Steve Brinich (stevemb) wrote,
Steve Brinich

  • Mood:

Dealing CableCards From The Bottom Of The Deck

Last week, our old stand-alone DVR/DVD recorder conked out. A bit of searching shows that the market for this sort of device seems to have dried up in favor of separate DVD recorders and DVR hard-disk units. We already had another DVD recorder (a DVD/VCR combo setup we keep in case we ever play video tapes or get around to transferring old ones to DVD), so we just needed the DVR part. After a bit of research, including double-pinky-swear assurances that it was compatible with our cable service (Northern Virginia Cox Cable), we settled on a TiVO HD unit.

And so begins the tale:


TiVO arrives. I get it installed; it works within the limits of an off-the-shelf unit that doesn't have the CableCards for the local service (i.e. it gets the basic tier of channels but not the full set).


Cox Tech 1 arrives. After about a dozen false starts, he gets the CableCards to appear to work. However, it turns out that some of the channels still don't come in.


Cox Tech 2 arrives. He installs a tuning adapter, which is supposed to bring in the channels that are being conveyed through a digital switching arrangement that the CableCards don't cope with properly. (This much gibes with what I've found through my research.) At first, all seems well, but later the picture intermittently drops out with a Tuning-Adapter-Not-Found error message.


Cox Tech 3 arrives. He removes everything and installs a Cox DVR with the higher functions turned off (basically, a big bulky cable box), claiming that it can be controlled from the TiVO remote by setting the Cox DVR to Channel 3. In fact, the TiVO has to be set to Channel 3, tuning is done from the Cox DVR box, and there is no way for the system to perform preprogrammed recording.

I have no idea of how Tech 3 could have possibly expected the TiVO to do scheduled recordings when hooked to a glorified cable box that gets no feedback from it. I am guessing that he slapped together an arrangement that looked OK just so he could get away and let it become somebody else's problem. I realize that this is uncharitable. I have used up my supply of charity by assigning the labels "Tech 1, Tech 2, and Tech 3" rather than "Moe, Larry, and Curly".

Hanlon's Razor implies that I should not assume that Cox is making a deliberately half-assed attempt to comply with compatibility regulations in order to leverage its cable monopoly into a DVR monopoly. I suspect this of being one of those chins Hanlon's Razor doesn't shave cleanly.

Tags: house, rant, tech, tv
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened