Comcast Spews BS When You Complain About HD Degradation

David wanted a straight answer from Comcast as to whether they were degrading his HD signal, but instead was fed a colossal trough of baloney. The executive customer service rep who replied to David’s email said Comcast is using a “new system” for HD and while it “works well with clean 1080i signals, we’re making some adjustments to improve how it handles other types of HD signals so we can bring you the best HD picture. We apologize this has not created the HD experience that we intended, but we will work towards getting it right. ” Sure… check out this previous post, Comcast Degrades HD Quality To Make Room For More Channels, for the science and proof of how Comcast (and other cable operators) are degrading HD feeds to make more money. The full exchanges between David and the Comcast reps, inside…

analyst Kris has entered room
Kris: Hello amanda_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Kris. Please give me one moment to review your information.
Kris: I will be happy to assist you with your questions today.
amanda: ok
Kris: I apologize for the inconvenience, I can understand your frustration.
Kris; Please give me a minute while I pull up your account.
Kris: Can you please provide the serial number from the bottom of the box?
amanda: I understand you are compressing HD channels now on the History HD channel to make more room for other channels, this seems to be effecting my HD quality.. is this a known problem?
Kris: This is the first of its kind that we encountered and I am having it noted.
Kris: Can you please provide the serial number from the bottom of the box?
amanda: I am not able to lift it up… is there another way to get the SN out of it from a menu command?
amanda: or can I give some personal info to look up my account?
Kris: is that the only HD box?
amanda: yes, the only one
Kris: I already have your account. I just need to trouble shoot the correct box,.
amanda: ok
Kris: Please make sure that the box is turned on.
amanda: cause I have look at several articles stating that several HD channels are now being compressed to carry more HD content, and for the last few days, my A&E Hd, and history channel HD look very degraded..
amanda: yes it is on
Kris: i will send a signal to refresh your box.
amanda: ok
Kris: I will now send a hit signal.
amanda: ok.. waiting…
Kris: I have sent a signal to your digital box. Can you please check to see if this has resolved your issue?
amanda: one sec
amanda: I have degraded service on A&E, discovery, and history HD…
amanda: FROM THE WEB, Wow. Can this company be any more evil? “It looks like Comcast is degrading the quality of some HD channels in order to make room for more channels. So far the Comcast channels receiving extra compression are: Discovery Channel, SciFi, USA, Food, NatGeo, UHD, A&E, HGTV, Starz, Cinemax, HBO, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery HD Theater, and History HD.
amanda: that is the info I have
Kris: There are no HD issues reported for your area. Is it fine with you if I schedule a technician to have it checked?
Kris: I am sorry but we are not degrading services.
amanda: it sure seems like it.. because all the channels in the list are degraded… seems real weird…. is there a new HD box top that might solve this problem? mine is kind of old
amanda: I think I might just cancel my HD service… how do I go about doing that?
Kris: I can process that for you and schedule a tech to have your box replaced. Another option is to return the box to your local office and replace it with a regular box.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: David R
To: brian_roberts@comcast.com
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2008 16:14:21 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: NO MORE HD

Dear Mr. Roberts,

I want to let you know about my total dissatisfaction with your new attempt to carry 3 HD channels worth of bandwidth in the space of 2, effectively degrading my HD service.

I am a avid History Channel watcher, and enjoy the HD service for it’s crisp picture and clarity. Now that you have decided to try and compete with FIOS, you have degraded your own HD signals to try and carry more channels. This has totally messed up my HD channels that I watch, and makes me wonder why I am paying full price now for down-graded service.

This is just another reason why I might leave Comcast and move to FIOS. Don’t degrade your own channels to say “we have more HD”, just give me good HD on the channels I have now… PLEASE!!!!

Dave R

— “Asbury, Cynthia” Cynthia_Asbury@cable.comcast.com wrote:

Good evening Mr. R,

Thank you for the feedback to Brian Roberts. As you are aware, we are constantly striving to provide improved services to our Customers, including a wide variety of HD content. In an effort to do this, we have recently started using a new system to deliver some HD channels.

