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  #1  
Old 01-16-2013, 10:05 AM
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Comcast not so comcastic?

So, I have had comcast internets for a while. pretty fast and fairly reliable.

they recently jacked up the price and then offered me cable TV service. I live within range of TV towers and get TV off the air. The signal is high def and looks very good.
I took their offer (it brought my bill back down to what it was).

So, anyways, they sent me a set top box, I plugged it in and - low def.

Looked awful. the box they sent was not HD. Went back to comcast and they gave me an HD box for $10 more per month. A bit of a bait and switch...

Plugged the HD box in and - hmmm. Signal looks better but it is not as good as over the air HD.

Seems like Comcast uses a bit too much compression in their cable service. Details in skin are lacking, blockiness in black backgrounds, and overall lack of fine detail.
Looks a bit worse than Netflix.

Is this experience matched by others here?

I am used to a decent image on my 50" TV. If I can't tweak the signal and get an as good image as I got with my over the air antenna I am going to have to drop the service.

I don't really care that much about the bazillion stations I now get, especially of they all look like sh1t.
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  #2  
Old 01-16-2013, 10:46 AM
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I love their internet, their TV service sucked. I like DirecTV's programming quality much more, though it's still not OTA levels.

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  #3  
Old 01-16-2013, 10:58 AM
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The HD signal via cable is compressed. OTA HD signals aren't compressed and thus provide a superior picture.
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  #4  
Old 01-16-2013, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul335i View Post
The HD signal via cable is compressed. OTA HD signals aren't compressed and thus provide a superior picture.
What about satellite? (or is that considered OTA?)

FWIW, we *had* comcast until the "HD age" came upon us. We dropped comcast (except for a cable internet provider) and went DISH. No issues with DISH for 9 years now.
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  #5  
Old 01-16-2013, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Sportsdad View Post
What about satellite? (or is that considered OTA?)

FWIW, we *had* comcast until the "HD age" came upon us. We dropped comcast (except for a cable internet provider) and went DISH. No issues with DISH for 9 years now.
Satellite isn't consider OTA, as the signal is encrypted and needs decoding by the receiver.

Over cable, there are two types of signal - Clear QAM, which isn't encrypted and most HDTVs can view without a box, and the encrypted/premium channels that need the cable box to decode. Comcast likes to pretend that the QAM signals aren't there and that you need the box to view HD - don't expect any help from their customer service in viewing it.
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  #6  
Old 01-16-2013, 10:56 AM
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I suspect you will get a mixed bag of replies...here's mine:
Have had Comcast for 8 seasons here at our FL Starter Shack. Internet, phone and HD with DVR. It is fast, reliable, and very good quality, imo.

I watch a 60 inch Sony XRD and a new(er) 70" Sharp LED. While I obviously don't have source switching capabilities, both sets, (inc a lil' pos 30" old tube tv), look very, very good on any of the HD stations we get. HBO, Showtime, et al, and the normal HD stations.

Their 'tech' help is mixed, but if you get the right person, beef firmly and get a tech out to see your situ, imo.

If anything they are pricey, but cable is usually near monopolistic in many areas.

Fwiw, I have DISH Sat back at our usual Mtn home, and that is ok to good. If I could have cable there, I would in a NY minute. My 50Cts..
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  #7  
Old 01-16-2013, 11:10 AM
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In my area at least, I hook my HDTVs (and my HTPC with its 4 HD tuners) directly up to the cable (no boxes) and use the QAM signal to watch/record. I get 720p/1080i in the original OTA bit rate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul335i View Post
The HD signal via cable is compressed. OTA HD signals aren't compressed and thus provide a superior picture.
Actually, that's not quite accurate. All digital video transmission has some level of compression when the video is encoded. The question is whether the cable or satellite signal has been re-encoded (compressed even more) than the original - and that varies by provider.
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  #8  
Old 01-16-2013, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwsqbm View Post
In my area at least, I hook my HDTVs (and my HTPC with its 4 HD tuners) directly up to the cable (no boxes) and use the QAM signal to watch/record. I get 720p/1080i in the original OTA bit rate.
got a good link for setting that up?

I heard of that but the link I saw was very confusing.

As it is going now, I'm going to chuck cableTV. I'd rather watch a few clear channels than a lot of blurry channels.

Compressed video signal make faces look mannequin-like/ clumsily photoshopped.
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  #9  
Old 01-16-2013, 11:23 AM
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Comcast quality is not really THAT good. Direct TV is so much better.
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  #10  
Old 01-16-2013, 01:23 PM
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For the most part, I just plug the cable from Comcast into the back of the TV and make the TV scan for channels. About the only problem I remember is that because I have two TV and two tuners (that's a lot of splits, with signal loss at each) plus some long cable runs, I have a powered signal amplifier right after my first splitter (the cable modem is on the other branch of that splitter).

