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  #1  
Old 12-27-2011, 10:41 AM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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TiVo without the subscription?

Question: Can you use a Tivo box (with cablecard) as a simple cable box, without having to pay the monthly subscription fee?

TL/DR explanation for the question:

We have Verizon FIOS service, and are getting annoyed with the monthly set-top box rental (6 a month for standard, 10 if we get an HD box but I've just found that THAT requires a different monthly subscription fee). Annoying, because we're paying them for the damn SERVICE, which we cannot USE without the box... seems to me it should *include* one box "free".

[/rant]/

So we could apparently purchase a TiVo, and rent a cablecard to go into that, it's 4 a month vs 6 or 10 a month, but then there's the TiVo monthly fee which is *more* than the cable company's service. 20 a month, plus the 4 for the cablecard, or 24 a month. Versus the Verizon-provided DVR which is 15 a month.

Anyway, if we didn't want the DVR capability, it seems like a TiVo plus cablecard, without the monthly subscription, is our most cost-effective solution.
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  #2  
Old 12-27-2011, 10:50 AM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
Question: Can you use a Tivo box (with cablecard) as a simple cable box, without having to pay the monthly subscription fee?
In general, yes. But other then being a tuner, it's a brick. It won't be able to do anything other then pause/RR/FF TV within the half hour buffer. I don't even think you'll be able to manually record anything. I say in general because I know you can do this with standard cable. I don't have any experience with OTA or fiber. Also, which TiVo is this, is it a S2 or something more recent? The more recent the TiVo the more restrictive they get with what you're allowed to do without a subscription.

ETA, don't buy one new. Just go on Ebay and you'll be able to find a used one. In fact, you'll probably be able to find one that has a lifetime subscription on it.

Last edited by Joey P; 12-27-2011 at 10:51 AM..
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  #3  
Old 12-27-2011, 11:37 AM
FoundWaldo FoundWaldo is offline
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I strongly, strongly recommend against doing this. As Joey P say, technically it is possible, but it will be very painful. I've known a few people who have tried this and none have been satisfied. I've also seen countless people ask (and complain) about it on the various forums, and it's never pretty. If you can find a used one with Lifetime service, that could be a way to go, but be aware that there are components that fail as the devices get older (most commonly the hard drive and power supply), so you may end up having to lay out some more cash to repair it if it is reaching that age.

You could try to buy a TV with a cable card slot, which would allow you to tune the channels without paying anything beyond the cable card rental. But of course you wouldn't have any DVR-type functionality, if you care about that. And a TV with a cable card slot is going to be pretty hard to find these days. I'm not sure if any are even being made anymore, but I'm sure there are some used ones around. However, I think at that point you'd probably be exceeding the amount of effort and money that is reasonable to expend to avoid a few dollar monthly box rental fee...
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  #4  
Old 12-27-2011, 11:56 AM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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Thanks, everyone - it sounds like it's not the best option for us at this point. We don't record all that much stuff anyway, so might just do away with the one DVR we have currently (rented from Verizon) and just go with a regular cable box.
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  #5  
Old 12-27-2011, 12:07 PM
FoundWaldo FoundWaldo is offline
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Another option if you're looking to cut costs might be to get something like a Roku or Apple TV and get your programming from Netflix and/or Hulu. You can get a Roku for $50, Hulu+ and Netflix are $8/mo each, so if you wanted both you'd be looking at $16/mo, which I'm sure is substantially cheaper than what you're paying now. If you already have an XBox or PS3, you can also use that to access Hulu+ and Netflix, without buying another box. Depending on where you live you could supplement with an antenna to get the local channels for news and such. Of course, you'd still have to pay for Internet access, and that price might go up if it's currently bundled with your cable TV. Also, the selection on Hulu and Netflix may not include all the things you like to watch, so you should check on that.

