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(Last Login: Jun 22, 2010 at 2:28:20 AM) tivoaddiction
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Do I really need a cable card for basic cable?
Apr 1, 2010 at 4:02:24 PM  |  #1
[Archived]  

We just purchased and received our 4th Tivo.  We have a Tivo Series 1 (still kickin'), a Series 2, a Tivo HD, and now a Tivo Premiere.

Tivo HD is used in our Theater room.  Tivo Premiere is replacing our series 1 and 2 in the living room (they will go elsewhere in our home).  This TV is an older HD "Ready" TV that we really don't watch more than normal evening TV on (e.g. sitcoms, news programs, dramas).  We don't really care if these are in HD. 

I setup Tivo Premiere without a cablecard last night.  I was under the impression that it was required for cable, especially digital cable.  However, I question this since the picture w/o a cable card looks very much like a standard definition digital image.  Granted, we are only getting the basic cable channels, but that's all we really need.  So my question is, is this really a digital cable image I am seeing or just the best darn analog tuner in the world?  If it is digital, then why do I need the Cable Card (everything says this is required for digital cable).

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(Currently online) curiousmark
curiousmark
Apr 1, 2010 at 6:25:21 PM  |  #2
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If your local cable company is sending unencrypted digital channels as part of the basic package, your new DVR will pick them up and display them for you.  It will even get unencrypted high definition locals is many places around the country.

What you will not get without a cable card is good guide data for all the channels you can find with a channel scan.  For the channels without guide data, you can only schedule recordings by time or channel and the TiVo will not be able to follow them if they change night or time slot.  You will also not get encrypted digital channels in your cable package that you may be paying for as part of your subscription.  For these reasons a cable card is recommended.

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(Last Login: Jun 22, 2010 at 2:28:20 AM) tivoaddiction
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Apr 1, 2010 at 8:53:20 PM  |  #3
[Archived]  

Thanks for the info and quick response.  I don't understand why this information isn't given to the consumer.  It feels like Tivo is "hiding" something when they just make a blanket statement saying it is required and don't provide any details regarding the tuner inside Tivo.  Espeically when you turn it on and everything works fine without one.  Plus, I think there are plenty of people who would shy away from a product that absolutely required a cablecard.

As for the guide.  I understand the concern and this may be the case for some.  However, I disagree that this is going to be an issue.  I have yet to find a digital channel that didn't match the analog equivalent and therefore the guide is fine and provides correct information.  For instance, ABC is ABC regarless of the analog or digital signal.  The guide tells me what is on ABC and it is correct.  Granted, there will probably be some extended cable channels that might be different, but as I explained, we don't really care much about that as 99.999% of the content we watch is on the "normal" channels.

With all of that said, I looked at my last cable bill and they only charge $1.50/mo for the cablecard in my HD Tivo, so I decided I might as well get one for Tivo Premiere.  Of course, they then slapped on a $20 install fee and won't let me do it myself.  Plus I have to wait a week to get it installed, which is annoying.

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(Last Login: Apr 23, 2014 at 1:06:19 PM) jrm01
jrm01
Apr 2, 2010 at 9:16:39 AM  |  #4
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The cablecard is an implied requirement for the HD TiVo for cable users since it is assumed that most users want the HD channels. Without a cablecard you cannot get the guide data for HD cable channels. However, people who use an antenna only do not need a cablecard to get the guide data.

 It is true that ABC is ABC regardless of the channel is basically correct. However the Guide Data is channel number specific. Therefore you can get guide info for ABC SD channel 8, but not for ABC HD channel 8-1 (channel numbers are examples only). With a cablecard, however, the ABC HD channel would be mapped to a number like 210 and would have guide data.

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(Last Login: Jun 22, 2010 at 2:28:20 AM) tivoaddiction
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Apr 3, 2010 at 1:56:58 AM  |  #5
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I didn't buy another HD Tivo, I bought Tivo Premiere, which happens to support HD.  That's the only thing you can buy from Tivo now (i.e. no series 2 under products).  I was not given the option to do an upgrade with anything other than a Tivo Premiere.  It is presumptuous of Tivo to think everyone needs/wants HD or digital cable for that matter.  You can't say it is an implied requirement if the manual states that it is required.

My point is that I think they are missing a huge consumer base here.  For years, Tivo supported the analog community and now it is turning its back on them.  I know a ton of people who only get basic cable and have no desire for anything more.  My parents are among such people.  They have two series 2 Tivos, one of which has a modem that died a few months ago (that's right, not even connected to broadband).  My Mom is going crazy w/o her Tivo.  But it is unlikely I will get them to buy a Tivo Premiere as a replacement at twice the cost and "requiring" a cablecard.  Fortunately, Best Buy still has some series 2 (for now).  IMO, Tivo has just lost a huge section of the market.  I realize within the next 5 to 10 years, all analog will become a thing of the past, but until then...

