A cablecard is a small piece of technological equipment that is the size and shape of a credit card. The device’s job is to receive encrypted digital TV channels from a cable provider. Once a consumer purchases the card, he or she can plug it into the card slot of a digital television. Furthermore, the technology will allow consumers to view channels in standard and high definition. The mechanism also lets consumers receive digital and extended channels without using a cable box.
A section of the 1996 Telecom law includes a provision that requires cable companies to offer consumers additional methods to receive video programing. The FCC enacted the regulation because of the third party expansion requirement for the telephone industry. As a result, the companies had to provide a separate security mechanism that consumers could use with third party equipment to decode cable programing. Once the provision was in place, the FCC requested recommendations and suggestions from cable company specialists and technology experts regarding the type of expanded unit that they should offer consumers. In August of 2004, the industry launched the first cablecard device.
About Cablecard Devices
In most cases, people use cablecards with their televisions. However, some digital video recorders, or DVRs, also accept the mechanism. A cablecard unit allows consumers to avoid a digital box connection to their entertainment equipment. Furthermore, consumers who own an independent cable box can install the card into the unit to receive additional stations. Retail stores and cable companies sell the mechanisms. In addition, cable companies affordably rent cablecards to consumers.
Today’s entertainment aficionados can buy a television set with technology that includes a cablecard ready device. When shopping for a new television, be sure to look for a logo stating that the TV is Digital Cable Ready or DCR. A television unit with a DCR setup allows consumers to insert the card directly into the TV. Additionally, companies make cablecard devices that can be installed into a personal computer. With the device in place, the computer can be connected to the television to receive decoded channels.
A cablecard’s main operation is to stop people from stealing a cable signal. Moreover, the card contains information from the subscriber and features codes to unlock cable programing. As a result, the card will unscramble the signal. Keep in mind that the technology will not work with equipment that was made prior to 2004.
Single stream and multiple stream cablecard devices are available. When consumers select a single stream unit, they will have a card that can decipher one channel at a time while a multiple stream card has the technology to decode up to six channels simultaneously. The multiple stream units feature newer technology. Furthermore, if the consumer has an older device and purchases a multiple stream card, then the unit will decode just one channel. Consumers who intend to use the card in a DVR system will need a multiple stream card to record more than one channel.
Advantages to Using a Cablecard device
If a consumer has purchased a third party cablecard and moves, then he or she can bring the entertainment device to their new location. In fact, the card will work from any area in the country. The card may include additional features that a traditional box lacks. For instance, a cablecard may have access to Internet videos or complex search and record operations.
Cablecard devices are more affordable for companies to make than box systems. Therefore, the companies are able to pass these savings on to their customers. Once a consumer chooses a cablecard for their television viewing needs, they’ll simplify their entertainment system as it will require fewer remotes and less visual clutter near the television. The card will also permit consumers to select from various digital programs and devices instead of the options provided by one cable company.
Cablecard Device Limitations
Parents who are considering a cablecard unit should be aware that they will not have access to parental control features. Keep in mind that the card only provides one way digital cable programing, and as a result, it will not allow consumers to access OnDemand entertainment or pay-per-view programing. In addition, the cable company’s interactive viewing guide will be deactivated. If a cable company is providing the cablecard, then the company may dispatch a technician to install the unit. Therefore, this type of setup is nontransferable to a new unit or location.
Budget-minded consumers may consider using a cablecard device as the mechanism will give them access to numerous digital channels at a lower cost. Furthermore, the card’s portability and convenience make them a good entertainment choice.