For me, there are a number of things I can't get via Hulu or Netflix, so I'm keeping my cable (though I do use both Hulu and Netflix as well).
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  #6  
Old 12-27-2011, 01:26 PM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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Originally Posted by FoundWaldo View Post
Another option if you're looking to cut costs might be to get something like a Roku or Apple TV and get your programming from Netflix and/or Hulu.
I'll second this. You'll lose out on some live events (news and sports), but in most places it's still cheaper to buy a show like "Breaking Bad" a la carte (through iTunes or a similar outlet) than to pay for cable.
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  #7  
Old 12-27-2011, 09:17 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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The very earliest TiVo could programmed for time date channel. Starting with the second generation about 2005 or so, they only do the 30- min replay unless you have the subscription. I found web sites describing how to hack them open or setup a fake server for generic tv guide service, but unless you love this sort of obscure hacking - don't bother.

Last edited by md2000; 12-27-2011 at 09:18 PM..
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  #8  
Old 12-28-2011, 11:09 PM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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What I was originally thinking was that I'd use the TiVo just as a dumb box, not as a recording device, for what that's worth (as Joey P mentioned, it'd be a brick).

I don't recall finding any TVs that had cable card capability when I was searching. It wasn't a requirement for us anyway, since I figured we'd either stick with the boxes we have, or go the TiVo route.

As it is, I don't see that a Tivo would give us any more functionality, or save us any money, than continuing to rent the DVR from Verizon.

Next task: try to get them to give us the 2-year all-inclusive bundle that's advertised on their webpage.... that's cheaper and better than what we have. I'm thinking they'll insist that's for new customers only. And I'm thinking I'll mention cox when they do.
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  #9  
Old 12-29-2011, 06:34 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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Something else I don't think anyone mentioned: Unsubscribed TiVos display a "You're Not Subscribed!" nag screen on almost every function...
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  #10  
Old 11-25-2012, 08:13 AM
Shuckapeafarms Shuckapeafarms is offline
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Tivo isn't what the electronics stores are telling you!

We had Directv......the upgraded 300 channels or whatever it is they advertise that in reality has about 20 channels repeated over 300 channels all for $130 a month for an advertised $59.95 a month subscription.........and all the cable and satellite providers are doing the same.........I said BYE after my two year subscription expired!
Decided to go with OTA so I contacted a supplier (Solid Signal) to see exactly what I would need in my area. Great folks, you give them your details of where you are located and what you're looking to do and they do all the rest at no charge. They didn't attempt to pawn the most expensive package on me either and in fact, the guy told me before I spend $300 for a OTA package, go down to Radio Shack or like and get a set of rabbit ears just to see what you get. Did that and was amazed.....23-25 channels with rabbit ears! So I decided to just upgrade to a better indoor antenna and have been doing it that way for several years now watching most of what I was paying $130 a month for........FREE! The only thing you don't get are the reality shows like Swamp People or Lizard Lick Towing but who cares, I can watch them on my laptop for FREE!!
Now my wife has determined she needs to record shows OTA.........we really don't need this but keeping her happy we go to Best Buy to get out Tivo after a little research. It seems to be the way to go but as always, it comes with that GREED MONGERING corporate hidden details policy we are all so used to getting ripped with.
You buy the box, that actually comes with something inside of it.......$149 on sale, probably could have found it a bit cheaper online but when the wife says now you all know how that goes! I ask the sales moron if the Tivo was all I needed and of course, knowing nothing and pretending to know something, he gives me the heads up........good to go!
We get back home, mind you the trip was 25 miles each way, I go to hook this electronic piece of wonder up..........instructions are almost useless, there's NOTHING related to OTA, and best of all............you get the Gomer Pyle ..........SURPRISE...........SURPRISE.........SURPRISE, you need to not only subscribe to a $15 a month service but you also need to purchase another piece of electronic equipment! They give you three options of connecting to the land of opportunity to use your new device..........telephone but you need to buy a Tivo phone adapter..........can't just plug it in the receptacle like other phone related devices OR you have the internet choice. Now I'm all wireless for convenience and asthetics..........NOPE, Tivo doesn't have any wireless capability with another Tivo adapter.........and you have a choice, an "N" adapter or a "G" adapter, one being twice the price but has twice the download speed so here's another purchase!
$60 for the "G" or $130 for the "N" adapter. And don't forget, you have a $15 a month subscription fee!
So the moral of the story...........do your own research first and don't rely on the idiots they have working in these electronics super stores, they don't know if they're on foot or horseback!
This deal is going to cost you $300 plus just to get started...........so BEWARE!!!
From what I have read, this "streaming" thing is all significantly over-rated but hey, what's new with Corporate America besides all the deceit and lies you can swallow to buy their product...........and we wonder why the country is going to pieces...........SURPRISE..........SURPRISE...........SURPRISE!!!!

