David Pogue:

What if I told you about a new product that could improve your TV picture, eliminate one of your remote controls, simplify your home-theater setup and save you money every month? And then what if I told you that your local distributor wished, in its heart of hearts, that nobody even knew about it?

On July 1, the FCC passed a ruling requiring cable companies to supply set-top boxes that come with a removable CableCard. Even better, many new televisions include a CableCard slot that lets you eliminate the set-top box altogether. With a CC-enabled TV, your cable goes straight into the TV, letting you declutter the space, ditch a remote, free up a wall receptacle, and eliminate an analog-to-digital conversion step. Oh, and it’s cheaper (usually around $1.50/month to rent from your cable company, compared to around $6 for a set-top box). Finally, it will soon be possible to slip your CableCard into other devices (like laptops, hand-held units, etc.)

So why don’t the cable companies want you to know about the card? Simple: CableCard communication is one-way, meaning you can’t order movies on-demand through them, and they can’t send stats on your viewing habits upstream to the mothership. No wonder you’re not seeing your local distributor pushing these in the Sunday paper.

The FCC made the right call on this one. Now all I need is a bit of time to watch TV.

Music: Grateful Dead :: Infared Roses

4 Replies to “CableCard”

  1. I have two cablecards in my Series3 Tivo and they work like a champ. I can record two programs at the same time and don’t have a stupid cable box flashing the time at me.. =)

  2. no, the FCC did NOT make the right call on this one. They should have waited for a bidirectional technology to enforce.

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