Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Media Television Entertainment

Comcast Disables VCR Scheduling In New Guide 554

An anonymous reader writes "Comcast has quietly launched a new on-screen guide for its cable boxes. What they're not advertising is that they've removed the ability to schedule VCR-compatible channel flipping any time more than a few hours in advance for people who don't buy the $20/month DVR service. What this means is that VCR owners are now forced to pay for Comcast's $20/month DVR service or else start their recordings manually. For us techies there might be a way around this, but ordinary VCR enthusiasts and owners of other recorders are left in the dust. Anyone know a good antitrust lawyer?" Raise your hand if you regularly use a VCR these days, too.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Comcast Disables VCR Scheduling In New Guide

Comments Filter:
  • Lawyer? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:59PM (#31812006)

    Anyone know a good antitrust lawyer?

    Your wallet.

    • Re:Lawyer? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:17PM (#31812136) Journal
      'cause the free market fixes everything. the invisible hand of the market will even stop invading tanks as long as you wish it hard enough
      • Re:Lawyer? (Score:5, Informative)

        by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:32PM (#31812246) Journal

        You've been unfairly marked troll. (Not that I agree with you, but everyone should have a right to express an opinion without having their karma stabbed.)

        Anyway, a free market WOULD fix in this case, because when Comcast pulls this shit, you would then be able to switch to Cox cable or Time-Warner cable or AppleTV or Verizon TV or anybody else you desired. Comcast's poor decisions would drive it into bankruptcy as customers would flee in droves. (As happened to Circuit City not too long ago.) BUT because Comcast operates a virtual monopoly, they know they can force customers into upgrading to Comcast DVRs, simply by turning off standard features...... like a VCR Timer.

        Also it's not just VCRs, but also DVRs this affects.

        I have a Panasonic ReplayTV that can switch the old analog channels just fine, but ever since the analog-to-digital transition, it's lost that capability. I now rely on an external box with a "VCR/DVR Timer" to switch the digital stations. If Comcast removes that capability from their set-top box, than DVRs like mine will no longer be able to record anything but a single channel when I'm away from home.


        Please don't mod me "troll" just cause you disagree (like you did to Lekh).

        • Re:Lawyer? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:58PM (#31812396) Journal
          It's worse than that, though. Not only does Comcast have a functional monopoly(or at least cozy duopoly) in a large number of its service areas, infrastructure construction is fundamentally subject to economic phenomena that encourage monopoly formation.

          Building infrastructure has very high barriers to entry and substantially greater build-out costs than operating costs. This means that any prospective entrant needs deep pockets just to lay the wires, and also means that the incumbent, who has already had time to amortize build-out costs, can generally threaten to undercut possible entrants quite deeply for a period of time.

          Once you add on the not-strictly-economic-but-hard-to-eradicate-in-the-real-world issues of easements and things(since building most kinds of infrastructure more or less necessarily requires trampling all over other people's property, building towers, putting up poles, or digging ditches, you either have the truly epic barrier to entry of having to negotiate individually with all propertyholders, or the local state-entity uses its power to take and bundle compulsory rights-of-way, which substantially lowers barriers to entry; but makes control over all rights of way a political football at the state or municipal level, which generally comes down to a further advantage to the incumbent).

          Frankly, I suspect that we would have a much freer market if building out fiber were generally treated as a state function, as roads and water lines are. The municipality would run the fiber from you to a peering point. By default, the fiber would just sit there, possibly offer access to some municipal web sites. If you chose, you could contract with any private party operating at that peering point(which would make room available on a RAND basis) and a simple router config change would allow traffic between your fiber and one or more of the parties at the peering point. You want internet access? Talk to any of the ISPs at your peering point. TV? Any IPTV provider, whether at that peering point, or through an ISP, can sell you that. Phone? VOIP through your ISP, or a dedicated provider if you don't want to get your hands dirty.

          All the municipality would have to do is keep the fiber lit, and pass traffic through it. Competition at the peering point could be nice and stiff(since laying fat pipes to a single location, properly chosen, is way cheaper than laying thin pipes to hundreds of locations, and because various service providers could lease bulk bandwidth from each other to offer services). As with rule of law and other flavors of infrastructure, the actual line-to-premises is arguably one of those places where state intervention is the foundation of a good free market, not the opposite of one.
      • Re:Lawyer? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @11:23PM (#31813500) Homepage Journal

        'cause the free market fixes everything. the invisible hand of the market will even stop invading tanks as long as you wish it hard enough

        If you'll permit me to interupt your trolling for just a moment, I'd like to point out that cable companies are not monopolies. You DO have a choice. It's called satellite, and it's similarly priced. Things like DirecTV are available in places where even cable is not. Cable is just a medium for delivering the service. The service is enhanced television.

        So if Comcast does something you think is unworthy of your dollars, take your dollars elsewhere.

        I'm not a Libertarian, but I'm sympathetic to some of their ideas, and they're generally correct in stating that markets tend to be better off without overbearing regulation. You're always going to have regulation of some kind. A sales tax can be viewed as a form of regulation. But what Libertarians are justified in fearing are people like you telling the government "make this company give me everything I want at the price I specifiy!".

        Why would anyone want to run a business in that kind of environment? And more to the point, when did you gain a right to Comcast's products and services, let alone the right to tell them HOW to offer those services? What else will you demand the government make them do, and for how much? Can you please point out to me where in the law you have a right to Cable TV? Cable/Satellite is a luxury. It's non-essential. It's not like a hospital where they HAVE to serve you.

        If you think they suck, fine. You've probably even got some legitimate points. But it's a private business. If you don't like them, do business elsewhere. Or don't do it all.

    • Re:Lawyer? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by iammani ( 1392285 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:30PM (#31812228)
      If only Comcast was not a monopoly in my area.
    • Re:Lawyer? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:44PM (#31812300)

      I'm pretty sure that getting you to open your wallet was Comcast's goal in the first place.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) *

      Your wallet.

      Sorry, but the days when consumers could change corporate behavior by changing their buying preferences is long gone.

      You act like it's possible to punish Comcast by going to their competitors, but those shifts have long been absorbed by those corporations so that they no longer have an effect.

      Today, your spending "habits" are locked-in, tied-down, under contract and so many times removed from your "choices" that it's just not an issue any more. Cable television, like all telecommunications are

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        We work for the corporations now, so stop deluding yourself into thinking that "your wallet" has any power whatsoever.

        Your wallet also contains a voter registration card.

  • by CyberSnyder ( 8122 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:00PM (#31812014)

    Both of them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nine-times ( 778537 )
      Hey, I'll join in. I've been pissed that Comcast isn't supporting my attempts to record all my video to a wax cylinder.
    • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:05PM (#31812054)

      I'm a part-time VCR enthusiast and a card-carrying member of the Classic Video Equipment Club of America, you insensitive clod!

      • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:50PM (#31812344)

        I'm a part-time VCR enthusiast and a card-carrying member of the Classic Video Equipment Club of America, you insensitive clod!

        Agreed. Everyone [] knows that analog produces a warmer, more beautiful picture free of the deleterious effects of the analog-to-digital conversion process. A properly configured analog video setup produces a superior experience to a digital setup. Anyone who disagrees just doesn't have sophisticated enough eyes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by xbytor ( 215790 )

          > Anyone who disagrees just doesn't have sophisticated enough eyes.

          I have Monster Eyes, you insensitive clod!

  • dvd-r (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tivoKlr ( 659818 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:03PM (#31812032) Journal
    OK, I know most don't use VCR's anymore, but there are those using DVD recorders, and being unable to set the settop box to switch to the right channel would interfere with setting up recordings when one is away.

    Comcast sucks though, and this is definitely another example of such.
  • by treeves ( 963993 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:04PM (#31812044) Homepage Journal
    I recorded some movies on HBO on my Verizon DVR then later cancelled the HBO and kept the DVR. Then when I went to watch the movies, I could not. I paid for the service but I can't watch the movies I already recorded because I don't *keep* paying? Well, at least I know it wouldn't do any good to switch to Comcast... I think I need to do some research...
    • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:24PM (#31812188)

      I recorded some movies on HBO on my Verizon DVR then later cancelled the HBO and kept the DVR. Then when I went to watch the movies, I could not. I paid for the service but I can't watch the movies I already recorded because I don't *keep* paying? Well, at least I know it wouldn't do any good to switch to Comcast... I think I need to do some research...

