HD cable, how’s yours?

August 15, 2005

DCT6412I’m curious as to what, if any issues you North American HD cable subscribers are experiencing. To be honest this is of direct interest to me because I’ve nearly had it and I’ve only “had it” for about 5 months, HD cable that is.

My problem is basically too little signal to maintain an image, it manifests as blocking, freezing, noise, and total picture loss. Comcast has been to my place (get this) 6 times in the last 5 months, every time the same answer “you have signal loss at the frequency of those two channels”. Here’s the fun part, those two channels are HBOHD and MAXHD, which are basically 2 of the 5 channels I watch with any consistency. Needless to say this is a bummer.

Analog cable (i.e back in ye olden days) had a much broader range in which the signal could drop before the image was unwatchable, or rather it got bad before it got gone. Digital cable doesn’t really act like this, once the signal level drops below whatever the magical number is, you’re pretty much left with a frozen image or severe stuttering akin to trying to watch DSS in a hurricane.

Now I realize the overwhelming majority of HD cable subscribers rarely if ever experience this, and if you’re among that lucky majority please pardon this post. What I’m really looking for is other subs who are experiencing my CATV dilemma and what their local cable company is/isn’t doing to resolve it.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Cable TV


Comments

  • brett

    I've had that same Moto unit for 4-5 months and have not had that problem. I have a relatively low-res display (800X600 front projector), so I wouldn't necessarily notice some noise, but I haven't had dropped signals. Love the unit.

  • Tom

    I have a splitter upstream of the amp. I have a Sony HDTV that needs the amp to get a watchable picture on HD PBS and ABC channels, and a Toshiba HDTV that only shows those channels when its input is *not* amplified. So the incoming cable is now split, one side to Toshiba and the other, through the amp, to the Sony. (All this is in the last couple weeks – Comcast has been “upgrading” the neighborhood). Does this make any sense?

  • Tom

    I have a splitter upstream of the amp. I have a Sony HDTV that needs the amp to get a watchable picture on HD PBS and ABC channels, and a Toshiba HDTV that only shows those channels when its input is *not* amplified. So the incoming cable is now split, one side to Toshiba and the other, through the amp, to the Sony. (All this is in the last couple weeks – Comcast has been “upgrading” the neighborhood). Does this make any sense?

  • Dan

    I bought a nice 40″ Samsung LCD the day after Christmas, and after waiting two weeks for Charter to get some cable boxes in, I eagerly hook it up to find that only about half of my HD channels work consistently. Most of my premium HD channels are fine, but a couple of them along with my local ABC, CBS, and PBS affiliates are really sketchy. Sometimes they’ll work a little, while other times, I’m looking at a blank screen. I called the customer service line just to see if there was anything they could troubleshoot without coming out to the house, but there wasn’t. Taking an afternoon off work to wait for the cable guy just isn’t high on my priority list right now. I might try to replace my splitter, but I’m not tech-savvy enough to attempt running a fresh line through my attic. I’m starting to wonder if satellite is the way to go.

  • Dan

    I bought a nice 40″ Samsung LCD the day after Christmas, and after waiting two weeks for Charter to get some cable boxes in, I eagerly hook it up to find that only about half of my HD channels work consistently. Most of my premium HD channels are fine, but a couple of them along with my local ABC, CBS, and PBS affiliates are really sketchy. Sometimes they’ll work a little, while other times, I’m looking at a blank screen. I called the customer service line just to see if there was anything they could troubleshoot without coming out to the house, but there wasn’t. Taking an afternoon off work to wait for the cable guy just isn’t high on my priority list right now. I might try to replace my splitter, but I’m not tech-savvy enough to attempt running a fresh line through my attic. I’m starting to wonder if satellite is the way to go.

  • steve

    I been having problems for a year with my cable box. (New York, Time Warner Cable Co.) I had the box changed 4 times in the past year. All new cables ran in the house. All the rooms have there own cable( it’s not split) and only have 1 HD box on my sony 50” lcd. they told me the signal might drop down below its number that why i lose HD and some regular channles. My question is Is there a amp that i can add to the sytem to inprove the signal? and what brand or type its and where can i get it

  • steve

    I been having problems for a year with my cable box. (New York, Time Warner Cable Co.) I had the box changed 4 times in the past year. All new cables ran in the house. All the rooms have there own cable( it’s not split) and only have 1 HD box on my sony 50” lcd. they told me the signal might drop down below its number that why i lose HD and some regular channles. My question is Is there a amp that i can add to the sytem to inprove the signal? and what brand or type its and where can i get it

  • Vincent

    I’m experiencing tiling, freeze-up image, and loss of signal on HD Channels. I have Charter Cable in CT. Same story. Checked splitters, signal to HD Scientific Atlanta box, signal into the house. One Charter crew said they found the problem with signal coming into our neighborhood and that they reported it to line maintenance. The problem occurs mostly on one PBS channel I like to watch. It seems to get worse in the evenings, with channel loss after 11:00pm. They have switched HD box, etc., but the problem persists. They have been great about responding, but the problem continues. I suspect that they are selling service on cable lines that are already obsolete.