While this system works well with clean 1080i signals, we’re making some adjustments to improve how it handles other types of HD signals so we can bring you the best HD picture. We apologize this has not created the HD experience that we intended, but we will work towards getting it right.

Thank you for being a Comcast Customer!

Sincerely,
Ms. Asbury

National Customer Operations
Executive Office
One Comcast Center
Phila, Pa. 19103

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: David Rogers
To: “Asbury, Cynthia” Cynthia_Asbury@cable.comcast.com
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2008 20:39:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Comcast HD channels

Ms. Asbury,

I beg to differ. This has nothing to do with 1080i vs 720i. This seems to have every thing to due with Comcast over compressing HD singles in limited bandwidth, and not informing your customers regarding the degraded HD signals, nor offering your customers a reduced rate for the degraded HD signal.

This seems to be nothing more than a marketing campaign to try and be able to state that “we have more HD than XYZ”. Seeing that FIOS is available, and that Direct TV has just launched another satellite offering HD, I no longer see any reason to hang on to Comcast’s degraded HD service.

Dave R

PREVIOUSLY: Comcast Degrades HD Quality To Make Room For More Channels

Comments

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  1. JustAGuy2 says:

    Comcast’s responding to the market at the moment – people are saying they want more HD channels, so Comcast is increasing the channel count. Since the bandwidth is limited, they’re having to compress the channels to make them fit. Long-term, they can fix this problem by increasing the bandwidth, but that takes time.

  2. aka_bigred says:

    You need a new editor

    … “Sure… heck out this previous post…

    I think you were looking for “Check”

    And Comcast is evil.

  3. oakie says:

    so, what kind of answer was expected from having such a stand-offish attitude right from the onset?

    and who is he to complain? it’s “amanda” who is subscribed for the service.

  4. aka_bigred says:

    “Sure… heck out this previous post,…”

    Don’t you mean “Check”

    I think you need an intern proof reader, and comcast is the devil.

  5. jrlcopy says:

    @DaveR, “This has nothing to do with 1080i vs 720i.”

    This has everything to do with this. Different HD levels require different levels of bandwith, bandwith is expensive, there are tons of different compression techniques that can be used. HD is still early, it is still early for broadcasters, I am pissed that Comcast is degrading the quality because it cannot do quality control on their systems to discover that they are pushing too much through too little.

    BTW, compare FIOS or Comcast to the original HD source, cable providers compress the s**t out of the HD, The original HD source is using between 100 – 150mbps (Discovery is at the 150mbps), and comcast and fios compress that down to 6-12mpbs. How to properly compress HD is still a new thing, give it time, but yes, harrass away so that they will take care of their issues.

    At least all this PR has made them 100% aware of this and they will hopeuflly attempt to fix it.

    -Film/TV HD

  6. workingonyourinvoice says:

    @aka_bigred: I think you need a new… whatever it is that keeps you from double posting.

  7. tom2133 says:

    Man… I envy this guy’s problems.

    “Oh No! My HD isn’t as HD as I want it?”

  8. WNW says:

    Wow! Blame the OP trolls are out in force this afternoon.

  9. maggiemae656 says:

    My picture is not as bad as the one in the OP, but it is distorted. They traded out the box with no change in the picture and said I should contact my TV manufacturer because it has to be the set. Funny, the other set has the same problem…it would be nice if they just tell it like it is.

  10. lonewolf333 says:

    Just cancel your service. You don’t need cable to live.

  11. johnva says:

    @JustAGuy2: Well then, it should be illegal to advertise the channels as “HD”. Comcast can just downgrade all signals to non-HD, and fit even more, but they shouldn’t be allowed to call that “HDTV”. This is no different, except that digital compression is being used instead of a decrease in resolution. Basically what they are trying to pull is a bait-and-switch. They’re preying on people’s ignorance of the compression aspect.

