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Series3 FAQ - Review - Photos

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by megazone, Sep 12, 2006.

  1. Sep 12, 2006 #1 of 460

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

    Mar 3, 2002
    NOTE: Keeping multiple versions of the FAQ in sync is getting to be a little crazy. I will no longer be editing this post with updates. The 'current' version of the FAQ lives at TiVoLovers.com. It has been updated to include the latest on the Series3 as well as the TiVo HD, as it is in the Series3 family.

    Series3 Review | TiVo HD Review | Series3 / TiVo HD FAQ | Series3 Photos | TiVo HD Photos


    Also see my Series3 Review and the Series3 Photo thread.

    Series3 FAQ

    What is the full name of the product?
    TiVo Series3 HD Digital Media Recorder

    What is the model number?
    The S3 is the TCD648250B.

    What are the product highlights?
    See this page.

    What are the main features of the Series3?
    See this page.

    How does the Series3 compare to cable and satellite DVRs?
    See this page.

    Is there an official TiVo Series3 FAQ?
    Yes. See this page.

    What are the official specifications?
    See this page.

    What are the S3's physical dimensions?
    16.5"w x 12.625" x 3.375"h

    Will TiVo allow the transfer of a lifetime subscription from a Series1 or Series2 to a Series3?
    Yes. TiVo is offering to transfer lifetime subscriptions for $199. The Series3 must be purchased from TiVo.com by December 31, 2006, and the transfer must be performed by January 31, 2007. Please see all of the details and requirements at http://www.tivo.com/VIP.

    Are the guides for the Series3 available online?
    Yes. They are available on this page.

    Is the Series3 THX certified?
    Yes. The S3 is the world's first, and only, THX certified DVR.

    What physical ports does the S3 have?
    • Power
    • Phone Line
    • Digital Audio (Optical)
    • S-Video
    • Component (Y, Pb, Pr)
    • A/V 1 (Audio L/R and composite video)
    • A/V 2 (Audio L/R and composite video)
    • Ethernet (10/100baseT)
    • USB 1
    • USB 2
    • HDMI Out
    • First CableCARD
    • Second CableCARD
    • External Storage (E-SATA)
    • Antenna In
    • Cable In

    What cables does the S3 come with?
    • Power cable
    • Phone line
    • Phone splitter
    • Coaxial RF
    • A/V cable (composite video, RCA stereo)
    • Component Video (Y, Pb, Pr)
    • HDMI

    Does the S3 require a phone line?
    No. While it can be setup with a phone line, it also supports Guided Setup over the network.

    What sources can the S3 be used with?
    The S3 supports NTSC antenna, ATSC antenna, analog cable, and digital cable.

    Does the S3 support satellite?
    No, the S3 works only with antenna and cable. You can use the S2 or S2DT with external satellite boxes.

    How many tuners does the S3 have?
    The S3 has two tuner blocks. Each is capable of tuning NTSC, ATSC, analog cable, and digital cable. CableCARD is required for digital cable.

    How many programs can be recorded at the same time?
    The S3 can record two programs at a time, from any mix of sources.

    Since the S3 has dual tuners, does each tuner have its own 30 minute buffer?
    Yes. There are two, independent buffers.

    Are the antenna and cable channels fully integrated in the guide?
    Yes. The channels from both sources are fully integrated in the guide. Using the S3 with both sources is a seamless experience.

    Does the S3 have a channel scan to find available antenna channels?
    Yes. The S3 has an automatic channel scan. You can edit the list of detected channels in Channels I Receive.

    Does the S3 have an integrated signal meter to test a digital cable connection?
    Yes. The S3 does provide a signal meter for testing reception, for both antenna and digital cable.

    Is CableCARD required to use the S3?
    No, CableCARD is not required to antenna (NTSC or ATSC) or analog cable.

    Does the S3 support unencrypted digital cable channels, aka QAM in-the-clear, without a CableCARD?
    Partially. Clear QAM channels can be tuned directly by entering the correct channel number. Recordings can be scheduled by time and channel. There is no guide data for digital cable channels without CableCARD, and hence no Season Passes or Wish Lists are possible. There is currently no way to manually map channels. TiVo is looking into the possibility to provide mapping in the future.

