CableCARD Installs Getting Better?

Over the years, I’ve experienced more CableCARD installs than most. As I frequently rotate devices and have lived something of a gypsy lifestyle since unloading our home (along with our projector) and given bi-coastal employment. The vast majority of installs have been problematic. When the Comcast or Cox Communication techs bother to show. I even had to get in touch with my (previous) local franchising authority (Montgomery County, MD) at one point. Which is both good and bad… Fortunately, I know how to get things taken care of. On the other hand, why did getting a timely CableCARD install require filing a report? Plus, in most situations, I still firmly believe a CableCARD install shouldn’t require a truck roll — even if pairing is required. Let me pick up the card at their office and give me a number to call to read off my STB numbers for pairing. Saving the savvy some time (while preserving my PTO).

However, having moved to Cox’s switched digital video (SDV) ecosystem, a truck roll ($30/tv) is probably still required. As their Cisco/SA tuning adapters have been extremely flakey. Last summer, my first tech was a no show and the second installer arrived several hours later to get two TiVo units going. It took him, Cox’s ninja CableCARD tech, over 2 hours of continual tuning adapter and TiVo reboots along with multiple calls back to the office to get everything going properly. (Followed by months of my own regular device reboots to reclaim those switched stations, which randomly vanished and magically reappeared a few days later.) So my expectations were pretty low yesterday, when reactivating a loaner Moxi HD DVR for testing the Moxi Mate DVR extender’s new live TV streaming functionality (which overcomes TiVo’s biggest limitation in our household).

The Cox installer had never seen a Moxi HD DVR before, and had many Moxi versus TiVo questions for me, but showed no fear in getting it running. I appreciated his methodical approach — pairing and verifying the CableCARD before tackling the SDV tuning adapter. Amazingly, he was in and out in 35 minutes. With ZERO Moxi and ZERO tuning adapter reboots. (Plus, he wore booties over his shoes and wouldn’t take a tip.) So, either Moxi is better at CableCARD technology than TiVo or those tuning adapters have received some sort of firmware update. Maybe both. Regardless, this gives me (tru2way) hope and kudos to Cox for a flawless install.

For the complete blow by blow of how the install process played out, here’s a capture of my Twitter feed:

  • Should I live tweet today’s CableCARD install? Always a fun time! ;) Appointment is between 8am – 10am. We’ll see..
  • @VinceA @joelsef I told Cox I need a multistream CableCARD and SDV tuning adapter. But we’ll see what the tech actually arrives with…
  • 15 minutes until 10AM and still no Cox installer. Phone rep doesn’t know where he is. Fun times with the cableco. Like usual.
  • @pmhesse @cypherstream No move, no new device. Activating a Moxi HD DVR loaner to test live TV to a soon-to-arrive Moxi Mate extender.
  • Amazing, Cox technician called at exactly 10AM as I was on the phone to cancel install. Wagers on time to complete? I’ll go with 55 mins.
  • Ha, cable guy thought TiVos were rare until he just encountered his first Moxi. He hopes it has updated firmware. Me too. ;)
  • Installer wonders the benefit of a Moxi over TiVo. No monthly fee, DLNA, and #1… streaming extenders. UI is too busy/cluttered, tho.
  • @gblinckmann @Br8den This guy seems to know what he’s doing. Less than 10 minutes in, CableCARD is installed & he’s calling in for pairing.
  • CableCARD good to go. Now for the SDV tuning adapter… How many reboots and minutes will it require to ultimately tune CNN HD?
  • @ckelly This is the same Moxi sent to me for review months and months ago. So it’s two tuner. One Mate is on the way, to arrive tomorrow.
  • @mattbuchanan Windows 7 Media Center is nice. But wish MS had more extenders/partners beyond Xbox 360. FiOS doesn’t use/need SDV – bonus!
  • Wow, fastest CableCARD+SDV adapter install in recorded history. 35 minutes start to finish. Cox tech says this Moxi best install for him too.
  • @CoxTech1 @pjrodriguez A flawless install, thanks for your support guys.

13 thoughts on “CableCARD Installs Getting Better?”

  1. I should add I’m still a little bitter I had to pay $60 for my first Cox install last July after tech #1 was a no show. When shit like that happens, and I waste the day in the house, they should foot the bill. Especially as a new customer and in a FiOS TV region. Fortunately, their phone reps (billing and tech support) have been stellar and obviously I had a good install experience yesterday.

