TIp Of The Day: Oh Woe Is CableCard

The pros & cons of a Vista Media Center CableCard setup are many and are owed their own article. What it meant to me was a seamless transition from a cable box DVR to a Windows Vista Media Center setup. This, of course, was important to keep my significant other happy and show her the wonders of my new investment. The great thing was that it worked! There were virtually no hiccups during the transition and now the set-top box is but a distant memory.

Here we are a half a year later and the cable companies are trying to pull the rug out from underneath us by changing to switched digital video (SDV) as their delivery method. Switched Digital Video is a method to save bandwidth to cram more HD channels into an already bandwidth starved delivery system. This is a reaction to the 100 or so HD channels that the dish providers claim they will have by the end of the year.

As Cable companies start the move to SDV, you will start to find that certain channels are no longer available when using a CableCard system. Great! 

Who does this affect? Well any CableCard system such as HDTVs w/CableCard slots, Series 3 TiVo boxes, and of course PC CableCard Tuners (AKA Digital Cable Tuner or DCT)! Obviously I am here writing this rant because of the latter. They have a solution in mind called a Tuning Resolver that, as of the time of writing, will only work with TiVo. As far as I know, PC Digital Cable Tuners and integrated HDTVs will be left out in the cold. 

I am not sitting here ranting because of SDV or any other delivery method. I am ranting because the Cable industry has essentially been closed lipped about the move to SDV and they are offering no solutions to those with HDTVs and PC Digital Cable Tuners. There will be a lot of people forced to move to a set-top box and pay the higher rental fee every month.


It is hard to sit here and recommend a CableCard system knowing that in a few months you will not get the full cable experience. I hate to say it, but it looks like the CableCard saviour is dead before it really took off. As a PC Digital Cable Tuner user this type of activity is really disappointing to me.

This is just my opinion, I encourage you to read these couple of links below to find out more information. The comments in both stories are worth a read as well.

HDTV Guru – The Cable industry plans on cheating 10 million HDTV owners

Gizmolovers – CableCARD, SDV, And The Tuning Resolver

This all may seem a little dramatic right now but it’s hard to sit back and watch this type of HTPC investment become yesterday’s news in just a few months. If you have any information on the Tuning Resolver and if it will work with PC Digital Cable Tuners, please post on the comments. I really haven’t heard anything to indicate it will be supported.