Originally Posted by DCT6416UIIIuser
My son is getting ready to buy a new HDTV. I told him I would try to get some info regarding cable cards for the TVs. My Sony did not have the cable card slot, but since then, it appears as though most mfg have quit pushing cable card ready TVs.
So what is status of cable cards for TV and to make it part of this forum, are they the same cards as go into the Tivos? And lastly, last I had read they were not two way compatible. If not how is Tivo handling this?
All info appreciated.
For Motorola based sytems there's 3 major types of cable card
The first cards were S-Cards - these are all one way. Later they started branding them M-Cards - which were designed to decode multiple video streams (like a dual tuner DVR does) - these can run 2 way, but because of their similarity to the older pre 2007 cards they are usually configured as S Cards.
The newest cards are the M Modules or M Cards - these are the most common card out today. The Red card is a 2 way card with the blue being one way. I've not seen any one way cards here in my system and I'm assuming Charter is probably not looking to increase it's "one way" inventory.
Compatiblity is largely determined by the firmware on the Card.
While the cards are all made to Cablelabs specs, as should most cable card based TVs, the reality is, most TVs will have a problem with at least one or two card firmwares. As a result we don't tend to push out different versions of base firmware, since we don't want to risk killing a customer's service because their TV isn't compatible with a card firmware. (though as I understand it, eventually we're going to have to)
Right all of the DCH boxes are using the Red M-Card inside of them - Tivo HDs can use a M Card and be able to decode both tuners on a single card (SIIIs still require 2 cards, even if they are M Cards)
The biggest problems with cable cards are
1) no universal applications
2) complex setup
#1 will hopefully be resolved as OCAP applications make for a universal platform for guide applications (or at least guide data) and hopefully 2 way services such as SDV and VOD.
Now now you're pretty much reliant on whatever software your cable card device uses - in the case of TIVO, you've got their software for a base application and guide (but you'll need a broadband connection to update it) Most TVs which still hvae cablecard will use a basic TV-Guide like application which pulls it's channel information from your local PBS feeds (it's encrypted in the metadata of the broadcast)
The second issue is more to do with the individual model of TV and it's degree of complexity. Each TV company seems to have gleefully re-invented the wheel with their cable card enabled TVs... so almost every major Make and Model of TV will not work the exact same way... and frequently there are incompatibility issues, be it the card firmware or the TV's firmware. On top of all that... if there's an issue with the TV, the TV retailer and Manufacturer are often ill-equipped to support it and will refer you to the MSO again... Even when the issue is their hardware (I've had this issue with Pioneer and LG)
As for TVs and CableCards... most Manufacturers have gone through customer feedback and polls which they say indicate only 3% of the market with card enabled TVs actually use cards... so they started cutting back on them. Ironically they do this just as MSOs are forced to use Card Based boxes. (which to me would be when the market is set to gear up...)
Most your top line units will have models which have cable cards, otherwise they will just come with QAM tuners.
QAM tuners will give you digital broadcasting, but it will not allow you to access anything your local cable company chooses to encrypt.
Right now probably the most common Cablecard device with fairly strong support is TIVO. The Series III and HD should both have two way capability in the near future (there's a USB dongle that should allow it to support 2 way communications) and the HD supports the M Card for both streams.