The tuners in the computer used to work just by downloading the appropriate provider in the guide data, but I ended up having to set it up manually at one point. I used this site to see all the channels available (with a small screen shot).
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  #11  
Old 01-16-2013, 02:40 PM
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I don't have a problem with Comcast, and live in a condo where dish is not an option. They did jack my rates up but I called and complained and presto, lowered rates for the next 12 months. The rep said to call back then and they'd lower my rates again. Their internet service is excellent, IMO. I get 35Mb down but pay for a much lower tier.

I know OTA quality is better but for most of what I watch on TV it's just not that critical. For movies where it matters I want the Blu-Ray anyway.
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  #12  
Old 01-16-2013, 05:12 PM
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We have Comcast too, so far everything is so good unless you encounter a problem. Our Internet cable gone south and the modem was acting up. So wife called them and they told her it would be between 2 to 4pm. So she waited until 4:30 pm and called them again Then they told her the tech guy would call before he gets there any minute. Then she waited until 5:30 pm no call no show. Now, she was really tired of their bs and lost her cool. They even trying to tell her he came but nobody home. But she told them that's bs 'cos she was home all day and not once heard anyone knocking on the door. So ended up the guy came in the next morning to fix the cable and now everything is working again.
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  #13  
Old 01-17-2013, 06:24 PM
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Comcats is probably as good as cable gets (when it works). We had fiber in our old house, and it was superior to the Comcast offering. Comcast image quality is mediocre, and internet connection is not full duplex. Looking forward to getting fiber again, and 50/50+mbit full duplex internet connection.
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  #14  
Old 01-17-2013, 06:31 PM
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Check the configuration in your box, is probably set to 480p, 1080i is the highest you can get out of this boxes.
Picture quality is pretty descent.
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  #15  
Old 01-17-2013, 06:54 PM
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I want to make a correction:
We had our power go out for 5 days a couple of winters ago.
We had a generator and the 100 gallons of fuel I keep on hand (rotated) came in handy since the power was out in a WIDE region where we live (Gas lines were 2 hours wait for those stations that had generators)

Anyway, our comcast cable was out too (no internet) but fortunately our Dish never went out.

The down side of that was...every kid within earshot of our house was AT our house after day 3 watching TV with my two sons...their families had comcast, no power, no generator (These are people that moved from the city to the country into $500k homes but don't plan for power outages...), but damned if we did! *sigh* I finally had to set a 4 hour limit each day, then it was "Outside, go build snowmen!"
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:01 PM
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I don't know if someone said that already, I only read the first few posts.

This is a very well known fact, OTA, antenna has the FULL, HD. You can not get better quality than the Of The Air broadcast of the TV station.
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwsqbm
In my area at least, I hook my HDTVs (and my HTPC with its 4 HD tuners) directly up to the cable (no boxes) and use the QAM signal to watch/record. I get 720p/1080i in the original OTA bit rate.
You are getting a "pass through". (you could probably set up your cable box for a pass through too). But it is not the same as the OTA quality. They just can't send you all the digital information of the original 1080i or 720p, of all the stations at the same time over a cable. On the other hand, the TV station has no problem broadcasting one station HD stream over the air.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by MatWiz View Post
I don't know if someone said that already, I only read the first few posts.

This is a very well known fact, OTA, antenna has the FULL, HD. You can not get better quality than the Of The Air broadcast of the TV station.
Not all full HD is created equal. The distribution networks often distribute the different channels at different bit rates depending on their popularity (esp. on cable or OTA where bandwidth is limited).
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MatWiz View Post
This is a very well known fact, OTA, antenna has the FULL, HD. You can not get better quality than the Of The Air broadcast of the TV station.
Well known facts are often wrong, misleading, or not the entire story. For example, blu-ray has the potential to have better quality than OTA. For movies, usually so since the original version for the theaters has to be recoded to a lower bit rate for blu-ray or OTA. With recent TV shows, not usually as they'd rather fit more episodes per disc than go back and recode the original video to a higher bit rate than what was first broadcast, and the broadcast quality was pretty good in the first place.

