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.
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?
What cables does the S3 come with?
- Phone Line
- Digital Audio (Optical)
- 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
Does the S3 require a phone line?
- Power cable
- Phone line
- Phone splitter
- Coaxial RF
- A/V cable (composite video, RCA stereo)
- Component Video (Y, Pb, Pr)
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?
There is currently no certification process for multi-stream cards (MCARD) in uni-directional devices such as the Series3. We are tracking the creation of the certification for this very closely and will work with CableLabs as this certification is finalized and becomes available. In the mean time, you will need two cable cards in your Series3 to enable dual tuner functionality (MCARDs in a uni-directional device act as SCARDs).
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.
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?
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?
But in a CableCard device digital content can only be moved off of the box through approved outputs with approved content protection technology, including transfers to an external drive. We have submitted our protection technology to CableLabs for their consideration.
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?
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 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
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?
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?
What does Native mean? Hybrid? Fixed?
- 720p Hybrid
- 1080i Hybrid
- 480i Fixed
- 480p Fixed
- 720p Fixed
- 1080i 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:
Does the S3 have different aspect correction modes?
- 16:9 Widescreen
- 4:3 Smart Screen (4:3 SD, 16:9 HD)
- 4:3 Classic Screen (4:3 only)
Yes. The S3 has three modes:
Can the Zoom level be adjusted?
- 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.
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:
Does the S3 remote work with the S2, and vice-versa?
- 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.
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