Big, Noisy HD Boxes


, Blogger: Orry's Orations
Out of curiosity, does anyone know why the HD boxes Comcast uses are not only big but noisy? My sister was given an HD box by accident for a while, and we were amazed at the size and amount of noise it generated. Comcast told us it was normal. Their regular boxes are now very thin and slim.


Technology runs in waves. Something, when first introduced, is wicked slick, and the envy of all else. As time goes on, new things are introduced, that are slicker, and so forth. So, in the end, it alll depends on where something happens to be on its product model's life-cycle.

Comcast was a leader in the introduction of HD, and so made its technology decisions at the time based on what was available, and would be serve their company's long-term interests. At each point of decision, their options are shaped by what's already in place. Imagine, for example, if a service provider chose to put into the field boxes that were the best decision in-the-moment, without regard to what's already deployed. The impact of that is a substantially more complex and less efficient infrastructure, but more importantly, that would result in a menagerie of boxes in the field, each model with its own unique peculiarities. Now imagine trying to support a deployed base with dozens of models in the field: Telephone agents and field techs would need to learn many times as much, and with such complexity it would mean that they'd never have a chance of becoming as proficient supporting any one model as they are today with only a few different models deployed.

So with mass-market services, like this, it is reasonable to expect that we'll see a step function: Obviously, when something is first introduced, it will be considered very slick. As time goes on, it'll eventually come to be considered clunky. Eventually, the decision will be made to retire the old, and replace it with the new. However, it won't happen every year -- we consumers would surely not want to essentially pay for a brand-new box every year, just to keep things such that we have the slickest boxes in our homes -- but rather things will follow a multi-year life-cycle.

A great example of this is the HD DVR situation, in the areas with Motorola head-ends. The DCT-series DVRs were introduced in 2004, and at that time they were super. Over five years, the state-of-the-art, especially with regard to this type of equipment, has skyrocketed. However, the DCT- and its follow-on DCH- series boxes remained the core of the deployed base of HD DVRs in these areas. (The DCH- was just a minor modification of the DCT-... we're still talking about early 2000's technology.) It was only recently that the new series, the DCX-, reflecting newer technology, was introduced, and the plans made to have it eventually, over time, replace the DCT- and DCH- boxes.

And that's with a very highly-profitable element of the deployed base, HD DVRs. With just regular HD tuners, I would expect to see service providers seek to get six or seven years of use out of the training and certification work they do to get their staff able to support a series of equipment.


, Blogger: Orry's Orations
I'm so happy with my tiny, slim little cable box now that I don't want that big, bulky thing that makes noises. I'll wait until they figure it's economical or worth it to upgrade to the same for HD.


, Blogger: Orry's Orations
My sister had one, but they did replace it a while ago. I've just heard others saying the same thing. However, it's good to know that maybe it's a malfunction within the box. Thanks.


DTVUSA Jr. Member
I agree about the noise factor. We have 2 HD DVRs and it is annoying. We've had techs out (not just for that) and when asked it was just given as "That's the way it is". Ugh.