Sunday, June 21, 2009


I've been trying to find a use for the Astar MP-32HB HD TV that I got a couple of years ago. When I got the Sony KDL52W3000, I moved the Astar to my bedroom. I ran it on cable-ready for a while but that was all SD. Then I got a second HD DVR for it.

That had a couple of problems. First was the cost, about $30 per month to Comcast. Second was the noise. The hard drive kept spinning up and down. I replaced the DVR once but the second did the same thing.

Really, all I watch back there is the 10 o'clock news and the late night talk shows. It seemed silly to spend that much money for that but I had gotten where I liked the HD quality.

That's where I was when the digital TV transition happened. What that brought was that Comcast started carrying the local stations in digital format and in HD resolution. Unfortunately the Astar doesn't have a QAM tuner.

What I did is got a KWORLD SA290-Q LE from

Notice that it will also do VGA out so you could drive just an old PC monitor.

Read the reviews on Lots of people complain about it. The setup instructions are non-existent but the comment thread helps a lot. I bought a cheap programmable remote (GE 24950) and replaced the terrible remote that comes with it.

It has a bright blue light indicating power. That wouldn't do in the bedroom. I covered it with a 1/2 inch square of black duct tape. Perfect.

I feed the Comcast cable directly into it and get around 30 digital channels, no cable-ready although I had expected them also. Most of the digital channels that I've checked are HD, some 720p, some 1080i. I use component video to drive the Astar.

It'll pay for itself in 2 months.


Anonymous said...


I'm thinking of purchasing this device off Tigerdirect. I'm a techie, so I'll figure it out if the documentation isn't very good.

I also have comcast and wanted to see how the device is working now that it's been a few months.

fastoy said...

Yeah, this is a good time for an update.

The Kworld SA290-Q LE is working as good as Comcast is.

Recently the QAM channel for the local CBS station (3.1) disappeared from the Kworld. When you'd go to it, the Kworld would say "Invalid Input."

I rescanned and it didn't come up as a QAM channel. All the 3.x stations were gone. Of course I blamed this on the Kworld since I was still getting it on my other HD TV as 3.1.

After getting this comment, I rescanned on the Kworld and it was still gone. Just to be able to say "Ah ha!," I went to the other HD TV and rescanned.

You guessed it. 3.x was gone there too. Looks like Comcast is to blame. Imagine that.

I tweeted @comcastcares and if they respond, I'll post their response.

Anonymous said...

I know you are waiting to hear from Comcast, but can you tell me a few things:

1. How many HD channels are you currently getting on the Kworld device?

2. Are those channels a combination of 480, 720 and 1080?

3. Do the channel numbers change randomly on you (I was reading online that comcast randomly changes the channel numbers to confuse people).

Just like you, I don't really watch TV all that much and don't really care to give Comcast any more $ then necessary. I'm weighing out whether to upgrade to their Digital Cable box + HD OR purchase the Kworld.

I have a 1080i HD ready TV (w/o the QAM tuner) and I really only care out NFL Football coming up on either NBC or Fox and want to be able to see it in HD this year.

Thanks for your help!!!

fastoy said...

1. 32
2. Yes
3. Other than the 3.x channels going to 84.2 I haven't noticed "random" changes but honestly I don't watch but 2 channels on that TV. It's in the bedroom and I just watch local news. I think that CBS was duplicated on 84.2 previous to 3.1 going away.

Fox is one of the channels that Memphis Comcast DOESN'T put on ClearQAM.

@comcastcares responded yesterday and said they'd contact the Memphis folks but I haven't heard from them today.

fastoy said...

I apologize in advance that this information may be confusing. It confuses me but I want to put it out there.

I spent some time over the Labor Day weekend trying to document what QAM channels I am getting on the Kworld and my other digital TVs.

Here goes!

5-1 1080i NBC
5-2 480i WMCDT2 Weather Plus
5-3 480i This-TV
5-4 720p Fox (Kworld)
23-5 480i NBA
23-10 480i RTV
24-1 720p ABC
30-1 1080i WLMT
30-2 480i RTV
45-1 1080i E
45-5 720p ESPNU HD
63-12 480i CBS
66-2 1080i tvONE
75-3 1080i CNN
76-1 1080i TNT HD
76-2 1080i TBS HD
79-6 480i paid programming
79-7 480i
80.2 720p Fox (Sony)
84-2 1080i CBS
84-3 1080i WKNO
84-4 480i WKNO2
84-5 480i CBS Weather
86-100 480i CBS
90-2 720p ESPN2 HD
93-2 480i CSPAN2
103-6 480i Channel 1 promotion
104-9 480i OnDemand promotion
112.8 480i Mississippi Public TV
112.10 480i Mississippi Public TV
112.11 480i Comcast Classified Ads
118-11 480i ESPN

Now you'll notice that Fox shows up twice. First at 5-4 on the Kworld and then at 80.2 on the Sony KDL52W3000. I don't know why the difference. Interestingly neither shows up on the Polaroid TLA-01511C.

Can anybody explain this?