Friday, July 4, 2014

Comcast X1 and HD DTA, my experience.

 So awhile back, I talked about how we had a Comcast install. Well it has been two weeks and I figured I would chime in on my experience so far. Let me back up to when we moved into our house. I had setup a Comcast, at our old house over the internet. I would recommend to NEVER DO THAT. I picked a triple play package with cable, internet and unlimited phone. Our old house would be long distance for us to call from our new house and Melissa talks to her aunt in Canada, so unlimited phone is a must. Cut to moving day, the Comcast tech showed up and where I had originally planned on having the entertainment center, wouldn't work there now. I had to move locations for my entertainment center and couches. I'm already pissed and mad at this fact, but there's nothing we can do. Now mind you, we didn't have any furniture set up at the time, so the installer could get to anywhere he needed to go. I told the installer what my plans were and he was okay with it. He got under the house and ran a new cable line from our connection closet to the TV and even ran an Ethernet cord for me also. (That was the second thing I was livid about was I had placed my Ethernet jack where the cable outlet was). He had to drill new holes in the connection cabinet and cut an access hole under it to run all of these cords.

 All the cords were ran and I was ready to install my equipment. Oh and by the way the whole online ordering thing, yeah I got an sd dvr, with 1 meg internet. I will hit on that more later. I needed to buy a keystone jack and a new wall plate now for these new connections. I have never done this before and it probably explains a lot about the connection issues I sometimes have. Anyways, I start installing my equipment. I have a surround sound receiver, tv, speakers, Xbox, Ps3, Wii, Ps2, dvr, ethernet switch, Wii senor bar and Wii speak to hook up. I start running cables, labeling them and I run the hdmi cord for the dvr and lo and behold, it's sd. Meaning there's no hdmi, it's coaxial cable only. What the fuck am I supposed to do now? I take the tv off of the mount and unhook the hdmi cord I had for the dvr and screwed in the coaxial cable. I put the tv back on the mount and start setting everything up. When I was trying to connect to Xbox live, I was getting a couple of errors. I called Comcast and I was like, this is a brand new house and brand new cables, this is unacceptable. They scheduled a tech for the next day. 

 When the tech showed up, he started going through all the connections and noticed I was only getting 1 meg down. I said no, that's not right, I ordered whatever they had at the time, but not the "economy package". I told the tech, how am I getting a dvr, unlimited phone and these channels if I had economy? He said that wasn't possible, called Comcast, explained what was going on and they said hey, wait a minute, this isn't correct. The tech even installed new cables and wall connectors because he couldn't figure out why it was so slow. They did whatever they did and my internet speed was what is was supposed to be according to their speed test. I say according to their speed test because, to this day, even with our "speed upgrade" I have never had the full speed I am supposed to have. Yes, I know it's because of my neighborhood, and yes I know it's because it's a "data pool", but whatever. 

 So ever since then, almost five years ago, we have had sd dvr, whatever speed they said we had and unlimited phone. I was able to play on Xbox live and PSN and stream Netflix, so I wasn't complaining too much. We signed a couple of two year agreements and when the agreement was up, we called and got a new package deal with what we had before. I did have to take back my old Comcast modem because it was on the "End of life list". I exchanged it and the guy was trying to get me to try "Blast" for free for three months and I said no thank you, do not put that on my account. I hooked it up and my internet speed was crazy fast. And immediately I was pissed, because I knew that guy put the "Blast" on my account anyways. I called Comcast again, even though I was just on the phone to setup the modem and had them take blast off of my account. They were surprised I would want to do this and I said well how much does it cost after three months free? They said it would have been like 20 extra bucks or something, I said are you gonna pay that extra 20 bucks for me? They said no, I said well neither am I. I saw the modem lights go out and start flashing again and I knew they had taken off the blast. 

