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Sometimes, you’ve just got to tape these up well. Someone spent a lot of time and money here.

TiVo News

New TiVo Rebate is up

We all knew that TiVo wouldn’t abandon the rebate just at the start of the Christmas shopping season, and the new rebate is up, valid through 1/7/06. Same $150. Same details as before: you need to have service on the unit, there’s a penalty for cancelling service within a year, and it applies to new, non-DIRECTV models. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t extend to Canadian customers.

One question we get a lot at this time of year about rebates is how to get a rebate on a unit that’s a gift. It’s pretty easy to do. Just purchase the unit, pre-qualify for the rebate, and photocopy the UPC label on the box. Send in the photocopy and the sales receipt (for sales from us, just print the email). Then, when the recipient activates service, you’ll qualify for the cash back.

Customer Contacts

The 137 GB Limit

Looks like everyone wants a super-sized upgrade these days. 120 GB just won’t do. We’ve been getting lots and lots of email about the old 137 GB barrier, which no longer applies to any newer unit. So if your unit has a USB port, even it if can’t use the USB port, you can use drives as large as anything out there.

Here’s the deal: Most TiVos originally shipped with a version of the Linux kernel that could only read up to 137 GB off of any piece of fixed media. So the max storage space was limited to 137 GB per device, two devices per unit. That’s why the largest drives we sell for many units are 160 GB – they’re the next largest size above the barrier, so they’re the smallest that gives the largest space. That is to say, you could put two 250 GB drives in the older units, but you wouldn’t gain any more space than you would with 160s.

But at the end of last summer, all of the units with USB ports that couldn’t previously see more than 137 GB of space received OS updates. The updates include a newer kernel, and now those units can see the space on any drive. The largest we currently sell are 400 GB drives, but 500s are coming soon.

Customer Contacts

More MPEG-4 DirecTV Info via a Canned DTV Email

As a follow up on our earlier post about MPEG-4 and DIRECTV, we’re posting a boilerplate letter that DIRECTV is sending to subscribers who inquire about these changes:

Thanks for asking about HD equipment. I understand your concern about how our transition to MPEG-4 transmission will affect any MPEG-2 equipment you may have. Let me reassure you that most customers will be able to use their MPEG-2 equipment for quite some time.

That’s what we’ve been telling our customers – buying a DirecTV HD DVR now is not something that will be obsolete anytime soon, and, most importantly, it has the TiVo OS. The box that is slated to arrive with MPEG-4 recording capabilities will not have the TiVo OS.

At this time, our current HD programming will continue to be broadcast using the MPEG-2 standard; MPEG-4 technology will be used only to provide local HD programming in select cities. (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tampa and Washington, D.C. are expected to launch this year, with more to be added throughout the next year.)

OK – that’s the easy part.

Once local HD programming launches in your city, you will be eligible for an MPEG-4-capable receiver replacement. If you want to replace your HD DVR, you may need to wait a bit longer. Our new MPEG-4-capable DIRECTV HD DVR is expected to be available sometime in 2006.

All over the internet, people claim that DIRECTV plans to come out with the new HD DVR for MPEG-4 in February, but our sources push that date much further back. This boilerplate text hints that it could be a while.

Thanks again for writing. More details will be available when we launch the local HD service in your area, so watch your local TV, radio or mailbox for upcoming announcements or visit for the latest news.

For those of you who are clamoring for the new receiver, we have them, and if you can’t wait to get your hands on the massive new 5 LNB dish, we now have those also.

Note: More MPEG-4 info is in our earlier blog entry.

Customer Contacts

Customer support call/email of the day

Maybe it’s just a fluke, but we’ve been getting a flood of emails and phone calls today from customers asking if they can use their combo DirecTV TiVo with Comcast cable. The answer, unfortunately, is no. These units can only read DirecTV signals and can’t do anything all all with a cable signal – nor can they be modified to read one.

My guess is that there’s a somewhat straightforward reason for all of these questions, which is reflected in another slew of questions that we’re getting: is DirecTV cutting off all TiVos? The answer here is, emphatically, no. DirecTV will phase out the TiVo service on their new DVRs, but they aren’t changing the service on existing DVRs, nor are they cutting support for it. There are several million DVRs with TiVo out there, and the cost to them to swap them would be huge. And if you need any further proof that DirecTV will continue to support these units, look no further than the UltimateTV boxes. These haven’t been made for years, but DirecTV still sends out the signals they need. And why not? If they stopped, they’d both anger some customers, and have to swap out those units.