Last edited by Shuckapeafarms; 11-25-2012 at 08:18 AM..
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  #11  
Old 11-25-2012, 08:23 AM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Originally Posted by Shuckapeafarms View Post
So the moral of the story...........do your own research first
This entire thread was created because Mama Zappa was doing her own research first. You chose to bring it back from the dead to complain because you didn't.

Also, FTR, the older TiVo's (S1,S2 probably some of the others) have a built in phone jack and I think the newer ones (Premier) have built in WiFi. Also, doesn't it say right on the box that it requires a subscription?


Tell me more about why you think the country is going to pieces because of this 'streaming' thing.

Last edited by Joey P; 11-25-2012 at 08:26 AM..
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  #12  
Old 11-25-2012, 08:48 AM
Bambi Hassenpfeffer Bambi Hassenpfeffer is offline
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Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
This entire thread was created because Mama Zappa was doing her own research first. You chose to bring it back from the dead to complain because you didn't.

Also, FTR, the older TiVo's (S1,S2 probably some of the others) have a built in phone jack and I think the newer ones (Premier) have built in WiFi. Also, doesn't it say right on the box that it requires a subscription?
FTR, it's Ethernet, not WiFi, unfortunately. It's ok with me cause I happen to have my TiVos near enough to the router that it's not a big deal, but if you want WiFi you have to buy a USB dongle.
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  #13  
Old 11-25-2012, 09:02 AM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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FTR, it's Ethernet, not WiFi, unfortunately. It's ok with me cause I happen to have my TiVos near enough to the router that it's not a big deal, but if you want WiFi you have to buy a USB dongle.
Yup, you're right. I've always had mine wired as well. For some reason, I thought when I upgraded from S2 to premiere that there was a WiFi option, guess not.
Looking at TiVo's website, it's pretty easy to see that that's not the case.
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  #14  
Old 11-25-2012, 09:11 AM
Bambi Hassenpfeffer Bambi Hassenpfeffer is offline
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It's also kinda ridiculous, but I think it's partially because they really recommend the new ones be wired for reliable streaming and partially cause it's cheaper for them this way. I've had at least one TiVo in the house for over ten years and if be lost without it so I'm willing to give them a pass on that.
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  #15  
Old 11-25-2012, 11:47 AM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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Magnavox makes some digital video recorders (MDR515H/F7 500GB HDD, MDR533H/F7 320GB HDD) that can record to its HD or to a DVD. you can use these like a VCR, both to time shift viewing or saving. it gets both digital and analog OTA tv and cable.

you program this like you did a VCR with date, time and channel. you can record to the hard drive then after viewing erase it or store it on a DVD.

previous recent discussion

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=664839
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=658774
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  #16  
Old 11-25-2012, 01:36 PM
Bambi Hassenpfeffer Bambi Hassenpfeffer is offline
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Those Magnavox DVRs don't appear to have CableCARD slots, which unfortunately makes them completely useless for a FiOS subscriber. FiOS requires either a Verizon-supplied set-top box or a CableCARD installed in a customer-supplied tuner (either a TV or a compatible DVR).

