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A Dearth of Digital Cable Ready TVs - or - Where Have All the Cablecard TVs gone?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
This post is part rant, part request for guidance/solutions.

We're Comcast Xfinity Triple Play customers - yes we drank the cool-aid. We have three HD setups in the house (a Series 3 TiVo w/cablecard & Vizio 37", a TiVo Premiere HD w/cablecard and a Philips 50" Plasma, and an ancient Toshiba HD LCD w/Comcast HD STB (no DVR - I hate their UI)

To this questionable mix of tech we'd like to add a fourth HDTV out in our screened-in porch, but really don't want to put a table outside to hold an STB (or TiVo) - we don't need a guide nor DVR and we don't use PPV. But, we do want to access the HD programming on the upper channels. I figured it would be simple enough to run the coax, pick out and mount a decent HDTV on the wall and pick up a cablecard from Comcast - done!

But when I set about searching for an HDTV with a cablecard slot I was absolutely stunned to find that no HDTV manufacturers are producing what was once called Digital Cable Ready HDTVs - They might have ATSC/NTSC tuners, but no cablecard slots.

This is particularly stunning in light of last year's new requirements by the FCC that all cable companies allow end-user installation of cablecards and that they price them accordingly - e.g. inexpensively when compared to the cost of a STB/DVR rental.

I've done a lot of research on the subject, but I'm finding nothing that is as simple and elegant as a cablecard enabled HDTV. Remote IR blasters, HDMI over WiFi, etc. all add significant costs and with questionable results.

Am I missing something? Is there some simple new technology on the horizon I'm just not aware of? Is there a resource out there on the web for refurbished digital cable ready HDTVs?

Thanks in advance for helping find a simple solution.

- Drew
post #2 of 10
Gotta say, I miss mine, too. Switched Digital Video pretty much put an end to cablecard TVs. That and poor sales. They cost more than regular TVs, so nobody bought them.

Thanks to SDV, even with a cablecard TV or TiVo, you still need a tuning adapter. So, you're stuck with a set-top box, anyway. Might as well hit up the cable company for another, non-DVR box. I would guess - and maybe someone knows - that there might be some form of M-card/tuning adapter all-built-in display on a drawing board, somewhere. But the added expense ..plus the monthly CableCard fees.. will have most people opting to just rent another box from the cableco. Easier and not that much more expensive.

You COULD get industrious and rig up an rf remote hopper solution along with running HDMI to your patio. That's how I do it. Cable box stays in the basement and runs about 6 TVs throughout the house via HDMI splitter/amp. Not a great option if you have many family members watching different things. But for getting digital cable to the patio, it works rather well. There are wireless HDMI solutions, too, but their range is rather short.
post #3 of 10

I've been Googling around on this issue and just wanted to add one other really sad part of this dilemna.  My 87 year old mother in assisted living, comes from a radio era, much less experience with a set top box that you have to change input options to access.  Her TV is basically unuseable no matter how many times I try to get it set up correctectly - even on a single remote.  (Somehow she always ends up losing the input setting.  Even I have trouble reading the ridiculosuly small print on the Comcast 

post #4 of 10
Assuming you have a newer television, I suggest disabling everything but the one input and getting her the Samsung CableCard device from Wal-Mart. Then hide the other remote. It'll turn the set on and off, but all other buttons on the remote only deal with the Samsung. Granted, it's a "Smart" box, so it's possible for her to get into menus she didn't plan on, but easy to exit out of. There aren't any other buttons that'd change the TVs mode.
post #5 of 10
They don't make them because no one wants them because they don't support DVR or VOD functionality, so they were rather pointless. To the OP: if you get a TiVo Roamio Plus or Pro and a couple of TiVo Mini's, you can replace everything with a single CableCard solution, cut the monthly costs way down, and sell off your old gear.
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by BiggAW View Post

They don't make them because no one wants them because they don't support DVR or VOD functionality, so they were rather pointless.
There's that, but the bigger issue was the price. The CableCard televisions were hundreds higher than the same TV minus the functionality. At the time, cable companies were charging $50 to "install" a CableCard. To most the hassle and the expense weren't worth it. Not when the Cable Companies would happily rent a box that'd do all of that and more for a paltry $8 a month.
post #7 of 10
There was also the issue with the cable companies fighting against doing it in the first place. They didn't train any of their people on them (because they didn't want to support them in the first place) so it was a huge hassle to get them to work. Most of the time the techs and CSRs would try to blame the issues on the TV, so then people were constantly calling the TV manufacturers and the retailers complaining about their TVs being broken (which they weren't). Eventually the TV manufacturers got sick of dealing with all the calls and complaints and decided it was just easier not to offer it.
post #8 of 10
Dont forget the high cost of Cablelabs certification (http://www.cablelabs.com/specs/certification/) that the TV manufacturers had to pay a consortium of cable companies for a product that said cable companies don't want to support but have to because of the FCC.
post #9 of 10
1) Cablecard support in a TV is not cost justifiable by the TV manufacturer.
2) Cableco's cannot generate revenue. They make more money with STB rental fees.
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

There's that, but the bigger issue was the price. The CableCard televisions were hundreds higher than the same TV minus the functionality. At the time, cable companies were charging $50 to "install" a CableCard. To most the hassle and the expense weren't worth it. Not when the Cable Companies would happily rent a box that'd do all of that and more for a paltry $8 a month.

If there had been a system that used standards to interface into a whole-home DVR, complete with VOD, I think it could have taken off. Unfortunately, that technology didn't come years later, until RVU, and only D* has actually embraced it, and in a very limited way.
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