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Television Media Businesses Technology

Why Can't I Buy A CableCARD Ready Set-Top Box? 240

Posted by Zonk
from the companies-don't-want-your-money dept.
Al E Usse writes "Ars Technica does a write up of the problems that were not solved by the July 1, 2007 integration ban on integrated security in your cable box. The goal was to get everyone on the same page by requiring standardized technology. Just the same, the cable companies aren't really playing ball. 'The companies who make the boxes don't seem interested in selling to consumers [and] cable companies still push their own branded devices.' The article covers some deep background on the whole CableCARD mess, and concludes with the current state of the market: 'Based on June 2007 figures from the cable industry, 271,000 CableCARDs have been deployed. That's an astonishingly low number. 58 percent of all US households with a TV subscribe to cable, according to the NCTA, which means that 65 million households have at least basic cable.'"
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Why Can't I Buy A CableCARD Ready Set-Top Box?

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  • Bullhockey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by palladiate (1018086) <palladiate AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 18, 2007 @01:57PM (#21028311)
    I'm the inventory coordinator for a cable company. All of our new DVRs and Digital boxes run off of cable cards. If I pop open the card cover, inside is the exact same cable card we give customers. It's even handy when we want to test a new box, we just use an already addressed card instead of addressing a whole new box. It isn't cableCard technology that's the problem. It works with our system just fine. The problem happens to be crappy STBs that don't conform to CC specifications. Motorola, Cisco, and MS all make boxes that work just fine on our system with our on-demand and and program guide. Now, whether they have better access to documentation from Cable Labs, I'll never know. But it's BS that it's somehow the technology's fault.
    • Re:Bullhockey (Score:5, Insightful)

      by malfunct (120790) * on Thursday October 18, 2007 @02:09PM (#21028585) Homepage
      I don't know if the tech in my house had a clue or not (from Comcast in Seattle area) when he was installing my cablecards in my TivoHD (because 1 card was defective and the other just wouldn't activate the day I tried to self install) but he said that Comcast was implementing seprable security using a technology that WAS NOT CableCard. How is that any better than integrated security? I think the seprable security requirement, if it can be satisfied with a non standard system or even one that consumers aren't allowed to buy on thier own, is a total joke.

      That said the other issue I have is that CableCards are only allowed in approved "closed" devices. There needs to be a way that I'm allowed to install a CableCard tuner in whatever device that needs it, my personal computer most of all, without having to do it exactly the way that the industry wants me to. I'm not a pirate, I just want to be able to watch at some future time on the PC of my choice (I know many people only have 1 but I have 4 or 5 in the house at any one time all capable of displaying the content if allowed) or on a mobile device. Heck I'm even fine if they somehow figured out how to force me to watch the commercials as long as I could watch them when and where I wanted to. It doesn't seem like the lack of cablecard tuners in unapproved pc's is slowing the piracy of TV much so why spend so much effort to do it?
      • Re:Bullhockey (Score:4, Informative)

        by palladiate (1018086) <palladiate AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 18, 2007 @02:23PM (#21028851)

        He had no clue. First, many techs, especially contractors, are clueless. Second, everything Comcast does is braindead.

        You can have CCs in any device, no approval necessary. However, there is no guarantee your STB will work with one unless it's been certified. Tivos do work, but only uses them one way. There are only Cisco and Motorola devices that are two-way, and allow on demand or channel guides. One of those bad boys will set you back about a grand, or more for the HDs.

        The article mentions that the biggest reason people aren't using CCs is because there are no good STBs. That's totally not true. There are plenty made by Cisco (Scientific Atlanta) and Motorola. They just cost between $800 and $1300 and come with your cable service. There's just no point in buying one, although we will sell them if you want them. As for consumer-grade options, I can't answer that, it just seems that no PC component company wants to make a CC interface, and the only consumer STB is Tivo.

        I just wanted to point out there are tons of cable cards out there, and they are part of the digital boxes provided by the cable company.

      • That said the other issue I have is that CableCards are only allowed in approved "closed" devices. There needs to be a way that I'm allowed to install a CableCard tuner in whatever device that needs it, my personal computer most of all, without having to do it exactly the way that the industry wants me to. I'm not a pirate, I just want to be able to watch at some future time on the PC of my choice (I know many people only have 1 but I have 4 or 5 in the house at any one time all capable of displaying the content if allowed) or on a mobile device. Heck I'm even fine if they somehow figured out how to force me to watch the commercials as long as I could watch them when and where I wanted to. It doesn't seem like the lack of cablecard tuners in unapproved pc's is slowing the piracy of TV much so why spend so much effort to do it?
        --

        Beats the shit out of me. Why do cinemas go apeshit about stopping people from bringing in camcorders when the movie is available on all the torrent sites a week before the premiere? It's not like we're talking the days of 80's mix tapes where each subsequent copy incurred a generation loss. This is digital and it only takes one good copy to get spread across the entire planet.