  • Vincent

    I’m experiencing tiling, freeze-up image, and loss of signal on HD Channels. I have Charter Cable in CT. Same story. Checked splitters, signal to HD Scientific Atlanta box, signal into the house. One Charter crew said they found the problem with signal coming into our neighborhood and that they reported it to line maintenance. The problem occurs mostly on one PBS channel I like to watch. It seems to get worse in the evenings, with channel loss after 11:00pm. They have switched HD box, etc., but the problem persists. They have been great about responding, but the problem continues. I suspect that they are selling service on cable lines that are already obsolete.

  • Armyman 11H

    Time Warner Cable has been out of HD set top boxes and HD DVR units for several weeks. They have no ETA when they will be getting more units in.

    Someone dropped the ball big time. I can’t imagine how many folks are waiting on HD boxes.

  • Armyman 11H

    Time Warner Cable has been out of HD set top boxes and HD DVR units for several weeks. They have no ETA when they will be getting more units in.

    Someone dropped the ball big time. I can’t imagine how many folks are waiting on HD boxes.

  • Tom

    I have just upgraded cable to HD. I am feeding a mitsubishi 55 inch rear projection TV no signal problems. However with my Sony forward projection TV 7in CRT guns the picture just isn’t stable and constantly breaks up whether SD or HD channels are played. Both are hooked up via component video cables and using the same cable feed.

  • Tom

    I have just upgraded cable to HD. I am feeding a mitsubishi 55 inch rear projection TV no signal problems. However with my Sony forward projection TV 7in CRT guns the picture just isn’t stable and constantly breaks up whether SD or HD channels are played. Both are hooked up via component video cables and using the same cable feed.

  • Lisa

    Our next door neighbors have this unit and have not had issues, so some apparently do work fine. We are close to a main cable distribution building so our signal may be stronger.

  • Lisa

    Our next door neighbors have this unit and have not had issues, so some apparently do work fine. We are close to a main cable distribution building so our signal may be stronger.

  • Zack Roth

    I have the comcast DVR/HD box. I use a Infocus projector and it took me awhile to get the color temp and setting calibrated to watch it. Out of the box the signal came through washed out and faded with yellow/blue/red tones popping off the screen. Hopefully that made sense. I may kill the box because I game and watch DVD’s on the projector but I wanted to give it a go to see what it was like.

  • Zack Roth

    I have the comcast DVR/HD box. I use a Infocus projector and it took me awhile to get the color temp and setting calibrated to watch it. Out of the box the signal came through washed out and faded with yellow/blue/red tones popping off the screen. Hopefully that made sense. I may kill the box because I game and watch DVD’s on the projector but I wanted to give it a go to see what it was like.

  • Home Theater Dude

    Couple of things to think about here.

    1) the age of the drop to your residence (the line from the pedestel/junction box)

    2) Splitters, not checking/replacing but removing them. Every time you split the line you are splitting signal strength.

    When I bought my home, I signed up for cable, HD and internet from Charter. At the time I needed the online router at the same location as the set top box, so I had to split it.

    The signal was too weak, so they replaced all lines through the house. Signal got better but not solid enough. I could remove the splitter and get enough signal at this point. However that was still not acceptable.

    So then they replaced the drop to the pedestal, a buried line. And then they went on to replace the main trunk line (2 inches diameter) for the entire pedestal feed.

    Then everything worked. You are at the mercy of your cable company for replacing bad lines. My neighborhood was about 20 yrs old, and I had the advantage of being a new customer. Maybe you could threaten going to satellite.

    You can remove splitters to see if there is an improvement, just use a straight male-male connector and see if it corrects the problem.

  • Home Theater Dude

    Couple of things to think about here.

    1) the age of the drop to your residence (the line from the pedestel/junction box)

    2) Splitters, not checking/replacing but removing them. Every time you split the line you are splitting signal strength.

    When I bought my home, I signed up for cable, HD and internet from Charter. At the time I needed the online router at the same location as the set top box, so I had to split it.

    The signal was too weak, so they replaced all lines through the house. Signal got better but not solid enough. I could remove the splitter and get enough signal at this point. However that was still not acceptable.

    So then they replaced the drop to the pedestal, a buried line. And then they went on to replace the main trunk line (2 inches diameter) for the entire pedestal feed.

