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Brighton, MA

List/Quality of Clear QAM on Comcast in Boston, MA

The June 19 deadline of Comcast dropping all analogue stations is rapidly approaching, so I'm looking for my best alternative.

I currently have Comcast basic cable plugged in my Hauppauge PVR-500 dual analogue tuner, and I'm running MythTV. This gets me all the local stations, which is all I need. At the moment my TV is a 36" CRT TV, so I'm happy with analogue stations, although I'm hoping to upgrade to an LCD TV in the next 6 months or so (once I finish grad school and start making "real" money).

I also recently purchased an SiliconDust HDHomeRun Dual Digital Tuner.

My options include:
(1) Tune digital from Comcast using HDHomeRun
(2) Tune digital OTA - I live in a relatively elevated area, ~5 miles from several TV antennas located in Needham, MA
(3) Switch to RCN

To help make that decision, I have a couple questions about what Comcast currently offers for Clear QAM.

(1) SiliconDust provides a list of ClearQAM channels, can anyone check those lists and confirm they are accurate?
(2) Are the ClearQAM local channels transmitted in HD or SD?
(3) HD vs. SD aside, I recall reading a review several years ago complaining that some stations were over-compressing their "HD" signals, causing aliasing and artifacts. Can anybody speak to the quality of the Comcast ClearQAM compared to OTA or RCN?

Side note: I plan to post a similar question to the RCN thread asking for the same information about RCN.

- Ben


I live in JP and I had RCN for several years until I switched to Comcast last November. I have both an HDHR dual and an HDHR Prime since back when I had RCN so I have used them both with both services you ask about.

Both RCN and Comcast have SD and HD clear QAM channels that include ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, UPN, WGBH, WGBX (I think one of the PBS stations was only SD on RCN but I am no longer sure).

I run MythTV as well and it works well. The quality of the HD digital channels are good on both providers. With the Prime, I also get all the HD for the middle tier channels.

I have the triple play package with Comcast that includes HD. With a minimal package you most likely will have to pay extra for HD with Comcast. I also had HD included with my RCN package so I don't know if they charge an HD fee.

The reason I changed is that a Comcast marketron knocked on my door and offered a package RCN could or would not match.


Springfield, IL
reply to chiron80
OP - something you should at least keep in (the back of) your mind...CC IS in the process of getting permission to encrypt ALL (digital) channels once the analog is shut off. So when that DOES happen, your HDHomeRun will be useless on Comcast. (there are umpteen posts on DSLR alone that discuss this happening...)
Bottom line...if it was me, I would NOT be investing in any tuner that ONLY does ClearQAM cable. (if you have no problem with going OTA only, then it might be a different story, since the HDHR does that as well)

You only other choice, if you want to stick w/CC & PC-type tuner/DVR, would be to get an HDHome Run Prime, that will accept a cablecard & can tune paid-for encrypted stations. However, you could also do the same thing w/RCN as well. (I assume they DO also offer cablecards)


Portsmouth, RI
reply to chiron80
You are 5 miles from Needham? OTA reception is better than what Comcast or RCN provides anyway, and the only HD channels not encrypted(for now) are the locals, the same stations you get via OTA. I think you just just stick with OTA.

Heck if you are that close a paper clip might work for an antenna!
I'm ~50 miles away from the towers, in Portsmouth(RI) and am in just the right spot where I can pull all the major Boston channels with a non-amplified indoor UHF loop and VHF dipole.


Houston, TX
reply to chiron80
You should consider getting DTAs before Comcast starts charging for them in July.