Digital Cable converter

Just yesterday we were “upgraded” by comcast to all digital, the result being that we get no picture on several of our TV’s. Rather than pay $1.99 per month, I would prefer to buy a box outright. I see them advertised on ebay, but I am not sure what I should be looking for to be certain that I obtain the equipment I need. Will essentially any digital converter box do?

As long as the physical interfaces are compatible (i.e., coax), you should be fine. These things are built according to standards.

I would add that a super-knock-off-cheesy-POS may not meet the same criteria (but seriously, who in their right mind would build something that doesn’t match standards?).

I believe Comcast encrypts their digital signal. So if you buy something from eBay, it may not work.

I believe that I do not yet need a Cableguard device, but eventually will.

Comcast loves to encrypt its digital signals.

Around here you get 2 digital converters rent-free and only pay fees for the next ones after that.

If you go the CableCard route, Comcast lets you have the first one with no fee and then charges after that. So that’s a lose on price (plus you have to buy the device). OTOH, with a CableCard ready device, you can watch HD programs and a lot of other channels. (Lots of package variations though.) A standard M-CableCard allows you to tune in more than one channel with the same device, if it can handle it. E.g., a dual (or quad!) tuner DVR or some such.

Buying digital cable boxes on eBay is a bad idea. They are considered stolen by almost every cable company and they will refuse to allow you to use them. Certainly for any box with a cable companies name on it. Manufacturers like Motorola, Pace, Cicso, Scientific-Atlanta never sell retail in the US, only to cable companies.

By law, the must sell them in Canada, it those boxes cannot be used in the US.

Cableboxes all contain proprietary software/firmware specific to the cable companies in your area. Buying one off eBay or any place will not likely work. It has to be digital and ‘addressable’ (a modern cablebox is sort of a node on the cable company’s network) and a third party box won’t be. If your sets are modern flat screen HDTVs they should be able to digitally tune the very basic channels w/o a box.

You’re not really going to save much by buying one. At $2 a month it takes four years to spend $96 on one, plus if one you buy gets fried by a power surge or lightning (happens more often than you think) you’re out its cost. With a rented one they just bring you another no charge.