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 Post subject: August Issue - Recording Cable TV. Easy? Not so fast.
PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 4:18 pm 
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MPC made the Ceton card sound like such a simple and easy deal.

Record four channels! Just plug it in, install drivers and a simple phone call! We became believers!


What you wrote was your experience of one market of one cableco. You neglected to research beyond that. If you had you might have encountered a tuning adapter or the fact the a vast number of cablecos require a truck roll for CableCARD installs and you need to be there to help the installer because in most cases they have no idea about any other hardware outside of TiVo.

If your cable area is using - or will be using - SDV then you need a tuning adapter cable box connected to your HTPC by USB even if you have a CableCARD. If your area is using Cisco hardware then the Ceton will only allow two channels to be recorded regardless of it's abilities or the specs of and M-Card.

CableCARD is only one part of the equation and with a tuning adapter there are so many frequent pitfalls and potential issues that recommending the Ceton at this stage is just disappointment waiting to happen to a huge number of cable users.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 5:51 am 
Team Dino
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You're right... to an extent.

The Ceton can tune four channels using two SDV adapters actually, it's been confirmed by a beta tester.

I'm trying to find the article, but I remember reading that the FCC has either enacted a change or is going to enact a change that requires CableCos to allow you the ability to acquire a CableCard at their equipment office if they allow acquiring a cable box from their equipment office.

CableCos indeed have been abusive with the power of CableCards. Some refuse to rent them, even though they are required by the FCC.

The recent report that there are only a few hundred thousand CableCards out in the wild was incorrectly reported due to rented boxes not being counted.

By next year we will hopefully see an ironed out idea of the next tuning method.

My fear is everything will go IP based, rendering current tuners obsolete. (I own a TiVo HD)

For computers this shouldn't be much of a technical issue, but probably will be a nightmare in the real world.

Until consumers stand up for their rights in unison, things will never change. Hollywood and the TV industry will continue to believe that just because they own the IP it means they get to piss on their customers.

n0b0dykn0ws


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:25 am 
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n0b0dykn0ws wrote:
You're right... to an extent.

The Ceton can tune four channels using two SDV adapters actually, it's been confirmed by a beta tester.


And until you actually see how daisy-chaining adapters works in different markets you can't give that a pass either.

One TA will break sync regularly with TiVo boxes. One TA will update every other night and lose all your SDV channels in the process. One TA is a mess for customer support to fix since they know next to nothing about them.

Add another TA and you get one more device in the chain (which adds up to four) that can go wrong at any time - and will. Not to mention the space necessary for two additional cable boxes and external power adapters. The hilarity that will ensue when you have to ask for two TAs and only one CC will cause customer support to meltdown and when the installer comes out and realizes he has to hook up a CableCARD to a PC with dual adapters will probably require an entire team.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:53 am 
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arkweld wrote:
The hilarity that will ensue when you have to ask for two TAs and only one CC will cause customer support to meltdown and when the installer comes out and realizes he has to hook up a CableCARD to a PC with dual adapters will probably require an entire team.


I think this is truly where the whole trouble of implementing CableCards occurred.

Very few phone agents truly understand what is going on, and even worse, techs don't know what they are doing.

It can go very wrong or very right. My aunt has a 50" Panasonic plamsa that uses a CableCard. My soon to be 98 year old grandmother sits in the living room for several hours a day and watches TV. There is no way that she could learn to turn on the TV and STB and control both. Thankfully she bought this TV back when they were still being manufactured with CC tuners. I don't know what they would do today. When the installer came to her house with the card, he inserted it, called the office and had it turned on, and it just worked.

n0b0dykn0ws


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 4:12 pm 
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n0b0dykn0ws wrote:
I think this is truly where the whole trouble of implementing CableCards occurred.

Very few phone agents truly understand what is going on, and even worse, techs don't know what they are doing.


Which makes MPC's article about the subject all the more naive. Support is woefully erratic around the country and in my case usually requires bouncing the issue through multiple levels to get to the CableCARD tech center.

Even field techs have to put up with it. I had a faulty card replaced last month - or tried to - it took 30 minutes of calls back to HQ and reboots before it became clear that the "new" card was actually DOA and the faulty card had to be re-paired and go back in.