  12. elephantattack says:

    @tom2133: I do too. However, if I saw signal issues like that from a service that costs about 100 bucks a month. I would be ready to fight. After all, this could be taken as false advertisement. when the company says:

    “We have X, Y and z broadcast in HD”
    When they clearly don’t, is nothing but a lie.

  13. Mr_D says:

    @tom2133: So you wish more companies would provide you with lower quality of service than advertised?

  14. carterbeauford says:

    word and sell your house, just live in a tree.

  15. axiomatic says:

    No some of you people are missing the issue.

    Comcast is selling their product as an HD signal. It is no longer that. It is now a fat SD signal.

    If Comcast is going to do this until SDV and DOCSIS 3.0 comes out then they need to market their signal ACCURATELY and charge less.

    I’m always surprised at the posters who defend companies doing wrong when this site is “The Consumerist.”

    What Comcast is doing here is duplicitous and anti-consumer.

    I respect that they need to compete, really I do, but if you offer a service, then you need to deliver that service. As far as I am concerned, Comcast is in breach of contract with us all until they actually deliver a HD signal again.

  16. axiomatic says:

    Another poster said that this was a marketing ploy to keep up with (the “Jonses’”) Direct TV and FiOS. This is accurate, however, marketing is ALWAYS writing checks that the technical teams can’t cash. This is exactly one of those situations.

    We need to ensure that Comcast pays the money to upgrade their networks LIKE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO and then, and ONLY THEN, can they start adding other channels that are actual HD streams.

  17. johnva says:

    @axiomatic: Yep, I totally agree with you. The false advertising and charging extra for “HD” are the real issues here. It’s completely understandable that they would want to compress the signal down…but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for them to just advertise it and charge for it as if nothing has changed. I would even tolerate some level of compression if the statistical level of artifacts was still acceptable (it’s just stupid to not use any compression at all, and I understand that). But they are clearly pushing beyond the boundaries of what can reasonably fit into the thin pipes they are allocating to each channel.

  18. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @axiomatic: Totally right. Go to the conglomerist, punks! Then again, this was the conglomerist just yesterday. Maybe they’re just confused.

    As far as degrading HD signals, thats just degrading.

    On a totally unrelated note, I’ll bet Chad Steelgate has rippling pecs.

  19. Bladefist says:

    @tom2133: @lonewolf333: @carterbeauford:

    Thanks for your amazing commentary. Customers should get screwed because you dont think this is a problem.

    I am not a big TV guy, although I do have plasma tv, and I pay 10 bux for the HD package. I pay 10 bux for my Eye-gasms at how sweet HD is. So the fact they are screwing up the quality, is a big deal. Because they could pay less, and get the channels in non-HD, save money, and get the same quality.

    They are being screwed out of their extra money, and thats a problem at consumerist.com

  20. Coder4Life says:

    @aka_bigred: This is the year 2008 and we are on the internet. No one cares about a few SPELING mistakes. Get over it.

  21. @m4ximusprim3:

    You’d think a conglomerist would be skinny or fat from sitting in their chair all day long making decisions to fill their wallet rather than working out.

    I have a hard time believing Chad Steelgate has rippling pecs. At most, he’d probably have broad shoulders.

    But yeah, this is Comcast’s fault especially for eating all the smaller companies going beyond what they can handle in their bandwidth.
    They should let HD be much cheaper if its compressed that badly.

    Shame they won’t do so until everyone gets mad at them.

  22. BrentNewland says:

    If they got rid of some of those useless channels they would have the bandwidth for more HD.

  23. JustAGuy2 says:

    @jrlcopy:

    Um, no. No HD content is 100-150mbps.

    If you pull the Discovery feed right off the satellite that Discovery uses to deliver it to cable companies, it’s about 18mbps. Over the air HD from broadcasters is about the same. You’re off by nearly an order of magnitude.

    If Comcast is fitting three HD channels into one QAM, they’re taking something that’s 18 and reducing it to 12, or by about 1/3.

  24. JustAGuy2 says:

    Problem is, there’s no real standard for what constitutes “HD” in terms of bitrate. Technically, I could offer one frame per minute, and still call it HD, so long as that frame was 1080 lines.