        I have a VCR and could time-shift the shows I want to watch just fine. It doesn't look as good on my HD set so I just download and

    • Did you RTFA?

      The article did not say it was the technology's fault. The market for simple STBs is not large enough to make selling them to consumers worth it for the manufacturers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by palladiate (1018086)

        No, I did. I saw it on Ars earlier. I'm responding to the the summary that blamed us for not playing ball. It blames the cable companies for not playing ball. That's BS. We'll sell you any box we provide. Do you really want to spend $1200 on an SA HD-DVR? Nobody else does, that's why we aren't selling them.

        The problem is that there are no GOOD consumer devices. There just aren't. We can't help that. We aren't in the STB business.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by EdelFactor19 (732765)
          "we'll sell you any box we provide"

          that is entirely the problem, and frankly if you wouldnt sell me any box you provide your business is retarted.

          the point is that we as consumers shuold have a choice and viable alternatives to paying the outlandish fees that "you" charge while still getting the service we provide.

          the whole pay you 6+ bucks a month for the box thing is getting old. the box should either be free or we should be able to buy it from and others. There are no good devices because everytime one
          • Re:Bullhockey (Score:4, Informative)

            by palladiate (1018086) <palladiate AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 18, 2007 @04:12PM (#21030735)

            that is entirely the problem, and frankly if you wouldnt sell me any box you provide your business is retarted.

            the point is that we as consumers shuold have a choice and viable alternatives to paying the outlandish fees that "you" charge while still getting the service we provide.
            We don't charge equipment fees. In fact, local law prohibits us from doing this, but none of our divisions do. We charge for DVR service, but so does Tivo. Some of that is licensing, some of it is infrastructure, some of it is profit.

            There are no good devices because everytime one was created YOU found a way to make it not work.
            No. We have done no such thing. I'm afraid I'm going to need some kind of citation for that accusation. Have we broken any Tivos? No.

            then there was the whole lets only scramble some channels thing which was slightly better..
            That's because HBO doesn't let you get their channel without paying.

            then digital came out, and the whole one-way two-way problem was created.
            Are you trying to imply that we could have put 600 channels and on-demand channels down the line without using a compressed, digital signal? Your Cable Card handles the digital signal just fine. There are no technical limitations there, and if you put one in a cablecard slot on your TV, it will work. It's because we need an addressable box on your end to authorize the service you purchased. It's like how you need a power meter for your house. That's necessary equipment too.
        • Are there ever any "good consumer" devices?

          Most stuff is 'engineered' to die right after warranty, unless they offer extensive warranty support. Then its good for as long as you can 'extend the warranty'.
        • Its a difficult economic question of how to jumpstart a new market. The first devices are always more expensive, and are adopted by people who just want the functionality. The problem in this case is that those who would be first adopters, have already adopted the rental system. There aren't any innovative devices that provide any benefit over the rental units, hence no early adopters, no price drops. Now people will pay stupid money for negligible benefit, but only if there is a large advertising program t
        • by whoever57 (658626)

          We'll sell you any box we provide. Do you really want to spend $1200 on an SA HD-DVR? Nobody else does, that's why we aren't selling them.
          Are they worth $1200? Or to ask another way, is it possible that your cable company is inflating the price of the boxes when offered for sale to consumers?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The reason we blame you (cable companies as a whole) for playing not ball, is because of your inability to come to terms with modern customer demands and your CableLabs crew (and yes, YOURS...CableLabs was created and is funded by the big cable companies) and their issues. Part of it may be because their rules are regulated by what they feel are the content providers' demands, but they are complicit in this as well.

          Okay, you could sell us a $1200 SA DVR. But why are there not more companies that just make a
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DCheesi (150068)
          If these boxes cost so much, how are you subsidizing the cost for all the boxes rented to customers? $10 or $15 bucks a month wouldn't allow you break even in a reasonable amount of time.
    • I'm the inventory coordinator for a cable company. All of our new DVRs and Digital boxes run off of cable cards.

