The Differing Digital Satellite Cards Explained

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The Differing Digital Satellite Cards Explained

A satellite card is an electronic device that is used to unscramble the content distributed by a satellite television provider. For example, DirecTV and Dish Network are the popular residential direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers in the United States, and British Sky Broadcasting and FreeSat are the DBS providers in the United Kingdom. To the end user, the difference between cable TV and DBS might not be clear since there is hardly any difference in programming. Nonetheless, technical differences exist in the way the programming is accessed. DBS comes from satellites that orbit the earth.

Different satellite equipment is used to receive and transfer satellite signals to users' televisions. Satellite providers mostly offer viewing packages to their customers that give them options for channels, and a satellite card is required to translate and allow viewing of the purchased content. Only satellite tuner cards are designed to receive satellite signals, so caution is necessary when making a purchase. Some TV tuner cards work with satellite and cable, but some models are only designed for cable TV use. The different terminologies can be highly confusing at times, which is why detailed research is critical before making a buying decision. Electronics stores and many online sites, including eBay,, offer a wide range of satellite cards.

Satellite TV Cards

Satellite TV cards,, which are also known as 'access' or 'smart' cards, are electronic devices that are used to process content from a satellite provider. They are one of the most important components for receiving satellite television programming that can be viewed legally. In order to eradicate the theft of satellite programming, users are now required to install these cards in order to access satellite TV programming.


Satellite cards instruct receivers on how to decrypt an encrypted satellite signal. Customers of satellite television companies access their satellite service by using these smart cards. An incorrect or incompatible card in a receiver leads to no transmission or reception at all. In order to avoid theft, satellite TV cards are also regularly updated as a safety precaution.


Satellite cards are also known as smart cards because they have an embedded chip. The chip contains the data that is required to decode a satellite signal from a respective satellite. Sometimes manufacturers build the cards directly into the receivers, but they can still be changed when necessary. The physical appearance of access cards has also been changing with each new version.


It is illegal to alter satellite cards to receive free satellite programming, and anyone caught doing this can be prosecuted. With the ever increasing preventive measures that are being taken by satellite service providers and the substantial updates to satellite cards and technologies, it has become next to impossible to alter the cards anyway.

Setting Up a TV Tuner Card With Satellite

Some TV tuner cards can be used to watch satellite television on a personal computer screen. TV tuner cards can be installed internally as well as externally. In both cases, video ports connect the satellite to the receiver. Connections are usually simple and typically only involve installing the TV tuner card and then connecting the receiver box to it. Picture quality is a function of whether or not the card can receive high definition signals or not.

To set up a satellite card, the first logical step is to choose the right card for a particular PC. The two basic types of cards are PCI cards, which are installed internally, and USB cards, which are installed externally. A basic analogue tuner may work fine for now, but with the ever increasing dominance of digitalisation, most buyers prefer cards with HD satellite signal capabilities.

The next step is to install the card. For an internal PCI card, the computer case has to be opened to find an open PCI slot. These slots are generally located near the base of the motherboard. For an external USB card, the card simply has to be plugged into a USB port. Once the card is installed, the satellite receiver equipment has to be connected to the TV tuner card on the computer. This can be done by disconnecting the output of the satellite receiver box from the television and connecting it to the TV card using a coaxial or RCA cable.

Once these steps are complete, the computer is turned on to install the appropriate viewing software that is packaged with the satellite card in most cases. Running the software installs the necessary drivers for operation. The satellite TV programme guide or menu appears in the installed TV Tuner software. If it does not, the antenna may not be working, or the cables may be connected incorrectly.

Unscrambling a Digital Satellite Card

A specific satellite card is used to unscramble the content from a specific satellite provider. The card essentially informs the receiver of the specific programming that is authorised for viewing, and it unscrambles the signal codes. This enables the user to watch the purchased content.

The upgrading of programming is possible via the internet for newer versions of receivers, but the older receivers still rely on the use of an updated satellite card. The first step is to contact the service provider for instructions. When a user orders an upgrade or wants to change the current service package, he or she is usually issued a new satellite card via the delivery option that is agreed upon by the user and the satellite company.

As soon as the card arrives and the user is ready to make the switch, the satellite receiver should be turned completely off. For most receivers, there is a satellite card access slot on the front of the receiver that can be opened to expose the previously installed satellite card. This card can be removed by simply gently pulling it out, and then the new satellite card can be installed. Users should pay attention to the positioning and directionality of the already installed card before removing it. Once the satellite receiver is turned back on, the new card unscrambles the television programming and uploads the coding information. As soon as it is finished uploading, the user is ready to view the new television channels that were purchased.

How to Buy a Digital Satellite Card on eBay

Terminologies related to satellite cards, smart cards, TV tuners, et cetera, can be quite confusing for many users, and it is, therefore, recommended that thorough research be carried out before making a purchase. A basic level of understanding of the different satellite TV cards, their functions, and ways to identify them is unavoidable if you want to make the right buying decision for your needs. A few minutes of research can help you avoid costly buying mistakes.

A digital satellite card,, or smart card, can be quickly and easily located and purchased on eBay. The best place to start your search on eBay is the eBay home page. You can enter a relevant search query, such as 'satellite cards&', 'digital satellite card', etcetera, in the search bar and then browse through all the various listings. You can even focus the results according to your particular requirements by using the convenient filters that appear on the results page.

One good practice that may help you save on delivery charges and time delays is to enter your postcode under the 'Distance' filter. This filters the results to only show listings for items that are near your geographic area, and many sellers agree to let buyers pick up items instead of shipping them. Reviewing the history of the seller's previous eBay transactions and other buyers' comments is also helpful when it comes to making a wise buying decision.


No matter what it is called, a satellite, smart, or access card is a device that is used to decode the content of satellite service providers. There is a negligible difference between DBS and cable television from the end users' perspective, but the technique used to transmit the signals varies a lot, and technology used to decode the signals for viewing is not the same. Satellite cards are designed to receive satellite signals, while TV tuner cards are designed to convert satellite and/or cable signals. With the help of television viewing software, transmissions can be viewed on computer screens. A TV tuner can be installed internally using a PCI port or externally using a USB port.

When upgrading a viewing package, newer receivers may accomplish this without replacing the satellite card, but older receivers require card replacement to function properly. A smart card tells the receiver how to decrypt an encrypted satellite signal. Buyers should note that modifying satellite cards to receive free satellite programming is an illegal practice.

Beginner-level knowledge of different satellite cards and the associated variants is necessary if buyers want to make sure they purchase the correct cards. Sites like eBay feature a huge collection of satellite cards and related accessories in different price brackets to meet a variety of consumer needs.

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