    Comcast has to decide what the market wants:

    1. fewer HD channels with better picture

    OR

    2. more HD channels with a lower-quality picture

    Given that people are looking at the lists of channels and saying “DirecTV has more channels, I want that,” and relatively few people are doing picture quality comparisons (particularly since the number of people who ever actually see two HD feeds side-by-side is _tiny_), I think they’re acting rationally.

  25. MadameX says:

    @BrentNewland: You just beat me to the punch. If they could come up with a system to let people subscribe to selected channels instead of packaging a bunch of crap that most people don’t watch, it would save them a ton of bandwidth.

    I’d be more than happy to sacrifice the dozens of Spanish language channels on my cable system (totally pointless for me, since I don’t speak Spanish).

  26. valarmorghulis says:

    @lonewolf333: This is what I told my housemates, but they all actually started hyperventilating an shit.

  27. johnva says:

    @JustAGuy2: They may be acting “rationally”, but they’re also lying about it. That is the real issue. I agree that it appears that this may be what the market wants. But Comcast’s marketing of this is deceptive at best.

    They should disclose exactly what bitrate they are allocating to HD channels, instead of just using the generic term “HD”.

  28. tortcat says:

    Well there clearly is not enough info being presented here to make a informed decision. The “customer” had an attitude in the chat, and was posing questions in a manner that no employee would normally respond to ( which they didn’t).

    Always possible that yes indeed comcast is compressing the signal, of course also always possible that the invidual customer is having some kind of a signal issue on the rdc/fdc/tuner levels that the cable box needs to stay in the correct operating range….as those signals are not listed here hard to say. And the customer(poster) declined a service call, and of course we have no idea of knowing if there is a service call history on the account etc.

    So hard to say from this posting as to where the problem lies.

  29. johnva says:

    @MadameX: Cable is a shared medium, not point-to-point. If they want to offer a channel to ANYONE on your system, they have to use the bandwidth for it. Having fewer subscribers to a particular channel doesn’t decrease the bandwith requirements. This is why digital cable has to share bandwidth with analog cable.

  30. johnva says:

    @tortcat: It’s not “possible” that Comcast is compressing HDTV signals…it’s KNOWN, for a fact. Virtually all cable companies compress them to one degree or another. The issue is that they seemingly started compressing them even more than they used to (and more than their competitors over at FiOS), without disclosing that or lowering their price (the latter would be only fair, since they are now offering a degraded service). This isn’t just the original poster; it’s been discussed widely all over the Internet. Comcast, in fact, did this.

  31. legwork says:

    Please people. Comcast isn’t blocking any programming, they’re just managing their network.

    /gag

    Comcast-free for 3yrs and couldn’t be happier.

  32. @Coder4Life: I’m more pissed the OP got the word “it’s” wrong. When used as a possessive, no need for an apostrophe.

    Yeah, I’m one of THOSE guys.

    And I don’t need any more ammo to hate Comcast, the Most Evil Company In America.

  33. @BrentNewland: Your useless channels are where I watch hockey and pro wrestling. :)

  34. JustaConsumer says:

    Comcast spews BS when you complain about anything. Like cable, pay-per-view, or internet service. How many times have you heard, “first you need to turn off the ____ (modem, cable box etc)….”?

  35. humorbot says:

    I got a tuner built into my Aquos and an OTA HD antenna. It’s purty and it’s free. The only channels I miss just a little are Comedy Central and the Food Network, but oh well. I get all the local networks, like 4 PBS HD stations and more Spanish-language futbol than I know what to do with. And one channel that’s digital only where an Armenian gentleman yells a lot.

  36. lemur says:

    @axiomatic: “This is accurate, however, marketing is ALWAYS writing checks that the technical teams can’t cash.”

    Yep. That’s usually the case. I was a software engineer in a company which started out by being pretty upfront about things so that the marketing folks did not have to make promises the engineers could not keep. But it all went downhill. The company grew and the traditional kind of marketing people (i.e. liars) took over marketing. Pretty soon they started selling unicorns.

