Digital cable service typically is made up of a few different types of signals, all on the same cable line:
1) Unscrambled analog cable - “Basic Cable" is what many
people are familiar with, offering up to 125 channels of standard
definition analog content. This service will eventually be phased out.
2) Scrambled analog cable - “Premium Cable" includes
channels like HBO, that can’t be viewed without a cable box. No EyeTV
product can receive premium analog cable directly.
3) Unencrypted digital cable - “Clear QAM" is similar to
basic cable, but in digital form. The channels are not scrambled or
blocked, but only a small number of channels are available for
viewing. Some channels may be SDTV (standard), and some may be HDTV
(high definition). Typically, networks like NBC or FOX will be
present, along with public access, shopping, local, PBS, and perhaps
some radio channels.
4) Encrypted digital cable - “Digital Cable" is typically
encrypted, or encoded so that you need a cable box (or CableCARD) to
view it. If you have 500 digital cable channels that you receive with
a cable box, then the majority of these channels will be encrypted. A
Clear QAM tuner can’t receive encrypted digital cable; it can’t receive
the majority of your digital cable channels.
Therefore, EyeTV products like EyeTV Hybrid (’10), EyeTV 250 Plus (’08) or HDHomeRun
only receive a few digital cable channels, those that are Clear QAM
(unencrypted). You cannot use a cable box via Clear QAM, and you can’t
receive most of your channels via Clear QAM. If you wish to use a
cable box, you’ll have to use analog input (like composite or S-Video
for those products that have it), and HDTV content won’t be available.
The channels a Clear QAM tuner can receive vary city by city, and
some channels may be there one day, and gone in a few months.
Essentially, your cable company reserves the right to encrypt and
decrypt channels at will, but usually you’ll see the networks, and some
That said, Clear QAM tuners can receive HDTV content, if available.
For example, ABC may start airing HDTV content at 8PM nightly. That
may be 720p or 1080i, depending on the channel.
ClearQAM also sometimes offers more than one channel on the same
frequency. In that case, EyeTV can open up all channels on the same
frequency, at the same time (or any combination of channels on that
If you use digital cable, please be aware of the strengths and
limitations of Clear QAM tuners before purchasing EyeTV. You may want
to contact your cable company, to find out if any of their channels are
in Clear QAM format. You can also search the internet for such
information - it’s common to find an article or message board post from
people in your same city who are already using Clear QAM content.
Unfortunately, no master list of Clear QAM service providers is
available to Elgato.