TV Tuner Requirements

Television Compatibility
The University/College digital cable system requires a television, DVR or other tuner device with a QAM tuner. You must check the specifications from your manufacturer to determine if it includes the required tuner. The types of tuners currently in use in the United States are listed here for your reference.

NTSC, named for the National Television System Committee, is the analog television system used in the United States from 1941 to 2009. After nearly 70 years of use, the FCC ordered the discontinuation of most over-the-air NTSC transmissions in the United States in 2009. Analog channels are still available on many cable systems to provide basic programming without the use of a cable conversion box. Some manufacturers no longer include this type of tuner in televisions built after 2009.

An ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) tuner, often called an ATSC receiver or HDTV tuner is a type of television tuner that allows reception of digital television (DTV) television channels transmitted by television stations in North America. The FCC required all television manufacturers to include an ATSC tuner in all products since 2007, and required television broadcasters to switch in 2009. This type of tuner is currently included in all new televisions, including the inexpensive "digital conversion boxes" that were widely available leading up to the 2009 switchover.

QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) is the format by which digital cable channels are encoded and transmitted via cable television providers, including CWRU. A QAM tuner is the cable equivalent of an ATSC tuner which receives over-the-air digital channels broadcast by local television stations. Many new cable-ready digital televisions support both of these standards. Because there is no requirement, though, some very inexpensive manufacturers or models may not include the QAM tuner.
Please be advised that less expensive TVs sometimes come with a lower quality QAM tuner that may be unable to tune all of the channels. We have found this to be true of bargain brands such as Dynex, Insignia, as well as some low-cost models from Visio. If that is the case a digital conversion box can be purchased.

Digital Conversion Boxes
If your television does not support a QAM tuner, you can update your television or purchase a digital conversion box. Just like the TV, you should ensure that the conversion boxes includes a QAM tuner, and not just an ATSC tuner. Most tuner boxes available at electronic stores from over-the-air digital TV transition do not include this tuner, so be sure to verify the specifications from the manufacturer. The following boxes have been tested by the University/College for compatibility with our system.

  • ChannelMaster CM-7001
  • Pico Digital HD-2

The following specific devices are equipped with a low-quality QAM tuner that is not capable of tuning the entire channel lineup. You may get limited or erratic service with these devices. The most common issue is the device freezing when tuned to one of the local broadcast channels over cable.

  • Access HD DTA1080
  • Digital Stream DTX9950
  • View STB1000
  • View STB2000
  • View 3200STB
  • View 3500STB2

Digital Televisions
We have compiled the following information about television compatibility, and provide this list an informal reference for newer devices. This information is compiled from staff and student reports, and is not intended to be complete. The University/College cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information. You should verify the specifications when you make a purchase.

Dynex-Only limited models have a Qam tuner                    Element-Only limited models have a Qam tuner
Insignia-Only limited models have a Qam tuner                  LG-Most models since 2007 have a Qam tuner
Seiki-Only limited models have a Qam tuner                      Sony-Most models since 2007 have a Qam tuner
Sylvania-Do not appear to have a Qam tuner                     Toshiba-Most models since 2007 have a Qam tuner
Visio-Recent models have a Qam tuner                             Westinghouse-Some models require Qam tuner activation
Samsung-All models since 2009 have a Qam tuner (fifth digit of model number must be B or higher)