Can't use tuner with digital cable?

Got a card in the mail the other day from Comcast. Apparently, channels 30-78 (the “expanded basic” lineup) is going all digital next month. My choices are to pay them for set-top box rental (for anything beyond the one that’s included in my package), or I can get a couple of “digital adapters” from them for free.

Now, I’ve got a DVD recorder hooked straight to the cable (not going through the set-top box) and am also using my PC as a PVR sometimes. Both are recording off analog signals.

So I thought that maybe if I put these digital adapters between the cable line and the recorder (or PC), that I should be good. Then I see this on the FAQ about all this (emphasis mine):

  1. With equipment from Comcast, can I program my VCR to record my favorite shows?
    You will not be able to program your VCR to record different channels at different times when your TV is connected to a digital adapter. To record different programs at different times, you will have to change the channel on your adapter.

If you have a Digital set top box, you can program your Digital set top box along with your VCR to record different channels at different times by following the instructions found in FAQ #27 below.

So, the way I read this is that any device with a tuner in it (my DVD recorder and my PC’s PVR software) is soon to become utterly useless – at least for channels 30-78 (which is the range that I do most of my recording from). And it wouldn’t even help my PC any to get a tuner card that takes NTSC and ATSC (like Hauppage’s dual-tuner card). Nor would it help to get a DVD recorder that is capable of receiving a digital signal.

And if I set my set-top box to go to a specific channel to record something, I’m stuck with that channel.

Looks like my only option is a full-blown DVR – something I’ve been trying to avoid getting Borg’d into having.

Or am I missing something?

You can only use ATSC with an ATSC card, DVB-S with an DVB-S card and so on.

There are also ‘clear QAM’ tuners that can tune non scrambled digital cable here in the US. go to http://www.silicondust.com/hdhomerun/channels and it will list what’s available in clear QAM. However, the cable company isn’t obligated to keep these channels clear.