There are a wide range of CAMs to chose from, some of which handle a single encryption system and others that handle multiple encryptions. If you plan on watching only one particular package and cannot find out if a multi-CAM is compatible with the package, then I would recommend going for a CAM that handles the encryption of the package. Note that Sky uses Videoguard (NDS) which can only be watched with a Sky Digibox receiver.
CAMs designed for a specific encryption system come ready for use, i.e. just pop in the CAM, then the viewing card and you are ready to go. These CAMs can be purchased in a most satellite stores that also sell non-Sky satellite receivers. With the more expensive decided CAMs, I would only recommend choosing a dedicated CAM if there are known compatibility issues with the package you are interested in or if the encryption is not handled by multi-decryption CAMs.
Multi-decryption CAMs are nearly always sold blank and require firmware to be loaded on them before use. From what I recall, there have been legal issues with manufacturers selling multi-decryption CAMs that are pre-programmed since most encryptions systems are proprietary. To overcome this, one needs to obtain the firmware and possibly a CAM programmer in order to make use of the CAM.
Anyway, here is a list of dedicated CAMs I have come across and what they handle:
Alphacrypt CAM â€“ Irdeto versions 1 & 2 and Beta Crypt
Aston CAM 1.03 â€“ Seca (Mediaguard)
Aston CAM 1.05 â€“ Seca (Mediaguard) versions 1 & 2
Conax CAM â€“ Conax
Cryptoworks CAM â€“ Cryptoworks
Irdeto CAM â€“ Irdeto versions 1 & 2
Nagravision CAM â€“ Nagravision versions 1 & 2
Viaccess2 CAM â€“ Viaccess versions 1 & 2
(There are various other dedicated CAMs not listed here, often designed for specific providers only)
Below is a list of Multi-decryption CAMs. These all handle Seca (Mediaguard) 1 & 2, Viaccess 1 & 2, Irdeto 1 & 2, Betacrypt, Nagravision and other encryption systems listed below with an appropriate viewing card. Most of these CAMs are supplied blank and require programming before their initial use:
X-CAM â€“ Conax
Dragon CAM â€“ Conax
Black ICE CAM â€“ No-ZAP & IceCrypt
Blue ICE CAM â€“ No-ZAP
Magic CAM â€“ Conax (some shops sell this with its proprietary programmer)
Matrix CAM Reloaded â€“ Conax & Cryptoworks
Matrix CAM Revolutions â€“ Conax & Cryptoworks
Note that the firmware available for some of the above multi-decryption CAMs is capable of decrypting channels without any card in its card slot and thus may illegal to use in certain countries. As a result, I will not go into any more detail about the firmware, where to get it or about unofficial viewing cards. However, as most multi-decryption CAMs are generally sold blank, the shops can legally sell these.
While a good majority of online stores sell CAMs, they are fairly expensive and do not vary much in price from shop to shop. The following UK shops sell CAMs (both dedicated and multi) and are web shops I have purchased equipment from without issue:
http://www.pulsat.co.uk Sell a wide range of equipment
http://www.satellitesuperstore.co.uk Specialise in motorised dishes and satellite receivers
http://www.satstore.co.uk Generally the cheapest around with fast delivery for CAMs (Fax-order only)
I would recommend having a look around, but have a look out for user opinions first to make sure the shop is genuine.
To find out which encryption system a particular package uses, the channels it offers and what satellite it is on, have a look Lyngsat’s package listing: