Do any of you guys work for Comcast? (in Off-topic)

Demigod December 8 2012 1:19 PM EST

One of you is bound to know the answer to this relatively basic question. If I replace a family member's analog TV with a modern LCD, will they incur any additional monthly billing? This would mean switching the digital converter box they currently have for whatever else is offered to decrypt the channels, but that's what I don't know.

My understanding is that Comcast offers a fully capable unit that handles electronic menus as well as a smaller box that just offers basic decryption (no menus to search for shows, etc.). In this instance, they would stick with the lesser option. But would there be any additional monthly charge?

I've received differing answers from Comcast corporate, and I don't think I can stomach contacting their horrid call center again.

AdminNightStrike December 8 2012 2:55 PM EST

You can get basic cable for actually cheaper than before, since you don't have to pay the monthly rental fee for the digital to analog converter.

Just be careful -- they'll try to hook you up with all sorts of expensive stuff.

Demigod December 8 2012 5:17 PM EST

Wha? No, NS, read my post again. I want to replace my parents' last analog TV with a nice big LCD for Christmas. They have cable already. I'm simply updating their gear. The problem is, some people were claiming they got hit with hardware fees when they upgraded from digital converter boxes to modern units. I can understand fees for full-service cable boxes, but charging for basic decryption units is foul. I contacted Comcast to verify, but their corporate call center employees are grossly inept and gave two different answers to what should be a simple question.

AdminNightStrike December 8 2012 5:34 PM EST

I know. On old "cable ready" tvs, you have to have a box to convert from digital cable to analog. Usually, you rent those if you didn't buy one using Obama's coupon. Any decent new LCD will support digital cable directly, so you should just be able to plug it right in without the D to A converter. If you were renting one, you could save that monthly fee ($5, I think.)

When you call comcast, they're going to want you to buy either a fancy box with on demand, or a fancier box that supports HD channels. Listen to Nancy Reagan, though. You only need those if you want more channels and services. To keep your current level, however, tell them that they're on crack and you'll be fine.

Demigod December 8 2012 5:43 PM EST

buy one using Obama's coupon

You're thinking of over-the-air digital signals. The digital converter box they currently have isn't over the air (and thus it's probably just a decryption box). I can't fathom why there would be a fee from switching from one basic box to another basic box, but I'll try one last time to verify before just buying the TV anyway.

AdminNightStrike December 8 2012 11:47 PM EST

Yeah, you're right. But still, you need a box to do the D to A just like for over the air. All comcast cable (at least in my area) is digital. I have 3 on my comcast plan (for free). That's outside of the fancy on demand box. It's a small little thing, and comes with this tiny dorky little controller, not the big one.

It looks like this:

That's the cheapest box you can have.

So, yes, I was confusing the conversion of over-the-air signals from analog to digital with Obama's coupon.... but Comcast did the same thing with their cable singles. No more analog, all digital.

Fishead December 9 2012 2:34 AM EST

Is their TV so old that it doesn't have inputs? Like you have to choose an unused channel to watch movies on the VCR? Do you have to get up to change the volume? Is it.color?

Demigod December 9 2012 1:54 PM EST

Ha, no, their TV is a late 90s model 32". NS's image is probably the best example. It's just that Comcast has different units for analog vs digital TVs, and some people were complaining that they started receiving unexpected monthly hardware fees that they weren't previously incurring. The charge for hi-def On-Demand boxes is understandable, but it's not sensible if it applies to the dinky units that NS showed.

Fishead December 9 2012 2:53 PM EST

It would seem to me that if the output of the box matches one of the inputs in the TV, there should be no hardware changes necessary, and I can't see any way that comcast could tell you changed your TV . Unless you want to upgrade to HD you should be fine with the existing box.
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