What is cable ready?

Cable ready is a specification that can refer to an individual TV set, a TV receiving device, a home or an apartment complex. Cable ready is a descriptive term that characterizes the capability of a TV device or a housing unit to immediately receive a cable TV feed. Consumers, avid TV viewers and potential residents typically are interested in whether a TV set or a home is cable ready because the status can determine how quickly they will be enjoying cable TV channels.

Cable ready TV sets

A TV set that is cable ready has the ability to receive and transmit a cable TV feed without relying on a set-top unit (STU) or a set-top box (STB). An STU is a telecommunications device that includes a tuner and links a TV set to an external signal source. In this context, cable ready is a phrase that dates back to a time when analog TV was prevalent. Analog TV technology relied on separate frequencies for cable TV feeds and over-the-air viewing. Systems that used analog technology typically were less expensive for technology companies to manufacture and distribute. Cable ready is a flexible term that also can apply to a TV receiving device such as a DVR or a VCR.

From a consumer's point of view, a TV set that is classified as cable ready is more desirable than a set that is not cable ready. A TV set that is cable ready allows the viewer to quickly, easily and efficiently begin to watch and appreciate programming on cable TV. Most modern TV sets available in electronics stores or through online retailers are cable ready. Used TV sets or sets that were produced using older technology are less likely to be cable ready.

Tuners that are cable ready are also used to receive programming on amateur television (ATV). ATV is usually used for noncommercial purposes, public service or experimental programming.

Cable ready housing units

People who are considering renting an apartment, moving into a condominium or purchasing a house will always want to learn whether the housing unit in question is cable ready. In this context, cable ready is a designation that describes the ability of the residence to begin receiving and transmitting a cable TV feed.

If a residence is described as cable ready, the person who is moving in must simply acquire a cable box from the cable company and make sure that it is activated. This task is easy to accomplish. It usually entails calling the cable company and making an appointment for a technician to come to the residence to install and activate the box. Depending on the particular setup, this process can sometimes be completed over the phone.

If a residence is not cable ready, the process can be more complicated. The person who is moving in must purchase cables and install wiring in the residence before receiving the cable TV feed. Many people find this task less convenient and more challenging.

Digital cable ready technology

Many modern TV sets are designated as digital cable ready (DCR). This classification means a TV set is able to receive one-way digital cable signals without employing a traditional STB. Sets that are DCR typically also use a separate module known as a CableCARD. The signals received by the set arrive with full image quality. Sets that are DCR can receive high-definition cable signals as well as standard cable signals. DCR technology also permits viewers to easily make connections from their set to other video and audio electronic devices. Under the terms of one-way connectivity, a set is not able to send signals to the cable company to request extra services such as video on demand.

Digital television (DTV) sets are usually described as DCR. They often require the use of a CableCARD to present some cable TV programs. Consumers should be aware that DTV is not necessarily the same technology as high-definition television (HDTV). HDTV is a form of DTV that typically requires special equipment to work optimally.