STAY TUNED: Digitizing your TV world; Comcast P&P troubles

BILL GREEN

Edward of Naples writes: “Mr. Green: In your most recent column, you mentioned that Comcast’s analog-to-digital adapter boxes are free. Technically, you are correct — if you only want up to two adapter boxes.

“We have six TVs in our home and since we want to be able to watch whatever we want on any of them, I needed a total of five adapter boxes.

“I did not need one for the main set where we have Comcast’s HD-DVR set-top box.

“When I went to pick up the five boxes, I was told that the first two would be free and each additional box would cost $1.99 / month.

“Please let people know that with Comcast, nothing is truly free.

“Thank you and keep up a well-written and informative column.”

First Edward, Congrats! With six TVs, you outrank even this couch potato. And yes, you are correct. If you have more than two analog television sets that are connected to Comcast, and you want to receive the digitally converted channels (22-76), each additional adapter — after the first two — will add $1.99 to your monthly bill. Otherwise your TV will only receive channels 2-17, 19, and 95-99 without the device.

For those of you who want to access On Demand or the interactive program guide on your analog TV, there’s also a device called a digital set-top box. It will set you back an extra $8.50 per month.

In the long run, it might be better to replace those extra TVs. A quick search on the Internet and I was able to find 19-inch HD TVs for as low as $119. In addition to a better picture, you’ll have the satisfaction of keeping those extra dollars away from Comcast.

Mike writes: “Bill, Comcast’s new format doesn’t have the picture-in-picture feature like their previous format did. With all the newest TVs having this feature, it seems stupid that we can’t get this from Comcast anymore. Could you please look into this?”

Old formats, new formats; that is how they’re selling it. Truth is, the old format Comcast was using was specifically designed for the Scientific Atlantic box (the DVR) that you most likely have in your home. And in this case, it was the DVR that provided the picture-in-picture feature, not the Comcast service.

Meanwhile, our new format is actually one Comcast has been using for some time in other markets, with a few upgrades. So why the switch? In those other markets, Comcast primarily uses Motorola brand DVRs. Eventually, the Scientific Atlantic DVRs will be phased out in this area.

So what does all this mean for you?

First the bad news: No more picture in picture. At least not now. The Motorola DVR does not support picture-in-picture and the menu upgrade disabled the P&P on your Scientific Atlantic machine. And you’re lucky if that’s the only problem you have using the Scientific Atlantic DVR with the new Comcast menu. I find it akin to trying to use a Mac operating system on a PC.

More good news, the upgrades are flying fast at Comcast these days, with increased competition from Century Link’s Prism service, which uses the Internet to deliver TV to your living room — and my favorite feature: It has four, yes FOUR tuners! One word of warning, I have not tested Prism, therefore cannot endorse it. But four tuners on one TV! (In other words you can record four things at once) Comcast had better watch out.

Back to Comcast; innovation is coming. And you might want to consider upgrading to the Motorola box. It should work with a lot more ease with the new format menu.

Naples homicides to be featured

Investigation Discovery is featuring the Naples homicides of Margaret Hitchcock Benson and Scott Benson on its series “Behind Mansion Walls,” airing at 10 p.m., Monday.

Tobacco fortune heir Margaret Hitchcock Benson was in the driveway of her home when a pipe bomb exploded between the front seats of her car, killing herself and her son, Scott, and seriously injuring her daughter, Carol Lynn.

This episode includes interviews with: Benson family friend Anna Kuykendall; prosecuting attorney Dwight Brock; retired ATF Special Agent George Nowicki; and John Greenya, author of “Blood Relations,” a book about the case.

Coming home with TLC

TLC pays tribute to our soldiers with “Surprise Homecoming,” a new series that reunites military men and women with their families after serving time overseas.

The eight-part series premieres at 10 p.m., Monday.

Hosted by Billy Ray Cyrus, each hour-long episode features three powerful surprise homecomings, along with personal home videos of other touching military family reunions.

Bill Green is a Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com journalist and a professional couch potato. Contact him at bgreen@naplesnews.com.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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