    How many CableCARDs are required for digital cable?
    The S3 has two CableCARD slots. Two cards will enable both tuners for digital cable.

    Can I use one Mutli-Stream CableCARD, or M-Card?
    No. While the Viewer's Guide has the following on page 102: "Note: A single multi-stream CableCARD decoder installed in the bottom slot on the back of the DVR enables dual tuner functionality.", this is incorrect! I spoke with Bob Poniatowski (aka TiVoPony) of TiVo by phone on Thursday, September 21st and he clarified that. He also later made a post at TiVoCommunity.com which contained the following:
    What about one single-stream card?
    If only one CableCARD is inserted, the entire system reverts to single-tuner operation. You lose dual-tuner support for antenna and analog cable, as well as digital cable. Unlike the S2DT, the S3 is not capable of asymmetric operation.

    Does the S3 support CableCARD 2.0?
    The CableCARD 2.0 specification has not been finalized at this time, so it is not possible to give a final answer. However, the current CC 2.0 proposal requires hardware the S3 does not have. Therefore, the S3, as it stands today, would not be able to support bidirectional communication for CC 2.0 features such as OnDemand or Switched Digital Video. If a 2.0 card is inserted it should fall back to 1.0 with Multi-Stream.

    Does the S3 work with Verizon FiOS?
    Yes. Verizon supports CableCARD with FiOS.

    Does the S3 work with AT&T U-Verse?
    No. U-Verse is IPTV and does not support CableCARD.

    What should I do if I have problems getting CableCARD from my cable provider?
    All major cable providers are required, by the FCC, to issue CableCARDs to any customer using any Uni-Direction Cable Receiver (UDCR) on CableLabs' list of certified, verified, or self-verified cable products. The TiVo Series3 is on the list.PDF

    What if they still refuse to provide a card?
    Report the incident using this form. Then call TiVo Customer Support and they will work with you to get your cable provider to provide the cards.

    Are the CableCARD installation instructions online?
    Yes. http://www.tivo.com/cablecard

    Does the S3 support multiple video interfaces simultaneously?
    Yes. All of the video output interfaces are available concurrently. You can connect HDMI to your TV and S-Video to your Slingbox, etc.

    Can you configure each video interface independently? 16:9 on HDMI and 4:3 on S-Video?
    No. There are global settings for aspect, etc.

    What is the software version of the S3?
    The S3 currently runs 8.0.1a.

    Does the S3 have all of the features found on the S2/S2DT?
    Not quite. 8.0.1a is similar to the feature set found in 7.2. Features introduced in later S2 software updates, such as Recently Deleted, One-Touch Delete, KidZone, TiVoCast, etc, are scheduled to be added in a late 2006 release. Also, at this time, networking features such as Multi-Room Viewing, TiVoToGo, and TiVoToComeBack are not supported.

    Why are network transfers disabled? Will they be enabled?
    TiVo had to disable transfers to comply with Cable Labs CableCARD certification requirements. TiVo is investigating and hopes to enable network transfers in a future update.

    What about Music, Photos, and Home Media Engine?
    All other network features are present, only the video transfer features are disabled.

    Does the S3 support new video formats?
    The decoder used in the S3 supports MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, and VC-1/WMV9. However, at this time there is not yet a way to load video on the S3, and both ATSC and digital cable are MPEG-2.

    Does the 30-second skip backdoor still work?
    Yes. The SPS30S (Select-Play-Select-3-0-Select) code still toggles 30-second skip support on/off.

    What about the on-screen clock and elapsed time indicator backdoor?
    Yes. The SPS9S code still works as well.

    What size hard drive does the S3 have?
    One 250GB SATA drive.

    Can the storage capacity be expanded?
    The S3 has an eSATA port for external storage expansion. However, the port is not active at this time. It will be enabled in a future update.