As for the ABC example, I understand the HD vs. SD and wouldn't expect HD channels to show up w/o the cablecard.  But if I only care about recording ABC SD channel 8, then so be it (hence the subject title of my question).  The guide data for channel 8 is provided w/o a cablecard.  In fact, I have accurate guide data for channels 2 - 99, which includes every channel I care to watch.  The bottom line: Tivo should state that a cablecard MAY be required depending on your cable service and planned use.

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(Last Login: Jun 10, 2014 at 8:51:25 PM) pdonoghu
pdonoghu
Apr 3, 2010 at 12:03:00 PM  |  #6
[Archived]  

Just to clarify, a Tivo Premier works fine with analog cable. A cable card is not needed for analog, and guide data is provided. If you want to receive digital cable, and get guide data for the digital channels, then a cable card is required. Without a cable card, you can scan for any in the clear digital cable channels (QAM), and receive them, you just won't get guide data.

All analog channels are in SD. Not all digital channels are in HD, they can be SD or HD. So it is not a matter of SD versus HD, but analog versus digital.

As far as serving the markets, I think it is fair to say most people investing in new TVs and DVRs are looking for HD capabilities. Yes, there are many who are satisfied with their existing analog/SD setups, but that is not the major part of the new purchase market. For those that only want analog/SD there are lots of used Series 2 models available. 

Hardware costs go down over time, the Tivo Premier is a totaly new hardware platform, and is being offered cheaper thatn the original Series 3 HD models. It does not make economic sense for Tivo to design a new platform of analog only Tivos when analog is a disappearing market.

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(Last Login: Apr 23, 2014 at 1:06:19 PM) jrm01
jrm01
Apr 4, 2010 at 9:29:50 AM (Updated: Apr 4, 2010 at 9:33:24 AM)  |  #7
[Archived]  

If all that you want to watch are the analog stations, then a cablecard is not required.  Not sure where you saw that TiVo says that it is always required.  On the TiVo website describing the Premier it says:

* CableCARD required for receipt of digital cable service. Additional fees may apply from your cable provider.

 The problem with this, of course, is that the number of analog stations is continuing to shrink.  In my own market, for example, Comcast has cut the number of analog stations from 70 to 20 in the past year.  However, the local network stations will likely remain in analog form for the next two years.  Most likely by the end of 2012 most (if not all) of them will be gone.  Not exactly a market you want to be developing new products for.

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(Last Login: Jun 22, 2010 at 2:28:20 AM) tivoaddiction
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Apr 4, 2010 at 4:48:43 PM  |  #8
[Archived]  

BS.  I get unencrypted DIGITAL CABLE channels W/O a cable card.  And the guide, too.  For instance, my cable company has both the anolog and digital feeds on the same channel for most of the basic cable channels.  If I hook up an analog tuner to channel 7 and a digital tuner (i.e. cablebox) to channel 7, I get the analog feed and the digital feed respectively (there's no other SD ABC channel, only a separate HD channel).  What I am seeing on my TV is the digital feed for these channels.  There's no way these are analog feeds.  If they are analog, then what do I need digital cable for cause these look great.  I did nothing special to get the digital feed.

SD vs HD and anlog vs digital.  These are not one and the same.  You don't make sense.  You can't say it is analog vs. digital.  It's not.  If it can receive digital cable w/o a cable card and the guide data matches, then you don't need a cable card and at that point, it is SD vs. HD, not analog vs. digital.

I would never tell someone to buy a used Tivo.  Chances are, its life is limited.

I am not saying Tivo should design a new analog platform (that would be dumb), I'm simply saying they should still offer the old (build to print - no NRE cost) analog platform to bridge the gap.  Gee, Idk, seems like Tivo has done nothing but lose subs over the last several years, so you're right, we should do things to continue that trend.  Tivo exists only b/c of its patents and legal victories over Dish.  Without that, it would be dead money and its stock would be sub $1 and ready for delisting.

This thread is getting off track.  I merely wanted to understand when a cable card was required and shed some light on that matter.  There are several threads out there that ask about the cable card and all have been told they need it for digital cable.  I don't believe that is true and it is dependent on your cable service.  I'm simply trying to help others understand that they may not need one.

I'm done with this conversation, so don't feel bad if I no longer reply.

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