TiVo Unveils Plans for Digital Transition, 2009

Posted on July 10th, 2008, by Jeff

We have previously written about the transition from off-air analog signals to off-air digital signals, set to occur in February, 2009. Remember that this change really impacts those who get television signal from an off-air antenna (rabbit ears). If you subscribe to cable or satellite service, those providers are generally unaffected by the transition.

For those that DO rely on off-air antenna signals and have a Series 1 or Series 2 TiVo (basically any TiVo other than the TCD648250, TCD652160 and TiVos with DIRECTV built-in), the transition to all-digital signals will absolutely impact your TiVo and its ability to record.

Those in this situation have several choices:

IF YOU HAVE A SERIES 2 TiVo (TiVo-brand starting with TCD1XXXX, TCD2XXXXX and TCD540XXX, any Humax-branded TiVo, Sony SVR3000 or any Toshiba-branded TiVo):

1) Continue using the Series 2 Tivo and get a compatible converter box.

2) Get an HD TiVo that can handle and convert the digital broadcasts.

3) Get cable or satellite.

Option #1: TiVo has released a list of compatible converter boxes (see the “Converter Boxes” tab after clicking link, or see the list below). These boxes will take a digital signal from an off-air antenna and convert it into an analog signal. The converter box contains a tuner. It will map the digital signal into an analog station and sent it out to your TiVo in a format that the TiVo can read. In order to change channels, the TiVo will have to communicate and control the converter box using an IR Blaster Cable. To cut the cost of the converter box, you can apply for a $40 coupon (limited supplies) from the Federal Government to help pay for the cost of the box. Remember that as of this date, the converter boxes will not work with your TiVo–you will need to wait for a software update before the TiVo can control the converter box.

Compatible Converter Boxes

Option #2: Get a TivoHD. These boxes are truly outstanding, are fully ready for the digital world, and can output high definition. The HD part may not be important if you don’t have an HD television, but you’ll be ready if and when you do change out your TV. The catch is that if you have lifetime service on your old Series 1 or Series 2, TiVo is not currently offering any transfer options. You would have to get new service on the TiVoHD and then sell or give away the Series 1 or Series 2.

Option #3: If you decide to abandon your antenna and go with satellite or cable, your Series 1 or Series 2 TiVo will work with just about any cable box and satellite (from DIRECTV, DISH Network and providers in Canada) set top boxes.

*Here is a list of the supported boxes:

Supported Models

  • Insignia NS-DXA1
  • Venturer STB7766G
  • Magnavox TB100MW9
  • RCA DTA 800A
  • GE 22729
  • Zenith DTT900
  • Channel Master CM-7000
  • Lasonic LTA-260
  • Philco TB100HH9
  • Samsonic FT300A
  • Tivax STB-T9
  • Artec T3Apro
Not Supported

  • Digtial Stream DTX9000
IF YOU HAVE A SERIES 1 TiVo (HDR-series or SVR2000):
It’s a bit murkier for you, but as of now, TiVo is suggesting that it is not releasing a software version to make these units compatible with digital converter boxes. Series 1 owners using antenna signals are being told that Option 2 or Option 3 are the only options. For a limited time, Series1 owners (presumably, only those using antenna signals) can get a refurbished HD DVR for $100 and TiVo will move lifetime service for an additional $300. Not a bad deal at all.
Series1 Digital Transition

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Please leave a comment

  1. Matt Says:

    Where can I find more information?

    For a limited time, Series1 owners (presumably, only those using antenna signals) can get a refurbished HD DVR for $100 and TiVo will move lifetime service for an additional $300. Not a bad deal at all.