    Why isn't the eSATA port enabled yet?
    For the same reason as network transfers. CableLabs needs to certify any method for removing content from the box, including an external drive. In a post at TiVoCommunity.com Bob Poniatowski (aka TiVoPony) of TiVo posted the following:
    How many hours of analog recordings can the S3 store at the different quality levels?
    Level  Hours:Minutes
    Best    52:00
    High    76:24
    Medium 120:12
    Basic  303:50
    How many hours of HD content can the S3 store?
    The S3 can store up to 35 hours of HD content. Since all digital content is recorded as-received, capacity will depend on the compression of the source material.

    How does the capacity of the S3 compare to other TiVos?
    Model            GB  Best  High   Medium Basic 
    TiVo Series3     250 52:00 76:24  120:12 303:50 
    Humax T2500      250 85:54 137:41 181:23 301:51 
    Toshiba RS-TX20  120 32    46     94     141 
    Pioneer DVR-810H 80  16    30     62     93 
    TiVo Series2DT   80  25:20 40:05  52:32  86:51 
    What does that mean for video quality? How does in compare in GB/hour, as an indication of bitrate?
    Model            GB  Best High Medium Basic 
    TiVo Series3     250 4.81 3.27 2.08   0.82 
    Humax T2500      250 2.91 1.82 1.38   0.83 
    Toshiba RS-TX20  120 4.50 2.61 1.28   0.85 
    Pioneer DVR-810H 80  5.00 2.67 1.29   0.86 
    TiVo Series2DT   80  3.16 2.00 1.52   0.92 
    As you can see, the S3 uses much more space per unit time at all but Basic quality. This implies a much higher bitrate, and hence a higher picture quality. Which, subjectively, does appear to be the case.

    Which CPU does the S3 use?
    It is hidden under a heat sink, but it is believed to be the BCM7038.

    Which decoder does the S3 use?
    Broadcom BCM7411

    Which MPEG-2 encoders does the S3 use for analog recordings?
    Two Broadcom BCM7042

    What is the speed of the Ethernet port?
    It is a 10/100baseT port.

    Is WiFi built in to the S3?
    No. However, the TiVo 802.11g USB WiFi adapter works very well with the S3. See http://www.tivo.com/adapters for a list of supported adapters.

    How much memory does the S3 have?
    The S3 has 128MB of memory for the general system, and additional memory dedicated to the encoders.

    Does the S3 have a built-in Closed Captioning decoder?
    Yes. The S3 can decode both analog and digital closed captions internally and overlay them on the video output.

    How easy is it to control the Closed Captioning?
    In the channel banner for a recording or LiveTV there is a CC icon on the right. Selecting that takes you directly to the settings screen where you can control the captions. When you're done, 'Left' takes you back to the program. Very easy.

    What video output formats does the S3 support?
    • Native
    • 720p Hybrid
    • 1080i Hybrid
    • 480i Fixed
    • 480p Fixed
    • 720p Fixed
    • 1080i Fixed

    What does Native mean? Hybrid? Fixed?
    Native means that the S3 outputs the video in whichever format it was received in - 480i, 480p, 720p, or 1080i. Hybrid modes convert all HD content to the resolution specified, and all SD content to 480p. Fixed modes convert all video to the resolution specified.

    How do you setup on TVs with a fixed input format?
    There is a 'Format' button on the front of the S3 which allows you to toggle through the four output formats to force the S3 to use the correct format for the display.

    What aspect ratio displays does the S3 support?
    The S3 supports three aspect ratio settings:
    • 16:9 Widescreen
    • 4:3 Smart Screen (4:3 SD, 16:9 HD)
    • 4:3 Classic Screen (4:3 only)

    Does the S3 have different aspect correction modes?
    Yes. The S3 has three modes:
    • Full, which will stretch the image to fit your screen.
    • Panel, which uses letterboxing/pillarboxing.
    • Zoom, which zooms in on the image. Used for widescreen content broadcast with letterboxing in a 4:3 signal.

    Can the Zoom level be adjusted?
    No. Zoom is a fixed setting.

    Can the color of the letterboxing be changed?
    There are two options - Gray or Black.

