Corin Anderson (magellanic) wrote,
Corin Anderson

Digital cable

The cable guy installed the box for digital cable Thursday morning. Cable goes from the wall to the box, then to my TV. I set my TV to channel 3 and then use a different remote to change the cable station.

The UI whomps big time. Having a separate remote is a displeasure to begin with. Changing channels on my TV takes about three-quarters of a second, perhaps less time. On the digital cable box, it's about three seconds before my TV can sync up with the new channel signal. What's up with that? The new box has a built-in TV guide - great. It downloads station names and program info from the cable. But, when I hit the guide button, about half the time it drops me on to channel 2, not the channel I'm on. Ack! Okay, perhaps, if I have only 80 channels or so. But the digital cable has programming on and off in all the channels from 2 to 1000.

I'm also a bit put off by the notion that the box is very likely sending data back to Comcast about what I'm viewing. I didn't sign anything (that I knew) that authorized them to spy on my TV viewing. But, with their own box on the cable, it would be sort of silly (for them) if they didn't spy on me. I felt I could at least trust my TV to not rat me out.

The receipt the installer gave me showed a $16 installation fee, although I was promised the only cost was $6/mo for the whole deal. I called Comcast today and the telephone woman very nicely asked questions, typed keys, and removed the charge. That was very fun. I suppose the pricing is a lot more flexible than one imagines. I don't take this as a huge victory, though -- she also told me that I'll pay $1 or $2 in franchise fees each month for the service, too. Whatever.

Will I keep digital cable? Yes, for at least a few weeks. I enjoy having the non-commercial music channels. But, I also have many hours of CDs that I could listen to as well. I haven't found any programming on the digital side that I really wanted that I didn't have on my extended basic cable. So it's not looking good for my keeping digital cable long term. But, we'll see.
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