  2. tom Says:

    “Not a bad deal at all”? The heck you say. TIVO took my money and in return promised to supply software updates and listings for the life of the hardware. The hardware is very much alive. The DVT transition plan provides for converter boxes to minimize hardware obsolescence. A software update is all that is required for the Series 1 to control the converter; all the hardware is there. But, in violation of the agreement, TIVO is refusing to provide the necessary software update. And you think it is a good deal for me to reward that by giving them $300 to transfer the agreement to another machine, a machine that doesn’t even support satellite, an option I had assumed I might use in the future? I am not even working right now and spending $400 is out of the question. So when the transition occurs, I will loose my TIVO. Someday when I am working again I’ll get a PC with an HD tuner which gets its software updates and listings for free over the Internet. Given how cheap PC’s are these days and how well the PC DVR function works, I can’t understand why anyone would pay TIVO $12/month for something that is free over the Internet. And before anyone suggests I got enough for my money, that I got a very good deal, I would counter that TIVO didn’t contract to provide a good deal. It contracted to provide lifetime software and listing updates. And when I paid up front way back when TIVO was pretty new, I took a very real risk that TIVO might fail and I would loose my money. So, no one has the right to say to me that I’ve already gotten my money’s worth. Actually, I think there is a class action lawsuit in this, but not by me. I wouldn’t waste my time. TIVO is just acting like every other big company these days.

  3. John Says:

    It does seem that Tivo knew abot the digital conversion many years ago and that they should make the software changes to support the digital converter boxes. Seems to me this would not be a big deal and that they kind of owe it their early fan-base like me who really did a lot of advertising for them.

  4. Todd in Dallas Says:

    I have two Series 1 TiVo’s with Lifetime.

    So, if I read this right, option #1 says that the IR blaster will control the converter box, but then you say that I need to wait for a software update.

    Which is right?

  5. tom Says:

    Todd, that is for a Series 2. If you read a bit further, it says that if you have a Series 1, then you loose your over the air service. TiVo might permit you to buy a refurbished HD TiVo for $100 plus pay $300 to transfer your service (per device).

  6. tom Says:

    It may be possible for you to obtain normal TiVo operation on all major (2.1, 4.1 etc) DTV channels on your TiVo Series 1. My local Comcast cable lineup options include a lineup of over the air channels only. The line up includes all the major channels in the two local markets (Miami/Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach) and nothing else. If you have a line up like that, then you can select, Cable with box, the over the air only lineup, and then use a DTV converter that responds to one of the cable box codes. The Channel Master CM-7000 responds to the second set of Pioneer cable box codes and I picked the fast option. Also selected the code as two digit, no enter key. Although I get no minor channels (2.2, 2.3, etc) in the line up, I do have a lot of channels working perfectly.

    It turns out that you don’t even need an IR blaster. Though I have one, I found out (maybe everyone knows this) that TiVo transmits the IR out the front. Just set the boxes facing each other. A warning about using an IR extender to control TiVo with any IR converter box. Mine blips the IR a lot, which can delay or stop TiVo from changing channels on the converter box because TiVo will not transmit IR for a period of time after seeing any incoming IR.

    You may also be able to get better than nothing service using a Zenith DTT901. I didn’t see any cable boxes that correspond to it so I set it up as an LG satellite receiver, first code, fast. Using the Direct TV with local channels, I can select a lineup from one of the two local markets. However, TiVo only works with single digit channels on the DTT901 because you can not tell it to use 2 digit numbers. It enters a leading 0 on channels like 23 which causes 2.3 to be selected. Also, the Zenith pops up a list of channels when you start keying and will default to the first one after a moment. Unfortunately, it does not include the current channel in the list. So, if you record two back to back programs on the same channel, the second program fails because the current channel is not in the list. If there is a time gap, it works OK because TiVo resends the channel when the recording is done. This takes it off the desired channel but ensures that the current channel will be in the list the next recording. There is no problem in recording back to back on different channels. Bottom line, this setup moderately sucks, but you can probably get several major channels working most of the time.

    I am thinking that other converter boxes may work as a satellite receiver and not have the problems of the Zenith. And some which work with cable, may have problems like the Zenith.