      That would actually be a meaningfully more expensive box than just having everything mounted on a single board. Perhaps this is a legislated requirement. Very hard to say if this is true or not. Let's read on...

      It works with our system just fine.
      Now we get at the meat of the problem. The point of the legislation was to open the system in question up to OTHERS. As it stands, it appears I ca
      • Now we get at the meat of the problem. The point of the legislation was to open the system in question up to OTHERS. As it stands, it appears I can buy a tv with a cablecard, but that's it. Motorola and ScientificAtlanta certainly don't have a card and driver for my PC at Worst Buy or even Fry's.

        I'd agree this is a problem. But we don't manufacture the STBs. Cisco and Motorola both make boxes that work just fine on CableCards. We don't jigger our network strange to break any kind of standards compliance. We'd have no problem with a PCI card that let your turn your computer into a DVR, we just aren't going to manufacture the card. We use a standard and it works. If nobody else wants to make consumer equipment, there's little we can do.

    • by Stonent1 (594886)
      Around in the Dallas area, we've got both Time Warner and Charter servicing different areas. The TW boxes that I have (formerly Comcast) are made by GI and Motorola (same box, different logo) and I don't recall them havging cable card slots. My girlfriend has Charter service and all her boxes (DVR's by Scientific Atlanta) have cable card slots but they are empty.
    • Yup, fancy that; only the manufacurers of your company's branded set-top boxes have proper documentation for the standard the FCC had to force your industry into using.

      Why, it's as if the status-quo of charging ridiculous prices to locked-in customers has been maintained, despite the best efforts of regulators to circumnavigate the cable industry's phalanx-like defense of control it wields over its customers!

      You're right, it's not the technology's fault. It's your ((boss's) ^ n) fault.

      And what's this!

  • Why not TiVo? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Krellion (795134) * on Thursday October 18, 2007 @02:02PM (#21028411)
    TiVo's set-top Series3 and TiVoHD both work with CableCARDs. Why not use one of them?

    (Yeah, yeah, I realize that the TiVo service subscription will put off people, but it's worth it.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LordKazan (558383)
      Not everyone wants to pay tivo $16/month - mythtv users can buy a YEARS worth of listings for $20 - plus i already have 4 tuners (3 analog, 1 qam256/atsc) and 500GB of harddrive
    • by Sandbags (964742)
      Why would I drop $300+ for a Tivo (or more for HD versions) PLUS a monthly subscription when I get an HD DVR from Time Warner for $9.59 per month before discounts?

      Their box is guaranteed to work with their service, doesn't require internet access (or a phone line) in the living room to get guide information, is automatically waranteed for free as long as I'm already paying for the cabl;e service, is fixed in my home if I have an issue (or I can more quickly exchange it hassle free at the local office in per
  • by amigabill (146897) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @02:03PM (#21028431)
    The title of the OP makes it sound liek you can't buy anything from anyone. I just bought an HD Tivo that takes cablecards. It's going to replace the Verizon FIOS DVR box that I think is a POS, even after being replaced with another.
    • you can't buy anything from anyone.

      Let's see what happens when you call your cable provider and ask them to put a cablecard in a box you don't rent from them. At the gates of customer service hell that's called an "unsupported device."

      Please, prove me wrong.
      • Actually, I have a TiVo Series 3 that I purchased when I moved to my new condo back in December 2006. I called my cable company (Charter, to be precise), told them I had a TiVo Series 3, and that I wanted 2 cablecards so that I could get their HD channels package.
        Two days later, I had a technician over, who plugged the cards in and worked with me on getting everything set up.

        No problems, no questions asked, and they even came back a few days later when one of the cards started malfunctioning, and replaced
    • Which is what the article stated.

      Oh yeah, this is /.
      I must be new here
  • This is just like (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MeditationSensation (1121241) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @02:03PM (#21028439) Homepage
    the cell phone companies. There's no real techincal reason that we can't have cool, open OSes for our phones. They just want to lock us in so that we have to buy their stupid wallpaper, ring tones, etc.
    • by bfree (113420)

      Or maybe most people just don't want to pay the true cost of their phone so the service providers have to find some way to make sure they can still make a profit! The fact is right now the market is completely dominated by the carriers so that all major manufacturers have a lot more interest in making certain the carriers want their phones then the end user does.

      If this wasn't the case we would have seen dual carrier enabled phones a long time ago, not just add-ons to let you switch from carrier to carri

    • by rossz (67331)
      You mean like this [openmoko.org] or this [openmoko.com]?
    • by Tintivilus (88810)

      There's no real techincal reason that we can't have cool, open OSes for our phones. They just want to lock us in so that we have to buy their stupid wallpaper, ring tones, etc.

