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Author Topic: Pending analog to digital TV changeover  (Read 21284 times)

JeffVolp

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Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« on: November 05, 2011, 01:12:49 PM »


I'm looking for suggestions on how to deal with a pending analog to digital TV changeover.

We now have analog TV feed from the cable company.  We have no converter boxes, and all of our equipment is still analog, including three high-end DVRs that allow us to watch programs when convenient for us, not for the broadcasters.  Those are Panasonic DMR-E100Hs, (pre HD) which store programs to harddrive.  Aside from no monthly fee, one big advantage over TiVo is that we can edit down programs and save to DVDs or SD cards.  That is one feature I don't want to lose.  The primary reason for not going digital is because those DVRs would become obsolete.

The cable company said they would be doing away with the analog feed next year, so we will have to address the changeover.  Cable TV costs about $60 per month without any premium channels.  We do have access to most regular stations by direct transmission (which would require all new equipment or HDTV converters), but my wife likes several channels only available via cable.  I'm in sort of a quandary on how to proceed when cable does away with the analog transmission.  I am posting here to see how others have addressed this situation with minimum cost.

Jeff
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William8

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2011, 01:33:17 PM »

I'm sure the cable company will offer converters to their customers that still have analog TV's. They hate to lose customers.

But you are paying $60 a month I assume you already have a cable box, doesn't it already receive digital signals, and output them over the coax output? Or are you paying $60 for internet and basic cable as I am?

Might be time to get an HDTV either way, I love mine.
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JeffVolp

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2011, 02:28:00 PM »


Yes, the cable company would be happy to rent us converter boxes if we would switch to digital.  But that would prevent the DVRs from choosing which channel to record.  The E100H doesn't have any means to control what channel a cable box is tuned to.

Basically, the DVRs record everything for the week unattended, and we watch programs when convenient, usually weeks behind when it was recorded.  (We catch up in the summer when it is too hot to go outside.)

$27 for basic cable, $34 to include the "non-broadcast" channels (no premium), and $41 for Internet (8M).

Researching TiVo further, I see they now have a means to transfer recorded programs over to the PC, where they can be written to DVD.  However, that is $500 + $500 for the fee, and I would have to run more Ethernet links into outside walls.

Jeff
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Dan Lawrence

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2011, 03:20:32 PM »

The  Pending analog to digital TV changeover now is a crock.   The changeover was four years ago.   Comcast in the Baltimore County had to send out small convertors of those who had analog "cable ready" sets that convert digital signals to analog.  In Baltimore city, (1984) the system required a box for every TV that had cable service.  My kitchen has a small TV that was only 3 years old (we were a Neison customer, and when we stopped, they blew up my old kitchen TV and gave us "brand new" one) so Ii got two "Government Cheese" coupons (actually 2 cards that looked like an ATM card) and $6.00 and got a digital converter (A Maganvox) that converts digital signals to analog (since that TV is on my outside antenna).

BTW the Government is not giving out those cards anymore, plus almost every TV station in the country already went digital in 2007.
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JeffVolp

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2011, 04:23:35 PM »

The Pending analog to digital TV changeover now is a crock.

Not for some of us on cable.  Maybe the world passed us by, but we have been using our analog equipment without a glitch except that our 4:3 screens cut off the sides of the picture.  That has been adequate for most of what is on TV today.  We have the HD projector in the media room for DVD & BD movies.

If you had read my original post, the "Pending" refers to our cable company will be cutting off the analog feed, forcing us holdouts to make the transition.

As you probably know, I'm a strong believer in "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".  Well, my stuff ain't broke yet, and I'm looking for the most cost effective way to maintain the same capability we now have after they make the transition.

Jeff
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dhouston

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2011, 04:31:00 PM »

The E100H doesn't have any means to control what channel a cable box is tuned to.
How does the E100H select the chennels/times it records now?
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JeffVolp

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2011, 04:42:43 PM »

How does the E100H select the chennels/times it records now?

Analog cable feed goes to the RF connector on the back, just like from an antenna (no cable box).  Then I program it just like a VCR - channel, time, day, etc.  It will record for months without any further attention.

It works similar to a TiVo, except there is no fee, and I can edit and archive programs to DVD or SD.