      Although I hate to admit it - tivo. Despite the absolutely craptastic nature of their interface (it was great like 10 years ago, but hasn't kept up at all) at least on verizon fiostv they are great because verizon never sets the "do not copy" bit, so you can pull all your recordings off your tivo - hbo, cinemax, hdnet, anything but pay-per-view (which tivo doesn't support recording in the first place). I have a perl script that just regularly polls my tivo and downloads anything new to my linux box. Apparently tivo doesn't count these downloads as viewing of the programs either, so my tivo isn't even snitching on my viewing habits either. As far as they know I never, ever watch tv.

      It may also work to use the firewire port on the verizon set-top box, if it has one - I haven't tried it since I don't have a set-top box, but typically the firewire stuff is limited by the exact same "do not copy" bit as the tivo uses to decide if you can copy too.

      • I have a perl script that just regularly polls my tivo and downloads anything new to my linux box.

        I have one word for you: Galleon []

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      And that is why some of us prefer to stick with independent devices that don't obey the commands of cable companies and other media ass-rapers.

  • OT (Score:3, Informative)

    by waspleg ( 316038 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:04PM (#31812050) Journal

    Nothing happened to them when they imposed a 250 GB download per month cap totally violating the original contract agreements of millions. Want to bet it's in the fine print that they reserve the right to fuck you any time they want?

    • by maugle ( 1369813 )

      Want to bet it's in the fine print that they reserve the right to fuck you any time they want?

      Hell, I doubt they even bother to hide it in lawyerspeak. There's probably a line in the fine print that flat-out says "Comcast reserves the right to bend you over and rape you with a sandpaper condom whensoever they please, for any duration."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by waspleg ( 316038 )

        the worst part is that where i'm at there are no alternatives unless you want to pay to lay phone lines for even worse service. they have local monopolies all over and they know it.

  • Television?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krelnor ( 1189683 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:05PM (#31812058)
    Who cares about the VCR's. People still watch television without downloading it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kramerd ( 1227006 )

      Who cares about the VCR's. People still watch television without downloading it?

      Well yes they do. Live sports and news channels don't really make sense to watch weeks or days or even hours after the fact.

  • DVRs are worth the money. End of story. DVRs and ultra-pasteurized milk are the two best things the 21st century has brought us. Just swallow your pride and get one.

    • Sorry, but I'm being sincere as hell about the DVR, and the milk. Some people are so cheap about things like this but waste just as much money on other stuff that doesn't actually improve their life. The guy who modded me Troll was W-R-O-N-G.

      • So them upping the price by $20/month for you to be able to record things in advance is perfectly ok?

        It may only be $20/month, but I know PLENTY of families that can't risk that extra $$ on television each month, so therefore will just have to go without.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I completely disagree. Comcast DVRs are crap and I will not pay money for one. But, third party DVRs tend to be decent and worth the money. Too bad they too tend to use the "VCR" programming feature. This is the definition of anti-competitive. They are using their monopoly in one market (cable provider) to influence their competitiveness in another (DVRs).
  • WHO CARES? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by terjeber ( 856226 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:08PM (#31812072)
    This is a non-event for anyone who has moved past the stone age. News for nerds? This is News For Cave Men.
    • Re:WHO CARES? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:13PM (#31812114)

      Some nerds have to provide tech support for relatives that have VCRs and do not have DVRs. Try explaining that their VCRs are now useless and they now have to shell out $120-$240 a year.

      Some nerds also own DVRs instead of renting from Comcast. The "VCR" programming feature is required to use with a non-Comcast DVR.

  • by synthesizerpatel ( 1210598 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:08PM (#31812078)

    Digital cable boxes by law in the US (last time I checked) are required to have firewire ports to allow for unprotected content recording -- i.e. anything you can get over-the-air can be recorded via firewire stream. Incidentally, many basic cable channels are unprotected as well.

    But, more importantly, you can change the channel through the firewire port.

    I hacked together a really, really poor example of this for OSX using Apple's Firewire SDK -- []

    It's woefully out of date, but channel changing worked when I put it together. It would stand to reason that this feature would work for any firewire client unless they've disabled that as well.

    • by Mista2 ( 1093071 )

      And another reason why I havn't paid to view their DRM content. And none of the DRM features seems to be stopping the TV shows making it to the torrent sites with a few hours after broadcast anyway.
      Just as well, it doesn't look like our local channels are going to be picking up the second season of Dollhouse or the next season of True Blood, or the DR Who specials, etc.
      If it's not available here, it's not stealing is it? 8)


    • by nvrrobx ( 71970 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:38PM (#31812268) Homepage

      Firewire must be available, but it does not mean that the content is accessible.

