Are there any 4 pin S-Video <-> Component cables or converter boxes? Is it even worth it?
I want to timeshift like I was a month ago, before the switch-over. The new (to us) Comcast STBs (Pace RNG150N) deliver a mix of output feed, my DVD recorder has 3 inputs.
Here's a chart of the ins and outs of the situation:
Comcast STB Output ----------- Panasonic DMR-EZ28 input
Coax (moire SD) out ----------- Coax in (terrible)
HDMI (1080p) out -------------- n/a
Component (1080p) out ------ n/a
n/a -------------------------------- S-Video in
Composite (moire SD) out ---- Composite in (terrible)
1394 (disabled) out ------------ 1394 (frustrated)
Sure would have been nice for that firewire to work, but it appears the port on the STB is disabled. The DVD recorder actively polls its 1394 port and it didn't budge when they were connected.
None of the cables I've found on line apply to my equipment. Either they are the incompatible 7 pin S-Video or 4 pin S-Video with Red White and Yellow which fixes the problem in the wrong direction (iow, doesn't fix the problem.)
I tested component out to the TV and it looks great, a little darker than HDMI but that can be tweaked.
The reason I ask "is it worth it" is because I don't know if the S-Video will downscale the HD from the nice component output to the point where it is not any better than composite or the pseudo pass-through coax. The coax and composite are described with 'moire' because they have a distracting overlay on any picture and for football content the lines on the field vibrate. Pretty bad.
Comcast is not bashful about stating the coax outputs SD. They don't say 'analog' but it must be.
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The IEEE 1394 port on your DVR may or may not be disabled, but the IEEE 1394-in on your DVD recorder is intended for recording DV input from a camera and can't work for recording an MPEG-2 transport stream from a cable box. However, even if the DVD recorder's IEEE 1394-in could be used to record an MPEG-2 transport stream, the MPEG-2 TS stream will be encrypted for every one of Comcast's channels at this point, which would prevent you from recording them.
Coax out from your box will provide a signal on analog channel 3 or 4 that a DVD recorder or VCR can tune.
A component to S-Video cable won't provide you with an S-Video signal from a component video source. You need a converter. This is one example: http://www.monoprice.com/product?c_id=101&cp_id=10114&cs_id=1011407&p_id=7114&seq=1&format=2
Unfortunately connecting a cable box or DVR to a TV using HDMI and another device via component out is not without problems. Some boxes won't output video over both connections at the same time. Others overlay an HDCP warning message on the video output on the component side for at least a minute or two. The Comcast Pace RNG110 that I used to have did the latter if I turned off the TV while recording.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 1st Oct 2015 at 20:33. Reason: typo
Thanks for your help, I'll try to be direct and brief.
My inexperience must have led me to some dead ends.
Since I can spare a source-side HDMI (multiple boxes) This caught my eye, HDMI to svideo/composite converter. "FULL 1080p...color...audio" claims.
Confirmation: coax sends a content signal, but equivalent only in content - not in quality. It appears to be analog SD.
Observation: several dual-output tests performed between all 4 outputs, all successful chrono-serially but inconclusive, i.e. need to do simultaneous recording to check for HDCP you mentioned. Will reply with results subsequent to test.
1394: Would like more input on this. --I thought it would handshake no matter what. --If not disabled, where would STB output go, to a camera? --Got you on the encryption, but wouldn't there still be a signal/handshake if it were availaible? --Do you have a research link so I can learn?
1394: As you can see this seems the most promising to me, and the most disappointing.
1394: Sorry about so many questions.
Intermediate conclusions: The converter link above is promising and a PVR is becoming more likely!
Thanks again, I know this is time consuming.
Also don't bother with one of those HDMI(or component) to S-video devices, they all lack in picture quality(I've tried many). If you have a source of native composite(which I generally don't care for) that will give you better picture quality than a external device that converts component or HDMI to S-video/composite.
Amazon(and I'm sure ebay too) sell devices that can record directly from HDMI or Component, in HD to external HDDs, this route is probably your best for decent picture quality. A DVDR like your EZ-28 is capable of recording very good SD from it's S-video input, looks almost HD, but it has to be fed a good clean signal, garbage in=garbage out. Comcast and other cable/sat companies know this and IMO is part of the reason they supply such crap SD output, which most of the time isn't even full screen SD but rather letterboxed crap that looks even worse when you zoom it to fill your 16:9 screen!
No there won't be a "handshake" with the DVD recorder because it is expecting a camera and does not know how to communicate with a cable box.
You are beating a dead horse by continuing to explore this option.
I unplugged everything, from the wall, from each other, let it chill for an hour and put it back together with just the 1394 connected in, HDMI out. The HD records crystal clear 16:9 to RAM, if not exactly real HD. I just tested again this morning and it's still good.
Now I'm afraid to connect anything else. In the mean time I'll use one of the small DTR (?) boxes with HDMI for watching native 1080p since all I subscribe to is basic. It's kind of backwards, big box to the recorder, little box to the big screen, but it's good.
As an inexpensive backup measure, you might want to order and try out this new model of HDMI>composite converter. It has had better than average reviews from video gearheads I trust like jjeff. As he noted above, even the best of these converters degrades the signal somewhat, but this new one seems to lack the usual muddy colors and washed-out blacks common to such converters. Recordings to your EZ-28 won't be as sharp as your present (miraculous) 1394 FW hookup, but should be at least acceptable for 16:9 casual viewing.
Not trying to be a wet blanket, but you're gonna find yourself incredibly spoiled by the recording quality you're getting from this unorthodox (to the point of impossible for anyone else) 1394 connection. When ComCast kills it for you (and they will, sooner or later), you will be that much less tolerant of the compromises necessary with a dvd recorder. Best to start boning up on HDTV-PVR alternatives now, so you aren't forced to make a decision last minute when the time comes.
Last edited by orsetto; 3rd Oct 2015 at 15:14.
The other thing that is odd is that the IEEE 1394 output from a cable box is an MPEG-2 transport stream, but DV cameras use a DV stream, which a completely different animal from an MPEG-2 transport stream and always standard definition. HDV cameras can supply an HD MPEG-2 transport stream, but the manual for the DMR-EZ28 never mentions HDV cameras as a video source, only DV cameras.
[Edit] The MPEG-2 transport stream I receive from Comcast is sometimes subject to transmission errors. The DVD recorder might not be designed for handling those since it is expecting the error-free output from a camera.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 3rd Oct 2015 at 12:48.
They'll probably issue a recall!
Originally the FCC required a functional IEEE 1394 port on HD cable boxes and DVRs, but since HDMI was later adopted as the standard digital video connection for consumer electronics, the FCC dropped that requirement a few years ago.