    You can be sure there are at least some technical people at Comcast who are not happy with what they have to do to keep the corporate fat cats fat and happy. They could quit but that solution not for the faint of heart and they are likely to end up somewhere where the situation is pretty much the same.

  37. John Gardner says:

    One day my wife was watching TV when the channel she was watching went out (i believe it was 105 (local NBC in HD). She gave up on TV for a while, so she went to get the mail.
    Outside saw a comcast guy messing with the box in our front yard. We hadn’t called him, so she asked him if he was messing with our cable, because it had gone out.
    “YOUR cable?”, he responded, “I thought this was your neighbor’s box…”
    “Yeah, thats why its in front of OUR house…”

    Apparently they’ve been having problems with signal degradation of HBO-HD, and the cable guy said that what he was doing would have probably caused some of the other HD channels to stop working… he undid what he did and when she went back in the house everything was working again.

    Since then they’ve had comcast out a bunch of times but i don’t know if their issues have been resolved…

  38. DoctorMD says:

    Dropped Comcast couldn’t be happier. I want my Voom back :-(

  39. johnva says:

    @John Gardner: They did the same thing to me recently (disconnected me when they were called by a neighbor).

  40. McWatt says:

    I dropped comcast for Att U-verse and it was the best decision i’ve made in a long time. More channels, better quality and better equipment (the remote actually works when you push the button and not after a 30 second delay…when it fast-forwarded uncontrollably through LOST for five minutes, ruining some scenes, that was the last straw!). It’s also cheaper. Now, it’s not perfect service as there are some minor glitches here and there, but compared to comcast, it’s night and day.

  41. karmaghost says:

    *sigh* Well, I complained about this and some other issues at my local Comcast office (less “complained” and more “discussed,” really) and they put me back on my previous promotion so that it’s cheaper than digital cable again. Maybe more people should give this a try and see if, if enough people get comped in some way, Comcast speeds up how they deal with this issue.

  42. jrlcopy says:

    @JustAGuy2: I edit this stuff, I know what the real bittrate is.

    Yes, by the time it does get to the satellites it is less than a fifth/tenth of what it originally was.

  43. Pylon83 says:

    While I’m not necessarily saying Comcast ISN’T degrading programming, the OP lost ANY credibility to challenge Comcast’s explanation when they don’t even understand the terms themselves. There is no 720i in the TV market. As soon as that comes up, the posters loses and any all standing to argue.

  44. thorshammer says:

    @DoctorMD: We used to have Insight, which I had for 7 years without a problem. Then Comcast took over the area. I dropped Comcast the day after I got my first bill from them. They had overbilled me, so I called the customer service number on the bill. I was on hold for two hours and eventually had to hang up so I could go to work, I never got a rep. The next day I got a postcard in the mail from them saying they were raising my rates. So, I sleuthed around and found the local number for them, called and cancelled within 10 minutes.

    Now I have AT&T DSL and Dish. I could be happier, but not with Comcast.

  45. renilyn says:

    @John Gardner: Just so you’re aware… you can have SEVERAL subscribers on any one ‘cable box’ in YOUR front yard. It is entirely possible it was an honest mistake… as most of the tech’s out there that SHOULD be tagging the lines or making sure if they service a house it IS marked, DON’T. It’s complete laziness that is not Comcast based, it has happened in EVERY cable system that my husband and I have worked in (9 total between us). As we all know, laziness is universal.

    Im not slamming you, dont get me wrong. I just want you to understand what happens when you work in the industry and have to deal with idiots that don’t take the 2 minutes to tag a line… end result is what your wife experienced.

  46. headhot says:

    Its called satistical multi-plexing. The equipment is made by Teryaon, Bigband, RGB or Harmonic.

    The idea is you can time shift the MPEG packets and move them out of order as long as you do not exceed the buffer on the set top, so that the set top can put the packets back in order.

    The 3 HD signals come in variable bit rate fluctuating between 9 and 19.8Mb/s. Since a channel can hold 38.8Mb/s by shifting the peaks and valleys you can some times fit the 3 signals in the space of 2.