      Many providers choose to use the 5C DRM scheme to block your ability to record via Firewire. []

      Take a look at Myth's compatibility list for examples.

    • by synthesizerpatel ( 1210598 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @09:34PM (#31812998)

      f you blink, you might miss it.. But I think this backs up my original assertion..

      Section 76.640:

      (iii) Ensure that these cable operator-provided high definition set-top boxes shall comply with ANSI/SCTE 26 2001 (formerly DVS 194): ? Home Digital Network Interface Specification with Copy Protection? (incorporated by reference, see 76.602), with transmission of bit-mapped graphics optional, and shall support the CEA? 931? A:

      ?Remote Control Command Pass-through Standard for Home Networking? (incorporated by reference, see 76.602), pass through control commands: tune function , mute function, and restore volume function. In addition these boxes shall support the power control commands (power on, power off, and status inquiry) defined in A/VC Digital Interface Command Set General Specification Version 4.0 (as referenced in ANSI/SCTE 26 2001 (formerly DVS 194): ? Home Digital Network Interface Specification with Copy Protection? (incorporated by reference, see 76.602)).

  • by lalena ( 1221394 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:09PM (#31812082) Homepage
    Before DVR, VCRs used to have IR emitters that would change the channel on the cable box automatically at the right time. You just need to find one of these.
    Granted this might be a bit high-tech for some, but if someone was already programming their cable box to change the channel for the VCR, then they should be able to figure out the IR emitter.
  • Numbers are off (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kenh ( 9056 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:14PM (#31812122) Homepage Journal

    Here in Central NJ Comcast charges me $16.95/mo for a dual tuner HD cable box, able to record two HD programs at once.

    If I had a TiVo I'd need what, two CableCards PLUS a monthly TiVo subscription?

    Comcast's DVR service takes the place of a conventional digital cable box and adds about $7 month to give me dual-channel HD DVR service.

    When I realized that, I turned in my conventional digital cable box and cancelled my TiVo subscription and saved over $20 month.

    I miss TiVo's added features/interface, but saving $20/month is pretty good.

    • by jtdennis ( 77869 )

      you'd need one multi-stream CableCard plus the monthly subscription unless you buy lifetime service for the TiVo. It's pricy, but spread out over the life of the TiVo works out to be the best deal. I wish I had done it with my Series 1 TiVo that I got in 2000. It's still kicking, but I still have to pay monthly.
      The pricing for Comcast works out to be $2.00/month per CableCard, but I think the first one is free. TiVo's monthly fee is $12.95 for the first box and $6.95 for each additional box.

  • $20 dollars a month just for DVR service?
    I have no knowledge of other services prices but that is far to much money.

    It should be like 2 dollars/month.
    A one time purchase of a DVR only costs a few hundred.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by theNetImp ( 190602 )

      The DVR service is rental of their DVR equipment, not access to a service. They are renting you hardware that is a DVR. The DVR is also your cable tuner so you are only renting one device instead of 2. Digital cable boxes via comcast are $10/month, so in reality you are paying an additional $10/month for the more advanced box. Box breaks Comcast replaces it. You buy a DVR or build one something breaks and you may have to pay out more to replace/fix it than the $120/yr for the rental. When storage in C

  • In my area, they shut off all of the guide data early last year. In addition, they shut off the PBS-channel subcarrier that had the time-of-day, so I now have to manually reset the time on my recorder when the useless, murderous (but that's another subject) "Daylight Savings Time" changes occur. Of course, they've also shut off all of the clear QAM, so I have to have a set top box to record anything that isn't a broadcast channel.

    But, since all of the alternatives are no better, if not worse, I have no re

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:24PM (#31812192) Journal
    Seen in a variety of places in the tech business, and businesses with a lot of underlying technology.

