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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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Quote:
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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Quote:
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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Quote:
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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Quote:
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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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bambi Hassenpfeffer View Post
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 offline
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Quote:
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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