A CableCARD is a PCMCIA plugin card that allows consumers in the United States to view and record digital cable tv on compatible devices without the use of set top boxes. Microsoft announced in a recently released press release that Windows 7 with Windows Media Center will support digital cable tuners with CableCard giving Windows 7 users the option to watch and record digital cable tv channels on their computer system.
Microsoft has also increased the number of TV tuners from two to four to allow Windows 7 users to record and watch up to four digital cable TV channels at once.
Microsoft and CableLabs announced that customers will now be able to add digital cable tuners with CableCARD to a Windows 7-based PC with Windows Media Center. A new tool will be provided by Microsoft that assesses the PC’s ability to support the solution. This tool will analyze the customer’s PC and enable digital cable support if the PC meets requirements, opening digital cable options to Windows Media Center customers across the country. Microsoft also announced that, with Windows 7, it has increased the number of TV tuners that can be connected to the PC from two to four per tuner type, thereby allowing customers to simultaneously record or watch as many as four digital cable TV channels.
It will be interesting to see how this new feature will compete against services such as Tivo which have been offering this option for some time. Price could play a role in the decision as the Windows 7 solution would not cost the monthly fees that a service like Tivo charges.