Tuesday, March 13, 2007

rant: hd, cable companies, getting bent over

well, i've been meaning to get on my lil soapbox about this topic for some time.  my friend and i were discussing this just recently and realized just how badly we, the consumers, are getting screwed over in the HDTV content market (ie cable tv/sat tv). first, hdtv cable service requires a box.  i can no longer use my own PC (no DVR fee or crappy UI/box/limitations). cable companies are only allowing non-cable boxes to use cablecards for HD content.  however with cablecards tv tuners must now go through certification and in turn really doesn't allow us DIYers to build our own boxes, rather you'll have to spend a pretty penny on a Vista Premium pre-built system.

bad. horrible.  Ok, so it mainly affects us DIYers or BIYers.   however, most recently i've heard that Tivo Series 3 boxes may not work w/Comcast coming up soon too (supposed changes to their cable system requiring CableCard 2.0 vs 1.0; 2.0 = bi-directional, 1.0 = one-way).  

personally, i think that the direction in which cable companies are going in regards to HD and CableCard standards is very stupid and unfair to us consumers.  they basically have taken all control out of the consumers hands and now are forcing us to USE their crap DVR boxes.

i would not have any issues w/using a cable companies HD DVR box if it was competant and could atleast try to compete w/TiVo and PC DVR boxes.  comcast is atleast trying to correct this by sending down TiVo software to their Motorola DVR boxes ( http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6405204.html ), however it is still only in beta/testing (even though it was promised to be deployed by end of 2006) and should be piloted by spring 2007.  yet, this still leaves us DIYers out in teh dust and stuck w/a cable company HD DVR (yes, we can do digital and normal cable but we want HD!).

so, what would make me happy?  someone to release an HD TV Tuner that doesn't require me to purchase an overpriced PC or atleast up the anty in the cable box market.   nonetheless, once you go HD you can't go back (hardware purchased, quality of content, etc) so i can complain as much as i want and yet i will still pay for my HD DVR box (well, atleast this year). pllus, how many people do you know  that have the know-how, setup, and time to build their own HD HTPC? i think i know of two other people; so cable companies really are not going to be losing a slew of money since the DIYers are a VAST minority of the consumers.  and one more thing, why the hell isn't there more HDTV content? btw, satellite is out of the question for me since DirecTV quality is basically not up to par to cable (i've heard they actually remove frames sending it down, notice how they no longer say its teh 'best quality' programming anymore?? hehe or so i've heard)

i already miss the good ole days of analog cable and tv tuners. i remember when i built my own HTPC box and didn't have to pay $15 a month for my guide/dvr... ahh.. the memories... hehe..Â