Free Comcast HD: Legally

All the major networks broadcast HD over the air.  And Comcast carries them.  But they don't tell you this and most of the customer service reps don't know how it works.   So how do you take advantage of this?  

update: 11/6/2013.  Comcast has decided to encrypt the free broadcast HD signals and charge you to watch them.  It may be a good time to drop Comcast TV, buy an antenna and get Netflix and Hulu instead.

First off, make sure your HD TV has the option to delete channels.  Then plug your cable directly into your TV and hit channel search.  It will pull in all the analogue and digital channels.  Then go to the delete channel function.  Many times you will see a channel listed several times.  Like 2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3.   In this case, 2 is analogue and 2.1 is HD for the same channel (2.2 and 2.3 are bonus channels you won't get on your cable box).  Delete 2, but leave the others.  Walk through all the channels doing this.  If you see just a number by itself, like 20, leave it alone.  Now everytime you change a channel, you will get the HD version if it is available.

If you also have a cable box with On Demand, here's what you do.  Install a high quality cable splitter to the cable coming out of the wall.   Aa Attach two cables.  Plug one directly into the TV and follow the procedure above.  Plug the other one into your cable box.  Using RCA cables, or HDMI cable, plug that directly into the cable box and the other end into the appropriate input into your TV.  Viola!   Now when you want to watch regular broadcast on your TV, just use the normal TV input (in setup it will be Antennae / Cable).  When you want to watch channels only available on the cable box, select that input.


DTV + RCA Box = Success

It works great.  We hooked up the old TV in the kitchen with the $40 RCA box and a single rabbit ear antennae.  Hit scan to get the channels.  And everything comes in loud and clear.  

The best part is the remote.  By coding the TV remote, one remote integrates both the TV and the box.  Great design.  And it works.

So glad we're close enough to the transmitters to not require any fancy reception.  For those of you in fringe areas, best of luck.