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Novice Seeking Input for My Roamio Plan

Discussion in 'TiVo Roamio DVRs' started by missingwings, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. missingwings

    missingwings New Member

    Mar 31, 2011
    I currently have just basic Charter cable provided by my homeowners’ association (no cable box or CableCard, just a coax sticking through the wall). Most of the ~100 channels are in SD, but a few are in HD (as indicated by the on-screen channel info display). I’ve been spoiled by previously having a DirecTV Genie with all of its great features, and I’d like to come as close as possible to that experience, with minimal additional costs.

    I looked into Charter’s DVR but it is pricey for only recording two programs at a time (vs. Genie’s five, while watching a sixth that was previously recorded). It looks like the way to go is the TiVo Roamio Plus. I’m pretty much a novice in the cable world, so I am hoping that those more knowledgeable can weigh in on my assumptions and questions below.

    Here are what I have determined to be the steps needed to make this a reality:

    A. Buy the Roamio unit (either with the monthly $14.99 fee or the $499.99 lifetime plan).

    B. Ask Charter to supply a Multi-Stream CableCARD ($2.99 per month).

    C. Possibly obtain an SDV (Switched Digital Video) Tuning Adapter, depending on whether or not Charter has implemented Switched Digital Video in my area (and/or depending on the answer to Q4, below).

    D. Install the CableCARD per the steps corresponding to its manufacturer (Cisco, Motorola or Scientific Atlanta), as shown in the “Charter CableCARD Installation” instructions.

    E. Contact TiVo to activate the Roamio unit.

    F. Contact Charter with the Serial number and Host ID number, and request activation of the CableCARD.

    G. Pray.

    This point is not 100% clear to me, but from what I have gathered, for this Roamio-based system it would NOT be necessary to set up any ADDITIONAL Charter services beyond the already HOA-supplied basic cable (Note: For the questions that follow, please base any answers on having no need for additional channels that are not already included in my basic service).

    Q1. Can anyone confirm the accuracy of the above statement, or if it is incorrect, tell me what additional (i.e. extra-cost) service(s) I would need from Charter and why?

    Q2. Stating the question another way, would my (currently zero) monthly costs consist only of Roamio’s $14.99/month (or alternately, the lifetime plan) plus Charter’s $2.99/month fee, for a total of $17.98, or would there have to be other Charter fees for the Roamio to function?

    Q3. Without adding extra-cost Charter packages, would having this Roamio-based system provide any additional HD capabilities beyond the few HD channels my basic cable service already provides (see paragraph 1, above)?

    Q4. The Charter “CableCARD Reference and Troubleshooting” webpage states: “Customers using a CableCARD TiVo device will need to install a Tuning Adapter to view digitally encrypted channels.” Does this statement apply to the Roamio or just to previous-generation TiVo units?

    Q5. Is the “Tuning Adapter” mentioned in Q4 the same as the SDV device listed in Step “C,” above?

    Q6. The Charter “CableCARD Reference and Troubleshooting” webpage states: “Digital CableCARDs leased from Charter installed into 3rd party peripherals (such as TiVo) do not support interactive services such as VOD, iPPV, and the On Screen Guide.” Are they only referring to Charter’s interactive services, or does this statement also mean that I cannot access VOD and/or an on-screen guide as provided by my TiVo’s service?

    Q7. Am I missing any steps?
  2. tim1724

    tim1724 Member TCF Club

    Jul 3, 2007
    Temple City, CA
    Individual Charter franchises have different pricing structures and your HOA's arrangement may further impact rates, so only your local Charter office would really know what you'll end up paying.

    The Roamio can stream HD video from a variety of internet-based sources (e.g., Netflix) and allows you to buy or rent movies from Amazon which are downloaded in HD.

    To get more TV channels in HD you'll likely have to pay for additional packages from Charter.

    It doesn't matter what equipment you have. If your local Charter office uses SDV (most do, but some have eliminated it recently) then you'll need a Tuning Adapter in order to get those channels.

    If the channels you get are currently digital (the HD ones certainly are, the SD ones may or may not be depending on your local Charter franchise) then you will be able to continue receiving those without a Tuning Adapter.

