Understanding QAM vs. Basic Cable, and what channels I should expect to get from HDHomeRun

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Libertine Lush, May 1, 2010.

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  1. Libertine Lush

    Libertine Lush Notebook Consultant

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    I'm considering purchasing a peripheral, HDHomeRun, that connects to the coaxial running from the wall and streams the feed to my laptop over WiFi. However, I'm having a difficult time figuring out what channels I should expect to receive with a direct connection to the coaxial and if they'll be HD.

    When I check what channels I'll get via cable using the "What channels will I receive?" link on HDHomeRun's homepage (http://www.silicondust.com/hdhomerun/lineup_web/US:92656#lineup_2156083), it lists about 70 QAM channels. However, most are duplicates or throwaways. It is mainly the 3 major networks and PBS that is of interest--all in HD. Cox Cable's list of available QAM channels looks much like HDHomeRun's list: http://ww2.cox.com/wcm/en/residential/datasheet/orangecounty/QAM-OC_3.2010.pdf

    However, when I connect the coaxial cable running from the wall of my home directly into a TV (without the set-top box), I get considerably more channels; I get the basic cable portion of my digital TV subscription, which means there's the major networks, 24/7 cable news channels, etc.

    1) So when I plug the coaxial cable into the HDHomeRun, which set of channels should I expect to receive: the QAM set listed by SiliconDust's channel lineup and Cox Cable's QAM pdf or the more expansive lineup I get with a TV directly connected to the coaxial?

    2) And a related issue. Perhaps key to understanding this discrepancy: are the basic cable channels one gets via direct connection to a coaxial cable synonymous with QAM channels? Or are these 2 distinctly different things?

    3) Or is the difference in the channel lineups because the first set of channel data (HDHomeRun & Cox's) presents what you would get if you connected the QAM tuner (HDHomeRun) directly to the coaxial without even a basic cable subscription? But if you had at least a basic cable subscription you should expect to receive the same channels over this QAM tuner peripheral as you would when connecting a TV directly to the coaxial?

    God, I'm lost. Thank you for any help.
     
  2. Pitabred

    Pitabred Linux geek con rat flail!

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    It depends on what's encrypted. QAM is the modulation style, but each channel can be encrypted differently. So an HDHomeRun box plugged directly into cable will only see a subset of the channels you could get via Cox's box. Currently, the only way to get all cable channels is to use a Firewire interface from the cable company's box into something that can record the video stream, typically requiring an IR repeater setup and such.

    So, basically:

    1) SiliconDust's channel lineup is the one you'll almost certainly see. The others are encrypted and require the cable card in your set-top box to decrypt them. Hooray for standards, cable companies!

    2) QAM and basic could be two different things, or the same. QAM is just an encoding style. It's typically what's used for transport for digital cable, so if Cox has switched to all-digital in your area, then QAM is what you want to use (64, 128 or 256 I don't know. Probably 256). If it's not all digital, then the basic channels are still being transmitted analog, and other channels are being transmitted digital (eg, QAM)

    3) No. A number of channels are encrypted. See above.
     
  3. Libertine Lush

    Libertine Lush Notebook Consultant

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    Pitabred! You covered it all! I'm less lost now. In fact I don't even have any followup questions. I usually have followup questions. Thank you for the help.
     
  4. Pitabred

    Pitabred Linux geek con rat flail!

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    No prob ;) I've fought through it myself
     
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