    It appears that the CM-7000 does not correspond to any satellite receivers.

    Comment on CM-7000 (S-video output) verses DTT901 (composite out). TiVo does a great job of separating out the composite signal and if there is a big difference in picture quality between these two it has not been obvious to me. I am watching a 9’ wide projection via a Mitsubishi HD1000U. Actually, I have a suspicion that the DTT901 is a bit better despite the lack of S-video output but I have done no real side by side tests. The broadcast source material varies fairly dramatically so it is hard to know without that.

  7. tom Says:

    Forgot to mention, all minor channels may be programmed manually by keying in the full number. Example, to select 29.1, use channel 291, for channel 67.2 use channel 672. Credit to MikeRivers 10-14-2008, 05:34 PM on the TiVo community forum for this and the DTT901 setup information. Thanks Mike.

  8. tom Says:

    Darn, another correction. The 3 digit method works on the DTT901 as indicated but since the CM-7000 setup only works if you select two digits, you can not manually time record minor channels. OK, so that sucks. TiVo still needs to update the Series 1 or make other acceptable arrangements. Because what does lifetime service mean? OK, it isn’t my lifetime. They had said it was for the life of the machine. But my machine is very much alive and still, I am not going to receive support. I guess it is for the lifetime of TiVo’s willingness to honor their commitment. In my case, that was about 8 years. Life is short.

  9. Lauren Says:

    Im with Tom. Just got my Tivax-8 converters in the mail, assuming after investing a considerable amount into this machine, this would not be a problem. “Just downloads its own software upgrades!!” they said. that played a big part in convincing me to buy Tivo. and ive told everyone who would listen to me how awesome they are. isnt it possible to just install a tuner for a later tivo somehow? heck, i can drill a new hole in the back if it dosnt line up. or is the tuner where my lifetime service thing is stored? i am hoping the Geek Nation is out there somewhere figuring out a solution for those of us who dont feel like being dependant on cable. i was eyeballing the mythtv, and i can do some basic stuff with computers, but it looks like it might be over my head. anyone out there building these for others? or some adapter gadget to go between the converter & tivo. or some software hack? AARG! im just glad a get a 4 month repreive to try and figure this out!

  10. Jim in SF Says:

    I’m a Series 1 lifetime sub buyer from 2000, I talked up Tivo to everyone who would listen and several friends bought Tivos on my referrals. The fact that my Tivo Series 1 is now officially de-supported notwithstanding the so-called “lifetime” support means I will not only never buy another product from them, but will badmouth them every chance I get. The least they could do is let us transfer our subscriptions to new hardware that actually works with modern TV, collecting the money from the hardware sale, but they won’t even do that! I’d pay $600 for an XL but I won’t pay $900 or more including a new subscription. It’s outrageous and scuzzy and now, when they go out of business, I’ll feel like they deserved it instead of feeling like the underdog got unfairly shut out.

  11. patrick Says:

    Thanks for this website. I was scouring the internet looking for info on series 2 tivo/converter info.. good info

  12. Ryan Says:

    Well, ok. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. Mine is different. Series 1 and Series 2 single tuner owner myself. I feel that Tivo has done nothing wrong. The “agreement”was to service the lifetime of the tivo (series 1 for me) as long as the box lasts. You are not losing any functions that were originially on the Tivo series 1. What you are losing is anything coming in over the air analog programming, which Tivo does not provide nor guarantee to receive.

    Instead, though not “officially” supported, you can use a converter box just like everyone else out there that has an analog only tuner be it a TV, or TiVo in this case. So for $20 after coupon(or there abouts), your tivo can do what it was built to do, does do, and will continue to do as long as the box works. You are not entitled to have tivo upgrade you for free or at any price break for that matter, there is nothing in the agreement or contract stating they will upgrade you to the latest technology in any way; though they have offered some incentives in the past, evne though they don’t have to. You are not entitled to suddenly receive and record the new sub-channels that only exist due to digital broadcasting, which is obviously not part of what the original TiVo series 1 could do. All they agreed to do was to continue providing usable guide data for the TiVo as long as it lasts. When it comes to not being able to get guide data for the S1, then we will have something on them, but not before.

