What Equipment Will I Need for Comcast Cable?

By Sampson Quain

A cable box is required if you want to receive Comcast On Demand and pay-per-view channels.
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Comcast's Xfinity TV digital cable service offers hundreds of television channels as well as on demand access to feature films and other programs. This service also offers 45 commercial-free music channels, parental controls, on-screen program guide and high-definition and 3D quality picture capability. If you're signing up with Comcast digital cable, you will need several types of equipment.

Digital TV

To receive Comcast Xfinity TV, you need a digital television that receives and transmits information digitally instead of through the old analog system. Digital transmission offers enhanced picture and sound quality and allows you to receive HD programming, which was not possible on the old analog system. By U.S. law, all television stations were required to switch to digital transmission by June 12, 2009.

Cable Ready

Your digital television must also be cable-ready. If it is not, you will need special equipment that enables the TV to receive a cable signal. Comcast provides a CableCard, which is a rectangular device in the shape of a credit card. A Comcast technician will visit your home to insert the card into a slot on the back of your television. You will then receive your cable channels and control them through your regular TV remote, however, this option does not allow you to receive On Demand, pay-per-view or the interactive programming guide offered by Comcast Xfinity TV.

Cable Box

If you find the CableCard's channel options to be limiting, you can obtain a cable box -- also referred to as a digital cable box and digital converter -- from Comcast. This is typically a rectangular device similar in shape to a video cassette recorder. It allows you to watch digital channels as well as On Demand and pay-per-view programming and the interactive program guide. If you want to receive these features on additional TVs in your household, you will have to rent a separate cable box for each television. Comcast only offers a cable box if you buy the Xfinity TV package.

Digital Video Recorder

If you want to record television programs -- including the option of watching one show as you record another -- and have the capability of pausing and rewinding live TV, you will need to rent a digital video recorder (DVR). DVRs give you the freedom to record hours of programming, including the option of recording entire seasons of your favorite shows. Comcast Xfinity TV offers two DVR devices: HD DVR and regular DVR. HD DVRs can store as many as 300 hours of standard definition TV programs and 60 hours of HD programs. Regular DVRs let you store as many as 45 hours of standard definition programming.