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Originally Posted by khovik View Post
Not all full HD is created equal. The distribution networks often distribute the different channels at different bit rates depending on their popularity (esp. on cable or OTA where bandwidth is limited).
Yes, but bandwidth is limited everywhere, not just cable and OTA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatWiz View Post
You are getting a "pass through". (you could probably set up your cable box for a pass through too). But it is not the same as the OTA quality.
To be more accurate, you should have said "its not necessarily the same quality as the OTA transmission." In my case (and there are other examples out there on the internet), the video I receive over cable via Clear QAM is the same quality as the OTA video. The actual QAM signal takes up about 1/2 the bandwidth of OTA because it lacks the error correction (which isn't needed with a good physical connection). The final video is the same bit rate and resolution and the same encoding method and therefore, the same quality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatWiz View Post
They just can't send you all the digital information of the original 1080i or 720p, of all the stations at the same time over a cable.
Actually, they can. There's not that many OTA channels, and you can shove a lot data through a coax cable. The issue comes with all the other channels, but that's handled with channel switching. Within a given area, only the channels being asked for by cable boxes in that area are sent. There maybe 500 houses in an area with 500 possible channels, but typically maybe less than a 100 unique shows would be watched at any instant. A given physical channel won't show the same shows all the time - one day 84-1 maybe Discovery, then next HBO, but the cable box hides all that from the end user.
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Originally Posted by MatWiz View Post
On the other hand, the TV station has no problem broadcasting one station HD stream over the air.
Depends on how you define "no problem." There's more to video quality than resolution. Each OTA station has bandwidth limitations too, and so couldn't broadcast a video equal in quality to blu-ray. Also, most OTA broadcasters choose to split up their bandwidth and offer addtional content, typically at 480i. Of the 7 major broadcasters in my area, each has one HD channel, but five also have at least one 480i channel. The stations with more channels have a lower bit rate on their HD channel, regardless of the resolution. For example, my local PBS station has three 480i channels - the 1080i HD channel comes in around 9Mbps (similar to the ABC channel). The local CBS station, without any subchannels, comes in typically around 16Mbps at 1080i, which is about the same bit rate I'll see from FOX (which uses 720p and has no subchannels)

The reason I use the Clear QAM instead of OTA is that the Clear QAM is already coming into my house due to me having cable for internet. I could setup a big antenna, but that'd just be extra work for no gain to me.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MatWiz View Post
I don't know if someone said that already, I only read the first few posts.

This is a very well known fact, OTA, antenna has the FULL, HD. You can not get better quality than the Of The Air broadcast of the TV station.
Hey, roughly how far do you need to be from teh OTA source? We're a good 30 miles from the nearest broadcast tower as far as I know...I'd like nothing better than poopcan Dish TV and go back to 5 or 6 OTA basic channels when the kids go off to college.
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  #21  
Old 01-18-2013, 08:13 AM
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Hey, roughly how far do you need to be from teh OTA source? We're a good 30 miles from the nearest broadcast tower as far as I know...I'd like nothing better than poopcan Dish TV and go back to 5 or 6 OTA basic channels when the kids go off to college.
Assuming you're got an outdoor antenna, 30 miles is fine assuming there's no hills or large buidlings blocking the signal. Here in flat land, I'm 30 miles from the main tower, and can almost get by with small rabbit-ear style setup if the TV was near a window that faced south.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by cwsqbm View Post
Assuming you're got an outdoor antenna, 30 miles is fine assuming there's no hills or large buidlings blocking the signal. Here in flat land, I'm 30 miles from the main tower, and can almost get by with small rabbit-ear style setup if the TV was near a window that faced south.
Thks!
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  #23  
Old 01-29-2013, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sportsdad View Post
Hey, roughly how far do you need to be from teh OTA source? We're a good 30 miles from the nearest broadcast tower as far as I know...I'd like nothing better than poopcan Dish TV and go back to 5 or 6 OTA basic channels when the kids go off to college.
I'm farther than that and my antenna is not even outdoors. I can pull unwanted standard def channels across state lines from Arizona. I get more foreign channels in more languages than you can imagine, and one of the best looking ones I have ever seen is the Mexican soap opera channel. My first impression is that it was almost bluray quality.

Anyway, why wait? I've a friend who didn't know about OTA until I told him, he didn't even realize he wasn't getting HD on his box until he got OTA with HD. He tried $20-30 antennae from BB, Target, Rat Shack, and maybe more and thought the one from Target worked best, it wasn't even the most expensive. My point is that it might cost you only $20 for the antenna, less than that for the coax if you don't already have one laying around, and you can always compare the signals for say when you're hosting the Superbowl, Final Four, Olympics, etc. If your dish ever fails you, you have a secondary source for the meanwhile.

Use this to find what channels you can bring in for a general idea. When you save your unique profile, so that you can share with others, it will hide your address btw.
http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29
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  #24  
Old 01-30-2013, 12:17 PM
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Fact: analog feed looks like poo on an HD set, but fine on a CRT ( tube) tv.
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:58 PM
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Fact: analog feed looks like poo on an HD set, but fine on a CRT ( tube) tv.
Analog? Who still gets analog? Analog transmissions ended about 4 years ago around here.
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