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Digital-cable-ready TV and compatibility with cable company

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Old 10-24-2006, 10:48 PM   #1  
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Default Digital-cable-ready TV and compatibility with cable company

I have a question for the group:

I'm about to buy an LCD TV and one I'm considering is the Samsung LN-3296D. It's digital cable ready with a CableCard slot. Once I buy a new TV I'll upgrade to digital cable (from Time Warner Cable in Houston).

Question: If I buy this TV, will I be able to avoid having to rent a digital receiver from the cable company (and, of course, still get HD signals)? I already have a DirectTV receiver (for NFL games and HBO), so I like the idea of not having to add another receiver.

When I called Time Warner, the rep had to put me on hold and ask around. He came back and gave me a semi-confident "yes" - I'd be able to pick up their digital/HD signals without needing their converter. I would simply have to pay them a couple of bucks a month for the CableCard.

Any feedback/help from the group is much appreciated.

Last edited by techchallenged; 10-24-2006 at 11:00 PM..
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Old 10-25-2006, 12:26 PM   #2  
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Yes, ideally that's correct. However, CableCards have been known to be iffy and depend a lot of the particular hardware you're using and the particular cable company you're using and their system. So it should work like that (that is the entire point of CableCards after all!) but I wouldn't go so far as to guarantee it.
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Old 10-25-2006, 01:40 PM   #3  
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yes, it will work. You wont be able to have the interactive guide, video on demand or pay per view. but you will get all the channels, including HD, any movies channels, etc. Anything that would require 2 way communication through the card wont work. Hope that helps.
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Old 10-26-2006, 09:42 AM   #4  
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Thanks to puck and dave for the replies and info.

I'm going to talk to TWC (which is about to become Comcast) and see if they've had any problems with CableCards. Since I already have DirecTV (and its receiver) for the NFL package and HBO, I really want to avoid adding another receiver.

That Samsung LCD I mentioned earlier, LN-3296D, sounds like a nice TV. I think it's the newer version of the 3251. If anyone out there has it, or is thinking of buying it, I'd like to hear about it...
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Old 10-26-2006, 11:04 AM   #5  
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You don't need a cable card unless you want the premium (scrambled) channels,SD or HD, like HBO, SHO, etc. TWC Houston has the locals in HD in the 300-350 channel range without the card. Check out their line up on the web.
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Old 10-26-2006, 02:04 PM   #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by techchallenged
Thanks for replying to my post about CableCards and Time Warner Cable.

Question: Right now I don't have TWC's digital service. The cable runs right to my TV. But now I'm figuring out what to do after I buy a new TV (LCD).

Can I keep my current service - in other words, not upgrade right now to a digital package - and still pick up some HD signals if the new TV has a QAM tuner? Time Warner says they use QAM.

Any info is much appreciated. Thanks!
I have a friend that bought a Sony with a QAM tuner in it and he gets all of the HD locals. He does not get any premium channels because, like you, he does not subscribe to digital cable. That will include ESPN-HD and HD Net amoung others. Look at the TWC Channel Line-ups around channel 290 and up for more info. Note the Basic Cable and the Standard Cable HD channels are the ones you can get without digital cable.

My suggestion for you would be to plug the TV into the service you have now as see what you get because the line up listing can be somewhat confusing as to what applies to basic cable. Then if you miss something like HBO-HD or ESPN-HD then you can get digital cable service. Just adding the service and the HD plus package will give you ESPN-HD and those other channels in the 290-299 range, the pink ones.

It is easy enough to add the new service, but will usually require a TWC tech to come out to add a cable card, whereas if you go with their cable box it can be self installed, just go by the TWC store at Tidwell and 290 and pick it up. If you go with the cable box, I'd suggest the DVR version (same cost, I think) and forget the cable card. The DVR has the benifit of recording shows as well as being able to access PPV from the remote. Also using either cable box will eliminate the need of having a QAM tuner in the TV.

Last edited by rbinck; 10-26-2006 at 02:08 PM..
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Old 10-26-2006, 03:20 PM   #7  
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Thanks for the info.

It sounds like if I get a TV with a QAM tuner - which, by the way, the Samsung doesn't have - the fact that it might not have a CableCard slot isn't a big deal...

Thanks again.
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Old 10-26-2006, 04:13 PM   #8  
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If you want to avoid a cable box with digital cable just be sure the TV has a QAM tuner. It would be unusual for a TV to have a QAM tuner without a cable card slot these days. Which Samsung are you looking at?
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Old 10-26-2006, 10:37 PM   #9  
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This evening I bought a Toshiba 32HL66. It has a QAM tuner but not a CableCard slot. (The Samsung I was considering is the LN-S3296D, which has a CableCard slot but not a QAM tuner.)

