Understanding digital cable

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In the United States, a transition to digital cable is being made on February 17th, 2009. Many people have been giving confusing information about who will need converters and this also affects LMCE's tv recording. Here are the answers that LMCE users will need to know about the switch.


OTA: This is shorthand for "Over the Air". This refers to any tv channels which are broadcast for free. They are over the air in the sense that all you need is an antenna plugged into your tv to access them. There is no need for a subscription to a cable company in order to receive these stations. However, some cable companies provide these channels in their tv line up.

Broadcast Television: This is the another way to say OTA.

A Coax cable: This is the standard tv cable. When going from a wall jack to the tv, you use a coax cable. It's basically an insulated piece of copper wiring with an attachment on the ends to hold it in the plug.

Analog cable: This refers to the type of signal that comes through the coax cable. It is very similar to a radio signal in that multiple channels (or stations) can be carried through the wire on different frequencies. You don't need a wire for each tv station. This is why we use the term "tv tuner". A tuner is able to lock onto different frequencies carried through the coax cable. This is simplified definition. If you have any more details, please add them.

Digital cable: This also refers to the type of signal that comes through a coax cable. But with digital tv, 1s and 0s are sent through the coax cable. Thus, a different type of tuner is required to understand this stream of data.

NTSC: Another name for analog cable

ATSC: Another name for digital cable

Qam: Qam is a format for digital information. Just like there are multiple types of file formats for an audio file, (mp3, wma, ogg, flac, etc) there are formats for digital television. Qam seems to be becoming the standard format in the US. More information is needed here, so please help out.

Encrypted signal: If a piece of data is encrypted, that means that the information is sent in code which only a few people are allowed to know. Cable companies often encrypt their cable signal in order to prevent stealing. If the signal cannot be decrypted, the tv signal is not viewable.

Clear QAM: Clear QAM is basically a television signal in QAM format that is not encrypted. Virtually all of the OTA stations in the U.S.A use this format.

What does it mean for LMCE users?

First and foremost, it is essential that your tuner first be compatible with LMCE. Before asking the question "Will I be able to record my television?", you must first ask "Will my tuner work at all with LMCE?" For that, please check TV Cards