Sony Selling Standalone Digital Cable Tuners

Everyone is shocked to see this morning that Sony
is selling Digital Cable Tuners by themselves
(Via Engadget) for
the low price of $300.  Now, OEMs are only
supposed to sell you a DCT (OCUR) if you have purchased a PC from them, and as
Sony notes you will still need a “Unit already shipping with ATI TV Wonder
Digital Cable Tuner.”

It will be interesting to see how long this lasts.  If you are interesting in picking one up,
remember you still have to have a CableCARD-ready PC for it to work.  Just because you can buy the tuner doesn’t
mean it will work on your home built PC.

This does look like a nice option for those with HP/Sony
machines, as both OEMs decided only to ship single tuners machines.

Update:  I wanted to
make it super clear for those who have not followed by CableCARD ramblings for
the last two years, this will not work in your PC unless you specifically purchased
a CableCARD-ready PC (you know if you did). 
It will not work in a non-CableCARD-ready PC.  It requires a special BIOS and second COA
(Product Key) to work, it doesn’t include these and you can’t get them without
the purchase of a new CableCARD-ready PC. 
For more, see my Vista
CableCARD FAQ
.

Also, if someone was to hack the BIOS and COA, CableLabs and
Microsoft have external methods to disable it from working.  Remember, half of the concept of a CableCARD
is to authenticate you to your cable companies network.  Compromised methods can just be “turned off.”  So, purchase at your own risk if you are
trying to hack it.

If you have a CableCARD PC currently, this tuner should work
fine as a second tuner

14 thoughts on “Sony Selling Standalone Digital Cable Tuners

  1. The VAIO VGX-XL no longer seems to be available, but I was able to configure an HP m9000t for $1379 with a single tuner.

    Is 4 tuner support only through a patch available by the custom installers? Or could we now order extra tuners from Sony?

  2. The four tuner support is just a registry hack, and while I don’t think anyone has tried it out except CIs and Microsoft, it is supposed to work using the same methods documented at The Green Button for analog tuners.

  3. The 4 tuner hack is something that I’d love to see attempted. Chris correct me if I’m wrong, but theoretically you should be able to do the old analog 4 tuner hack to get more than 2 DCT’s.

    Up until now, it’s been difficult to obtain more than 2 dct’s; I’d love to see this attempted.

    Aaron

  4. Nope, I’m one of those waiting for a DIRECTV tuner that is seemingly never coming. If more information isn’t released in the next 6-8 months, I’ll likely think hard about switching to cable (though, experiences with Comcast in Houston is something I’m looking to avoid at all costs).

  5. Yeah what’s up with that? Have you heard anything about it being included in SP1? I haven’t, and that’s when supposedly it was going to be available…annoying. I’d prefer directv over cablecard too…

    Aaron

  6. No idea, and what makes it even worse is that unlike CableCARD/CableLabs there is no information on the web to base stuff off of.

    Comcast just took over for TWC in Houston, and based on most people experience I’d rather switch with D* then switch (plus, D* has a ton of HD content now).

  7. All you hacking inclined folks with access to the “special” firmware/vista version required to use this thing need to get crackin’!

    No excuses, it’s time to show CableLabs (et. all) that if they don’t want to MAKE cablecard in vista available to systembuilders that we’re going to TAKE it!

  8. It doesn’t surprise me at all to see DCT’s available for purchase separate from a machine: You can buy OCUR-capable machines with zero, one, or two DCT’s. If you buy them with zero or one, the OEM needs to give you some way to add up to two, so they need to sell them “separately”.

    But yes, you absolutely need to have an OCUR-capable machine in order to use these.

    As far as the registry hack to allow up to 4 (or more?) DCT’s in one machine: Some custom installers are offering up-to-4-DCT systems, and I’ve actually seen one post by a guy who installed 4 DCT’s himself.

    I’m intending to get another 2 DCT’s to bring me up to 4, probably in the first part of next year. (Maybe sooner, if start to plan on getting a v2 extender for xmas.)

    I will also say that the main problems associated with CableCard HTPC are probably documentation and troubleshooting tools:

    — The one real problem I had was a dead-on-arrival DCT, which the OEM replaced once it was diagnosed.

    — I got lucky and the new ATI firmware came out just before I got the CableCards installed. It is pretty disgraceful that the early firmware was the only offering available for so long, people were having a lot of trouble with it.

    — We had some minor confusion when doing the actual CableCard pairing (you can insert the CableCards upside down?), but this was mostly lack of doc’s I think.

    Once installed, for a few days we were seeing a “it crashed every hour” problem (complete machine reset, no diagnostic about a machine crash, it was as if the power was cycled), and then that magically went away. I really wish I knew what was happening there, but it’s not happening any more. Hmmm.

    And now… It is running great. I mean it – this isn’t “I spend so much effort on it, so I need to rationalize my decision.” It really does just work, and my wife definitely likes it more than the cable co. STB.

  9. Can these be used to read Clear QAM channels on a non-CableCARD capable machine or does the machine just refuse to use the card altogether?

  10. It will refuse it all together. You must have the BIOS and OCUR COA for it to work. If you are interested in unencrypted QAM, the HDHR is a great option (and half of price of an OCUR if you were just to use it for unencrypted QAM).

  11. I have a HP comming with one ATI cable card tuner and purchased 3 additional ATI cable card tuners from Sony.

    Can someone point me to the tuner hack and I’ll give it a shot and provide feedback to everyone.

    Thnx

  12. I wish I had found this blog before I took the Sony bait and purchased the external digital cable tuner. I was so fired up that it was available as a stand alone that I purchased it immediately. While it will function as a $300.00 analog tuner, it will not work with a cable card. Vista will succesfully download the driver and required security patch, but will quickly notify you that it did not detect a digital cable ready PC. Hackers please unite! They had this same senseless approach to MCE.

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