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Question: Set top cable converter boxes

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ccurtis

Well-Known Member
In earlier days, the converter box provided by cable TV providers were frequency converters that tuned all the cable channels to one fixed VHF TV channel, such as channel 3 or 4. The customer usually had to pay rent for the converter boxes.

Then came "cable ready" TVs with those frequency converters/tuners built into them and the converter boxes were no longer needed, except for a few scrambled "pay" channels where the converter boxes contained the de-scrambling capability. This saved the consumer quite a bit of money over the long run if he did not want to pay for the premium channels. That was a good thing.

Then came digital TV and the cable TV providers added many more channels to their line ups. I still have only my cable ready TV, but, again, need to rent a set top converter box from the cable TV provider to convert the channels to a fixed channel on my TV set. I still don't pay for premium channels, however.

My question is this: Is there a way for me to do away, again, with the set top converter box by upgrading to a digital TV, just as was possible in the days before by buying a "cable ready" TV? Do the cable TV supplier's channels correspond to the digital channels tuned by the digital TV?

Thank you.
 

ccurtis

Well-Known Member
Thank you. Okay, so then I have to assume that the cable TV supplier's channels are incompatible with the tuners in the new digital TVs. Does anyone know why this is? Is there a technical reason why this incompatibility exists?

Do any of the new digital TVs make provisions to mitigate the use a cumbersome set-top converter box that needs a separate remote control?

I heard from someone that a "card" from the cable TV supplier can be rented instead of the set top box that a can be inserted into some newer TVs. Is that true? If so, how can I identify those newer TVs, i.e., what is that feature called?
 
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ccurtis

Well-Known Member
Thanks, blueroom. That's helpful information. Looking at your links and others linked by those links, I have learned that I want a TV with a QAM tuner (usually called "Digital Cable Ready TV") with CableCard decryption capability if I want to free myself from the Cable TV supplier's set top box.
 
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Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Thanks, blueroom. That's helpful information. Looking at your links and others linked by those links, I have learned that I want a TV with a QAM tuner (usually called "Digital Cable Ready TV") with CableCard decryption capability if I want to free myself from the Cable TV supplier's set top box.
I would imagine it's unlikely such a thing exists? - don't the cable companies encrypt their signals?, and their cable box includes the decoder and smart card to decrypt it.
 

ccurtis

Well-Known Member
This I found at: CableCARD - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"CableCARDs are not necessary for viewing unscrambled digital cable channels if the user has a QAM tuner — a feature in some televisions and DVRs. CableCARD support is most common on higher end televisions that include a special slot for the CableCARD and a built-in cable tuner. The card acts like a unique "key" to unlock the channels and services to which the cable customer has subscribed, and the television's remote-control will also control the cable channels. Televisions that support CableCARD should be labeled by the manufacturer as "digital cable ready", or DCR."

I haven't looked for such a TV set, yet. I only learned today what to look for. Maybe they don't exist.
 

evaine23

New Member
CableCARD ready tvs do exist but I'm not sure how popular they are. You may not have all of the features a cable company set top box would have such as a channel guide and on-demand type content using a cable card. I'm not entirely sure about the on-demand data though. As far as QAM channels, there are a few random channels available in the clear but most of them have been encrypted (at least with comcast, your mileage may vary). You might be able to pick up a few channels over the air using an antenna as well, a TV with a QAM tuner should be able to receive these channels with an antenna.
 

ccurtis

Well-Known Member
Upon inquiry, my cable provider (Cablevision) told me that they do provide CableCards for $2/mo, which is a lot less than $13/mo they charge for the set top box. But as one poster mentioned, it's a one way street, so no interactive features will work, such as "on-demand" and interactive program guide. Also, it appears there are few TVs with the CableCard decoder built in, and the ones I found are relatively expensive. Maybe I'll go with OTA. DirectTV is offering a good deal and "TV anywhere" over the internet. It seems the OTA providers can pipe their programing over the internet to any computer (using a special device you buy for your computer, one time charge), whereas cable providers can't? That's interesting, since I would still use the internet service provided by the cable content supplier to receive programming I would no longer subscribe to them for.
 
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