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    Can you purchase a digital box for cable instead of renting it?


    This is a discussion on Can you purchase a digital box for cable instead of renting it? within the Comcast forums, part of the Cable and Satellite Providers category.

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    1. #1
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      I'm tired of paying rent my cable box, does anyone know if I can buy a Comcast box, and if so, where can I do it?

    2. #2
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      I see those things go up for sale on Ebay every once in a while. I think Comcast uses Scientific Atlanta or maybe Cox does? I don't know, but I'm not sure if you can do this really.

    3. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by tOADY View Post
      I'm tired of paying rent my cable box, does anyone know if I can buy a Comcast box, and if so, where can I do it?
      The laws have been crafted to permit the manufacture and distribution of cable converter boxes, with full support for separable security. However, there are no manufacturers who have seen fit to offer such boxes for sale. There evidently isn't enough money to be made and/or too much cost to support such boxes out in the wild.

      There are a few companies that have seen fit to offer DVRs for sale to the general public, that work with cable television systems. TiVo is the most well-established. You can get a dual-tuner HD TiVo for $199 (sometimes), plus $299 for lifetime service. Moxi has recently released their first HD DVR for cable. I believe it runs about $800 and includes lifetime service. Another option is Microsoft Windows Media Center, with CableCARD support (but I don't know much about that).

    4. #4
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      Quote Originally Posted by TonyT View Post
      I see those things go up for sale on Ebay every once in a while. I think Comcast uses Scientific Atlanta or maybe Cox does? I don't know, but I'm not sure if you can do this really.
      Those boxes on Ebay will not work with cable unless they're activated with Comcast which will not likely happen unless you're a subscriber of Comcast's digital tier package. If you do happen to get a box from someone that "is supposed to work" with your cable host, it's probably an illegal descrambler type of box.

      @Bicker, doesn't the Tivo DVR still require a subscription or monthly service fee for use with cable (even after forking over the $199)?

    5. #5
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      Quote Originally Posted by Jay View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by bicker View Post
      You can get a dual-tuner HD TiVo for $199 (sometimes), plus $299 for lifetime service.
      @Bicker, doesn't the Tivo DVR still require a subscription or monthly service fee for use with cable (even after forking over the $199)?
      After forking over the $199 plus $299, there is no monthly service fee.

      (There is a monthly service fee option, instead of lifetime service, if folks prefer that. It is kind of hard to compare the TiVo to the Moxi, when the pricing is presented that way. It is far easier to compare the TiVo to the Moxi, lifetime-to-lifetime, because the Moxi does not offer a monthly service fee option.)

      Quote Originally Posted by Jay View Post
      Those boxes on Ebay will not work with cable unless they're activated with Comcast which will not likely happen unless you're a subscriber of Comcast's digital tier package.
      Actually, the boxes on eBay are either stolen, or Canadian. Either way, the MSOs are not required to, and generally will not activate them. The government has imposed regulations requiring MSOs to support CableCARD, so since they've been forced to incur the costs of supporting CableCARD, that is the only mechanism by which customer-owned devices are authorized for use in most cable systems.

    6. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by bicker View Post
      After forking over the $199 plus $299, there is no monthly service fee.

      (There is a monthly service fee option, instead of lifetime service, if folks prefer that. It is kind of hard to compare the TiVo to the Moxi, when the pricing is presented that way. It is far easier to compare the TiVo to the Moxi, lifetime-to-lifetime, because the Moxi does not offer a monthly service fee option.)

      Actually, the boxes on eBay are either stolen, or Canadian. Either way, the MSOs are not required to, and generally will not activate them. The government has imposed regulations requiring MSOs to support CableCARD, so since they've been forced to incur the costs of supporting CableCARD, that is the only mechanism by which customer-owned devices are authorized for use in most cable systems.
      and don't even think about connecting one of those boxes onto Comcast's network. They can absolutely detect an illegal box on their network. Huge fines. Not worth it...

    7. #7
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      So by the end of the day it'll still be best to just rent them. So it seems to me. Just curious, if this is true, then why are there still people selling these on the net like those on e-bay?

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      Because there are enough folks who aren't smart enough to ask the question you asked.

    9. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by Jay View Post
      Those boxes on Ebay will not work with cable unless they're activated with Comcast which will not likely happen unless you're a subscriber of Comcast's digital tier package. If you do happen to get a box from someone that "is supposed to work" with your cable host, it's probably an illegal descrambler type of box.
      This is good to know. You never know who is going to rip you off.

    10. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by tOADY View Post
      I'm tired of paying rent my cable box, does anyone know if I can buy a Comcast box, and if so, where can I do it?
      i was told that you can get something from best buys. is this true?

    11. #11
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      Quote Originally Posted by roger budd View Post
      i was told that you can get something from best buys. is this true?
      Nope, unless someone told you that you could use a cable card (if your TV has the expansion slot of the cablecard). Even then, you still have to rent those cable cards from the cable company. The only way to get around renting a set top box from the cable company that I know of, is to just subscribe to basic cable service.

      Note: Cable company's will probably be forcing their customers to upgrade to digital before 2012, so even if you do go to basic cable, they'll eventually require you to rent a set top box.

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      The cable box is part of the cable package and it's what makes you part of the network. It's not like a cable modem which you can buy instead of paying rent. I bought mine because I knew that paying rent on a modem was ridiculous. The modems aren't that expensive, so they pay for themselves quickly. I believe the same thing about a DVR. I want one, but don't yet have one. I refuse to pay $10 a month rental on a cable DVR. When I can afford it, I'll buy one. But ... the actual cable box itself is not a 'buyable' option. It's part of the subscription process, so buy your cable modem, buy your DVR, but the cable box comes from Comcast (or whatever company you are subscribing to).

