Like many people, I don’t have a set top box (“STB” or “cable box”) for every TV in my house. I despise the things. They complicate matters. Why include an STB in the loop when I can connect my cable wire directly to my “cable-ready” TV? Or better yet, connect it to my “cable-ready” ReplayTV DVR? It gives me the power of one remote without needing to worry about ridiculous remote repeater to change the channel on a cable box. Sure, it limits me to the stations under channel 100, but that’s okay since they are the channels we watch most. We’ve got an STB/DVR on the HDTV and that’s where we record stuff that is above channel 100 – primarily the high-def stuff that Comcast puts on the channels in the 800-900 range. It’s been working okay for us. I am still a little annoyed that I need an STB for the high-def channels that are broadcast channels and I’m still very annoyed that ReplayTV is defunct. But we’re making do in with this setup.
I got a letter from Comcast. It says that they are removing all but the broadcast stations from analog feed in January. That means the only stations that I’d be able to get on a “cable-ready” TV are the ones that are available over the air. To put it another way, Comcast is removing the “cable-ready” from my TV. I find that rather rude.
Now to make up for this change, Comcast is going to offer a “digital adapter” to me “at no cost”. It’s good that it is free, but it is still an STB. If I want to receive anything more than what I get over the air, I need an STB of some sort now. It’s Comcast’s way of infiltrating every TV location in my house. Evil. And that means you change channels on the STB instead of on the device doing the recording (or the watching) and that means multiple remotes, IR repeaters and the whole bucket of nonsense.
As usual, the alternatives suck. I could ditch cable and go with satellite which would require an STB for each outlet anyway. Hardly an improvement. I could suck it up and go with only Comcast STB/DVRs but that means mothballing the ReplayTVs which are still doing their commercial skip just fine, thank you. In the end, when Comcast does follow through on their evil plan in January, I’ll probably begrudgingly move the effected ReplayTV recordings to the Comcast DVR. But in the long run, a cable-card ready HD DVR that has sharing and commercial skip capabilities like my precious ReplayTVs is the only way to go – now if I only such a thing existed!