    There are times though where you will get alot of complexity on the 3 signals for a sustained period of time, then the stat mux must start removing data from the signals, at which point you loss picture quality.

    Now here is the thing, the more signals you have, statisically the better odds that you can shift things nicely. For SD cable companies have been cramming 18 signals in the space of 12 for a long time. With 18 signals you have lots of peaks and valleys to work with, so things turn out OK.

    If the cable companies were smart, instead of mixing 3 HD in to 1 channel, they should do 1 HD with 8 or 9 SD. Then there is a much lower chance to run out of peaks and valleys.

  47. arachnophilia says:

    that’s compression.

    it has everything to do with bandwidth, and comcast cheaping out.

  48. forgottenpassword says:

    typical problem with comcast…. too many customers for not enough product or infrastructure maintenance.

  49. world-inferno says:

    A little off subject–

    I’m not sure if this is just a Comcast thing, but what is going on with their stretching 16:9 stuff?

    Ok, I understand that for some reason they feel the need to stretch the picture of material originally shot in 4:3. I don’t like it, but I understand.

    But why do they take material shot in 16:9 and instead of just filling the widescreen instead stretch it? I searched around the net a bit looking for an answer and I came across people complaining about ‘stretch-o-vision’ but I think they were talking about the semi-annoying 4:3 stretch, not the stretching of stuff that was shot in 16:9.

  50. ludwigk says:

    @JustAGuy2: Broadcasters have standardized on around 19.2 Mbps for a 1080i broadcast, so there basically is a standard range. I say range because video bitrate is dynamic and changes at every instant.

    Your analogy is a bit off, since 1080i and 720p contain the frame information within the name. You would have to call yours something like 1080p(1/60).

  51. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Does no one have a problem with the fact that some of these channels comcast is compressing came to them already compressed once? Why is that? If comcast can’t call these compressed channels HD, than the networks sending out a compressed feed shouldn’t be able to call their channels HD either.

  52. UNSTOPPABLE says:

    @JustAGuy2: Or they can get on the stick and start upgrading their systems like they should have been YEARS ago. NOT ONE company can sit there and claim that they didn’t know that the bandwidth crunch was coming.

  53. FrugalFreak says:
  54. JustAGuy2 says:

    @UNSTOPPABLE:

    In their defense, they have spent $10 BILLION in the last two years, and another $6 BILLION this year upgrading their systems. Since 2000, they’ve spent about $40 billion on upgrades, so it’s not like they’ve just been sitting around twiddling their thumbs.

  55. IrisMR says:

    Look guys, either do it right, either don’t do it at all. Yea, people want more HD… And that’s the word. HD. Not ultra compressed JPG-ish crap.

  56. JustAGuy2 says:

    @Concerned_Citizen:

    Everything’s compressed, and there’s no fixed standard for what constitutes “too much compression.” At the end of the day, the only metric for picture quality is the customer: “does this look good?”

    If everyone sent true uncompressed video as recorded at the HD camera, then, (at 150mbps, per jrlcopy above), then Comcast would have room for about 40-45 HD channels, absolute max, if using the most advanced cable technology in the country, and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE. No standard def, no analog, no phone, no Internet, no nothing.

  57. Erwos says:

    The only thing I think that Comcast should be forced to do is actually disclose what the consumer is getting in terms of bitrate, resolution, and AV format (MPEG-2) for each channel. The term “HD” on its own is meaningless – there’s no certification for being “HD”, because it’s not a standard. Is ATSC not “HD” because Blu-Rays / HD-DVDs look much better than your average OTA HD ATSC channel? I think not. And if that’s the case, why is Comcast suddenly not HD because it doesn’t look as good as OTA HD ATSC? If we’re going to complain, let’s have some reasonable logic to complain with, not just emotional whining.

    As for the “OMG why are you not mindlessly saying the consumer is right” crowd, I’d remind them that groupthink gets blogs marginalized. Having a reasonable discussion about issues always produces better results.