    There are basially three kinds of channels: Analog, digital, and SDV (which are digital channels that don't come down over the wire until something asks for them). Your TV (without any cable box) can most likely receive both analog and digital, but with nothing present to talk to the SDV head end, you can't receive SDV channels. The Roamio can't receive analog signals, but it can receive digital and with a correctly functioning CableCard and Tuning Adapter can also receive SDV channels.

    Yes. A Tuning Adapter's sole purpose is to allow you to receive SDV channels. (it sends the request to the SDV head end to ask it to send the channel to you, and then it tells the Tivo what frequency to tune in to receive it.)

    A Tuning Adapter has nothing to do with encryption (that's what the CableCard is for) … charter's webpage is not worded properly.

    They just mean you won't get Charter's VOD and PPV services and you won't get Charter's on-screen guide (as provided by their cable box).

    TiVo supplies its own (generally superior) on-screen guide. And of course you can use Netflix, etc. as long as you have a decent internet connection.

    I don't think so.
  3. sakaike

    sakaike Member

    Jan 22, 2002
    I think Tim1724's post was quite complete. But there are a couple of thing's to note about your current Charter set-up that I find interesting...

    You're currently getting SD and some HD channels without SDV. I wonder if adding a tuning adapter might "unlock" additional channels for you once you get the cable card and Tivo?

    Will Charter actually set-up an account for you as an individual where all you are getting is a cable card and tuning adapter? Would you even need a tuning adapter if you aren't using one today? The TA is a cable company requirement, not TiVo, so if you aren't using one today, maybe you don't need one for the TiVo?

    Might Charter "force" you to pay for some type of video package in order to rent the cable card hardware? Or will they really be willing to set-up an account for $2.99 a month?

    I don't know any of the answers to these questions, of course. Just some things that occurred to me in reading your post.

    Good luck. You'll love the TiVo.
  4. CrispyCritter

    CrispyCritter Purple Ribbon Wearer

    Feb 28, 2001
    I'm more fearful than the others about you having problems.

    From what I've seen in the past here, these HOA supplied lineups can be very nice, but they are all custom arrangements between the Cable franchise (Charter) and the HOA. You often don't know what is on the wire and whether TiVo can make use of it (for example, the Roamio doesn't handle analog signals).

    There is very possibly no use for a cablecard, much less a tuning adapter; there's no evidence that Charter is supplying all that meta-data to the HOA cables. Your signals are coming in un-encrypted (since you don't need a cablecard now); one thing not clear is whether all your signals are digital. The non-HD channels might be analog, AFAIK. If you're not given an indication of what kind of signal it is from your TV, you may need to investigate by calling the cable company (and that may be painful finding out from them). I don't know whether you might have to use the OTA tuning ability of the Roamio Basic, for instance.

    Getting a channel lineup corresponding to your signals that TiVo can use may be simple or may be quite difficult. You should check zap2it.com and see if you can find a lineup corresponding to your zipcode and HOA. Some HOAs have them and some do not. If you have one listed there, then TiVo should be able to find that lineup for you since they get their information from the same source (tribune). If you don't see a lineup for you there, I would strongly recommend calling TiVo and explaining the situation before committing to a purchase (just to save you the trouble of returning when nothing works.)

    I don't have any personal experience with HOA systems; I've just seen reports here, and those were a while ago (pre-Roamio), so I may be over-worrying. But I thought I would mention it just in case.
  5. missingwings

    missingwings New Member

    Mar 31, 2011
    tim1724, sakaike, CrispyCritter,

    You guys are awesome. Not only did you respond quickly, you’ve given me invaluable tips and pitfalls to check out before I go down a dead-end path. I’ve been on other forums where people answer questions not asked, don’t directly answer the asked questions, give unsolicited or impractical advice (e.g. move somewhere else), berate me for asking “stupid” questions, get too technical, etc. None of that happened with you.

    Crispy, I checked zap2it.com and they do not have a listing specifically dedicated to my HOA, only to the city, with separate listings for “Charter Communications - Cable” and “Charter Communications - Digital.” The channels in the “cable” listing seem to align with the “primary channels” that I can currently access. However, I also have access to about thirty-three more “decimal” channels (i.e. two-digit channel numbers, with decimal components - e.g. 55.1, 55.2). None of these 33 channels has the same “base” channel number (i.e. the integer portion of the channel number to the left of the decimal) as any of the channels in the zap2it listing. For example, the zap2it listing jumps from 54 to 56, but I can access channels 55.1 and 55.2 from the HOA cable feed.