I did the initial setup and the picture quality for SD is surprisingly good. Bear in mind I don't have a digital package (from TWC). I have "standard cable," as they call it.

But...when I tuned in the end of the HD-televised World Series on the local Fox station, although the picture was a step up from the other channels, it was in 4:3. I guess I thought that as soon as something came along in HD, the picture would enlarge to 16:9.

Is there something I need to do to pick up the HD signals properly? Or is the first step upgrading to a digital package? I was under the impression that, having a QAM tuner, it would pull in any HD signals automatically without having to subcribe to digital cable.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 10-26-2006, 10:44 PM   #10  
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you prolly need to tinker with your tv's settings. HD cable broadcasts in 16:9. I had a 4:3 tv and had to change settings to get it to go full screen minus a top and bottom bar. (wide screen dvd look). My lcd, which is widescreen is setup to do 16:9 and i use "stretch" for my SD channels. Keep in mind, i have a cable box, and i had to set the settings in there as well. So...im not sure exactly what you need to do. But i do know that cable and satellite both do 16:9, so you can definately get your tv's HD to go full screen. what you need to figure out is how to get your SD channels to go full screen with it.

I was told 4:3 was the origina HD that came out, its "old". At least the dude that setup my directv HD a couple years agotold me that. As far as i know, all carries broadcast 16:9. 1080i im not sure about. My tv doesnt do it. its a 37 " lcd and i know they are making smaller tv's that do that resolution, but mine however is not one of them.

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Old 10-27-2006, 08:42 AM   #11  
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Thanks, Dave. I did exactly what you suggested - I simply changed the setting to what Toshiba calls TheaterWide1. It stretched all the SD to 16:9, but not so much that everything and everyone looks "fat." I was worried that might happen.

And, yes, I pulled in my first HD programming - PBS and the local WB channel. The PBS HD is in 16:9 - very impressive!! WB jumped back to 4:3, but I think that's from their end. I'll play around later today and see what else I can pull in in HD. As I wrote before, I'm simply using the QAM tuner that's in the TV and have not yet subscribed to digital cable.

One question: Can you suggest a better way to connect my DirecTV receiver to the TV? (Note: I'm not using a receiver for cable.)

Right now I have to turn off the DTV receiver to watch the "regular" (non-DTV) channels. On my old TV, it had ANT1 and ANT2, and I could switch back and forth. But from what I can tell with the new TV, there is no ANT2, although I see Video1 and Video 2.

Should I connect from the S-video jack on the DirecTV receiver to the S-video jack on the TV? Right now I have my coaxial cable going to the DTV receiver, then coax going out to the TV. But, as I said, that means I can't switch back to cable without turning off the DTV receiver.

Switching is handy when I watch the NFL games on DTV, but then want to check out the NFL telecast on local TV (which is blacked out on DTV).

rbinck - Any thoughts you might have are welcome, too.

Thanks!

Last edited by techchallenged; 10-27-2006 at 09:02 AM..
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Old 10-27-2006, 09:19 AM   #12  
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if your directv is just SD, then go with your svideo, componant or rca's. that way you can switch in between the 2 via vid 1 and vid2, etc.

but i saw your directv thread. You should just get yourself an HD reciever for directv and use HDMI or componant.

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Old 10-27-2006, 09:26 AM   #13  
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Thanks again, Dave.

The DirecTV receiver is SD. I've considered going to their digital and HD service. But that would necessitate replacing at least one of my two DTV dishes. And I'd probably have to add another receiver or two. Right now we have cable connections in six rooms, so I thought I'd stick with TWC/Comcast for now.

I'll get an S-video cable in a little while and see how it goes.

Question: Would I then simply run the S-video line from the DTV receiver to the TV, then go back to running the coax (for TWC) directly from the wall to the TV?

Thanks.
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Old 10-27-2006, 09:46 AM   #14  
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u just need something like this for your directv:

http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...entPage=family

and ya, just run your cable directly in via coax.
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Old 10-27-2006, 09:48 AM   #15  
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You can use s-video for the SD Directv receiver and that's about as good as is possible. Depending on the particular model, you may like the RF picture better and will want to leave the hook up you have. Some receivers to TV connections do better through s-video and others do better through the RF output. You do loose the stereo audio when using the RF connection.

Now to all those picture questions. I recommend reading these on my blog:
Bars, Bars and More Bars
HDTV Pictures
HDTV Artifacts
Poor SD On HDTVs
DVD Pictures
Also there is a lot of useful information about HDTV on the blog that should interest a newbie as I use it as a storage place for HD information that comes up here.
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