      Where the hell are you getting your phones? I haven't seen a phone in the last three or four years (except the iPhone) that couldn't use any old GIF or JPEG as a "stupid wallpaper" or any supported media file (first iMelody, then MIDI, then MP3, now just about anything) as a ring tone even when it's subsidy locked. And i'm not ta

  • by Seakip18 (1106315) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @02:16PM (#21028753) Journal
    The technology is out there for this. I think the main problem lies with those who are peddling(or in this case NOT) telling people what they need. From my personal Experience:
    My dad bought a 58 inch LCD open box from best buy a month or so ago. No rep explained it's functionality to him really. I forget the make now, but it had a cable card slot and a Hard drive for DVR. Off he goes to get HD from Time Warner. They say "hey, you need a box." They didn't ask what TV he had or if it was Card ready.

    Moral of the story?
    Come thanksgiving, I'm putting a Cable card in the TV for him and hope there is no ensuing SNAFU that prevents him from getting his HD channels. By himself, he would have had no clue what he needed. His only hope *I* see would have been to get an company cable installer who would see the situation and get him the card.
    • by Have Blue (616)
      Like the article says, the problem is with the market. There is no demand for CC devices over and above normal closed cable boxes. The fact that renting a box from the cable company includes a de facto service plan for the thing also makes them sufficiently attractive to most people.
  • by jjh37997 (456473) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @02:29PM (#21028941) Homepage
    Personally, I don't see the appeal in digital cable. It costs more, requires me to have a cable box, and suffers from pixalization. To me it just seems like a scam for the cable companies to offer me more useless stations at a higher cost. Now if digital cable meant HD too I'd understand why people might be interested but subcribing to HD channels is usually an additional fee added onto the increased digital cable fees, which does not even count the box fees.

    Analog cable and a Tivo with lifetime service (buy one on eBay). That's the way to go.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by daveywest (937112)
      You can only pack so many analog channels on one cable line. You have to go digital to get more channels. Cable really is a cooperative entertainment venture. You pay for some of the channels I watch, and I pay for some that you watch. When the group as a whole wants to exceed that analog channel limit, everyone has to go to digital.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by taustin (171655)
        You can only pack so many analog channels on one cable line.

        So, instead of having 99 channels full of crap, and one with something interesting once in while, you have 999 channels full of crap, and one with someting interesting once in a while. And you pay more.

        Color me a little skeptical.

        The reason to go digital is to get the DVR in the msot convenient way (as opposed to rolling your own).
        • If 1/99 of everything on TV is crap, and you get 990 channels... hopefully you get ten times as much watchable stuff as you do with 99 channels.

          It's like the internet, where we've got a reliable 99.99999999% crap-rating, containing every sort of garbage from the goatse man to Klingon Furry Fanfic to blogs about other blogs that are about blogging about blogs. There's just SO MUCH STUFF on the internet that you can always find something interesting to read, despite the overwhelming crapflood.
    • by Sax Maniac (88550)
      I get HD channels and digital cable, pay $9 a month, and have no box. How?

      Ordered basic analog cable ("2-13"), plugged it into my TV w/QAM tuner, and bang, I have all the analog channels, a ton of digital channels, and a handful of HD ones. I don't care for PPV or any pay channels. But if you cared, you'd already have it.

      I've called them and told them that it does this, so I'm not accused of stealing. They don't care.

      So, the question is why BUY digital cable, as opposed to why HAVE digital cable?
    • by jotok (728554)
      Nah.

      HD Broadcast + MythTV. THAT is the best way to go :)
    • Same deal here. I have 4 TVs in my tiny condo, which I wired myself for cable. I bought myself a Philips stand-alone 60GB DVR / DVD-RW recorder / DIVX player on eBay, and I'm living large.

      I don't have the room for a big fat hi-def flat screen, so for the time being, I'm standard-def only.

      It annoys the hell out of me that cable companies charge for service AND extra for the ability to use that service on more than one TV. Gone are the days of people having just one TV... And don't get me started on DVR "re
  • by Lead Butthead (321013) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @02:37PM (#21029085) Journal
    Is why can't we buy tuner cards with CABLECARD support?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wesley Felter (138342)
      There is one CableCard tuner card from ATI; by Googling you can find a ton of articles explaining why CableLabs won't allow you to buy it (unless you buy a complete PC).
  • by Steve525 (236741) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @02:42PM (#21029183)
    Most of the article describes how difficult it is to replace your cable company's basic STB with your own basic STB. It admits that there are options for DVRs (Series 3 and HD Tivo) and you can get cable card enabled TV.