  58. Brunette Bookworm says:

    I’m curious, is this an issue just in certain areas? My parents have Comcast and so do I. They have an HD TV but I don’t. When I have watched HD channgels at their house I have never seen any degradation of HD channels. I think the quality looks really good. The tuner I have for my place will show me Comcast’s HD channels and I will usually watch something on one of the HD channels rather than the regular channel, if there are both versions of the channel.

    If it is just certain markets they are doing this is, is there a place to find out which locations are doing this?

  59. backbroken says:

    By adding more HD, you effectively have no HD.

    I only wonder how many millions of dollars folks have spent to upgrade to an HD TV only to be ultimately disappointed by the available content in the end. HD is one of the biggest frauds being perpetrated on consumers today.

  60. wallapuctus says:

    I have comcast and the NatGeo channel never works, in SD or HD. The sound constantly drops and the image is either completely gone or filled with huge blocks. I don’t mean compression artifacts, I mean Atari 2600 style visuals. Sometimes it just says “Channel will be available shortly.”

    I want to switch to FIOS but it’s not offered in my town. Every surrounding town has it, I wonder what sort of contract my town entered into with Comcast?

  61. JRock says:

    @backbroken: Don’t you think that “fraud” is a bit harsh? Maybe I’m just lucky that I don’t notice any of these artifacts in my HD channels (and I have Comcast).

  62. Quintus says:

    I have a 42″ Vizio HD LCD TV with an off-air ant. I have two inputs on the back of the TV one for a regular analog input, and another for digital input. I decided to see what happens when I connected my comcast directly to the back of the Vizio to the digtal input thinking I didn’t want to pay extra for the HD box from Comcast. Plugged it in and Walla! I got all the HD channels without the extra tuner! Ha ha ha!

    But then I wanted to record my programming in HD and I didn’t want to pay more for the recorder either. So I threw a TV tuner into my computer and hooked it up through the RGB (VGA) connection that the Vizio comes with (I also had to upgrade my VGA in the comp to run two monitors at the same time, but it was worth it) then ran an offair ANT through the TV Tuner. Useing Vista Media Player to record HD programming is great and free. I threw in an extra 500GB HD to record programming and disconnected ComCast. I miss a few channels, Discoery and THC. But who cares. I’m saving a lot of money, and the free offair signal I’m getting through the comptuer is way better than the ComCast signal was.

  63. Nytmare says:

    Comcast.net has this to say on its home page: “HDTV Made Easy: Find out why Comcast HD is the choice for crystal-clear programming!”

    They also say “Comcast Digital Cable brings you the best in crystal-clear HDTV“, and “Comcast’s high definition programming is 100% digital, the images are sharp and crystal clear – the absolute best quality that you´ll find on the market today.”

    Sounds like false advertising to me.

  64. ophmarketing says:

    Here’s a Comcast HD issue I haven’t seen addressed here, so maybe it’s just me…

    Does anyone else experience a situation wherein a ‘line’ essentially enters into the signal, splits the screen horizontally, and works its way slowly down the screen? It starts about a quarter of the way into the picture, and takes about ten minutes or so to work its way down to the bottom.

    It makes whatever is on pretty much unatchable, as it’s so annoying, but it only happens on the HD channels. If, while it’s happening, I switch over to a non-HD channel, the picture is fine.

  65. TheBigLewinski says:

    The simple solution is: F I O S

  66. puddleglum411 says:

    Sorry, in terms of television, HD does have a meaning, and it is the resolution. You can have crappy HD with a low bitrate, and still call it HD. There can be shades of grey, where you say your HD is awesome, but really it is heavily compressed and most people think it’s sucky, but then you’re talking about subjective judgements. . They must feel that, in the short term, customers want more HD channels, even if some of their existing HD channels aren’t so great. I don’t think anyone can argue that they are somehow obliged to tell everyone that they decreased the bitrates on some of their channels, as if the majority of consumers would even understand what that meant. Anyways, my hatred of Comcast and Verizon is equal, and if you think you’re going to get better customer support from Verizon when they start raising your FIOS rates, good luck with that.

