January 20, 2005 4:00 AM PST
FAQ: CableCard? What's that?
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their infancy, cable companies usually send over a technician to install the card to make sure it works with the TV. Some cards need to be customized and programmed by the technician.
Can I receive HDTV programming with CableCard?
Yes. The whole purpose of CableCard is to make it easier and faster for new digital TV owners to get crystal clear HDTV signals. With a card, TVs can automatically receive HD signals from their local network affiliates and a select few cable stations. But to get more cable stations in HD, subscribers will still need to use an HD set-top for now.
Can I use a CableCard on my current TV?
It depends. CableCard works only with newer digital devices outfitted with a CableCard slot. That includes many models of digital TV sets, including most HDTV sets. If you're not sure whether your TV supports CableCard, you can do a simple visual check by looking at the back panel. If it accepts CableCard, you will see a slot in addition to other standard hook-ups.
Does CableCard support Wi-Fi?
Will any CableCard work with any CableCard-ready device?
In theory, yes. In practice, not yet. The Federal Communication Commission has mandated interoperability, but reported problems suggest this is still a work in progress.
Who is responsible for ensuring products work together?
Manufacturers and service providers are ultimately responsible for making sure their products work together. They take their marching orders from the FCC.
Who makes CableCards?
The largest U.S. set-top makers, such as Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta make CableCards. Britain's NDS joined the list in 2003, according to CableLabs, the cable industry's research and development consortium.
Why is the FCC interested in CableCard?
The FCC has been promoting the transition from analog programming to digital programming as it looks to free up the spectrum used by analog television broadcasts. CableCard is supposed to help speed up the transition by making it easier and cheaper for consumers to access digital programming.
Are cable companies interested in supporting CableCard?
Yes and no. Cable companies like the idea of cutting the costs associated with set-top boxes. But the lack of features such as pay-per-view has for now kept them from marketing the concept. As a result, CableCard sales have come in well below expectations to date.
Will CableCard eclipse the set-top box?
CableCard appears to signal the beginning of the end for the basic set-top box. But the change will likely take several years to play out. In the interim, new technologies are coming along that could revive the set-top box, or rather, see it evolve. More complex boxes are already on the way that combine digital-video recording, video-on-demand and media server capabilities such as HP's media "hub." CableCard will likely complement rather than replace these newer devices.
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