If they were put inline with a set-top box, then the box would have to be tuned manually to the correct station before the recording was to start.
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  #17  
Old 11-25-2012, 01:53 PM
Jake Jake is online now
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Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
In general, yes. But other then being a tuner, it's a brick. It won't be able to do anything other then pause/RR/FF TV within the half hour buffer. I don't even think you'll be able to manually record anything. I say in general because I know you can do this with standard cable. I don't have any experience with OTA or fiber. Also, which TiVo is this, is it a S2 or something more recent? The more recent the TiVo the more restrictive they get with what you're allowed to do without a subscription.

ETA, don't buy one new. Just go on Ebay and you'll be able to find a used one. In fact, you'll probably be able to find one that has a lifetime subscription on it.
Which is exactly what I did. And, the lifetime subscription is on a chip, not on the hard drive. This means you can install a new hard drive if necessary, and still retain the non-subscription status.
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  #18  
Old 08-31-2015, 07:55 PM
darryldayton darryldayton is offline
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I have purchased a TiVo Roamio box and the Motorola card with the intentions that I will be able to use it without any fees from my cable company which is Suddenlink. I currently purchase cable and internet service from them. How do I install this to work without subscription fees from anyone?
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Old 09-01-2015, 06:23 AM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Originally Posted by darryldayton View Post
I have purchased a TiVo Roamio box and the Motorola card with the intentions that I will be able to use it without any fees from my cable company which is Suddenlink. I currently purchase cable and internet service from them. How do I install this to work without subscription fees from anyone?
You don't.
You've bought a very expensive cable tuner. If you activate it, though, you've got a very nice DVR.
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  #20  
Old 09-01-2015, 01:34 PM
darryldayton darryldayton is offline
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How do I activate it?
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Old 09-01-2015, 02:35 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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How do I activate it?
Go to TiVo . com, set up an account and activate it. I strongly suggest a lifetime subscription. It pays for itself in about 3 years and if you're the type to sell your old stuff it'll greatly increase the value of it. There's even a market for broken TiVos so you can still put it on Ebay if it's not working.
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Old 09-01-2015, 05:02 PM
darryldayton darryldayton is offline
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Can I also activate it through my cable company--Suddenlink
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  #23  
Old 09-01-2015, 06:35 PM
friedo friedo is offline
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No, the TiVo service is entirely independent of your cable company. You will have to call your cable company to activate the CableCard, though.
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  #24  
Old 09-01-2015, 07:12 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Can I also activate it through my cable company--Suddenlink
As friedo said, TiVo is it's own company and has nothing to do with any cable company. Go to TiVo . Com and activate it there. Get a Cable card and a Tuning Adapter from your cable company, hook them up and then call your cable company to pair the cable card to the TiVo.

Last edited by Joey P; 09-01-2015 at 07:12 PM..
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  #25  
Old 09-02-2015, 02:47 PM
ftg ftg is offline
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As friedo said, TiVo is it's own company and has nothing to do with any cable company. Go to TiVo . Com and activate it there. Get a Cable card and a Tuning Adapter from your cable company, hook them up and then call your cable company to pair the cable card to the TiVo.
Tuning adapter? The cable card is usually all you need.

Cable companies are weird about customers using their own CableCARDs. Sometimes they allow it, most of the time they don't. (Even for the same company.) For ours, they actually provide a discount for "customer owned equipment" using their first CableCARD. Then it's something like a dollar a month more for each additional card. One of those rare cases where having the cable company's equipment is cheaper than having your own.

The problem is that cable companies are not properly stocking (as required by law) CableCARDs anymore. It can take a while to get a working one.

As far as buying used TiVo (especially lifetime ones which are plentiful now), note that only Premiere's and Roamio's handle the new MPEG4 compression cable companies are rolling out now. Don't buy a Series 3/HD.