Jeff
« Last Edit: November 05, 2011, 04:49:44 PM by JeffVolp »
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Dan Lawrence

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2011, 05:29:18 PM »

Ok, who's your cable company?  Ours is Comcast and as mentioned, in Baltimore City, we've had cable since 1984 and always had a box for every TV on the cable, and for us the digital change was four years ago, all TV stations went digital at the same time.   If your TV is analog, the cable made the digital conversion for you.  The reason for the changeover was to free the analog frequencies for other uses, particularly for the first responders, which is my understanding never was done.  Half of the analog frequencies were for first responders, the other half was auxtioned off to the cell companies so more "stuff" could solded to the cell phone users and supposodly the first responders never got the analog frequencies but the cell companies did. 
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ITguy

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2011, 05:41:56 PM »

To Dan Lawrence:

Quote
The  Pending analog to digital TV changeover now is a crock.

Your mother should have taught you the old saying "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"!

Edited by original poster to remove flame content.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2011, 05:52:09 PM by ITguy »
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dhouston

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2011, 05:53:54 PM »

So, in essence, you need an HDTV to NTSC converter?
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JeffVolp

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2011, 05:56:23 PM »

We are with Baja Broadband (previously Charter).  I am well aware of the history behind the nationwide conversion.  Not only was it to free up frequencies, but it was also to rake in more money selling them off again.  I don't think first responders needed anywhere near the bandwidth that was freed up.  That communication is mostly narrow bandwidth and limited range.

We would have needed a cable box for the premium channels, but all our TV and DVR tuners accepted the standard analog cable input.  When the nationwide conversion took place, Baja provided both analog and digital feeds.  As you said, they did the conversion for the analog feed.

Now that service will be ending, forcing those of us still in the analog world to finally make the conversion.  While the easy thing is to just accept their cable boxes, that prevents our using the analog DVRs for anything other than single channel operation.  There was a patent fight several years ago that prevented Panasonic and other firms from offering similar DVRs for the digital feed, leaving TiVo (with their fee) and the cable company DVRs as the only option.  None of them provide the features of the Panasonic DVR.

Jeff
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JeffVolp

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2011, 06:10:26 PM »

So, in essence, you need an HDTV to NTSC converter?

That only handles a single channel like the cable boxes.  The ideal solution would be a converter box that translates selected channels on the digital cable feed to analog channels on different frequencies so the TV and DVR tuners could still be used for channel selection.

Obviously the cable company is doing that now, but I don't think there is anything like that available to a consumer at an affordable price.  It appears the closest replacement for the Panasonic DVR is that TiVo unit at $1000 a pop (including the license fee).

Jeff
« Last Edit: November 05, 2011, 06:21:25 PM by JeffVolp »
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Brian H

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2011, 06:12:02 PM »

I have Comcast here in CT. My part of the state still has analog and basic digital signals on the cable. Some parts have had the analog part discontinued. There web site lead me to believe. If you subscribe to basic analog only. They would give us up to two digital cable to RF antenna input converters no charge. My LCD TV can also do the QAM decoding so I have a few of the basic digital channels already on that TV.
Yes with the converter you pick input channel on the TV and it does all the channel selections.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2011, 06:27:25 PM by Brian H »
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dhouston

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2011, 07:29:08 PM »

That only handles a single channel like the cable boxes.

So your current devices have their own tuner?

Program your Ocelot or Leopard to send IR to change channels on the cable cox (leaving the TV off) and feed its HDMI output to the converter with its output always on a single channel to which your recorder is always tuned.
It wouldn't be that difficult to build a custom PIC-based device to send the codes needed, using an RTC to track time.
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JeffVolp

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Re: Pending analog to digital TV changeover
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2011, 08:21:10 PM »

So your current devices have their own tuner?

Program your Ocelot or Leopard to send IR to change channels on the cable cox (leaving the TV off) and feed its HDMI output to the converter with its output always on a single channel to which your recorder is always tuned.

Yes, the DVRs and TVs have their own analog tuners.  I had not thought about using the Ocelot to switch cable box channels, so that is an option.  But programming the Ocelot is certainly not as easy as entering some buttons on a TV screen menu, and is it not something that Kate could do.  (She normally sets up the DVRs.)  Also, the attached TV couldn't be used for anything else while recording unless it has its own cable box.  Those would put it pretty low on the WAF.

With respect to your link, all of this equipment except that in the media room is pre-HDMI.  (No flat-panels except this monitor.)

Jeff
« Last Edit: November 05, 2011, 08:31:13 PM by JeffVolp »
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