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 and it will list what’s available in clear QAM. However, the cable company isn’t obligated to keep these channels clear.