There is a consortium working on a system to replace CableCARDs, but it is moving glacially. Who knows when the next-gen stuff is going to roll out.
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  #26  
Old 09-02-2015, 03:22 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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I'll agree that it's difficult to get a working cable card. Sometimes I've had to swap mine 3 or 4 times to get it straightened out. At least now (after some legal battles) they don't say stupid crap like 'what's a cable card' or 'we aren't compatible with TiVo'.

As for a Tuning Adapter, at least with TWC, it's required to get all the channels (if you don't have a cable box, which is the case if you need a cable card). Without it (and you can tell when it needs to be reset), you'll lose a bunch of random channels.
It's possible that your cable company doesn't yet use SDV. If they don't now, they probably will soon. It saves a ton of bandwidth.

Lastly, I wasn't aware that you could own a cable card. It's like your key into the cable company. I'm not saying you can't, I just didn't know it. But the FCC has mandated that the rental fee for it be very low which is why they only charge something like $1-$3. If that wasn't the case, I'm sure it would be more like $5-$10, since it seems to cause them so many headaches and the higher price would help push TiVo out of the market.
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  #27  
Old 09-02-2015, 03:29 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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Tuning adapter? The cable card is usually all you need.
Here's info from TiVo's site regarding tuning adapters. For what it's worth I have Optimum Cable and my TiVo Roamio didn't need one (I also don't subscribe to any premium channels).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg View Post
There is a consortium working on a system to replace CableCARDs, but it is moving glacially. Who knows when the next-gen stuff is going to roll out.
Last time I perused the TiVo Community forums the consensus seemed to be that the current model TiVo, the Roamio, will be the last to utilize a CableCARD. Short version: Cable companies are going to make cableboxes IP addressable devices, like cable modems. TiVo will have to follow suit. There is a lot of incentive to do this, because a huge disadvantage of CableCARDs is they cannot do any On-Demand, PPV authorization, which everything is switching to.
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  #28  
Old 09-03-2015, 04:30 PM
ftg ftg is offline
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CableCARDS are legally sold all the time on eBay. You can even buy them in bulk. They don't allow anyone to steal cable services, however. Hardly a "key". They still need to be paired which involves you and someone with the cable company, a bunch of numbers, etc. (There are a couple different makers of CableCARDS. You have to have the right one for your company in your area. Assuming they allow it at all.)

On Demand rolled out on CableCARD TiVos starting last year. We have it. It works. It's a major pain to scroll thru slow loading menus, etc. (Plus the huge annoyance of having to sit thru commercials on most shows. No FF at all. But I just want to watch the last 2 minutes of a program that got cut off! Join the 21st Century bozos!)
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  #29  
Old 09-03-2015, 06:06 PM
darryldayton darryldayton is offline
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Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
As friedo said, TiVo is it's own company and has nothing to do with any cable company. Go to TiVo . Com and activate it there. Get a Cable card and a Tuning Adapter from your cable company, hook them up and then call your cable company to pair the cable card to the TiVo.
I called my cable company today and explained that I own a TiVo box and a Motorola card (I bought the card online) they said that in order for it to work I would need THEIR card to get their channels with it which is another $3.00 per month. Why are you directing me to TiVo? It didn't sound to me like I need anything from TiVo to make this thing work like it should. Are you saying that in order for it to record I need a TiVo account? If so it was a waste of money to buy the box. I bought it with the intentions of not having to pay the $19.00 per month fee my cable company wants for the equipment to be able to record.
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Old 09-03-2015, 06:10 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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[drops mic]
I'm done
[walks away]

