High Definition Cable

Last fall, we went on sort of a spending spree and got a bunch of new, fun stuff. We got a gigantic 55" Mitsubishi Medallion high definition widescreen TV. We purchased a really nice surround sound system with Klipsch speakers and a Denon receiver. Finally, we finished out the living room with a wrap-around couch and chair-and-a-half. Then, in the spring, our cable provider (Insight) started offering High Definition cable. They only had four channels at the time: ABC, CBS, HBO, and Showtime. Insight only wanted $2 / month for the additional set top box required to decode the high definition signal, which was a heck of a lot better than the $400 or more that it would cost to get an over the air decoder. So we jumped and got the service. We've been a little disappointed with the quality of the local networks, but the HBO and Showtime channels are incredible. Sometimes the local networks get it right and a show looks good too. Recently, I've noticed channels coming and going. Upon my latest check, here is what we are receiving:

  • 750 - HBO HD
  • 751 - SHOWTIME HD
  • 760 - CBS (WISH)
  • 762 - ABC (WRTV)
  • 764 - PBS (switches between several PBS feeds, currently WHYY)
  • 774 - BRAVO
  • 775 - ESPN (black screen on my receiver)
  • 776 - DISC
  • 777 - HDNT (black screen)
  • 778 - HDMV (black screen)

The Discover HD Theatre channel is absolutely amazing. I watched a nature show and some of the images of the birds and wildlife were just amazing. The level of detail was so much better than a regular TV show. It really is amazing. I'm looking forward to getting the rest of the networks (NBC, FOX, UPN, WB) soon, as I know that they broadcast over the air locally. The cable company has to work out a deal with them first, but it shouldn't be long (i hope). As for ESPN, I'm not really missing it right now. I've heard that ESPN charges cable operators a premium to distribute the High Definition signal. If it means that my bill would go up, I'm not paying it. We already pay an arm and a leg for the stations we do get. Our bill breaks down to $40 for Digital Cable + $10 for HBO (x6) + $10 for Showtime (x7) + $40 for broadband internet + some taxes and equipment = $110 / month. That's an outrageous amount to pay for entertainment each month, but we do use it. I'm more fond of the internet service than the cable, and Jenn is just the opposite. It is nice to receive the digital music channels though. I'm "working" from home today, and I've got it tuned to 536 - Trends. It's a great mix of electronic music: Fatboy Slim, Orbital, Basement Jaxx, Propellerheads, etc. My kind of music. Jenn hates it, so I have to enjoy it while she isn't around :-).

I have a friend in the neighborhood who has nearly the same entertainment setup, but he gets his programming through DirecTV. He is a major football fanatic, and subscribes to the season ticket each year, which lets him watch every game. He also gets his HD service through the satellite. He has been receiving a lot of the content that I am just now getting for quite a while. I read a post on AVS Forum that indicated that there may be a premium charge coming for some of the HD content. When the new cable box was first hooked up, the cable rep said that the new box would eventually completely replace my existing Digital box, but that they were still working on the switch over. It will be nice when that happens. One less black box on top of the TV. Plus, we won't have to do the funky multiple remote channel switching that is require right now to go between high definition content and regular digital cable. I'm sure Jenn will be very happy when the day comes when it takes just one remote to control everything. Someday... someday...

[Listening to: Underworld - Single - Jumbo]


Jade Mason