    Here is how it works: Because technology is complex, most users are largely helpless, and incapable of realizing much of the theoretical promise of the technology available. A fairly small population of gearheads(and, if said gearheads happen to be motivated in setting up UIs, immediate friends and family of such) can realize the potential; but most cannot. At this point, you create a product that, by making things easy, gives Joe Sixpack 90% of what Jim Gearhead has always been able to do, available at the touch of a button. The last 10%, though, you take away from both Joe and Jim, in the form of DRM and/or fees. Because the population of gearheads is much smaller than the population at large, you get to look like you are "enabling new capabilities, for which you are charging a fair price/making a few reasonable concessions to content providers", even as you are, in fact, turning the screws a little tighter.

    Historically, Apple has been perhaps the most talented player of this game, but there are certainly plenty of others. It's evil, certainly; but it works quite well.

    It is the existence, and success, of this strategy that makes me think that user-friendliness may be a necessary survival trait for FOSS. If we can make Jim Gearhead's 100% solution easy to use, then the public at large will see the various crippled or fee-based(often both) almost-as-good-but-easier offerings as the steps down that they are, and protest loudly. If we can't, though, the companies that deliver them will, largely, receive acquiescence or even praise for doing so.
  • Anti-trust. . . really?

    "Dear ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I come before you today with the intent to prove that Comcast, Inc. is the only company available in our area with the capability to provide this VCR-scheduling service, and moreover, is required by federal law to provide this service as a purchasable product to the public."
  • Are the DVRs in US so dumb that they don't allow the user to set the channel and recording time manually? It shouldn't be to difficult to check when the show is airing and setting the VCR to record that, though if the VCR doesn't have digital reciever, then one might have to set timer on both the VCR and the digibox. Atleast that is how it is done here.

    • Are the DVRs in US so dumb that they don't allow the user to set the channel and recording time manually? It shouldn't be to difficult to check when the show is airing and setting the VCR to record that, though if the VCR doesn't have digital reciever, then one might have to set timer on both the VCR and the digibox. Atleast that is how it is done here.

      Why would a DVR owner be using a VCR in the first place? That's like using 8-track tapes to back up your AIFF files.

  • by Volante3192 ( 953645 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:31PM (#31812236)

    I still use a VCR, and I will until it starts eating tapes. (It's not that I'm some sort of zealot, it's still works. Why fix what isn't broken?)

    Course, it serves one, and only one, purpose: recording Jeopardy OTA from my DTV box. Which is, incidentally, the only reason I even need the DTV converter in the first place.

    Funny story, my VCR is not year 2010 compliant, so I actually have to use a year with the same template as this year to get it working. (My VCR thinks that (as of this post) it's 11 Apr, 1999.) More useless trivia, it doesn't know about years preceeding 1990 either.

  • but you're not going to like it much more than "set up recording a few hours in advance"

    You can set a timer on the VCR itself, usually about one to two weeks in advance. Then you need to make sure the tuner is set to the proper channel. Since that bit may also be disabled, you might only be able to record consecutive shows on the same channel where you set the channel for the next recording after the last time you use the television.

    But if you're a techie, then I guess you gotta get DVR, TiVo, or Myth. O

  • Time to get a TiVo. Service is $12/mo or less. No more cable-company-box prison, lots of additional features.
  • If you don't buy their time service, the clock will only flash 12:00 If you don't buy their "video out" service, you will only be able to use the RF modulator to your set.

  • better question: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @08:23PM (#31812546) Journal
    Raise your hand if you regularly use a VCR these days, too.

    Raise your hand if you bother watching TV any more. I stopped years ago. If there is anything I want to see, I just DL it when I want to.

    Here's ABC's line up:


    AFV - America's Funniest Home Videos

    The Bachelor

    The Bachelor Jason and Molly's Wedding

    The Bachelorette

    Better Off Ted

    Brothers & Sisters


    Cougar Town

    Dancing with the Stars

    The Deep End

    Desperate Housewives

    Extreme Makeover: Home Edition


    The Forgotten

    Grey's Anatomy

    Happy Town

    Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

    Jimmy Kimmel Live!


    The Middle

    Modern Family



    Private Practice

    Romantically Challenged


    Shaq vs Shark Tank


    This Week With George Stephanopoulos

    Ugly Betty


    Wife Swap


    Now, how is anyone's life worse off for being denied exposure to the above noted programs? I'm fine. I'm happy, I'm living a rich and colourful life. And I don't watch any of that crap - not on NBC, CBS, or ABC or even PBS. And I'm certainly not going to pay some cable company the privilege to watch TV commercials.