Last edited by Joey P; 09-03-2015 at 06:11 PM..
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  #31  
Old 09-03-2015, 06:27 PM
darryldayton darryldayton is offline
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Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
As friedo said, TiVo is it's own company and has nothing to do with any cable company. Go to TiVo . Com and activate it there. Get a Cable card and a Tuning Adapter from your cable company, hook them up and then call your cable company to pair the cable card to the TiVo.
I called my cable company today and explained that I own a TiVo box and a Motorola card (I bought the card online) they said that in order for it to work I would need THEIR card to get their channels with it which is another $3.00 per month. Why are you directing me to TiVo? It didn't sound to me like I need anything from TiVo to make this thing work like it should. Are you saying that in order for it to record I need a TiVo account? If so it was a waste of money to buy the box. I bought it with the intentions of not having to pay the $19.00 per month fee my cable company wants for the equipment to be able to record.
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Old 09-03-2015, 06:33 PM
friedo friedo is offline
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Originally Posted by darryldayton View Post
I called my cable company today and explained that I own a TiVo box and a Motorola card (I bought the card online) they said that in order for it to work I would need THEIR card to get their channels with it which is another $3.00 per month. Why are you directing me to TiVo? It didn't sound to me like I need anything from TiVo to make this thing work like it should. Are you saying that in order for it to record I need a TiVo account? If so it was a waste of money to buy the box. I bought it with the intentions of not having to pay the $19.00 per month fee my cable company wants for the equipment to be able to record.
You're confusing several different things.

TiVo provides a service that allows TiVo boxes to download your local TV listings and schedule recordings. You must subscribe to this service for the TiVo box to record anything. You can buy a monthly or one-time lifetime subscription.

The CableCard in the TiVo box must be activated on your cable system. That requires a call to your cable company. Whether or not they will require you to use their own CableCard is up to them -- the fact is cable companies don't really like supporting CableCard devices, and only do it because the FCC requires them to do so. So they're inclined to make the process difficult.
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Old 09-03-2015, 07:42 PM
breezman breezman is offline
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Originally Posted by ftg View Post
Tuning adapter? The cable card is usually all you need.
It depends on the cable company. If your cableco uses switched digital video, you need the tuning adapter so that the tivo box can tell which station signals to send.
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Old 09-03-2015, 08:04 PM
darryldayton darryldayton is offline
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You're confusing several different things.

TiVo provides a service that allows TiVo boxes to download your local TV listings and schedule recordings. You must subscribe to this service for the TiVo box to record anything. You can buy a monthly or one-time lifetime subscription.

The CableCard in the TiVo box must be activated on your cable system. That requires a call to your cable company. Whether or not they will require you to use their own CableCard is up to them -- the fact is cable companies don't really like supporting CableCard devices, and only do it because the FCC requires them to do so. So they're inclined to make the process difficult.
Then what good is it for me to use the cable companies card for MY TiVo box? Are you saying that the TiVo box will not record without subscribing to their service? I expected that if I bought their box it would be the same as buying a DVD recorder/player. When I searched the net for a DVR that is what popped up everywhere and it appeared to be the only choice I did not understand that I would need to subscribe to anything and thought that I could simply hook it up to m TV.
None of this makes sense to me. If I wanted to ay a subscription fee I would just rent the service from my cable company. If I have to subscribe to TiVo as well as pay my cable company to rent their card this all gets too expensive.
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  #35  
Old 09-03-2015, 08:18 PM
friedo friedo is offline
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TiVo is a higher-end product. People buy them because they work a lot better and have more features than generic cable company DVRs. That has an up-front cost. In the long run, you'll save money if you buy a lifetime TiVo subscription and return your cable box to your cable company so you're no longer renting that. (You'll only need to rent the card for $3 a month.)
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Old 09-03-2015, 11:16 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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Originally Posted by darryldayton View Post
Then what good is it for me to use the cable companies card for MY TiVo box? Are you saying that the TiVo box will not record without subscribing to their service? I expected that if I bought their box it would be the same as buying a DVD recorder/player. When I searched the net for a DVR that is what popped up everywhere and it appeared to be the only choice I did not understand that I would need to subscribe to anything and thought that I could simply hook it up to m TV.
None of this makes sense to me. If I wanted to ay a subscription fee I would just rent the service from my cable company. If I have to subscribe to TiVo as well as pay my cable company to rent their card this all gets too expensive.
Ok, a couple basic things:
  • Obviously you must pay the cable company a minimum monthly fee for the cablevision wire/service going to your house.

