I was reading through this thread and thought i should throw out a few thoughts about working with cable cards.
Cable cards a very sensitive creatures. They will not work unless the signal being provided to them is almost flawless.
1. This includes the SIGNAL LEVEL in dB coming to them. The signal range that general cable eq works at in the field is 0 to +10dB with analog signals and 0 to -10dB with digital signals. (please note that every channels typically has a slightly different signal level; meaning while one of your HD stations may be within signal range another HD channel could be out) However with cable cards that signal range seems to be closed down meaning keep the digitals away from that -10dB mark as well as that 0dB mark. (note that cable network's levels change slightly, 1-3 dB, all the time. so that is why it is so important to squeeze that range down to, let's say -3 to -7dB on the digital side.
2. In order to get all of your wonderful HD content the QAM signal coming in must be free of errors. What we are talking about is making sure your BER and MER are at good levels and free of most errors or at least so few errors that they are correctable by FEC. (These two refer to the quality of the signal)
3. A third huge important issue is to make sure that not just the line going to your cable card device is perfect but that all your lines are free of NOISE and INGRESS. Bad fittings, poor line sheilding, RG59, tight bends, staples, old tvs or other devices that feed noie back, nicks and cuts, old splitters, radio shack amplifiers, are all things which can ruin the quality of QAM signal by getting allowing noise to mix with it.
4. Even with the perfection of the all of the above by your cable technician and of your home/business wiring there is still the idea of PROVISIONING. There aree always going to be computer/human mistakes in the balancing and provisioning of eq on your account, and unfortunatley you have no control over it. All you can do is to keep asking if your account is balanced and try to find the person at the cable or other hd provider who is the account/cable card specific guru.
5. Additional problems can include customer eq, which seems like the primary issue addressed on this thread, so i'll be breif. Firmware upgrades are important and most cable card devices now include the correct firmware. Bottom line: if you are having issues esp getting an error code, contact the manufacturer to see if you need a firmware upgrade, they dont make money by contacting you.
Ladies and gentlmen, I hope some of this has been helpful. In conclusion cable cards do provide a better quality picture allowing you to get all your fav chs(minus 2way services) but at the cost of the patience and time in setting them up.