Our local cable operator recently started digital cable tv service (side-by-side analogue) in collaboration with Hathway. Along with this change came poor picture quality as well as reduction in the number of channels being shown. Though I have no in-depth knowledge of the technology, I can (perhaps) predict that this was as a result of reduction of bandwidth allotted to normal tv channels.
So, if not for better picture quality, for getting all the movie and some of the music channels back, we decided to switch to digital tv. There was not really any option here because we wanted a service which is good enough with low initial cost. This meant a clear *no* to all the DTH service providers and the only way to go was Hathway. The local cable operator insisted that the picture quality is very good but upon asking for a demo, denied it.
So we shifted to Hathway digital cable tv (with minimal startup cost of Rs.500/- for set-top box and Rs.100/- for installation). The package consisted of a set-top box, a remote, a pair of batteries, one RCA cable and manual.
To start off with, the hardware which comes along seems to be of good quality. The remote also is really good with wide range (so one does not have to point it towards the set-top box) and the button placement is also satisfactory. On the back of the set-top box are two coaxial cable jacks (IN and OUT) and one RCA jack. Our tv does not support stereo sound and this box does not support mono.
The picture quality is good only in comparison with the normal cable tv connection. Boxes can be easily noticed in rapid motion videos in some of the channels, as in highly compressed videos (Does DVB allows different compression ratios for different channels?). On many times the video is also skipping in some of the channels. [EDIT:Since the last two months the video skipping problem has virtually gone off; now it happens very rarely.]
Other features of the box include EPG (Electronic Program Guide) which shows complete program chart for the day. Program reminders are also available, but you can only set reminder for the current day. It also supports a Favourite List which can store 20 channels at most. A few games are also available which can take care of kids for some time.
Overall, it is an upgrade from the normal cable tv and also has negligible start-up cost (even zero in some places, I’ve heard). But if you have the money to spare then I would recommend a satelite based DTH service.
You may also want to have a look at Channels being streamed by Hathway Digital Cable TV.