  • You must have a CableCARD tuner for your TiVo to tune in the cable companies channels. Regardless of what your cable company may tell you, and yes they will outright lie to you and tell you only their CableCARDs will work, you can purchase CableCARDs yourself and your cable company can and must authorize them to work. Or you can just rent one from your cable company for literally $2-3 a month.

  • You must pay TiVo either a monthly fee or buy a lifetime subscription in order for your TiVo to work. A TiVo box is NOT just a digital VCR or DVD recorder, it is a subscription device which provides you with premium features like a very user-friendly interface including updated, accurate and detailed program guide information, a very user-friendly remote control, remote scheduling via the internet, and with a newer TiVo viewing & downloading of content to tablets & smartphones devices.

So your choices for having cable and a DVR are:
  1. Subscribe to your local cablevision service (but don't rent a cablebox), subscribe to TiVo to activate your TiVo box, and either buy a CableCARD yourself online or rent one from your cable company for $2-3 a month.
  2. Subscribe to your local cablevision service, and rent a combo cablebox/DVR from them. No CableCARD required but cable company DVRs have a much cruder and less user-friendly interface (and they cost more than an extra $2-3 per month to rent than just a regular cablebox).
  3. Subscribe to your local cablevision service, and buy a non-TiVo DVR which doesn't require a subscription. It will have a very bare bones menu system similar (or worse) to the cable company's DVR, and it will not be able to record more than one channel at a time (big downside!).
The cost of renting a cable company's cablebox/DVR combo will be comparable to the cost of the TiVo service + a CableCARD, so 1 and 2 above will cost about the same per month, but with a less functional cable company DVR. Number 3 will cost you the least per month but unless you're tech savvy it may be both difficult to install and use so I don't recommend this.

Those are your choices. TiVo is the only major maker of consumer DVRs. Essentially your only other choice besides a TiVo is a cable company DVR. Originally there were two competing DVR makers, TiVo and ReplayTV but they folded about five years ago.
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  #37  
Old 09-04-2015, 04:07 PM
ftg ftg is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2001
TiVo's original business model was:

1. Sell the hardware for less than cost. But require the service for them to be useful.
2. Collect and collect and collect fees.
3. Profit.

(Sounds like certain cell phone plans, doesn't it?)

One big change is that most of their income in recent years comes from patent fees. They've sued AT&T and others and make quite a lot of money that way. They even get money from your cable company for patent fees for DVRs. But, many of their key patents are expiring soon. That and the changes to the cable industry is pretty much going to kill TiVo as we know it.

You can do a lifetime subscription, which makes up for the discount on the hardware and then some. Unless you get a deal on that. And deals, especially on older hardware, are common.

Waaay back when, I was talking to the head of US research for a major Japanese electronics company. His anger at TiVo was barely contained. What they, and others, wanted to do was sell DVRs like VCRs, with included service. But they knew there was no point since consumers would see cheap TiVos and costly other DVRs and buy the TiVos.

Without much real choice in the market, very few people bought DVRs. TiVo basically killed the consumer-owned DVR business. I.e., their business.

Don't want to pay TiVo fees? Don't buy their DVRs. And don't complain about it.
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  #38  
Old 09-05-2015, 09:49 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: NY USA
Posts: 7,483
Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg
Without much real choice in the market, very few people bought DVRs. TiVo basically killed the consumer-owned DVR business. I.e., their business.
Well maybe. But I think the DVR market mostly suffered from consumers taking a very long time to understand their true functionality. It wasn't simply the means-to-an-end set top box that a VCR or DVD player or cablebox was. Plus worrying that if the subscription network it required went under they'd be stuck with an expensive doorstop. I even remember reading a lot of clueless professional reviewers refer to it as simply '...some kind of digital VCR but with a monthly fee'.