    My conclusion is the reason you can't replace the cable company's box with your own is that no one would want to. This isn't a great conspiracy, it's just that the STB manufacturers aren't going to try to sell a product that no one wants. Why would anyone want to replace one box with another box that does the same thing? The only motivation I could envision is cost, but the rental fees for the boxes aren't usually that high.

    For a consumer, using the cable card to use a better DVR or to get rid of the STB entirely is worthwhile. So, the market has responded by providing these options. However, there's no motivation for someone to choose a different basic STB than the one the cable companies provide.
    • by realmolo (574068)
      I agree. If you have to buy a box, you might as well get the one the cable company provides.

      However, if you have a TV and/or DVR that supports CableCard, it makes it a hell of a lot easier to use all of that stuff together. That's what it's really for.
  • Ebay All Day (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kancer (61362)
    I got mine from e-bay [ebay.com] and I just got the cable cards from my Comcast billing center. I pay $5 a month for the card.
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @02:48PM (#21029315)
    The current offering from Time Warner Cable of their "mystro" software prevents me from using all the features of the TiVo connected to it.

    If I dare try to change the channel at precisely the time that guide data is updated on the channel I am leaving, the box may fail to change channels, change to the wrong channel, or even crash. Every recording I make has to be padded by at least one minute start and end to avoid this bug, even back-to-back recordings on the same channel. (Networks shifting start and end times by a minute is exacerbating the problem.)

    This requires me to disable the TiVo's Suggestions feature as they cannot be padded.

    I can't use TWC's cable box at all with the Series1 units as they lack the ability to trim their recordings in response to a neighboring-in-time padded recording: one or the other recording would not be recorded.

    I've been subjected to these boxes for more than a year now (I'm in one of their beta-test cites) and the company has thumbed its nose at local officials demanding a resolution to and restitution for the problems.

    The only thing that has alleviated the problem is getting a CableCARD-enabled TiVo, though it too has had difficulty with cards that lose the signal and will not reacquire it without a restart or (disliked by TWC) ejecting and re-inserting the offending card which I've had to do three times so far. And of course it's the card in CableCARD slot 1.
  • This is 2007... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by technopinion (469686) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @02:53PM (#21029405)
    It really is inexcusable that there is no way for me to get HDTV into my HTPC without using a goddamn OTA card with a big antenna on the roof.
  • Honestly, the reason you don't see any market for 3rd party CableCARD devices is because of two reasons:

    1) TiVo
    2) CableCARDs are not user friendly

    The first one is obvious. TiVo Series3 and TiVoHD are the only set top units that are currently on the market because there isn't a call for any others. TiVo has been able to make ends meet because of a loyal fan base and recurring monthly charges. A competing product would probably not be able to even grab 0.5% market share between cable companies and TiVo. So it
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @03:22PM (#21029935)
    I swear, these companies have got to get their shit together. Make it easy and people will come. Right now, it's still less of a headache to pirate shit and have total control of how it's used. That, and don't be dicks about what you're charging for the service. Back 5 years ago, hunting down a full run of a show took ages. Want an anime? Try hunting down 26 episodes of mixed format, quality, and availability. Good luck. But it's worth the time if the jerkwads are charging $250 for the series. But some shows are out on DVD now for as low as $40 or $50 for an entire run. Wow! And for live action TV, I've seen some going for as low as $25 for a season. Nice. But just try and buy that stuff electronically, it's DRM'd out the ass and the prices are no cheaper than for physical media. WTF? No distribution cost, no shelving fee, no gas involved, and we're paying full freight? I don't think so.

    • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @03:33PM (#21030095)
      BitTorrent is the way I watch TV almost exclusively now. I don't have to pay for cable service (only cable internet), and I just download the shows I want to see, in full HD glory, and watch them on a computer connected to my HDTV. My wife really loves it because we can pause and rewind, and best of all we don't have to sit through obnoxious commercials. And of course, it's all free, except for the internet service.