    There are many solutions out there, some require hacking your TiVo, then you can record any channel you want, including sub-channels. Or if you prefer like me; just a few tweaks to the settings of the TIVO with the CORRECT converter boxes, and you can still record the original stations that you got via analog, only now it’s almost digital quality, very crisp and clear pictures. You still can get guide data for the programming as well (at least currently as of my post). Simply redo guided setup on the tivo, select ‘cable’, then select ‘w/ box’ and then select ‘OTA-Antenna only’. Don’t quote me on the order or exact wording, but the basic idea is there. That will give you the guide data the TiVo needs to record your shows.

    For what it’s worth, I’m using an APEX DT250 (though a newer better model is out I understand) on my Phillips S1 with the above setup. Been running fine for several months now, and before that I had just found a local provider with a similar line up as regular broadcast, then deleted all channels I didn’t receive. But that was the hard way, the new way with selecting cable->cable box->OTA-Antenna Only, is much easier with no hassle.

    Also recommended if you are not already, put the TiVo’s and converter boxes on a UPS, so that small power blinks, etc will not affect the equipment as well as make them last even longer. And you need this for the converter boxes because all of them that I know off default to OFF after loss of power, which obviously is not good if you’re trying to record something.

    Ok I’m done know, had to add my two cents, and yes it would be awesome if TiVo gave us a very good deal as they did the very early TiVo S1 lifetime subs (prior to Jan 2000 I believe). or some other sweet deal. But, TiVo is like a personal computer, at some point it will be too old, and cannot do whatever the latest technology is unless you upgrade. 🙂

  13. Tom Says:

    Ryan, that isn’t helpful. You may be cool with this but obviously, we are not. And your post contains errors. For example, you wrote “You are not entitled to have tivo upgrade you for free or at any price break for that matter, there is nothing in the agreement or contract stating they will upgrade you to the latest technology in any way”. Not one person in this thread asked for that. And for the record, the Channel Master CM7000 remembers ON/OFF when power is reapplied. Why muddy up the thread?

    There are people like me who bought a lifetime agreement solely to receive over the air listings. I have never subscribed to cable or satellite with TiVo. The current agreement says they don’t have to support all features. But the ability to receiving usable listings for over the air broadcast is not a feature, it is a main function of the unit. Further, the digital transition included converter boxes specifically to minimize consumer loss due to the transition. These boxes do work with Series 1. The hardware is not obsolete nor has it ceased to function. TiVo updated the software of all machines except the Series 1. I would argue that that in itself is a violation of the agreement but I don’t want to focus on that. The real problem is that they are not making the listing available on Series 1. The listings exist and are being sent to all other units. The Series 1 would continue to function normally if TiVo would simply include the DTV lineup as a cable or satellite lineup with 3 digit codes (021=2.1, 251=25.1, etc). Right now today, if a new cable company is added in your town, you can access its program listings by doing a guided setup. The new company will appear in the lineups. No Series 1 software has to be touched. In the same way, TiVo could provide the DTV listings as an additional cable and/or satellite lineup. Think of a provider name such as OTA-DTV. There are DTV converter boxes that could be used with no software update. For example, the Zenith DTT901 works with 3-digit LG satellite box codes and the Channel Master CM7000 works with 3-digit Pioneer cable box codes. Problem solved.

    But TiVo has not made a good faith effort to provide over the air listings to Series 1 lifetime agreement holders. It is irrelevant if over the air is analog or digital since TiVo doesn’t deliver content, just listings. If the unit were not capable of receiving the listings or digital programs or if it could not control the converter, that could impact the discussion. But that is not the case. As it stands now, I can get major channels only (2.1, 4.1, 5.1 etc) by picking the Comcast analog over the air lineup. That proves it works. It isn’t a long-term solution since that lineup will cease June 12th and I have no assurance that any usable lineup will be available. Besides, it leaves out all minor DTV channels.