The Ceton is going to be a whole other level of confusion.

One other thing MPC erroneously reported in this issue was that they made the common mistake in stating that CableCARDs are one-way devices. They have always been two-way modules from the very first cards.

VOD and similar services are not limited by CCs. It's the lack of support in the host device which limits the function. If MPC want VOD functionality they should ask Ceton why it was never implemented.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:58 am 
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I think the MPC article is more of a 'this is the way it can happen', not 'this is the way it will happen'.

By the time one of these tuners finds its way into my hands I'll hopefully have a good experience.

If users have a horrible experience it's the fault of the CableCo/Cable Labs, not Ceton/Microsoft/SiliconDust.

As for the two way communication, that's again Cable Labs' fault. I imagine TiVo would have jumped at the chance from the start to offer On Demand and PPV.

The Ceton and SiliconDust tuners are the best we'll have until the industry finally opens up to the HTPC experience. Unfortunately we're likelier to see a revolution of consumers before that happens.

n0b0dykn0ws


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:25 pm 
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I'd like to throw my 2 cents in here, as well as clear up a few misconceptions (I think.)
I'll also point out that I am a CableCARD user (I have an ATI Digital Cable Wonder installed in my desktop), and am looking forward to (finally) getting my InfiniTV4.
I'm also a Bright House (TW) subscriber. They started rolling out SDV here earlier this year; I'll get my TA after I install my Ceton tuner.

I'll start with Tuning Adapters (namely, Cisco units, for those on SA headends.) While it's true that a single Cisco TA can only resolve 2 streams, you can (and, with a 4-stream tuner, must) use 2 TAs.
They're not daisy-chained, either - each has its own USB connection to the PC, and its own coax connection. Parallel, not serial. ;)
As you said, those on Motorola headends require only one TA.
And, yes, TAs suck. Suck to the point of requiring near-daily reboots of the TA(s), sometimes. Such is the current state of TAs.
However, the FCC has proposed (and, is looking to adopt) a rule change on them, moving TA functionality to an IP-based solution - this will eliminate entirely the need for a hardware TA.

Installs: Yes, it sucks that many markets require a truck roll to install a CableCARD (or, sometimes, even a TA!) And, yes, some techs are better than others. Blame the cable office for that.
Here's a fun little loophole, though: you can often get the roll charge waived, for several reasons:
- you are quite capable of physically installing the hardware yourself (they just don't let you);
- you had to walk the tech thru the physical setup, and get the ID numbers for him/her.
Don't let them bulldoze you with the "it requires IP address configuration, blah, blah, blah" BS line - it is, quite literally bullshit.
Cards are set up at the office (the tech does nothing but insert the card and call in the numbers), and a TA requires no configuration at all.

As for having any issues - I've actually had very good luck , the one time I had real, honest-to-god issues here.
The most important part is getting a more seasoned tech (even if s/he has little CC experience), who's actually good with signal-quality diagnosis.
90+% of CC issues are related to initial pairing (office), authorization issues (office again), or signal issues (which a decent tech can handle rather quickly.)

Two-way (VOD/PPV): not Ceton's fault. It's not there because Media Center for Windows 7 (which, BTW, is the only app that can use this tuner) doesn't have 2-way support.
Under current CableLabs regs, you wouldn't want it, anyways, as it would require you to run the crappy cableco software on your PC.
Ceton has actually said that the capability is there in their hardware; it'll simply require a firmware change to implement it (once CableLabs changes the rules, and MC supports it.)

Sorry if that was a little long - I got to the thread a little late. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:39 pm 
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And all this is exactly why I'm going to drop my cable service soon and go exclusively Hulu/Netflix/et. al.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 6:34 pm 
Million Club [PC]*
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The funny thing here? This is why (or, at least, a good reason why) I'll continue to keep my cable service.
That card I've had on order since March. I'm quite looking forward to the day that my main MC box gets a CableCARD tuner, and I can stop using TW's cable box (and its hideous UI) just to watch my HD cable channels.

Three installs (2 TAs, 1 CC) on one truck roll, that's not too bad.
Still wish they'd allow self-installs here (as many Comcast offices do), though. :roll:


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