TWC staff: You need a Digital Cable Adapter for everything.

To expand a bit more on my interaction with TWC staff yesterday: Late yesterday afternoon, while running errands, I stopped at the Time Warner Cable office in Augusta to inquire and (if they had them) pick up two Digital Cable Adapter boxes. There were some banners on display about the digital conversion and they had a temporary table setup to right hand side as you come in, with two computer stations and two staff members dedicated to customers coming in about the Digital Cable Conversion. Behind the table were a stack of boxes with the adapters. They asked me how many TVs I had and I said I was just going to pick up two adapters for my analog DVR & DVDR. Both staff members said that everybody needs a Digital Cable Adapter per TV set. I replied asking: Even if I have modern HDTVs with a digital tuner and I already get some digital channels, I will really need on of those boxes? For every TV? They said: Yes, you need an adapter per TV, no matter which tuner it has. They insisted that unless you have one of their big (higher tier) Digital Cable Boxes (pointing to one mounted on the wall behind them) you will no longer get any cable service. Everything that is attached directly to the cable / wall needs an adapter or box. No adapter or box, no cable TV. The guy said Cable TV is going password protected. Etc. Boxes can already be authorized on the network. I was told to call the number in the box from my home phone and follow the automated prompts. There was some positive spin of course, that customers have reported they get better service and a clearer picture, etc. I will try to put that to the test shortly. Stay tuned.

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Digital Cable Adapter – First look

I picked up a couple of Time Warner Digital Cable Adapters this afternoon, so here are a few quick snapshots. I will share more photos at a higher resolution and additional details tomorrow, as I got home late and it is nearly midnight. I think the photos are pretty self explanatory with a few shots of the box cover, content, manual, wall wart, cables. The cables are a coax cable and an IR cable to control your TV. The device is a bit bigger than a credit card and quite small actually. The casing is metal. It feels weighted and robust. The remote is small, basic, cheap … common with inexpensive TVs & the Over The Air antenna boxes. It is capable of being programmed for your TV set. The wall wart is quite big and will take up a considerable spot on your power strip. Depending on your strip it may need three slots. Off note: when I picked up these adapter boxes, I was told, more than once, that anybody without a digital cable box will need one of these adapters per tv. More on that in my next post. To be continued …

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Digital Cable Conversion – The end of analog cable is near

We are one of the ‘lucky’ 90000 people in the central Maine area where Time Warner Cable is launching its pilot program Digital Cable Conversion plan on Oct 18th. It will go statewide and then nationwide later. Through the AVS forum, I learned this is going to be true for Comcast subscribers as well and that apparently they are starting this conversion in Maine as well. I think Brighthouse and other providers probably will follow suit as well. If two major players in the industry do it, more will follow. I learned about this after catching part of little Time Warner Cable ad Tuesday morning, featuring a small cable box that transformed into a flying bot, etc. The TV was muted, so I didn’t catch the audio and I haven’t seen the ad again, to describe in full details. Summary Starting Oct 18th, Cable TV as we know it, is going all-digital, starting with central Maine. Basically, anything with only an analog tuner – older TV, VCR, DVR, DVDR, computer tuner card … – will no longer receive any stations, unless you get the digital cable converter box (( or upgrade to the higher tier digital cable boxes //// or cut cable and go over the air with an antenna and digital antenna box )) and then you still face the hurdle of controlling the channels and programming the devices for recording. Most existing equipment will not know the remote code to transmit a channel change via an IR blaster, if they have one at all. So it is not good for people with lots of money invested in analog recording equipment. You will set your TV or device to channel 3 or 4 and receive cable via the converter box. Consumer opinion / consensus * The consensus so far between a few local affected consumers, based on what we have read & learned, seems to be that: A) Channels 2-24 considered basic cable will be transmitted digitally clear and unencrypted and be receivable with a modern TV with digital tuner, or other device. No digital cable converter box needed, if you have a recent TV with digital tuner. If on the other hand you have an older analog TV, you will need the digital cable converter box. This box is similar to the OTA / Over The Air digital adapter box we learned about a few years ago, but smaller. It needs to be authorized and activated by the cable company and you have to use its remote for your channel functions. The converter box is offered for free, for us, through 2013. Then they will charge 99c/mo rent thereafter, per converter. B) Channels 25-70 considered expanded cable are most likely to be transmitted encrypted and will require the converter box, per device that you wish to view those channels on. So, if you have a QAM HDTV and expanded cable 2-70, you presumably (no confirmation from the cable company here yet) will get basic channels 2-24 unencrypted in…

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