Comcast Cablecard Install

Today’s adventure — getting a cablecard from comcast. As anyone knows, their website is quite silent on how to order a cablecard. If you call them and ask for it, they will provide it finally with some arm twisting.

Two techs showed up today. The physical install in my sharp aquos was quite straightforward. The setup after that was confusing and we still don’t have it right.

First of all, the sharp manual is hilariously bad. I’m not sure anyone ever tried these instructions on how to install a cablecard. You have to make sure you are on tv input, you have to switch the input type over to cable, and then you have to make sure you hit the “digital” button on the remote. Several of this steps are left out in the manual. But I don’t blame the manual writers completely — the menu structure on the tv itself is hopelessly modal. If you happen to have the current input set to a component or hdmi or dvi input, you will never find the right menu items. But we finally figured it out.

The cablecard was recognized, we had to call a bunch of digits into comcast. In their network they authorize this card, and then I guess credentials are downloaded to the card which tell it what tv channels I’m allowed to see. This takes a little while, 10-15 minutes. Then digital channels start showing up.

Second key tip — the sharp aquous has separate coax inputs for digital or analog. You want to split your cable using a 1ghz splitter and feed the input to both. Otherwise you will only get the digital channels — which in our market, for instance, means you could never watch CBS.

Some things still aren’t working — I can’t see ESPN-HD for instance. Another service call in the offing.

In a future post I’ll expand on my feelings — but man, tv setup and video delivery to the home is just getting more complicated, not less — there are huge opportunities here to do better.