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COMCAST: Record and playback high definition TV signals
Authored by: xgrep on Jul 15, '04 03:45:06PM

I had my Comcast Moto HD box swapped yesterday for a firewire-enabled job, and did manage to get it to work, though for a while I thought I had cooked the firewire ports or something. I could see it in AVCbrowser (channel 0) but not get it in virtualDVHS, then not see it in AVCbrowser even after various reboots and power-offs. But after some combination of diddling I did get it to record reliably (haven't tried to program any timers, though).

All I can say is "awesome (with reservations below)". I had previously successfully used a Samsung SIR-T165 with virtualDVHS, but returned it because I couldn't get enough stations at my location to justify keeping the box (tried too many antenna configurations to describe). With my minimum Comcast subscription (basic service @ $12.60 plus $5 for the HD box), I currently get 8 HD channels (4 SF Bay Area locals plus ESPN, 2 INHD, and Discovery). It's very interesting to see the different bitrates on different channels. Discovery is almost always around 20Mbps while KQED-HD (PBS) is typically around 13Mbps (which it was OTA, too - no surprise). The others vary depending on content being broadcast, a lot of which is just resized SD (and Seinfeld reruns aren't great source to begin with).

Frankly, though, from a practical perspective, using my Mac to timeshift HD isn't wonderful. For one thing, it's nowhere near as convenient as a dedicated box would be (like a DVHS unit). But mainly, disk space is a problem. Even with a 250GB drive, I can't keep much content for very long. I'm seriously considering one of the new 1.6TB drives (Seagate, Lacie), but this is getting to be an expensive habit. And until a blu-ray recorder shows up under the xmas tree, there's no archival possible. But it's progress. Big progress.

By the way, on my 800MHz G4, VLC playback of HD has jumpy video (audio is fine). This is with the internal hard drive. I'm figuring probably an 800MHz G4 is underpowered, but has anyone else seen this and solved it on this (or a slower) processor?

cheers,

x



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