      Cable companies have had their chance to offer TV shows in a convenient and cost-effective format, and they've completely blown it. I'm not going to waste my time and deal with the hassle of conforming to their stupid DRM schemes, and ridiculous pricing (usually over $100/month for HD service, with terrible compression), when I can just get what I want on BitTorrent. Besides, most of the worthwhile shows are on the main networks and PBS anyway; for cable, the only channels with worthwhile programming are Discovery and Sci-Fi. $100/month for two HD channels? And I have to watch it on their schedule and with commercials? I don't think so.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jollyreaper (513215)

        BitTorrent is the way I watch TV almost exclusively now. I don't have to pay for cable service (only cable internet), and I just download the shows I want to see, in full HD glory, and watch them on a computer connected to my HDTV. My wife really loves it because we can pause and rewind, and best of all we don't have to sit through obnoxious commercials. And of course, it's all free, except for the internet service.

        Interestingly enough, Microsoft is sort of blowing it with their xbox live service. I picked up a 360 recently for the games, I didn't even know they were doing all that other stuff with it. And it's really a cool service -- naturally, it was developed by a third party at Microsoft's request. But they do enough stupid shit there that they ultimately make it not entirely worth my while. Yes, you can download shows "to own" but they provide no mechanism to move them off the built-in hard drive. The bigger dr

        • You can stream movies off a Windows Media Center computer but only if all the DRM is happy. FUCK THAT.

          Sort of. It's only in certain formats, which is irritating, but you can also get software which apparently re-encodes your video on the fly. Look into Transcode 360, I haven't tried it yet, but it seems to have potential.

          what need would there be for Linux if Windows did everything we needed and was mostly harmless, mostly enjoyable?

          Well, it already does that, so you'd better tell the Linux teams to stop working on their stuff. The need for Linux is obvious: choice. Even if I prefer Windows, I appreciate having the choice to move to Linux available if I should choose to use it. Hell, even though I think Mac OS is a h

  • by CCMCornell (930509) on Thursday October 18, 2007 @03:38PM (#21030169)
    [Note, I left this same reply on TFA's comments but thought I'd copy it here cuz slashdot is cooler.]

    This reminds me of a deadline a few years ago set by the FCC to include working firewire ports on set-top boxes. This would allow a digital connection to certain TV's as well as to recorders like D-VHS or computers (using D-VHS emulators.)

    http://www.engadgethd.com/2006/02/01/does-your-cable-box-have-a-firewire-port [engadgethd.com]

    That mandate deadline came and passed without compliance as well. Boxes never had ports, or had ports removed even though OEM's like SA and Moto included them, or had ports that weren't functional.

    The FCC has been a joke since it was created. Like most of government, despite any good intentions, it has proved ineffectual in enforcing many of its own mandates that has resulted in loss to the consumers while effectively enforcing protections for certain corporations like the Cable Cos resulting in loss to competition.

    For me, I've given up. I've basically voted with my feet and stopped subscribing to cable. If I hear about something of interest, I can usually download it or have a friend record it or wait for it on DVD and rent it. The result is that I watch less TV, which may be a good thing or maybe I miss things I would enjoy or maybe it doesn't make a real difference except that the Cable Cos, as well as the content creators, advertisers other related businesses and the FCC (through included taxes), are not getting my money because of this stupidity. You may want to consider the same.
  • everything about the situation with TV in America is a headache inducing mess.... when I was single I didn't even own a TV (for over 5yrs) then ...now the Mrs. LIKES TV (why I can't say....98% of the stuff on seems to be garbage)

    I HATE the $20 (2x boxes $10ea) (on top of the huge amount we are paying for basically (every???) premium channel ..... seriously it makes me angry... but looking at the alternatives ... meh... it is easier to just live with it.

    If it was up to me I'd bag cable altogether (maybe mayb
  • I have Brighthouse (Manatee County, FL). I wanted to buy the $300 Tivo. So.. I found out it needs 2 cablecards.

    Right now, I pay $10/month for a piece of shit Scientific Atlanta DVR. I've had to get it replaced twice (waiting in long-ass lines at the cable company.) The set top box barely works.

    So.. I asked about buying Cablecards. They told me I cannot buy them. Also, they told me each one costs $395/month to lease. Though, later, I found out it was $3.95/month to lease. I was also told that it takes a long
  • OK, off-topic, but this is going to affect more people even more severely.

    We're now barely a year away from the day when they pull the plug on analog TV, and despite statements at the FCC website saying that "you can buy set-top converter boxes now," none are to be had. Not unless they mean $200-$300 video recorders that incidentally provide that feature as a side-effect.

    Like Ars Technica, I, too, have been "standing on the doorstep, wad of cash in hand, yelling, 'Please take my money! I want to buy!' but a

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a camel's behind. -- Edgar R. Fiedler

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