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Question about cable TV gear, Cisco DTA 170HD Digital Transport Adapter

Rough night last night, I thought a severe weather alert had been cancelled, so at about 1:30am I was holding an umbrella over my neps during a brief hailstorm. To the plus I captured about 30 gallons of rainwater.

Anyway, the local cable carrier TWC has said that it is going to go all digital in its network or however you say it. I have two tv's; one tube type, one plasma,
both have digital tuners. Many have said that cable networks rarely if ever mention that sets with digital tuners can decode and display HD/digital channels without a cable box...at the service tier I have I get a few. They say they are going to move around channels, and that this device (the Cisco piece)
will allow customers to continue receiving channels they will otherwise lose. No one I know knows much about the device, what it does, and how much info it relays back to the cable co., and/or if it is really necessary. It will cost $1.00 per month, so no biggie. I think it may be more oriented to those with older tube tv's with analog tuners, but it also has output HDMI, leading me to think it can at least output if not upscale to HD. One forum I found had conflicting info, and said it took a digital HD signal stepped it down to SD and upconverted to HD at the HDMI output, assuming it was an HD signal in the first place. It is obviously more than just a digital to analog tuner, but how much and what I do not know, and info is sparce.

Prior to all this, the co. said if someone wanted to upgrade to digital tv you needed a cable box of theirs and it would be "free" for the $10 box rental. That was at a higher service tier than I have so not applicable.

What I am wondering is if this device will unleash new material or perhaps get stuff through at higher resolution or perhaps in a multi-channel audio format...or just be a waste of time, money, power, and unnecessary connections. It also comes with a remote, is sort-of hooked up like a VCR so that you select a channel and use the device remote instead of your tv's. I don't like that idea too much.

As as sidebar, I tried to watch a show and the channel was just fuzz, I checked their listing of where they had moved it to, and that channel came in. So at least for that one channel, I can still watch it. Cannot speak for all the rest, or what they will do in the future.

Anybody know anything about this??

By the way, the info from Cisco's website lists a pdf file of the info that came with the box, and is of little to no utility in terms of what I seek to know. More about hookup, and in technical terms what it can do for the cable co. Not much at the consumer level. One person on a forum spoke of how there was little info from Cisco, another said, "Really?" and included a link to that pdf file. No info about what passes, how, multichannel or not, etc.
Our cable company did this about 18 months ago. They used Motorola boxes, but the Cisco probably does the same thing. Your channels will be like 31.5. If you have a digital tuner in the tv, you will be fine. I don't think you will be gaining anything by using the converters. Ours just convert the SD signal to a digital signal. You can always hook up an antenna and pull over the air HD though.. I can't speak to the up converting though since I dint have an HDMI port on my boxes. I don't think it would make it look much better though, and unless you are using anything besides regular stereo sound it won't sound better with HDMI either.
A friend who always goes with high end 5.1 sound sold me his older Yamaha so I am doing the 5.1 thing here, though with more modest gear. What I do get from the cable lead straight to the tv in HD will be like regular channel 4 in standard def and 4.1 in high def though I am not sure of the resolution, and it still comes in 2 channel. Maybe eight or ten channels. I don't really watch that much tv, usually bluray discs or dvd, though I still have a vcr and laserdisc player in the system. Rarely used though. We hooked up a digital antennae at my mother's house, but it was not so good in pulling in channels. We found a way to piggyback off my brothers next door with a wireless network and an additional receiver.
A good cable plan there so lots of stuff to choose from. Too bad I can't do that at my place!