TiVo News Troubleshooting Help

9.3c Update Available via Priority List

We’ve had a bunch of questions about setting up units with antenna inputs recently. Customers with new drives, or re-doing Guided Setup with Series2 units with 9.3 have experienced problems with the auto-search for channels. TiVo knows about it, and is supplying a fix for it – 9.3c. If you have an affected unit, get on the priority list here:

Thanks to GizmoLovers for the first report that we saw – this answered several questions for us over the weekend!

Customer Shipment Troubleshooting Help

Dirtiest TiVo Ever?

OK – probably not quite, but it’s pretty bad. And I’m not talk pornography (although we happen to have a good one of those here today also) but straight-up, actual dirt.

Super Dirty TiVo

See that strange blob on the right that looks like a prop from a ’70s outer space movie? Its smaller sibling is just to the left of the fan.

Here’s another shot from a different angle:

Let us implore you: please, please! consider cleaning out your TiVo. This adds a huge amount of heat to the inside of the unit, both by insulating the heat, and impeding the air flow. In this case, the power supply was blown, likely because it overheated.

If you have a hankering to open up your unit and clean it, just be sure to take the normal precautions:

  • Unplug the unit and let it sit for five minutes. This lets the drive spin down, and drains power from the capacitors.
  • Take the unit outside, or to a well-ventilated space.
  • Carefully remove the cover.
  • Clean the interior with compressed air, using short blasts from at least 12 inches away. 
  • Never use a vacuum on the unit. Static electricity could cause serious problems.

Think of it as preventative maintenance: an apple a day for your TiVo.

TiVo News Troubleshooting Help

Good Article about TiVo vs. Cable DVRs

Dan Costa just wrote a good piece about what he expects to be a resurgence of TiVo DVRs in the face of cable DVRs. It’s on the PC Magazine website. He’s on to what I consider to be one of the most important issues in the differentiation between a cable DVR and a TiVo: a TiVo isn’t just a DVR. Many people think that a DVR is basically a generic box, and that TiVo has become the name for the box since it was the first large brand name in the field. Part of that is true, but TiVo has evolved far, far beyond just being a DVR, and that’s where the real issue is. A TiVo doesn’t just have a nicer interface and a much better remote than a cable DVR (although those are both true and important aspects of the experience). Simply put, the term DVR really undersells what a TiVo does. Here’s a quick, incomplete list of features on a TiVo that far outstrip anything on a cable DVR, and also most satellite DVRs:

  • Amazon Unbox – Want something that isn’t being broadcast currently, like an old movie, or a super-new one? Likely, it’s here.
  • Streaming music from a PC or Mac – Your TiVo is attached to your stereo receiver, so use your computer’s storage, and ditch the CD player or iPod dock. This is much better.
  • Online Scheduling – Schedule shows from your web browser. Don’t type with the remote! (some satellite DVRs are getting this)
  • Videocasts – More and more good, high quality content is available, and much, much more is coming. Do you want it on your PC or your TV?
  • Transfer video to your computer – Burn DVDs, or take your laptop on a plane with shows you’ve recorded on your TiVo.

That’s really just a partial list, but these are some of the features I use that cable DVRs just don’t have. The TiVo isn’t just a DVR anymore.

Troubleshooting Help

Diagnosing Pixelization – Hard Drive or Tuner?

Pixelization is definitely one of the most common problems that TiVo users encounter. The question is, is this blockiness of images due to problems with the tuners or with the hard drives?

Both components can cause pixelization, but the problems act a bit differently in each situation. Of course, diagnosing the problem correctly is essential to fixing the problem . . .

Our best procedure for differentiating between the two problems is this: replay the bad segment. If the pixellization recurs exactly as it did the first time (watch carefully, and try it again if necessary) then the problem is almost definitely with the tuner. If the pixellization changes when you replay the segment, then you likely have a bad hard drive.

While you may think that a bad spot on a hard drive should cause the same pixellization to happen during a replay, our experience shows differently. If a hard drive has an error on the surface, or any other problem feeding data to the processor, then the results are different each time. But if pixelization is recorded to the drive, then it replays the same way each time.

Also, a DIRECTV TiVo often will have just one bad tuner, not two, so if you see pixelization, you can try removing one of the satellite cables from the back to see which tuner is pixellating. If you are watching a show and pull a cable, the picture will either disappear or you will see “Searching for signal on Satellite” with the pixellating picture still showing. If you continue to see the picture, then the tuner you are watching is the one that you did NOT pull out. If you are seeing pixelization only on one tuner, but not the other, then you have a bad tuner.  (Please please NEVER move the TiVo while it is on. Also, take note that you can switch tuners on a DIRECTV TiVo by pressing down on the circular directional pad.)

So how do you fix this? If you have a bad drive, that’s easy. We have replacement, pre-formatted TiVo hard drives for every model TiVo. Be sure to get a replace kit in this situation.

If your tuner is bad, then we can repair tuners on DirecTV TiVo units, and we also have replacement DirecTV TiVos still. If you have a standalone TiVo, and you don’t have lifetime service, it’s probably better to consider a new unit. See our list of new TiVos.