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Digital Cable Boxes

Tips for Buying Digital Cable Boxes

One of the biggest changes for cable television in 2009 was the big switch from analog to digital broadcasting. Digital television yields a much better viewing quality, and pictures will appear crisper and clearer than those provided by analog. As most people can recall, they had to purchase a new digital converter box or a new television with a digital box built in to enjoy some of their favorite channels. Some stations still use analog signals for lower channels. However, a digital cable box is able to convert these signals to deliver better viewing quality. In addition to this, the quantity of channels that can be received is also higher. As a rule, people who do not receive any digital channels do not need to buy new television sets that are capable of automatically converting signals. Another alternative is to buy a digital cable box separately. These boxes are sold or rented out by major cable providers, and some retailers sell boxes that are compliant with certain providers. With digital boxes, there is very little interference, so viewers are able to enjoy the movies and shows they like even more. However, there are some important things to know before buying one of these devices.

Look Out for Illegal Digital Cable Boxes

There are several retailers offering illegal boxes online. It is important to know how to identify these and to avoid buying them. If a person buys an illegal box and uses it, a cable company could detect the use of the device and report it. Some people buy these boxes without even knowing they are illegal. There are several companies that assess hefty fines for using illegal boxes. As a rule, illegal devices are often sold from other countries where it is harder for U.S. authorities to catch criminals. Even if a box is listed for sale online and is advertised to work with a specific cable provider, it is best not to buy it. Many of these boxes have been stolen or are not authentic. If the box was originally used by a specific provider, that same company will usually refuse to activate a device that was purchased online and not directly from the company at the time new service was initiated. The only way to buy legal devices online to receive digital channels without a cable provider’s box is to purchase a cable card. However, it is important to note that these cards will not work on all televisions. Only some televisions have the slots to accommodate these. As a rule, the best idea is to buy or rent a digital box from a cable company.

Finding a Compatible Digital Cable Box

The most important step in buying a digital cable box is to make sure the device is compatible with the chosen provider. People who have not chosen a cable company yet should take the necessary time to compare providers. After choosing one, contact the provider to ask what options are available. Some may offer several different options. Many cable providers offer these boxes for sale, which means a flat rate is paid at the time of installation and the customer can keep the device. However, others may provide the equipment for free as long as it is returned later. In some cases, the boxes may only be free for a specific time period. After that period ends, the company may assess a small monthly rental fee. Other companies may only charge a deposit for the digital cable box. If the renter returns the box unharmed at the end of the promotional period or when discontinuing service, he or she may receive part or all of a deposit back. There are also cable providers who offer free upgrades for digital boxes after a certain number of years. It is helpful to know what options are available before selecting a provider.

Cable Card Devices

Some televisions have special slots for these cards. However, there are also devices that can be connected to computers. They are sold in retail stores throughout the nation. Cable card devices can also be purchased over the Internet from a variety of merchants. It is important to make sure the device actually takes cable cards and is not a de-scrambler or illegal item. Before making a purchase, make sure the item is labeled as a digital-ready device. To receive this label and be marketed with it, the manufacturer of the device must meet specific testing and quality standards.

Each person should decide whether a cable card device or a digital cable box from a specific company is the best choice. This will depend on each person’s budget needs, how long cable service is expected to be used and what types of channels are chosen. Those who choose digital channels may prefer digital cable boxes purchased from their providers. However, those who only have a few digital channels or do not plan to watch television much may prefer the card.