    What resolution are the TiVo menus in Native mode?
    In native mode the TiVo screens are 720p.

    What about the applications in Music, Photos, Products, & More?
    The applications are 720p. Photo viewing is still SD, an update to an HD photo application is planned for late 2006.

    Is there an indication of the current video output resolution?
    Yes. The front panel OLED display indicates 480i, 480p, 720p, or 1080i.

    Is there a way to tell the resolution of a recording?
    The episode description in Now Playing says 'HDTV' for all 720p or 1080i recordings. During playback of a recording, or in Live TV, the channel banner includes the video resolution - 480i, 480p, 720p, or 1080i.

    Is there a display of the bit-rate?
    No. The S3 does not display the bit-rate of the recording.

    Which digital audio formats does the S3 output?
    The S3 can output Dolby Digital, or it can convert the audio to PCM.

    Does the S3 output digital audio even for channels with analog audio?
    Yes. The digital audio out is always active. For example, you can connect the S3 using only HDMI and have audio for all channels.

    Is there an indication in Now Playing of which recordings are in HD?
    If Groups are turned on there is a special group called 'HDTV Recordings' which groups all of the HD recordings in one place. If Groups are off, there is no indication.

    Is there an indication in the Live TV Guide of which programs are in HD?
    When using the Grid Guide style there is a 'HD' marker on all HD programs. When using the TiVo Live Guide style the only indication is in the episode description at the top. There is no way to tell which programs in the list are HD.

    Is there a way to see only upcoming HD programs?
    No, not really. However, a Keyword Wish List for 'HDTV' may help narrow the search.

    The Season Pass entries now have a double check-mark with a purple background instead of yellow, does that mean anything?
    No. It is simply a stylistic change.

    Does the S3 remote differ from the S2 remote? If so, how?
    Yes, a number of changes have been made:
    • The independent Select button is gone, the directional pad has been replaced by a 5-way navigator.
    • It is a learning remote, so no more concerns about the remote not having the codes for your systems.
    • The thumb buttons have been moved down, and the channel and volume buttons up.
    • It has a light-sensitive back light. In a dark room the remote lights up when used.
    • The key feel has changed. There is now a definite 'click'.
    • It is weighted and textured to provide tactile feedback so the user knows they're holding it the right way.

    Does the S3 remote work with the S2, and vice-versa?
    Yes. In fact, the S1, S2, S3, and even DirecTiVo boxes all use compatible remote codes making their remote cross-compatible. Only the Sony TiVo boxes used a different set of remote codes, making them incompatible.

    Can I give my TiVo Rewards referral to the author of this FAQ?
    Sure! Just enter tivo at megazone dot org as the email address. And thank you!
    Version 1.2, Last Revised Saturday, September 23, 2006 00:28 EST
  2. Sep 12, 2006 #2 of 460

    lawilson2 New Member

    Oct 6, 2005
    When you mentioned network transfers, are you saying that you can't transfer shows from Tivo to Tivo, or are you just referring to Tivo to PC (tivo to go)?
  3. Sep 12, 2006 #3 of 460

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

    Mar 3, 2002
    Both. There are NO network transfers at this time.
  4. Sep 12, 2006 #4 of 460

    bkdtv New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    This is a supplemental video decoder for MPEG-4/VC-1. The primary decoder with the MIPS CPU and DVR functions would be something like the BCM7038.
  5. Sep 12, 2006 #5 of 460

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

    Mar 3, 2002
    Well, there is one chip under a heatsink which I couldn't get to - see http://www.tivolovers.com/Photos/Series3-Review/ for a number of internal photos.
  6. Sep 12, 2006 #6 of 460

    bkdtv New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area

    Yeah, the BCM7038 would be the chip under the heatsink. It does 90% of the processing in the Series3, so it generates most of the heat. As an older chip manufactured an an older process, so it's not the coolest running chip.
  7. Sep 12, 2006 #7 of 460

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

    Mar 3, 2002
    OK, I'll update the FAQ. Thanks for the catch.
  8. Sep 12, 2006 #8 of 460

