Tell me about new Tivo boxes

By “new”, I mean anything beyond series 2.

My series 2 box has to be about 7 years old now and I’ve been considering replacing it. I don’t have an HDTV yet but I may if there are good deals this holiday season. But even without HDTV, the dual tuners and ability to act like a cable box with cable cards in addition to greater capacity sounds good.

So I gather that there was a TiVo series 3 which was high capacity and THX certified, but that didn’t sell well and was replaced by TiVo HD, which has similar capabilities but lower capacity and no THX certification. Are there multiple hardware units floating around now, or do I just buy any “TiVo HD”?

What are the differences I can expect in the units? Do they have different kinds of software/firmware with different features?

Does the dual tuner system work intelligently?

How does digital cable tuning work? I’ve read that there can be pixellation and other glitches. How much does a cable company charge to rent the cable cards?

When it records in HD, does the signal get compressed at all or is it storing the raw digital data like satellite tivos do?

Does it have an expansion bay for another hard drive?

I have a TiVoHD box. It requires a cable card (two, if you want to take advantage of the dual-tuner ability, which you do.) The process of getting the cable cards from my cable company (Time Warner) was a little bothersome (two reps I spoke with on the phone swore that TW didn’t support TiVo boxes… :rolleyes:) and I had to insist they send someone out. I had heard other people claiming a difficult time getting the cable cards to work, but mine worked right from the start.

I do see occasional pixilation, but it goes away quickly and is very infrequent.

The hard drive is 500GB (I think) and it has a eSATA port for the addition of an external drive. At the time I got it, only a TiVo-branded external drive could be used, but I haven’t checked recently to see if that has changed. (Plus, there are many websites that will show you how to “customize” your TiVo to accept other drives, if you’re willing to experiment.)

One thing they recently added is a direct interface with YouTube, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, the search mechanism is a little clunky as you have to use the on-screen keyboard.

I don’t believe it compresses the HD content, but I could be wrong.

I’m interested in this thread, because I’m planning to upgrade my Series2 to a TiVo HD XL around the end of the year – when my SO and I switch from Comcast to Verizon FiOS HD. I, too, like the idea of using cable cards (definitely two; I’m spoiled by the dual tuner), and I love the XL’s terrabyte of storage. It’s a pricey little bugger, though, so it will probably be part of our “upgrade the entertainment center” Christmas package to each other. :slight_smile:

Does anyone have a TiVo HD XL and/or use their TiVo with FiOS?

Can the unit record over the air HDTV? Antenna I mean.

If so, do you manually tell it to go to the antenna for certain channels, or what?

I’m interested in how the Tivo box works with the Cablecards. Do you get the cable company’s onscreen channel guide? Can you watch On Demand programming? Does anyone who is a Comcast subscriber have experience with Cablecards?

I’ll have experience with it after Sunday. I just got my new Tivo HD (not the XL, just regular) and the Comcast installer is scheduled to come by on Sunday morning. I had hoped to just pick the cards up and install them myself, but according to Comcast policy they must be installed by their people, and it costs $16.95 for them to do it. I was also not able to get an appointment for two weeks, unless I missed work. They apparently don’t charge for the first card, but will be billing me $2/month for the second one.

I’ll try to remember to give you an update once I have the thing up and running.

No, you use the TiVo guide (and remote.) The cards do not allow for On Demand, unfortunately (at least with Time Warner.)

There is an option in setup for that, but it’s an either/or situation. You can’t change on the fly, AFAIK.

My TivoHD is used just for antenna. I get about 20 channels and I’m 40 miles away from the nearest city. Not sure if/how you can mix antenna and cable programming.

The HD quality is great, I can’t tell the difference between recorded Tivo shows and live stuff on my TV’s tuner.

Recording shows is very easy. If you’re watching something on one of the Tivo tuners, you can just hit pause to pause it indefinitely. Or hit record to have Tivo save the show.