  2. I think it has improved. My media center cablecard install was under a half hour. Had one bad card but tried another and it worked.

    I wish Moxi would gain in the marketplace. No monthly fees is nice.

    Media Center is nice but the biggest issue is the power settings for me. Lots of tinkering required in general.

  3. Kevin, There’d be less tinkering with Media Center if there were more extenders on the market. Ben D always tells me to build the MC and stick it in the closet, with only extenders at the TV. Less things like resolution to fight Windows with. But I’m definitely behind the hub/spoke model – glad to see whole-home DVRs gaining traction. Wish TiVo would do similar, with streaming versus copying and a unified Now Playing list.

    Joe, The UI has too much going on (too many filters to be exact) and Moxi UI still requires too many button presses on the remote (with learning curve) with an inconsistent approach (do I hit the back button to get out or do I hit OK this time?) to get things done. But the extenders may be compelling enough to overlook the nits.

  4. Yeah looking forward to the Moxi w/ Moxi Mate review.

    Refreshing install though. Something’s getting better. However I wish there were Tru2Way devices out there where the Tuning Adapter is not necessary, and VOD works.

  5. I tried Moxi last month. I disconnected after less than 24 hours. I wanted to like it but I just could not get used to the remote missing dedicated buttons for menu, live tv and dvr recordings. I have fios and two tivo hds. I took the cable card out of one and put it in the moxi and did not have to call in to switch the host and data information. After the moxi was done updating software and activated it just worked.

  6. Interesting. Guess I’ve just had good luck with installs (at least 8 CableCARD installs into TiVos, mix of S and M cards, no issues, no install took longer than ~40 minutes). Granted, these were all on the same head-end, all Motorola, all with handholding by me (less and less over time, though.)

    All of my problems have been post-install issues related to re-pairing (re-pairing after a hardware repair in one case, and two instances where things became unpaired because of some unspecified data entry screwup in the cableco’s office.)

  7. I’ve had more issues than I care to recount. Including a few instances of non-functional cards and S instead of M cards showing up, requiring follow-up visits. One install actually took three visits over a week. Then there was the guy who drilled a hole through the wall and continued on into our dresser. Not really CableCARD’s fault, but so representative of my experiences. I had a Series 3 prior to release for review, so I can’t really blame the cableco for being ignorant/inefficient that time I guess.

    The best Comcast/Motorola install was the time they gave me an unlocked card which didn’t require pairing. And I didn’t complain that HBO and Showtime were tied to it, but not my account.

    But these SDV tuning adapters have added a whole new layer of pain. Much of it is technical, and not something that can be pinned on the installer. The required rebooting/repairing is beyond their (and my) control. But things have been relatively stable the last few months – makes me wonder what’s changed. Especially in light of this flawless install.

  8. Good luck. My Moxi with Cisco SDV TA box on Bright House is one of the most unstable setups I’ve ever seen. Prior to the Moxi software update early this month, Moxi would drop all the SDV channels about every other day. A reboot of the Cisco TA would get it back.

    The new Moxi software is far less predictable. I’ve seen a wide range of failure modes and bizarre behavior. I end up having to reboot both Moxi and the TA DAILY just to keep everything marginally stable. I’m hoping Moxi rolls out another new software update quickly, but I have a hunch it will be a couple more months that I’m stuck with this mess. It’s bad enough that I’ve seriously considered going back to the Bright House DVR for six months while I wait for all this SDV nonsense to get sorted out.

  9. Verizon (Manhattan) installed a CableCARD in my TiVo HD the other day, and the guy was in and out in like 10 minutes. Impressive! Waaay faster than my Cablevision install a coupla years ago in NJ.

  10. I’ve been through 3 CC installs (all Comcast and all on same series 3 Tivo). One bad card, one bad installer and one smooth, fast install. All installers showed up on time but required a minimum of 5 day appointment.
    Also there is no office in my area, if they let me pick up a card (they don’t) I would have to drive 40 minutes each way to get it.

  11. I’ve only had one cable-card install, but it was only a month ago. TivoHD on Charter with a single Mcard. It was about as smooth as can be, took about 20 minutes. No SDV though.

    No reason for a truck roll. I could have easily done it myself. But hey, its an easy 35 bucks for them. lame.

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