    ALL THAT BEING SAID, my advice is cancel your cable, get an antenna and a HDTV or ATSC tuner for your current tube. Crystal clear television without the bills- changed my life!

  67. Quintus says:

    @ophmarketing:

    There is a code that is sent with the HD signal that gives the converter information about the programming and such. I’m guessing that that line is that code of information and your TV is not able to descramble it for some reason. But I’ve usually heard that problem is on the edge of the pciture. I could be wrong.

  68. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Another example of cable companies overselling their services. First with internet connectivity, and now with “HD” channels. Obviously cable companies are using your monthly fees to provide their executives a fat salary. They should be using that money to improve their infrastructure.

  69. backbroken says:

    @JRock: I dunno. How many people spent $2500 on a new 50″ HDTV to hang on their wall, only to find out that there is about 1-2 hours of worthwhile HD every day from their content provider. And chances are that content is now being noticeably compressed.

  70. johnva says:

    @JustAGuy2: That’s NOT the only metric for picture quality. This sort of thing can be measured statistically. Just saying.

    @puddleglum411: Why do you think it’s unreasonable for them to be forced to disclose the bitrate? Since when is it ever unreasonable to require companies to provide MORE information to consumers who are making a choice? Especially when it’s very basic stuff like this. Sure, not everyone would understand the meaning of the term. But it would be very useful for those who do.

  71. hi says:

    @lonewolf333: words of wisdom.

    HD being used to make more money, who would have thunk it?

  72. CapitalC says:

    Give me back my analog! At least the quality was there…

  73. TechnoDestructo says:

    @backbroken:
    Speaking of HD fraud, how about “HD Vision” sunglasses?
    [www.seen-on-tv.ws]

  74. JustAGuy2 says:

    @johnva:

    Well, there are other objective metrics, but their value is that they’re more consistent and cheaper than human testing, which is the real gold standard. Fundamentally, a “good” picture is whatever people think it is.

    [www.tek.com]

  75. yellowsub says:

    This is how Comcast works from a technical standpoint w/ they have a new product they want to lay ground work for.

    Before they even start they have a budget they can’t go over and they provide their headend engineers with the cheapest equipment and wants them to get it to work and do not care how they do.

    So from the getgo, they already don’t spend the necessary money on things and limit themselves for expansion cause I know never in a million years did they ever expect someone to compete with them on their own turf.

    You should see their slimy tactics when VZ was petition for a statewide franchise license. They would write in their internal newsletter that by granting VZ the franchise license, Comcast might have to cut jobs…

    But one is true, Comcast is on the forefront in bringing the new technologies first because they can’t compete any other way. Having something first is not always great if you can’t get it to work right.

  76. yellowsub says:

    From the start, Comcast limits their own expansion. They shoot themselves in the foot before any projects cause never in a million years did they think there would be a serious competitor competing with them on their own turf. They do the minimal just to get things up and running.

    This is how Comcast lays ground work for new products and services…and this is why they always need to improve their infrastructure. From the beginning, the management sets a budget on how much it should cost, when doing so they always choose the least expensive equipment and usually it the most limiting and difficult to work with for their headend engineers. They basically tell them to make it work and don’t care how.

    What this translate means that Comcast will always be near capacity cause they just don’t spend the money upfront for the proper framework. There’s no need to have to keep on pumping money in their systems if they set it up right from the beginning.

  77. subterrene says:

    Several of these posts have to be the weirdest posts I’ve read on the consumerist. HD is in the eye of the beholder, give me a break! This isn’t a philosophical debate – the title sums it up: “…when you complain about HD degradation”.

    Now, are the screen shots actual captures of what Comcast is providing? Even if they aren’t I would think that you could easily tell the image you receive had suffered a major loss of definition before and after Comcast added channels. The tech’s explanation smacks of hyperbole when he starts talking about “other types of HD signals.” Really vague. If you pay for HD (which to me, means a super sharp image with little or no artifacts of any type) you should get HD. On ALL HD channels.