Hit the Guide button and you get a grid-like guide with about 10 days of programming. You just pick what you want and hit select, and can tell it to record once, or set up a “Season Pass” to record the show on whatever day or time it comes on. You can also tell it to record only new episodes and how long to keep the recordings (Until Space Needed, until [whatever date], or Until I delete.)

Additionally, you can search for shows by show name, actor name, etc.

Anyway, I consider the user interface to be very easy. Everyone that’s used mine has caught on easily. I highly recommend it.

Which type of CableCard do you have? My understanding is that the second-generation cards were supposed to allow you to watch On Demand programming (and pay-per-view stuff as well, which is basically the same thing). Ultimately, I hope that something like CableCard becomes standard, so that the cable cards could be installed in an advanced HDTV and you wouldn’t need a cable box or Tivo box.

I think Cablevision in the New York City area was developing a technology where the DVR function was supported at the source, which would mean the cable box wouldn’t need a hard drive and could thus be cheaper. Instead, they could store everyone’s recorded programs on a big NAS box. And perhaps if multiple people recorded the same program, you wouldn’t even need multiple copies of the file.

Mine are definitely old. That’s why TW “assured” me they wouldn’t work with the TiVo. They were being phased out. They even told me that if the two they sent with the technician didn’t work, they didn’t have any others. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t true.

The FiOS information site says that its CableCards don’t support On Demand (which we don’t have right now anyway), but that PPV can be ordered by calling Verizon.

I have Comcast, and Series 3 HD dual-tuner. No On Demand.

And the cable cards were a royal PITA for over a year. The most common symptom would be inability to tune to a premium channel (one of the Showtime family, usually) – we’d get a grey screen filled with some core dump info from Comcast, and a note to call our cable provider. Phone call were useless; site visits were useless.

We finally, in conjunction with moving to a new place, got an installer who knew what he was doing, and who got on the phone with Comcast HQ for an hour – literally – tweaking settings; and we’re finally getting all the channels we pay for.

I’ve heard similar stories about how much trouble it is to get the Cablecards working. I don’t know why it’s not easier. It really ought to be something that the homeowner can connect without needing a visit from a technician. I don’t know if there is a technical limitation or the cable industry is just fighting the technology because they want to keep the cable box revenues.

A few more TiVo questions.

I just got around to hooking my tivo up to my computer and I’m trying out the ability to copy programs back and forth. I told it to transfer an hour long program, 1.2 gigabytes, and it’s going to take roughly an hour to complete the transfer, which seems absurdly long for a file of that length. Is that typical?
Do the newer TiVo boxes have significantly faster processors? Over the years as they’ve updated the software, I’ve noticed my box gradually slowing down and becoming less responsive when using the interface. I thought it could be software bloat. Are the newer TiVo boxes snappier?

And just recently, within the last week, whenever I playback a recording, switch to live tv, or change channels, I get about a quarter or half second of a light blue screen before the new video feed kicks in. Has anyone else been getting that?

Tivos are slightly laggy, I think my TivoHD is a bit faster than my Series2, but not greatly so. The DirecTV DVR is worse than Tivo though.

Transferring recording does take a long time. Are you on wireless? People have reported better speeds with wired connections, but even so it’s not going to be a 5 minute operation.

Wired. I was going to say on a 100Mbs network 1.2gb should take under 2 minutes. But then I remembered - it’s not ethernet to ethernet - the tivo has a usb->ethernet adapter. And if that’s USB1, that could explain why it’s so slow.
Now that the transfer is done, I can’t watch it. It opens WMP for me, which then tells me it wasn’t able to find the proper codec. Since it’s some proprietary encoded .TiVo file, I can’t just use VLC. What codec do you need to get it to work?

The proper codec should have been installed when you installed Tivo Desktop.

Try this: http://www.cole2k.net/?display=Codec-Pack-Standard
This program will convert .Tivo files to a more standard MPEG format: http://prish.com/etivo/tbr.htm