A new cable box for every TV - Seriously?
The Comcast Digital Transport Adapter
What exactly is a DTA, and why do I care?
A Comcast DTA [Digital Transport Adapter] really is a cable box, but it is significantly smaller (small enough to be velcroed to the back of a flat screen), has a nice little IR pickup (that you can stick on a TV and hide the DTA and still use a remote), and ONLY will tune in "extended basic digital channels" meaning they typically will not get the higher digital channels (110 and up) and will NOT do on-demand.
A DTA is shown here below a typical HD DVR. Not shown are the small wall-wart power supply or the connection cables which include the optional IR receiver that can be stuck to the front of a TV or shelf allowing you to completely hide the DTA behind your TV - a nice feature.
They are also ONLY standard definition and connect to the TV via composite cables or modulated channel 3/4 output. Note that you can also get a standard definition cable box (that adds the capability to receive ALL digital channels and does on-demand), or a high definition cable box (adds reception of high def channels) or either of those boxes that also record shows by getting the DVR version.
What are the drawbacks?
DTAs are actually much less capable than cable boxes - you lose:
- No Guide - back to using a TV guide
- No On-Demand
- No direct output - only "VCR-like" Channel 3 output (bad quality)
- A completely different - and incompatible - remote control
How Comcast screwed up...
I can just hear the headquarters executives talking about the Digital Conversion - "All we have to give them is what they have without any box" - but they forgot that they put a HUGE inconvenience on you by asking you to install more equipment. It was a huge mistake on Comcast's part to put out such a bad product. At least they could have used the same remote, provided RCA outputs, and given us a guide. So... As much as we hate to play into the hands of "The Man", we recommend using DTAs ONLY for remote TVs that do not get used very often. Read on.
IR Codes and remote controls:
It is believed there are actually two different variances of the Comcast digital adapters are being handed out. The most common, however, comes with a miniature Comcast remote and uses all the same IR codes as the standard "non-XMP" silver Comcast remotes. The other version (although we have not seen one here at BOCS yet) is said to use a completely different IR code set - something more similar to the XMP code-set upsed by the dark grey Comcast remotes (See David's BLOG for more information on XMP). As always, if you have any trouble getting any of this to work with your BOCS system, contact us on one of the chat windows (see above) or call 720-206-4114 for tech support.
So, what do we recommend?
Take the free DTAs that you are offered - usually two. But for every TV you are "really" going to use, get a "real" cable box. Comcast is issuing new digital cable boxes that are about the same size as the DTA - and at last check they were only about $3 each. For just a little money you get the guide, on-demand, and outputs capable of feeding any TV - and you don't have to go back to your childhood VCR experience. One more thing, and come on - you knew this was coming - we highly recommend using your cable boxes as inputs to a BOCS system -
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