Cable TV, pretty much everyone has cable these days (or a satellite dish) so why am I including my cable box on my web page for home theater? The answer is simple, HDTV. If you haven’t heard of HDTV you have probably been living under a rock or been in a coma for the last 10 years, but just in case don’t know HDTV offers up to five times the resolution of traditional TV as well as CD quality surround sound resulting in dramatically better picture quality as well as sound quality. I already had OTA (Over The Air) HDTV capability via my HTPC but OTA signals are limited and I definitely couldn’t get HBO and Showtime over the air. So when Comcast offered HDTV via cable in my area I was quick to jump on it.
HDTV is simply amazing especially if you have a nice TV, and I am pleased to say that HDTV looks absolutely stunning on my Sony G70 projector. The clarity of the image really needs to be seen to be believed; it often appears as if you are just looking out a window at the image rather than looking at TV screen.
More and more shows are added all the time in HDTV. I don’t watch a whole lot of TV but I have my favorites. I never miss an episode of CSI which is presently very well in HDTV, but most of my HDTV viewing is on the cable channels. HBO offers most, if not all, of their original programing in HDTV. So Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, Carnivale etc. are all in HDTV and HBO does it very well. Unfortunately HBO doesn’t always do a good job with the movies they show. They often will show movies not in their proper aspect ration; so a 2.35 movie is shown in 1.78 in order to fill your screen. This angers me greatly and I won’t watch a movie if they are cropping it. Thankfully Showtime doesn’t do this and they show all of their movies in the proper aspect ratio. I am not much of a sports fan but lots of games these days are broadcast in HDTV, I did watch the superbowl this year and really looked great.
Unfortunately, Comcast still isn’t offering CBS or the Discovery Channel HDTV channels yet in my area. I can still watch CBS via my HTPC but I would really love to get the Discovery Channel, I am big fan. Hopefully before to long they will add it to the lineup.
The Motorola DCT5100 is also capable of scaling all non HDTV channels to HDTV resolutions. You can have it scale to either 480P, 720P or 1080i. I have all my channels scaled to 1080i. The scaler in the cable box is decent, nothing special, but it does look better than straight cable. I actually watch most standard definition through my HTPC and mostly just use the cable box for the HDTV channels.
I have since removed this piece of equipment from my system. I now run a Motorola DCT 3416 HDTV DVR.
Motorola DCT5100 HDTV Cable Box Features
- Integrated High Definition (HD) decode capabilities
- Advanced convergence platform for video, audio and high-speed data services
- Built-in DOCSIS cable modem for high-speed interactivity
- Powerful, high-end microprocessor and graphics hardware
- Large memory footprint, expandable to 160 MB to run the most advanced operating platforms
- Open architecture supports a variety of downloadable third-party software platforms and applications
- Full array of audio, video and data interfaces
- Enables e-commerce, t-commerce, streaming media, PPV, IPPV, VOD, Internet browsing, e-mail, telephony, home networking and much more