watching.
It would be nice if the government forbade the practice of "bundling" and would allow consumers to just opt for the stations they had an interest in. The sports channels are pretty expensive for a cable station to license and are on my basic tier and I have less than zilch interest in them -- yet I am in effect paying for them while I am unable to receive channels I would like to receive because they are in the digital tier.
05-14-2009, 10:08 PM
I hear ya' on the "bundling"! The whole cable thing is beyond reasonable, fair practice IMO. How come the phone company wasn't allowed to own service, but cable IS?
Yes, up to now you can get that without a box, but according to the rep I spoke with (and a press release-generated article I found online) that will change next month, at least in some markets. I believe it was that you can get basic or premium without a box, but not the mid level. Did I say :mad::mad: ?
I had basic service for years. Almost never watched, but liked the idea of having it for any late-breaking or truly relevant news. And at $13/month or whatever, it was no big deal. I didn't realize that for a couple of years I was getting Food Network without paying for it, and when Comcast did an audit, they jacked up my rate (with my permission, of course) so I could continue getting FN. This is what addiction will do to you, kids. Then Top Chef. *sigh* My cost per viewing hour is embarrassingly high, but when I do want to spend an hour and a half watching Good Eats or Barefoot Contessa, I'm really glad to have it.
05-15-2009, 07:59 AM
If you have an HD television, and a HD tivo, you need a cable card from Comcast to run the tv, and no cable box. No help if you don't have HD, though...
05-15-2009, 09:21 AM
Thanks, Kay. I do have HD TV but one of the things I wanted to knock out was the HD DVR/receiver - just don't need it.
05-15-2009, 10:49 AM
A cablecard is about the size of a credit card and pops right into the TiVo box that you'd already be using, so you won't have that extra eyesore of a cable-box. Check the TiVo site to be sure, but most of their DVR's use these (I think the Series 1 we have in an extra bedroom doesn't). You'll be charged a fairly small monthly fee by Comcast for the cablecard, but you won't have to deal with their horrible DVR interface anymore!
05-15-2009, 03:55 PM
Thanks, Nancy. How do I know whether I need one card or two? This is from the TiVo site:
requires up to two CableCARD™ decoders from your cable company; supports HD channels
You'd think the cable company would just create a decent interface so lazy people like me would do a one-stop shop with them.
05-15-2009, 04:43 PM
We have a TiVo Series 3 that takes two cablecards to be able to record different shows simultaneously; the HD XL model we have utilizes a multistream cablecard to receive two channels via one cablecard. Our local Comcast gives out only multi-stream cards now - when you choose the TiVo model that you want (HD sucks up DVR space big-time so choose as much memory as you can afford), that particular model will have very specific instructions on whether you need one or two cards. TiVo side service is great - be prepared for Comcast to be absolutely clueless about your cablecard needs.
The TiVo support community is really good - I've found answers to every question we've had with detailed Googling; their phone reps are great too - they even have specific reps to liase between you and the cable company.
05-15-2009, 04:48 PM
Thanks again. TiVo was the first DVR I used so I was especially annoyed with Comcast because I knew it didn't have to be so cumbersome. I actually want to give up my HD reception and get the Series II box (which won't support it anyhow). Sounds like one multistream is the answer but I'll confirm w/TiVo before contacting Comcast. I don't have big complaints about their customer service but I don't expect them to be terribly helpful on this. As suggested in an earlier post, I tend to call with the same question a couple of times because the answers are not always consistent.
05-15-2009, 05:18 PM
You might get more accurate information by posting your question at tivocommunity.com. The people there are knowledgeable and helpful -- not affiliated with TIVO.
05-16-2009, 08:47 AM
I love TiVo customer service! We called once when our TiVo died, and the first words from them were, "Don't worry, we'll get this fixed, or you'll have a new TiVo tomorrow!":cool:
05-16-2009, 08:59 AM
I've been a TIVO fanatic for awhile. When I got mine, the cable companies didn't offer DVR as an option.
I know that at one time the user interface for TIVO was vastly superior to the crud that was being used by the cable companies but I had read that this had changed?
Is TIVO still markedly superior?
(Moot for me since they will pry TIVO out of my dead hands).
05-16-2009, 09:02 AM
I thought the Series 2 was a little different, so I checked the TiVo site. Here's something you might like to know:
What signal sources does the TiVo Series2 DVR support?
The TiVo Series2 Dual Tuner DVR can be set up to work in any of the following configurations:
* Cable without a box
(record 2 shows at once)
* Cable with a box
(record one premium channel and one basic channel at once, or two basic channels at once)
* Satellite with a box
(record only one channel at a time)
* Satellite with a box + cable without a box
(record one satellite channel and one basic channel at once, or two basic channels at once)
It does NOT support:
* HD channels
* CableCARD decoders
Here's the link to the TiVo FAQ where I lifted the text: TiVo Series 2 Questions (http://www.tivo.com/buytivo/faqs/about_series2dvr/index.html)
I'd guess this means you just connect your existing coaxial cable!
05-18-2009, 01:14 PM
It may be worthwhile to spend some time looking on the Tivo forums for something called switched video, which may require an additional adapter box. When I started researching to get a new Tivo, a lot of people were having issues because some of the bigger cable companies were starting to use switched video technology that means they stop certain video streams at common points outside of houses instead of sending directly to to your TV. This supposedly saves bandwidth. Tivo doesn't have the ability to send upstream signals to say "ok, send that channel that you held back to my house, I want to watch it now." They had to create an adaptor box to do that. It also seems complicated by cable companies really not liking/agreeing with the use of cable cards, and some industry arguements over what standards should be used for non-cable company equipment.
This is definitely a layman's understanding of the whole issue because my cable company doesn't use switched video (and in fact didn't know what it was!) but I think I remember reading Comcast does. My apologies in advance for any inaccuracies.
05-18-2009, 01:51 PM
It would be nice if the government forbade the practice of "bundling" and would allow consumers to just opt for the stations they had an interest in.
I second that - I could get by with less channels but one in particular my husband likes, SPEED, is in the next tier up. He's made the comment many times before he'd rather pick out 15-20 channels and pay for them individually - we have 200 now and that's WAY too many.
05-18-2009, 02:22 PM
I read an article about that very thing this morning in our local newspaper (by Troy Wolverton).
Turns out the way the various change dates fell makes it an special problem for Comcast customers (which Comcast didn't handle too well). This may have been mentioned above but I didn't read all the replies... if not though, you'd defiinitely be interested.
This should be a direct link:
...but if not, just google "San Jose Mercury News,' then click on the article "Wolverton: Comcast's digital transition creates confusion" near the top of the page, I think.
05-18-2009, 03:25 PM
Thanks, Diane, that was very helpful!
If anyone wants to read the article, here's (http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_12364064?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com) the link.
05-18-2009, 07:13 PM
Yay. I just got a postcard from Comcast telling me to contact them by June 1, as I'm going to need a box :rolleyes:. Two weeks' notice? Must be a lot of fun for their employees as well.
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