 Now a few years later, our modem was having problems with our phone and our voice mail. Cut to me taking another modem back and exchanging it again. This time they did not try and add something on and they didn't give me the battery pack for the modem, but I was happy because I noticed that when we would get a power blink or outage, the modem wouldn't fully restart so we would  have problems. I got home, called Comcast to activate the modem and re setup our WiFi. So cut to a couple more years and our contract is up and we want to save some money. Melissa and I paper, rocked, scissored for the opportunity to call Comcast for our new "upgrade" and commitment. Melissa, I think just gave up on me trying to call and called herself. Now they won't even talk to someone, without them being on the account. I had to call Comcast, add Melissa to the account, so she could call them back to get our new package. I don't know what Melissa all said, but I know that she got a new two year deal with the X1 dvr, a movie package and hd for the same amount we were paying before. 

 I won't re go over the install for the new dvr, but I was pissed off and didn't want it setup how it is. I will eventually fix that. Now for the service part of this rant/review. There is an auto tune to hd feature, which is nice, but it only works when changing channels in the guide. If you record an sd channel, it will not record an hd channel. You might be saying duh Ben, what were you thinking. Well if it auto tunes to hd, why cant it record hd? We have never had hd in our house now, we did have it in our old house, so this was not a jaw dropping, oh my god it looks pretty experience. My only concern was will sd still look okay on our tv if we can't find, or the channel isn't in hd. Yes, it does look good. Now we have to learn what the hd counter parts are. We have to figure out if we want everything in sd or everything in hd or mix and match. We don't need news in hd and we don't need everything in hd. But, we are paying for hd now, so I want to use it. So Big Brother, Under The Dome and numerous other shows are being recorded in hd and it is nice. 

 After a week of use, we got a letter from Comcast saying, they haven't charged our account correctly and we will now be charged for the two dta boxes we have. Dta boxes are basically mini cable boxes that you can use to at least get minimum channels on your tv without having to get another actual cable box. They were free when we got them and they just worked for us. They were sd, but we had an sd dvr in the living room so no big deal. Well after this letter, I said I am not paying two bucks for something that doesn't get used. I took the first dta box back and asked if they had any hd dta boxes, he said yes, I said how much are they? He said the same price. I said cool hook me up. I'm paying for hd and I am paying for one dta, might as well get hd out of the deal. The setup process was very fucked up. I called the automated line and tried 3 times to set up the hd dta box and no luck. I call customer service, get a person who has a cold and I can barely understand to hook up the box. I get put on hold for at least 10 minutes and then the box works and I get disconnected from the guy, whatever. Now I have to quick setup up the hd dta box so it's somewhat watchable. I'm quick scanning the menus and there's no output zoom option. Just 1080i and below or auto. Auto output looks the best. So now we had sd channels that small squares with black around all edges. I have to grab the tv remote and zoom it to make it watchable. I haven't been able to program a zoom button on the new dta remote and the tv remote can't be programmed for the dta box. 

 Were still getting used to how it all works and somethings we love other things we don't. I hit on the hd auto tune, well it won't work for a couple of hd channels like TVGN hd. It refuses to auto tune. When I search for a show to record, it defaults to sd not hd. I have five tuners on the dvr and it seems like only four want to work at any given time. Melissa finds our shows and records them. Then I got back later and find the shows we want in hd record those and cancel the sd shows. It sound slike a mess, but eventually we will get it down. Another weird thing, we have the screen saver set to five minutes. Even when we are watching a show and leave the tv, it will start the screen saver. I tried both X1 apps and neither worked. The X1 dvr app was looking for a cloud service and if you said cancel it would fail. So I don't know about that. The last thing is, I can't get the movie channels I can from the X1 on the hd dta box. Why is that? It's their cable box what's the difference.

 Bottom line:
Right now I feel like the X1 dvr is worth it. Hd is worth it and paying the same price for more, is worth it. I know this was a long post, but I wanted a history to go with my review. I'm not saying Comcast is bad, but I'm not saying they are perfect either. Till next time. 

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