When I first heard about TiVo in an email newsletter in 1999 I immediately got the significance of the idea. It wasn't merely a digital VCR, it was a way to create your own, personal TV channel, just as the advertising said. That sort of 'TV of the Future!' grandiose ad statement is usually nonsense filler, but in TiVo's case it was totally true (the key to it being that it would be constantly recording in the background 24/7, even while you played recordings). In a way TiVo was the precursor to today's streaming paradigm. It was streaming, but only in real time and using a hard drive to hold a small library.

What really turned out to be TiVo's problem was that you can't patent an idea. Once people began to see DVRs usefulness other companies scrambled to implement it. Some, like DirecTV, actually licensed the TiVo software to run on their hardware for a couple years. But only until they, and all the cable companies, could produce their own (much shittier) DVR software.

I don't see that initially selling expensive to buy DVRs (but without a monthly fee) in the first place would have been any more successful. Less so actually.
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  #39  
Old 09-06-2015, 02:57 PM
ftg ftg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
What really turned out to be TiVo's problem was that you can't patent an idea. Once people began to see DVRs usefulness other companies scrambled to implement it. Some, like DirecTV, actually licensed the TiVo software to run on their hardware for a couple years. But only until they, and all the cable companies, could produce their own (much shittier) DVR software.

I don't see that initially selling expensive to buy DVRs (but without a monthly fee) in the first place would have been any more successful. Less so actually.
Actually, you can patent an idea. That's exactly what patents are. And as I said, TiVo makes a lot of their money off of patents. All the cable/satellite companies that provide DVRs are paying fees to TiVo.

As to the pay-up-front model, it would have been expensive at first. The Asian electronics companies were quite eager to get into the DVR market. Once DVRs became major commodity products with several major competitors, the prices would have come down. Instead we got stuck with TiVo. A really poorly run company. (They can't even run a functional web site.) Their products and services are overpriced as a result.

It is indeed the case that a lot of people didn't/don't "get" DVRs. I didn't think we needed one until we were given one. It took only weeks before it completely swayed us.

We rarely watch anything in "real time". And since our DVR can play stuff from a variety of sources, we watch a lot of non-traditional TV and whatnot using it.

But DVRs never broke out big time. Practically a niche product. Even with the cable/satellite DVRs, many people don't use them like they could and are drifting towards the streaming model. (Interface issues are a major problem.)
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  #40  
Old 09-06-2015, 10:13 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
I came here initially to tell about my TIVO experience, but I see I already mentioned my second generation brain-dead TIVO in the earlier incarnation of this thread. (I'm in Canada, so no TIVO service was available at the time.)

SO I bought a regular DVR (Toshiba?) but I had satellite, not cable, so the only DVR feed was channel 3. I had to pre-program the satellite receiver to switch to channels on schedule to allow the DVR to work. It was great, especially the feature for burning DVD's off the recorded shows. However, the hard disk died, and it was a proprietary setup so it was simpler to get a DVR integrated with the satellite receiver than to repair the thing. (New satellite box also did HD, a step up.) That was fine until that device started dying (hard disk failure) and I had to deal with Bell Expressvu technical services. Send a dead DVR back with a tracking number and they try to see if I don't notice that they "didn't receive it" and I owe them $600. Twice.

Standalone DVR's have pretty much disappeared since almost every cable company now offers them built in (in some way) to the cable box - at least here in Canada. USA cable service may not be up to 20th century standards yet.

The TIVO was a step beyond. It tried to analyze your viewing habits and recommend TV shows (IIRC didn't it even record them on its own?) There's the web article posting "Help! My TIVO Thinks I'm Gay" from some guy who watched Will & Grace and some cooking shows. It kept recommending shows with gay themes and characters. IIRC there was also a Sex & the City episode about the TIVO suggesting shows, and another about "all my recordings have disappeared!".

To do this, of course, it needed in-depth details about shows on your local TV service - hence its own internet based TV-guide service that you had to subscribe to - and online feedback on your viewing habits from the device.

Last edited by md2000; 09-06-2015 at 10:16 PM..
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