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Richmond, BC
reply to ShadowMeph

Re: [BC] Do I need a digital cable box?

Well, technically your TV can receive OTA ATSC (high-def, requires antenna. A good one will be able to pull in all the networks - both US and Canada if you're close enough to the border), as well as "Clear QAM" - that is cable (QAM) that isn't encrypted. Unfortunately, unlike the US where the FCC has enforced rules on what could be encrypted, Shaw encrypts everything except the music channels.

In addition, in the US, the FCC has mandated that all providers support CableCARD (for now - it's changing) so all users can provide their own digital boxes or PVRs (e.g., TiVo, MCE, etc) and the cable provider provides a CableCARD that decrypts the signal. Your TV may or may not have this slot as well (to have a completely set-top box less experience).

ALas, the CRTC has not decided to do the same, so whilst Shaw does use CableCARDs (it's the bit covered in tape, but the label that says "M-Card Only" is beside the slot), they don't support anything other than their own boxes.

So if you are happy with basic analog (NTSC) cable, you will not need a box from Shaw (you can get high-def using an antenna and OTA). If you want anything other than the basic cable tier, you MUST purchase a Shaw box. And from what I know, I don't think you can take the M-Card out of the Shaw box and use it in your TV, or a better box (because the Shaw ones are quite... archaic).

Calgary, AB
From what I have seen, the chanels that are on Free-Preview are unencrypted as well, so sometimes can get a HD channel in the clear too, other than just the analog stations

I don't have any CableCard equipment, otherwise I would try pulling the card out of my PVR, to see if they are setup to only work in Shaw's PVR...
Yes, I am not employed and looking for IT work. Have passport, will travel.