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

    Mar 3, 2002
  9. Sep 12, 2006 #9 of 460

    bdraw Member

    Aug 1, 2004
    Tampa, FL
    Are there HD only Suggestions?
  10. Sep 12, 2006 #10 of 460

    davezatz Funkadelic

    Apr 18, 2002
    Hmmm, I don't recall seeing that. Though there is an HD-only folder in the Now Playing list.
  11. Sep 12, 2006 #11 of 460

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

    Mar 3, 2002
    Not sure what you mean. Does it record HD as suggestions? Yes. Can you force it to record ONLY HD as Suggestions? No.
  12. Sep 12, 2006 #12 of 460

    Fofer XenForo Rocks!

    Oct 29, 2000
    I suppose you could set up a Wishlist, though, for HD content...
  13. Sep 12, 2006 #13 of 460

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

    Mar 3, 2002
    You could do something like Keyword 'HDTV' - but it'd probably catch any program that was talking about HDTV and such.
  14. Sep 12, 2006 #14 of 460

    DCIFRTHS I dumped SDV / cable

    Jan 6, 2000
    New York
    As an FYI to those who may be purchasing replacement drives for the S3, please read the following before spending your money.

    After perusing MZ's internal pics of the S3, I notice that the connector on the SATA hard drive is the Western Digital proprietary SATA connector. It makes the connections much less prone to coming lose due to vibration etc. ...

    Unfortunately, it is proprietary, and one complete assembly. The power and data cables are attached to one molded connector. If you trace the SATA connector back to the motherboard, it appears to be a standard connector, so there should be no problem replacing the SATA cable. On the other hand, the power connector appears to be soldered into the power supply board.

    Unless you are comfortable soldering, it would seem that an adapter (connector) to power the HD, or a WD drive will be necessary to replace the stock S3 HD.

    Here is a link to the WD cable. It appears as though the cable in the S3 is a modified version of the one you can purchase directly from WD as the TiVo version has the power cable integrated into the connector.

    Of course, there is a good chance that a retail WD HD would work without any modification, as long as it can accept power through the SATA power connector on the WD proprietary connection.

    Any brave souls out there ;) I know I'm not going to mess with mine when I get it. I'll just go the external route, or possible upgrade with a larger HD.
  15. Sep 12, 2006 #15 of 460

    Fofer XenForo Rocks!

    Oct 29, 2000
    RE: One S3 TiVo, two TV's

    I'm planning on having an HDTV in the living room, where the Series 3 HD Digital Media Recorder will be. I suspect I'll use HDMI out, at 1080i.

    But I also hope to connect my TV in the adjoining bedroom to the same S3 TiVo, using pre-exisiting S-Video cable. (I'm not sure what the max length is for Component cable, but the S-Video is already there and looks fine with my existing DTiVo and EDTV.)

    That said, will this box be capable of outputting signal simultaneously to both of these TV's? Or will I need to toggle something before watching content on each?
  16. Sep 12, 2006 #16 of 460

    aaronwt UHD Addict

    Jan 31, 2002
    Worst case you would only be able to use a WD SATA drive as a replacement. That connector is supposed to work with all the WD SATA drives.
  17. Sep 12, 2006 #17 of 460

    dkroboth New Member

    Jan 25, 2002
    Awesome FAQ/Review Megazone. Thanks for answering the above question in particular. :up:

    Now, I know how many cablecard I need to get. :up:
  18. Sep 12, 2006 #18 of 460

    morac Cat God

    Mar 14, 2003
    TiVo posted their own FAQ at http://www.tivo.com/2.0.3hdDvr.plt.faqs_2.asp

    The biggest thing I noticed was
  19. Sep 12, 2006 #19 of 460

    Andru1313 New Member

    Dec 29, 2003
    Well I would like to replace my Series 2 with the HD Tivo but I have Comcast. So now I have a cable box. So if i get 2 cable cards do I keep the cable box for On demand? Or will I lose that featrue?
  20. Sep 12, 2006 #20 of 460

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

    Mar 3, 2002
    If you want OnDemand then you need to keep the box.

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