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Surfing HDTV

2005-12-23 10:44:08

I just recently (yesterday) got an early xmas present from my wife: an HDTV. I have comcast cable, and do not yet have the HD converter box, so I didn't think I would be able to see any HD channels.

The TV is "Digital Cable Ready," and it discovered a bunch of digital channels on its own, including all the HD channels. (And I'll mention what I've heard every other person I know who got HDTV: you will actually watch just about anything just because it looks so good in HD.) The thing is, the channel numbers don't match the channel numbers published by Comcast. So my TV displays Comcast channel 807 (which is the local NBC affiliate) as 84.2. Here are the other ones I figured out:

Name        Comcast channel     My TV Channel
WGBH PBS    802                 82.1
ABC         805                 84.1
NBC         807                 84.2
CBS         804                 85.2
FOX         825                 85.1
UPN         838                 83.5

So it doesn't really have any predictable pattern. They seem to just map whatever those dot-separated numbers are into nice mnemonics (the Fox affiliate is UHF channel 25, for example). I spent a while clicking through each channel, trying to figure out what the show was, then checking Yahoo TV listings to see what channel it was.

But here is the fun part; there were all these other digital channels that I couldn't figure out. They were showing movies that I couldn't find in the TV listings for the time I was watching. Furthermore, these were clearly movies from pay channels I don't have (like Showtime.) I don't have my converter box hooked up yet for HD, and I don't have the cable card (which is what I will need to see my HBO in HD. I was stumped.

Then I flipped to this one station (90.10), and I saw a movie that looked like it was being fast-forwarded, with no sound. That's weird. Then the movie stopped fast-forwarding, played for a minute, then started fast-forwarding again. Then it dawned on me: I was watching somebody else's on-demand movie, and they were fast-forwarding!

So you can watch all the pay, in-demand movies you want, IF you have a DRC TV and you don't mind watching whatever random movies you're neighbors are watching!