    Do yourself a favour. Get rid of your set. If you MUST see something, watch it online. Otherwise - go find something else to do with your time than waste it in front of the idiot box.

  • by PNutts ( 199112 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @08:29PM (#31812588)

    I love that the discussion is all over the place in true /. fashion (because some of the most interesting points are sidebar discussions). However, if it isn't advertised and the summary is vauge how am I supposed to know how far to twist my knickers? I use a Tivo which uses an IR blaster to change the set-top box. No Comcast P/DVR. My assumption is that Tivo appears to the set-top box no differently than a third party remote control. So is the Anonymous submission saying I can't change my channels? I seriously don't even know enough to start a search other than "Comcast $ucks" which will return far to many hits...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pavon ( 30274 )

      Older cable boxes and and some of the new ATSC tuners have a feature where you can program the box to change channels at a specific time. It is kind of a pain because you have to program both the cable box and the VCR for each show you want to record, but it is the only way possible to use existing VCRs with these boxes.

      This is especially important for the ATSC boxes because they are mandated by law* to ship with a feature that shuts them off after a certain amount of inactive time, so even if you switch th

  • by RimfoMan ( 546888 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @08:57PM (#31812766)
    Interesting how they do this at the same time they are dropping Analog signals from the network. (at least in my area)
  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @09:17PM (#31812894) Journal
    I've got TiVo, and when the FCC mandated digital changeover was about to happen, Comcast made a big point of assuring everyone "if you're on Comcast and have an analog receiver, no worries, we're not changing anything!". Then a month or so ago I get an email from TiVo -- TiVo, not even Comcast! -- telling me Comcast is changing everything over to digital and that I'd have to get a freakin' cable box again. To add insult to injury, I've been reading reports all over the place of the DTA Comcast gives you not being 100% compatible or reliable with TiVo's IR blaster, so I had to get one of each cable box and see which one works: the DTA with no superfluous onscreen displays I don't need, or the full-blown cable box with all the useless bells and whistles. That and they keep raising the rates. I am NOT a happy Comcast customer, and if there were ANY other choices where I'm situated I'd go with them!
  • It's not malicious (Score:5, Informative)

    by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @09:51PM (#31813074)

    This isn't a malicious attempt to get you to upgrade to DVR service. It has to do with the fact that the digital cable box you have (Motorola DCT2000 series) has 2MB of flash memory.

    The VCR recording feature requires an IR database (that stores the correct power/record codes for each VCR), code to operate the IR blaster, and of course UI and other features. All of this takes space. It may only be a few KB, but Comcast keeps adding features to the DCT2000 boxes and eventually something has to go. The VCR feature is one that isn't particularly popular (it's hard to configure and most people don't even have a VCR anymore), and it takes up more space than many other features, so it gets the axe.

    Comcast's guide software (i-guide) is not particularly great, but it's a hell of a lot better than what used to run on the DCT2000. Those boxes are very old at this point, but the i-guide software has given them a reasonable level of functionality for people who don't want HD or a DVR.

    If you don't like the change, you are free to do any of the following:
    - Return the Comcast box and use a video recording device (TiVo, Moxi, Media Center, etc.) that uses a CableCard. Comcast charges $1.50/mo for a CableCard.
    - Use a recording device or software (Media Center, MythTV, TiVO series 1/2) that supports your cable box with an IR blaster.
    - Switch to Comcast's DVR.

    FYI, Comcast's DVR is $15.99/mo if it's the first box on the account in most areas ($20 if it's an additional box). Conventional boxes are free (first box) or $6 (additional boxes). Some of these rates vary by area, but they're increasingly standardized.

  • by Digicrat ( 973598 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:21PM (#31813204)

    This just adds yet another reason to why I refuse to pay Comcast for TV ... an extra 20-50 a month for the handful of channels I want to watch just isn't worth it. A Linux MythTV Box with an OTA antenna gets all of my broadcast shows, Hulu covers those rare instances that something malfunctions and I miss a show I actually care about, while Netflix (streaming to the Xbox360] gets me all of the cable-only shows that I want [albeit a year late]. Oh, and I also get a handful of random unencrypted channels via QAM from comcast [my landlord has a $10 a month super-basic plan] - subject to the whims of comcast's annual channel reshuffles.

    Now, if I could only get both Hulu and Netflix to work well under MythTV, I'd truly be able to have all my entertainment on one device . . .

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"