    Then everything worked. You are at the mercy of your cable company for replacing bad lines. My neighborhood was about 20 yrs old, and I had the advantage of being a new customer. Maybe you could threaten going to satellite.

    You can remove splitters to see if there is an improvement, just use a straight male-male connector and see if it corrects the problem.

  • B.Greenway

    That was about the second thing we checked.

  • B.Greenway

    That was about the second thing we checked.

  • ZZ

    Check your splitters. They replaced mine and the problems went away.

  • ZZ

    Check your splitters. They replaced mine and the problems went away.

  • Carlos Rivera

    absolutly no problems here in Central Florida (Brighthouse/TW)

  • Carlos Rivera

    absolutly no problems here in Central Florida (Brighthouse/TW)

  • L Alpert

    I had issues when I first signed up a couple of years agao, and what it came down to was inside wiring.
    I had an amplifier (+10db) in the system (after an original split to the cable modem) that came before a two way into 2 – 3 way splitters.

    I ended up running a home run by adding a two way after the first one for the cable modem, bypassing the amp for the HD. No problems since then, rock solid HD all channels.

    HD drop has 11 db signal, others about 7-10db
    (re-ran most all cables under house for shorter runs).

  • L Alpert

    I had issues when I first signed up a couple of years agao, and what it came down to was inside wiring.
    I had an amplifier (+10db) in the system (after an original split to the cable modem) that came before a two way into 2 – 3 way splitters.

    I ended up running a home run by adding a two way after the first one for the cable modem, bypassing the amp for the HD. No problems since then, rock solid HD all channels.

    HD drop has 11 db signal, others about 7-10db
    (re-ran most all cables under house for shorter runs).

  • Geoff

    I just got HD cable via TWC in New York. They gave me a Pioneer HD box BD-V3510HD. One thing about this box is that the HDCP seems flaky.

    I have a Syntax LCD TV (haven’t yet tried it with my front pj) and it says the source is not HDCP compliant (possible that it’s the TV, but it’s known to work w/ other HDCP devices). So, no DVI for me, which was a big bummer since DVI is my connection of choice.

    Other than that, yes I have had all of the problems described above (macroblocking, sound sync./cutout issues, noise, compresssion artifacting, etc.). When conditions are right, the PQ is outstanding, esp. on HDNet and INHD. PBS channel 13 HD is the worst (highly compressed, often worse than SD during scenes with a lot of camera movement), Discovery HD Theater is just OK.

    I’ve had it for a week and so far, not terribly impressed. Still waiting for this to really “happen.”

  • Geoff

    I just got HD cable via TWC in New York. They gave me a Pioneer HD box BD-V3510HD. One thing about this box is that the HDCP seems flaky.

    I have a Syntax LCD TV (haven’t yet tried it with my front pj) and it says the source is not HDCP compliant (possible that it’s the TV, but it’s known to work w/ other HDCP devices). So, no DVI for me, which was a big bummer since DVI is my connection of choice.

    Other than that, yes I have had all of the problems described above (macroblocking, sound sync./cutout issues, noise, compresssion artifacting, etc.). When conditions are right, the PQ is outstanding, esp. on HDNet and INHD. PBS channel 13 HD is the worst (highly compressed, often worse than SD during scenes with a lot of camera movement), Discovery HD Theater is just OK.

    I’ve had it for a week and so far, not terribly impressed. Still waiting for this to really “happen.”

  • mark heyberger

    I have CHARTER in RENO and have had HD three months.CinemaxHD has always FROZE or LOST signal.The rest of HD channels TNTHD,NBC,etc. all have tilling.I’ve got a MOXIE box and MOTO 6200 it happens on both.CHARTER has came out twice could not find anything wrong.

  • mark heyberger

    I have CHARTER in RENO and have had HD three months.CinemaxHD has always FROZE or LOST signal.The rest of HD channels TNTHD,NBC,etc. all have tilling.I’ve got a MOXIE box and MOTO 6200 it happens on both.CHARTER has came out twice could not find anything wrong.

  • Todd

    I’ve got Insight but the model of the DVR box from Motorola that we’ve got appears the same as what’s pictured here.

    When we first signed up a year ago after getting a projector we got signal loss *constantly* on HD channels (never noticed it on SD). Never had a cable person out as it always righted itself eventually and was fair consistent in its total randomness.

    The problem still recurs intermittently but its usually short and happens less and less frequency. Actually, since getting a CableCard TV and forgoing the DVR last month I only see the occasional hiccup that last for a few seconds and is gone. (fingers crossed)

  • Todd

    I’ve got Insight but the model of the DVR box from Motorola that we’ve got appears the same as what’s pictured here.

    When we first signed up a year ago after getting a projector we got signal loss *constantly* on HD channels (never noticed it on SD). Never had a cable person out as it always righted itself eventually and was fair consistent in its total randomness.

