Rant: New Cable Modem From Spectrum

Dell / Xps 8930
November 20, 2020 at 09:24:26
Specs: Windows 10, I5-9400
My 5 YO Ubee cable modem from Spectrum died earlier this week. I was able to go to a local Spectrum store and trade it in for their current model, made by Technicolor.

I have my modem in the back of the bottom shelf of a TV stand. The Ubee model had bright blue status lights on the front panel that could be seen from across the room. To check the status of the modem, all I had to do was look into the back of the TV stand, day or night.

The Technicolor modem uses grey lights that are invisible if there is any ambient light present. It basically looks like the modem is powered off. Even in the back of the shelf at the bottom of the TV stand, where it is fairly dark, the lights are invisible. I have to close the living room drapes and use something like a magazine to block almost all of the ambient light and then look "around" the blockage in order to see the lights. I have to get down on the floor and put my face right in front of the unit.

If I wait until dark and turn off all the lights in the living room then I can see the lights. Turn on one single lamp and the lights disappear.

It is impossible to see the status of the modem with just a glance. With working from home and occasional issues with my remote connection, a quick check of the modem is a fairly common exercise.

Worst design I have ever seen - or should I say "not seen".

message edited by DerbyDad03

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November 21, 2020 at 10:40:26
"I have my modem in the back of the bottom shelf of a TV stand"

Why are you ranting against Spectrum? All you have to do is move the modem to where you can see it. If you're still paying rent for a cable/channel box, dump it & replace it with a ROKU. Then you can put the modem (or the TV for that matter) wherever you want. Right now, the ROKU Streaming Stick+ is only $30. There's a Spectrum app available that works quite well, not to mention all the free TV & movies available thru the ROKU channel, Crackle, TUBI, etc, etc. And of course, you can always pay for Netflix, Hulu, & more.

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November 21, 2020 at 15:45:52
re: "Why are you ranting against Spectrum?"

I'm not ranting against Spectrum. Spectrum doesn't design modems. As I said in the second sentence: "made by Technicolor."

re: "All you have to do is move the modem to where you can see it."

2 - Did you read my post? It's not about seeing the modem it's about seeing the status lights. Bringing the modem out into the open would make the status lights even harder to see.

Here you go...real life situation.

It's getting dark outside. I've moved the modem out into the open. With the room lights off, I can see the status lights.


But all I have to do is turn on a lamp (or wait until the sun comes up) and the lights disappear. Can you tell me the status the modem now?


Even in the back of the shelf, where BTW, I can see the modem itself, the status lights can not be seen when the sun shines through the front window.

As I said in my OP, the older Ubee modem had bright blue lights that could be seen in all conditions. A quick glance into the space and you could tell the status of all modem functions.

Any modem designed with grey-ish status lights that can't be seen in a lit room is a badly designed modem.

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November 21, 2020 at 15:53:57
I'm with DD on this one... Often kit is designed to look "nice" with no real concern about its actual use in real life. It looks nice on the designers computer screen; looks nice in a suitable display environment - prior to launch... - but in real life???

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Related Solutions

November 21, 2020 at 17:52:01
My cable modem is almost identical to that one, but it was
made by Arris, not Technicolor. Most of the symbols on the
lights are slightly different, like the phone handset icons aim
upwards instead of down, but otherwise they are nearly

I have to put something in front of the modem so the lights
don't annoy me. Even when I'm looking 100 degrees away
from the modem, I notice the lights flash in my peripheral
vision. Strangely, the lights for the two Wi-Fi bands flash
even when Wi-Fi is turned off.

The lights on the cable modem don't tell me nearly as much
as the lights on my dial-up modem did. Or even as much as
the simple lights.exe that Windows put in the system tray.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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November 21, 2020 at 20:33:12
Is there a need to check the modem so often?
Is your connection unstable / unreliable??

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November 21, 2020 at 20:39:13
re: "Is there a need to check the modem so often?"

If someone needs to check a modem once a day, once a week or once a year, they should be able to just look at it. The status lights should be visible in all lighting conditions. It shouldn't have to be dark and there shouldn't be a need to block the ambient light.

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November 22, 2020 at 08:20:07
I have Spectrum cable & 5 TVs. There was a time when each TV had a cable running to it, which meant I needed several splitters which in turn weakened the signal, so added a Channel Master amplifier/splitter in the basement & did a lot of re-wiring.

Spectrum (Time-Warner) then said all TVs needed a digital channel box. They provided one main channel box with all the bells & whistles for free & also had bare-bones digital adapters for free. So I got one main box + 4 DA boxes. They changed the rules again & began charging a fee for the DA boxes, then they began charging for the main box too. So I eliminated the amplifier splitter & re-wired again. Now I have a single coax line that runs directly to a Technicolor non-wifi modem.

The modem sits on a table right next to the computer desk so I can easily check the status. It connects to an ASUS wireless AC router with one network cable connected directly to the PC; another cable connects to a powerline adapter. I have a very long house so the 2nd powerline adapter is in the back bedroom with a 2nd ASUS wireless AC router attached. This configuration allows me to get a full signal throughout the house...upstairs, basement, & even my detached garage about 50' away. All 5 TVs now have ROKU boxes & 2 also have digital antennas just in case the cable goes down. The amount I paid for all the equipment was about equal to one year of Spectrum rental fees.

The old Marines saying comes to mind - "improvise, adapt, & overcome".

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November 22, 2020 at 12:25:29
re’ #6...

Fully agree with you DD...

If there’s an indicator or or whatever light (regardless of function) it ought to be clearly evident and easy to see when required, irrespective of the typical ambient light level at any time of day/night.

An option, for those who might prefer dimmer to almost invisible indicators... provide a switch which allows selection of nice and bright and easy to see, or dim and well nigh impossible to see (and thus more or less useless if the latter style)? A simple switch and a series resistor in the power to the indicators would do the trick, and cost peanuts to design and integrate into a lot of kit when being assembled.

Some led dictators are way too bright, and to provide users the choice of a dim(mer) or full bright would be nice?

Many modems etc. used to have more (and in my view useful) indicators than today. The miserable pittance saved by reducing number of indicators is sadly a reflection of the way many companies are today..The suits say build it cheap, reduce the number of useful items, features, and sell ‘em high... If the consumer doesn’t like it - then it’s their tough luck ‘cos that’s the way it is today.

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November 22, 2020 at 16:10:49
I just remembered that the dial-up modem referred to in my
last post, a standalone modem connected to my Windows 7
desktop computer, sat on the desk beside the monitor, and
had such bright red LED lights that I opened the case and
put a strip of colored cellophane in front of 6 of the 8 lights
to dim them. The RD and SD lights always flicker when they
light, so they didn't get as bright.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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November 22, 2020 at 16:58:48
re: "The old Marines saying comes to mind - "improvise, adapt, & overcome"."

The old architectural saying comes to mind - "Form follows function."

You do realize that you appear to be missing the point of this thread, don't you?

Regardless of the myriad of options for an individual to get their choice of entertainment into their dwelling, the design of the specific modem being discussed sucks.

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