Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Cable vs. Satellite Update

Well, I got Comcast to come out and try to fix the problems discussed in an entry a couple of weeks ago. Here's what happened.

The first thing the technician does is whip out a device that measures signal strength and took a reading from the cable at the cable box. "Yep," he says, "Here's your problem. The signal is at minus nine." Oh my god, minus nine? Does that mean that it is actually sucking a signal out of my television? I guess not, and when I suggested it, he didn't look amused.

He asked to see where the splitter was upstairs, so I took him to it. I was dreading this, because I knew what was coming. I actually wired my house with cable myself. I used good quality RG-6 coax cable, but the splitter in my wiring box is a rather crappy six-way splitter. I haven't been using it because the satellite cables all go from the dish straight to the tuner via one splice, but like I said, I knew what was coming. "Um-hmm, this is the problem. This won't do at all." I explained that I tried disconnecting the input and plugging it straight into the cable going to the living room (bypassing the splitter) and still got the same result. He didn't look convinced, and whipped out a shiny new two-way splitter and plugged in the input and output cables to it. One thing I've gotta say, these cable technicians do have cool toys, and I really do want one of those thingeys that will tell me the signal strength. I'd love to go to my friends' houses and impress them by saying stuff like, "Your signal strength is at minus two" and then whipping out shiny new splitters. But I digress...

We went back to the living room, and he took another measurement. "Yep, that's a LOT better. We're at plus one now." I think I actually saw my poor television breathe a sigh of relief, as if a great burden were suddenly lifted from it. We plugged everything back up, turned it on, and the picture was exactly the same: grainy and snowy. "Yep," the technician told me, "That's better!"

"Better!? No it's not!" I flipped over to my satellite box (still connected) and said, "That is better! It doesn't have to be that good, but it has to be a lot better than (flip) this!"

"Ah, I see," he said thoughtfully. "Well you see, the satellite is digital, and the cable is analog. We're working on converting everything over to digital, but you've got a lot of people who still want to watch television without a cable box."

I then took to something I usually try to diligently avoid: giving people who have no say-so whatsoever advice on what a company ought to do. "I don't understand why until everyone is digital you don't just pipe both an analog version and a digital version of all of these stations over the cable. That would make everyone happy!"

He said something about them working on it, but it's at least a few months away. I don't think they're working on it, and even if they are, I'm not watching a crappy television signal for a few months if I don't have to. I thanked him for his time, gave him back his shiny new splitter, and sent him on his way. After he left, I called Comcast and told them sorry, I just don't like it, and on Monday, I returned all of the equipment they installed the first time out.

So that's the status of things. I'm still somehow managing to get by without HDTV. Maybe I'll put up an over-the-air antenna and hook it up to another input on my television. Maybe I'll wait until later and see what DirecTV does. Maybe in six months we'll all be watching television over the Internet. Whatever the future holds, that's my account of the past.

As a post-note, I just noticed that the Comcast links from my original post won't let you browse their site without you giving them your address, which frankly is none of their business, so I have removed the links. If you're interested in cable service, their Web site is http://comcast.com. Give them your neighbor's address instead, they watch too much television anyway.


At 8:37 PM, Blogger philip said...

Hello, nice post, useful info here. Not to turn this into a "Which cable company sucks the worst rant", but my only option is Charter Communications and they are the worst. Last in costumer service...Worst "bundle" etc...see this blog I mean the Better Buisness Bureau even has a chapter on them. My question is which is better, Dish Network or Directv? Your input would be very helpful. Thanks.

At 12:30 AM, Blogger ameyer13 said...

Enjoyed the article and have had experience with both that might be useful to readers. I had cable for many years and really didn't give much thought to whether there would be a more economical choice out there. I was sadly mistaken, I started working for Dish Network and was introduced to a whole new world of options and products. With Dish I was able to get twice the programming choices and started paying the lowest all-digital prices in the nation. That was a breath of fresh air especially when I realized that there was such a difference. I get all my HD programming free for life and the color and clarity is astounding. My receivers are dual-tuner technology so they can run two TV's off one receiver box which is awesome. Recently I decided to get a product from Dish called a Sling Adapter which allows me to take my programming with me everywhere I go on my mobile device. I love have multiple options with one service. SO when I travel, I'm paying for a service that I AM using. Dish Network has been so good to me that I have referred many friends and family. I recommend it to you guys, my internet family as well.


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