    The problem still recurs intermittently but its usually short and happens less and less frequency. Actually, since getting a CableCard TV and forgoing the DVR last month I only see the occasional hiccup that last for a few seconds and is gone. (fingers crossed)

  • I have a 6412 (and previously a 6208 DVR and 6200 HD box) with Comcast. Surprisingly, I never had a single major hiccup with either the HD or DVR service. I did have the 6208 die on me, but that’s where the advantage in renting comes in. Analog channels are definitely a bit difficult to watch on my front projector, but that should be fixed once Comcast deploys digital simulcast. I am in a new neighborhood, though, so all the equipment here is less than 3 years old and since the neighborhood is only half-full, I’m guessing that their facilities here are fairly unloaded. I guess that puts me at a bit of an advantage.

    Overall, I’ve been happy with the price, technology, and quality of service I’ve gotten from Comcast. I know that puts me in the minority.. 🙂

  • I have a 6412 (and previously a 6208 DVR and 6200 HD box) with Comcast. Surprisingly, I never had a single major hiccup with either the HD or DVR service. I did have the 6208 die on me, but that’s where the advantage in renting comes in. Analog channels are definitely a bit difficult to watch on my front projector, but that should be fixed once Comcast deploys digital simulcast. I am in a new neighborhood, though, so all the equipment here is less than 3 years old and since the neighborhood is only half-full, I’m guessing that their facilities here are fairly unloaded. I guess that puts me at a bit of an advantage.

    Overall, I’ve been happy with the price, technology, and quality of service I’ve gotten from Comcast. I know that puts me in the minority.. 🙂

  • JohnE

    I have TWC in Kansas City, and the HD channels are quite good, and there are a few more than just 5 channels.

  • JohnE

    I have TWC in Kansas City, and the HD channels are quite good, and there are a few more than just 5 channels.

  • Grover Saunders

    This isn’t relegated just HD signals. My SD digital channels will often have the same problem. Every time I have Adelphia out to take a look they either change the splitters and leave without even turning on the TV or metering the signal(it of course fixes nothing), or they say that if any of the channels look good, there’s no point in trying to fix the bad ones.

    I had hoped that the Comcast buyout would help clear up some of that BS, but it sounds like that’s not going to be a problem. Time to look at a Dish once again…

  • Grover Saunders

    This isn’t relegated just HD signals. My SD digital channels will often have the same problem. Every time I have Adelphia out to take a look they either change the splitters and leave without even turning on the TV or metering the signal(it of course fixes nothing), or they say that if any of the channels look good, there’s no point in trying to fix the bad ones.

    I had hoped that the Comcast buyout would help clear up some of that BS, but it sounds like that’s not going to be a problem. Time to look at a Dish once again…

  • David Brooks

    The WORST offender is SD video, especially on low-rated cable channels. While HBO SD is watchable, Comedy Central is horrible with significant artifacting and distortion. The only conclusion is digital bandwidth throttling: there simply isn’t enough capacity to give everyone decent quality picture, so the cable company allocates more bandwidth to the paying customers (premium) and less badnwidth to the cheap seats.

  • David Brooks

    The WORST offender is SD video, especially on low-rated cable channels. While HBO SD is watchable, Comedy Central is horrible with significant artifacting and distortion. The only conclusion is digital bandwidth throttling: there simply isn’t enough capacity to give everyone decent quality picture, so the cable company allocates more bandwidth to the paying customers (premium) and less badnwidth to the cheap seats.

  • brett

    I’ve had that same Moto unit for 4-5 months and have not had that problem. I have a relatively low-res display (800X600 front projector), so I wouldn’t necessarily notice some noise, but I haven’t had dropped signals. Love the unit.

  • Damon Payne

    I have the motorola HD box pictured in your article via Charter in Wisconsin. Depending on the day I have some freezing picture issues, as well as my TV complaining about the HD format from time to time; I’ve had technicians out only four times, am on my third cable box. The only explanation offered is “You seem to have some signal loss”…

    The technicians also seem to know nothing about anything audio/video related, I have had 3 techs tell me to use 480p output instead of 1080i. When I asked why I was paying for “HD” channels if they wanted me to run 480p blank stares were the response.

  • Damon Payne

    I have the motorola HD box pictured in your article via Charter in Wisconsin. Depending on the day I have some freezing picture issues, as well as my TV complaining about the HD format from time to time; I’ve had technicians out only four times, am on my third cable box. The only explanation offered is “You seem to have some signal loss”…

    The technicians also seem to know nothing about anything audio/video related, I have had 3 techs tell me to use 480p output instead of 1080i. When I asked why I was paying for “HD” channels if they wanted me to run 480p blank stares were the response.