December 30, 2004

We’re Your Cable Company, and We’re Here To Help [8:24 am]

Streamlined Cable TV in a Card

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?

[...] The CableCard’s simple mission is to eliminate your cable box. The card stores all the account information that used to be monitored by the box, like descramblers for your movie channels - a bit of circuitry miniaturization that’s about 15 years overdue.

[...] Is it really possible that the government, cable companies and TV makers all sat down one day and cheerfully agreed to a new, advanced standard designed to save you money and simplify your life?

Don’t be silly.

As it turns out, hammering out the CableCard standard wasn’t especially quick or amicable.

In fact, it took years. [...]

[...] In fact, you may get the distinct impression that the cable companies are trying to talk you out of a CableCard. At a Web site for Time Warner Cable, a Frequently Asked Question about CableCard televisions (also called Digital Cable Ready sets) reads; “Q: Why should I get one? What are its advantages over a set-top box? A: A Digital Cable Ready television may not be for you. If you want to take advantage of Time Warner Cable’s interactive services, such as iControl or our Interactive Program Guide, then you want the expanded features of a digital set-top box.” (Um - those are advantages?)

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