    BTW – for what it’s worth, according to the one Charter rep I did talk to, all my Charter channels are digital, but who knows if she (reading from a script or repeating what was over-heard from another rep) was giving me accurate information.

    Thanks again to each of you.
  6. tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Active Member

    Jan 12, 2014
    Raleigh, NC
    It's always risky to assume things, but it sounds like you are getting a mixture of analog and unencrypted digital channels--the analog channels being the "integer" channels and the digital channels being the "decimal" channels. If you were able to get a CableCard from Charter and it worked properly, those decimal channels should all get remapped by the CableCard to different "integer" channel numbers, along with probably receiving other encrypted digital channels that you can't currently get, some of which would probably just take the place of the analog channels you currently receive.

    I don't have Charter, but I do have Time Warner, and they seem to have a similar sort of set up with a mixture of analog, unencrypted digital, and encrypted digital channels. I still have 1 Samsung HDTV with the coax going directly from the wall to the TV, and when I run the channel scan on my TV it actually shows me as it goes through the scan process how many analog channels are detected and how many digital channels are detected, and then it will even go through the process of removing all of the encrypted digital channels that can't be displayed and I can tell how many digital channels are encrypted that way. You might want to try doing a channel scan with your TV to see if it will show you this information so you will actually know what channels are being sent through the line.

    If I were you, what I would probably do is just get a standard cable box from Charter temporarily so that you can test it out and see what your digital channel lineup actually looks like. And if Charter's digital cable box works fine, then a TiVo+CableCard will also probably work fine.

    If you want lifetime (and I do recommend it) you can get it cheaper than the $499 advertised price. Using the code "PLSR" when you activate service will get you lifetime for $399 as long as you buy your unit from a 3rd party retailer like Amazon or Best Buy rather than directly from TiVo. Conversely, you can buy a discount code on ebay and get a Roamio Plus w/lifetime for $600+watever you pay to buy the discount code. If you want to know more, there is plenty of information about this over in the "Roamio Deals" thread:

  7. missingwings

    missingwings New Member

    Mar 31, 2011
    Some of your previous responses may answer one or more of the questions below, but being a novice, I’d rather look stupid, than go down the wrong path.

    In spite of what the rep at Charter’s toll-free number had told me a month ago, we are apparently not yet 100% digital (I assume, like pregnancy, it’s either 0% or 100%). The local Charter people told me that we will be going all-digital in August of this year. The locals also told me that at that point, all condo units in my community will be required to have a set-top box. This generates a new set of questions for me – namely:

    Q1. If I set up a TiVo Roamio prior to Charter going all digital, what hoops will I have jump through to “switch over” at that point (in August)?

    Q2. Would I be better off waiting to set up the TiVo Roamio, until after the digital conversion in August is rolled out?

    Q3. Can I somehow avoid the “required set-top box” phase, by having the Roamio ready to coincide with the digital conversion, or is it better to get the “required” box, followed by substituting the Roamio and removing the box?

    Q4. Is the Charter locals’ statement (going all-digital will require a set-top box) valid?

    For what it’s worth, here is my current (Charter Communications Basic Cable) channel breakdown:

    Total Channels: 100
    Total “Integer” Channels: 67
    Total “Decimal” Channels: 33

    Total SD Channels: 72
    Total HD Channels: 28

    Total “Integer” SD Channels: 65 (of 67 SD Channels)
    Total “Integer” HD Channels: 2 (4 - The CW and 7 - ABC)

    Total “Decimal” HD Channels: 26 (of 28 HD Channels)
    Total “Decimal” SD Channels: 7 (80.12 - MTV Hits, 82.8 - CSPAN3, 87.3 - Jewelry Television, 116.4 - EWTN, 116.5 - CSPAN2, 116.6 - TV Guide Network and 116.7 - California Channel)
  8. jrtroo

    jrtroo Chill- its just TV

    Feb 4, 2008
    1- probably none, so long as the channel list is updated simultaneously. Sometimes there is a bit of a delay, but that is the exception. Having the card set up early will avoid you having questions at the same time as everyone else.
    2- why wait? Enjoy it now, get the cablecard all set up and start using the service! Get ahead of the cue.
    3- Tivo lets you avoid the box completely with the cablecard.
    4- Yes.

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