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Alright I have a bachelor's in Computer Science but this kind of thing (home entertainment) completely baffles me.

My dad has digital cable from Mediacom and he wants to be able to record some of his TV shows. So I figured we could get a TV Tuner card for his computer. I have a tuner card in my computer but all I have (or will ever really need) is basic cable so I went with an NTSC tuner in mine. I know that dtv is encoded differently (i.e. not NTSC) but with with my dad's dtv, the first sixty or so channels (channels like History and Fox News) can be watched on a TV without a cable box. However, the higher-up channels (like the Science Channel and ESPNU) require a set-top box.

So my question is: What type of tuner should I get to be able to watch and record both the basic-cable channels and the premium channels?

I am pretty sure I don't need an ATSC tuner because I think ATSC is only for the OTA. So do I need a NTSC or QAM tuner? Or combo unit? I always heard dtv was transmitted in QAM but how would one explain the fact that TVs without QAM tuners could see the first 60 channels at his house?
 

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Most cable systems transmit NTSC on lower channels and use QAM for digital channels. Most of the digital channels will be scrambled and will require a decoder box provided by the cable company if you subscribe to them. The only channels that you will get as digital that are unscrambled will usually be the ones that are available OTA.
 
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