    13. #13
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      Quote Originally Posted by roger budd View Post
      i was told that you can get something from best buys. is this true?
      Yes, sort of... not a digital cable box, but a digital cable DVR is available for sale there: It costs $300, plus you will be required to pay the vendor, TiVo, about $400 for on-going service, plus perhaps another few dollars per month for a decryption and channel-mapping card from the cable company, in order for it to work.

      So figure $700 total. It isn't really intended to save money. Rather, it gives you a lot of great features and capabilities. And compared to a DVR from the cable company, it does pay off eventually: Break-even is about two years.

      TiVo® - HD Digital Video Recorder - TCD652160

    14. #14
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      Quote Originally Posted by bicker View Post
      Yes, sort of... not a digital cable box, but a digital cable DVR is available for sale there: It costs $300, plus you will be required to pay the vendor, TiVo, about $400 for on-going service, plus perhaps another few dollars per month for a decryption and channel-mapping card from the cable company, in order for it to work.

      So figure $700 total. It isn't really intended to save money. Rather, it gives you a lot of great features and capabilities. And compared to a DVR from the cable company, it does pay off eventually: Break-even is about two years.

      TiVo® - HD Digital Video Recorder - TCD652160
      So the only way to get around renting a box from cable is to get the Tivo? I want to make sure I get the math straight, you have to pay $300 for the unit plus $400 for service? If I only use it for 2 years that means I'll be paying $30 a month for it instead of renting it for a little more than half that price? Yowsa.

    15. #15
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      Quote Originally Posted by TonyT View Post
      I see those things go up for sale on Ebay every once in a while. I think Comcast uses Scientific Atlanta or maybe Cox does? I don't know, but I'm not sure if you can do this really.
      Comcast does use Scientific Atlanta (Cisco). There are a few cable boxes out there that will allow you to connect to your cable service. Most are old units that were originally sold as "pirate boxes" which today do not work descrambling cable signals that you are not subscribed to. They do however work for channels that you are legitimately subscribed to. Two of the brands out there that I know work with Comcast (in the bay area) are: Stargate 2000 and General Instruments Jerrold Starcom VI. I have several friends with old TV sets that do not work with basic cable because the TV set does not have RCA or coxial input. They had to purchase a RF modulator (Walmart) to connect the cable box. Works perfect for channels they are subscribed to. I guess if they upgraded they would receive a cable box for their sets. US Cable in Texas is another company that uses Scientific Atlanta boxes and the old "pirate boxes" work in place of the cable rented boxes. Have not a clue where you might buy one these days through.

    16. #16
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      Quote Originally Posted by JustJustin49 View Post
      Comcast does use Scientific Atlanta (Cisco). There are a few cable boxes out there that will allow you to connect to your cable service. Most are old units that were originally sold as "pirate boxes" which today do not work descrambling cable signals that you are not subscribed to. They do however work for channels that you are legitimately subscribed to. Two of the brands out there that I know work with Comcast (in the bay area) are: Stargate 2000 and General Instruments Jerrold Starcom VI. I have several friends with old TV sets that do not work with basic cable because the TV set does not have RCA or coxial input. They had to purchase a RF modulator (Walmart) to connect the cable box. Works perfect for channels they are subscribed to. I guess if they upgraded they would receive a cable box for their sets. US Cable in Texas is another company that uses Scientific Atlanta boxes and the old "pirate boxes" work in place of the cable rented boxes. Have not a clue where you might buy one these days through.
      Comcast uses both SA and Moto, depending on the area.

      Set-top Box User Manuals

      Remember that Comcast acquired a bunch of cable companies and with them the particular headend gear and encryption they were using.

      I don't think any cable company will activate a box you buy from ebay since it is likely to be stolen. Motorola and Cisco don't sell those boxes to end users directly.
      Last edited by n2rj; 04-14-2011 at 08:25 AM.
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    17. #17
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      One thing no one considered is that when you rent the cable boxes, Comcast (or whoever you use0 is responsible to keep them working. We have had 3 to 4 cable boxes (depending on if we need the extra when our daughter comes home), and have had to replace 3 of these over a period of 5 years. That has to be factored into any price you pay if you could buy them, as their lifetime seems to be only a few years.

    18. #18
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      Cablecard boxes such as TiVo come with a manufacturer's warranty. However I never had to use it. My current htpc suffered from some failed RAM which was replaced under warranty. Most failures in TiVo and similar units is the hard drive. I'm more comfortable with replacing the occasional hard drive if it saves me 15 bucks a month.
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    19. #19
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      so are you saying if you have a comcast cable box thats just sitting around collecting dust there really isnt anything you can do with it? After I saw all the comcast boxes for sale on ebay and so many people bidding on them i was going to put it up for sale there. well what about remotes for comcast, I actually have a lot of comcast remotes and boxes just collecting dust, and figured why not sell them.

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      Quote Originally Posted by eaheemp View Post
      so are you saying if you have a comcast cable box thats just sitting around collecting dust there really isnt anything you can do with it? After I saw all the comcast boxes for sale on ebay and so many people bidding on them i was going to put it up for sale there. well what about remotes for comcast, I actually have a lot of comcast remotes and boxes just collecting dust, and figured why not sell them.
      How do you end up with "a lot of Comcast remotes and boxes" without five finger discounting them? As far as I know, all Comcast boxes are the property of Comcast.

     
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