TIVO, cable cards, and billing. A very basic question

Discussion in 'TiVo Help Center' started by dem372, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. dem372

    dem372 New Member

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    Nov 18, 2010
    This might be a common question, and if so I apologize. I am inerested in possibly getting a couple of TIVOs for my home. I am a Directv subscriber, but because of monthly cost am considering jumping to cable and using TIVO rather than the cable DVR.

    I hear a lot about cable cards but don't really understand them. From what I thnk I know, it is a card you use in your TIVO that allows it to get the information it needs from the cable feed? So, if I use a cable card, do I need one of the cable boxes in order to use TIVO? And, if I don't need the box, I assume this means I will save some money on the bill by not needing one of the cable company HD boxes at the tv? Anyone use cable cards and know the basics of what this does to the bill?

    Thank you and have a great one.
     
  2. jakerock

    jakerock Hey ho howdy!

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    You have the basics down right. The TiVo with cable card replaces the cable company box. The cable card allows for channels from the cable company to be mapped correctly to the TiVo and allows the TiVo to decrypt any encrypted channels (that would generally include any premium channels).

    You MIGHT save some money because you won't need the cable company box. However, cable companies are all over the place as far as cost of cable cards. Even people who have the same company and service pay different amounts based on who they talked to and when. So you SHOULD save money on your cable bill but that isn't guaranteed.
     
  3. jtreid

    jtreid Member

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    The FCC now requires the cable co's to refund you for not using their equipment. While I would probably pay more than $10/month to rent their HD DVR and $5 for an HD box, I only get a small stipend of $2.50/month back for not doing so and using my own equipment. Subtract from that the $1.50/month for the cable card. Basically, you get back what they add in to the cable bill for a SD cable box. It's not and never will be equitable and don't count on it to justify your Tivo purchase.
     
  4. Kaokulk

    Kaokulk New Member

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    As was stated above, the prices are all over the place. I have an M-card (you either need two S-cards (single tuner), or one M-card (multiple tuner)), and pay around $5/month for it. A high-def cable box would run $20/month.
     
  5. True Colors

    True Colors Member

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    Oct 18, 2006
    If you are going to purchase an older Tivo(Series 2 or Series 1) then you cannot use a cable card and the question is moot.

    If you are going to purchase a newer Tivo(such as the Premiere) then you ARE able to use a cable card.

    Basically, a cable card and a cable box do the exact same thing. So you only need one or the other.

    If you do go the cable card route, then you have two choices

    * M card
    * S card

    The "M" card is a multistream card. It can tune in more than one channel at a time. So it will allow you to watch one channel and record a different channel. It is similar to a dual tuner DVR. If you are going to be using a Tivo Premiere then you DEFINITELY want an M card

    The "S" card is a single stream card. It can only tune in one channel at a time.

    There may be some situations where you have to use an S card. But if you have a choice, then go with M.

    My cable company charges me about 15 or 20 dollars per month for a dual tuner cable box with a built in DVR.

    They only charge me about 4 or 5 dollars per month for a cable card. So there is obviously a savings there. From my point of view, the savings I get goes towards paying for the cost of my Tivo Premiere.

    TC
     
  6. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    The Premiere has only one CableCARD slot. (You have to have an m-card unless you want to settle for single tuner functionality.)

    You should check into whether your cable co uses SDV. If it does you will also need a Tuning Adapter, which is a separate box furnished free by the cable co. Some people have had, and continue to have, very bad experiences with TA's. Thus you should search for, or solicit, comments from other TiVo users on your same cable system as to what experiences they have had. The use of SDV is growing for the simple reason it lets them pack more channels into a fixed bandwidth. Thus even if your system doesn't use it now, they probably will eventually. Note: be prepared for confusing and inaccurate answers if you call up cable support and ask if they use SDV. This applies to any question you ask them related to TiVo use. Generally speaking, they don't know and they don't care.
     
  7. lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Well-Known Member

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    John's...
    Not only can, but you must use a CableCARD in order to fully utilize your TiVo with digital cable. The newer TiVos (TiVo 3 and later) cannot utilize a cable STB.

    No they don't. Installing a CableCARD in a TiVO enables the TiVo to replace a STB. However, you will not have access to On Demand or PPV.

    CableCARDs are NOT tuners. The tuners are in the TiVo. A CableCARD is needed to map the QAM channel to a cable channel and decrypt encrypted channels.

    As of Aug 8, cable cos must provide m-cards. No s-cards. If you acquire a TiVo 3 that needs two cards, two m-cards will work.
     
  8. lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Well-Known Member

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    John's...
    Actually, Comcast has put their SDV plans on hold and is exploring other options.
     
  9. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Other options? Such as what?
     
  10. angel35

    angel35 New Member

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    Does TWC use SDV ??? with a tivo???
     
  11. lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Well-Known Member

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    John's...
    Something called CMAP which "combines edge QAM and cable modem termination system (CMTS) functions". Don't ask me what that means. It may be worse than SDV, at least in its impact on TiVo owners. I have no idea. The only thing I know is that it makes it unlikely that Comcast will implement SDV in Atlanta any time soon. What happens in the long run is anyone's guess.

    One thing I am wondering regarding SDV - If TiVo implements some form of "Tru2way" on the Premiere to support On Demand and PPV, will a TA still be required for SDV?
     
  12. lillevig

    lillevig Cold in East Iowa

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    The bottom line is that it depends on what the cable company is transmitting on the cable and it depends on which version of Tivo you buy. My cable company (Suddenlink who purchased the Cox network in my area) transmits both digital and analog channels on the cable. That means that old, non-digital TVs still work directly from the cable input (no converter needed). Newer digital capable TVs can get the analog channels, the digital channels and, with a cable box, HD channels. Tivo Series 1 and Series 2 boxes only have analog tuners so they will need some sort of converter box if your cable company does not provide analog channels. Series 3 Tivos (and I think Premieres) can receive analog channels without a CableCard but need a CableCard to receive digital channels and HD channels. Good luck.
     
  13. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

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    Reading between the lines, it seems CMAP/CMTS may use IPTV for extra channels beyond their mainstream linear QAM channels.
     
  14. lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Well-Known Member

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    John's...
    TiVo 3's and newer can actually tune to digital cable channels. However, unless you install a CableCARD, you can't get guide data for them nor can you decrypt the encrypted channels.
     
  15. jfh3

    jfh3 Active Member

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    There is no reason to use a single stream CableCARD in any TiVo; you will just confuse the cable company if you ask for one. The only TiVo with multiple slots is the original Series 3 - and that works fine with 2 M cards.
     
  16. dwit

    dwit Active Member

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    For the record, Tivo HD has 2 slots. But yes, only needs one M card.
     
  17. jfh3

    jfh3 Active Member

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    You are quite correct. I think that's the second error of mine you pointed out. (I had a bad day). :)
     
  18. WhiskeyTango

    WhiskeyTango New Member

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    Actually that's only half true. You CAN access PPV, it just may require a phone call to order rather than ordering on-screen.
     
  19. ThreeSoFar'sBro

    ThreeSoFar'sBro Sports Nut

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    Are you sure? First time I've ever heard of this.
     
  20. WhiskeyTango

    WhiskeyTango New Member

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    http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/222


    PPV acts just like a premium channel (HBO, Showtime, etc.). The cable company just has to authorize your account to grant you access to it. FYI, there are often restrictions on how long you can keep a recorded PPV item, sometimes as few as 90 minutes.
     

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