    Maybe after June 12th I will find I have a DTV over the air lineup available. But damage is being done right now that can not be repaired. People are selling off their Series 1’s with lifetime cheap and others are paying TiVo the big bucks it obviously wants because they believe they are no longer supported.

    Back to Ryan’s post, TiVo might find the actions he mentioned to be the least expensive way to meet their obligations to Series 1 lifetime subscribers. Unfortunately, the cheapest solution is to NOT honor their obligations and rely on our defective legal system that sometimes provides justice but more often provides for those who can afford the biggest legal bill. That would be TiVo.

  14. Bryan Says:

    I’m a little confused. The earlier post referenced seems to indicate that if you have cable TV, you aren’t affected. I have basic cable (about 70 channels) that doesn’t require a cable box right now. I have the TCD649080 dual tuner Tivo. Is there any reason that I’d have any problems if the cable company isn’t saying that we have to get a converter box to view certain channels going forward?

  15. Michael Says:

    Nope – with cable, you shouldn’t have any problems at all.

  16. Bryan Says:

    Good. Just to be clear…no problems with dual tuner functionality, right?

  17. bob Says:

    I own (two) Lifetime series 2 units that date back to 2002.

    TIVO has refused to provide me an upgrade.

    I believe it’s a breach of their terms and conditions because the the earlier T&C’s had language in it saying lifetime included “Lifetime serivce”…not “lifetime product” therefore they have to honor this earlier version of the T&C’s

    Does anyone have a copy of this earlier T&C doc? Or can someone point me to folks that have been successful in getting their Series 2 Lifetime units transferred to TIVO HD at NO COST?

    thanks,
    bob

  18. Tom Says:

    Hi Bob. You are off topic, this is about how TiVo is handling the digital transition. However, I believe TiVo changed the language before the Series 2 was introduced. Folks with a unit before, I think Jan 2000, were given one free transfer for life to make up for the confusion. I see that right now they are offering existing lifetime owners a discount on a new lifetime subscription and you get to keep your old subscription too. I would think that you could sell your Series2 with lifetime and make up quite a bit of the cost of the discounted service. I hope this helps. But let’s not derail this topic. It is about TiVo’s handling of the DTV transition. The Series 2 is fully supported by TiVo. The Series 1 is where problems occur. I have been polite and persistent and TiVo has rewarded that approach in my case. However, I have not completed the interaction and won’t comment further at this time. Good luck to all, polite and persistence may work for you too.

  19. Jenn Says:

    Is it possible to use the TCD649080 with two IR blasters to two Insignia DTV converter boxes? I currently have Uverse but am looking for a cheaper alternative to recording 2 channels at once without the hassle of vcrs, etc.

  20. Michael Says:

    Nope – one tuner has to be the RF input with direct cable – no converter box can be used on that input.

  21. Sydney Says:

    I was considering the Channel Master CM-7000PAL DVR, but then ddieced the Tivo Premiere series 4 would be a better choice. The $9.99 a month seemed money invested into a good product with a reputation and the comprehensive features and guide would justify the monthly cost. However, I have had 2 of these units in the span of a week. The first had issues in rebooting itself and then the starting screen just froze no progress seen! It just didn’t feel right and the reboots made me return it to Best Buy to exchange for another. I am strictly OTA antenna, and a good system so picture quality was never a problem. However, the second Tivo Premiere was slow (had been hit with an upgrade of some sort) and the unit had a noisy hard drive. The sound never ceased and obviously the drives do not have a sleep’ mode. Sometimes this deck won’t even respond to the remote’s command. Well, I now think the Channel Master might be the better choice. Anyway, I won’t have a monthly fee!

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