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Old 09-22-2014, 12:18 PM   #1
SVTarHeel
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Question Any advice on getting TiVo service to test whether it will work for us?

We're considering finally cutting the cord and are planning to try a dry run with TiVo. My current thinking is to pick up a used TiVo or two (series 3 or better) without lifetime service, attach it/them to an antenna and record OTA for a while, keeping our DirecTV as-is during that time as a safety net.

(I don't have the option to consider htpc/Tablo/DVR+ options as this needs to be as close as possible to what we have now for others in the family.)

Since I've never had a TiVo, my question is this - is there anything I need to know before signing up month-to-month? Specifically, is there anything I, as a brand new customer, could gain - or lose - long term by signing up for something specific, asking for a certain deal, etc.? Also, other than me getting a used DVR with lifetime included, do any of the units have different pricing plans attached/grandfathered to them from previous users?

Thanks for any help in curing my ignorance - I searched the forum and didn't run across any posts that mentioned anything like this.
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Old 09-22-2014, 02:29 PM   #2
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I don't think you'll miss anything.

Personally if not buying a new unit I would look for one with lifetime included. If you decide TiVo is not for you you can always sell it and get your investment back by reselling.

I think getting a used one is a good way to start. However, the current Roamio line is a lot better than the 3/HD series.

Do you do anything like Netflix or Amazon Prime? Are you going to want to stream to a tablet? Part of what you get should depend on how you could make the best use of your TiVo.
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Old 09-22-2014, 03:15 PM   #3
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Most of TiVo's month-to-month plans involve at least a year's commitment. The early termination fee can be as low as $15 or as high as $75 depending on the plan. There is also a true month-to-month plan for $20 but only available on certain models. Without a subscription you will not have guide data and your TiVo will approximate a brick. You should talk to TiVo support and/or carefully research on tivo.com to be sure what terms you will have.

Not having to fuss with plan details is a major advantage of buying a unit that already has lifetime subscription. Many series 3 boxes have lifetime because Tivo has been offering it for only $99 on them for years now. But I don't think this offer is extended to newly purchased series 3 boxes. So get one that already has lifetime.

A series 3 on OTA will get whatever channels your TV can get with the same antenna. I've been using my Tivo HD on antenna (and cable TV) for 5 years now -- antenna is more reliable than cable for me.

Although Series 3 has Netflix and Amazon capability, those apps are not the greatest. I recommend taking some of the money you save by cutting the cord and getting a separate set-top box that will perform well on those services and many others, such as the Amazon Fire TV or a Roku.
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Old 09-22-2014, 03:59 PM   #4
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Most of TiVo's month-to-month plans involve at least a year's commitment. The early termination fee can be as low as $15 or as high as $75 depending on the plan.
Where did you get those numbers? Last I knew, the early termination fee was simply the amount owed on the contract. If you pay $14.99/mo and cancel after 2 months, you'd have an early termination fee of $149.90 (10mo x $14.99)
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Old 09-22-2014, 04:01 PM   #5
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Thanks for any help in curing my ignorance - I searched the forum and didn't run across any posts that mentioned anything like this.
This forum is littered with all of this information. The problem is the search function here is nearly useless for searching for more than a single word.
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Old 09-22-2014, 04:12 PM   #6
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Most of TiVo's month-to-month plans involve at least a year's commitment. The early termination fee can be as low as $15 or as high as $75 depending on the plan. There is also a true month-to-month plan for $20 but only available on certain models. Without a subscription you will not have guide data and your TiVo will approximate a brick. You should talk to TiVo support and/or carefully research on tivo.com to be sure what terms you will have.

Not having to fuss with plan details is a major advantage of buying a unit that already has lifetime subscription. Many series 3 boxes have lifetime because Tivo has been offering it for only $99 on them for years now. But I don't think this offer is extended to newly purchased series 3 boxes. So get one that already has lifetime.

A series 3 on OTA will get whatever channels your TV can get with the same antenna. I've been using my Tivo HD on antenna (and cable TV) for 5 years now -- antenna is more reliable than cable for me.

Although Series 3 has Netflix and Amazon capability, those apps are not the greatest. I recommend taking some of the money you save by cutting the cord and getting a separate set-top box that will perform well on those services and many others, such as the Amazon Fire TV or a Roku.
The Roamio Basic works alot better with Netflix than my Roku Box, by far.
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Old 09-22-2014, 04:14 PM   #7
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Where did you get those numbers? Last I knew, the early termination fee was simply the amount owed on the contract. If you pay $14.99/mo and cancel after 2 months, you'd have an early termination fee of $149.90 (10mo x $14.99)
Right from Tivo Website.

New TiVo Roamio and Premiere DVRs: $14.99/month with a 1-year commitment and a $75 early termination fee.*

Previously activated TiVo Roamio or Premiere DVRs: $14.99/month with a 1-year commitment and a $15 early termination fee, or $19.99/month* with no commitment.*

TiVo Mini: $5.99/month with a 1-year commitment and a $25 early termination fee
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Old 09-22-2014, 05:34 PM   #8
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Where did you get those numbers? Last I knew, the early termination fee was simply the amount owed on the contract. If you pay $14.99/mo and cancel after 2 months, you'd have an early termination fee of $149.90 (10mo x $14.99)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captainbob View Post
Right from Tivo Website.

New TiVo Roamio and Premiere DVRs: $14.99/month with a 1-year commitment and a $75 early termination fee.*

Previously activated TiVo Roamio or Premiere DVRs: $14.99/month with a 1-year commitment and a $15 early termination fee, or $19.99/month* with no commitment.*

TiVo Mini: $5.99/month with a 1-year commitment and a $25 early termination fee
Yes, in fact here:
https://www.tivo.com/tivo-mma/mma-ac...vateservice.do
click on the "Plan Details" link over on the right under the TiVo DVR heading. I've always thought Tivo's plans and terms of service were needlessly complex, so again I recommend contacting them with regard to your specific situation.
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Old 09-22-2014, 05:41 PM   #9
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The Roamio Basic works alot better with Netflix than my Roku Box, by far.
My only comparative comment (in the post you quoted) was that Roku or AFTV were better Netflix clients than Series 3 TiVo's (which the OP is considering buying).

Performance of any internet TV client is so dependent on local network and internet connection parameters that all we have to judge by are a collection of anecdotes. From other forum posts it looks like the Roamio's are much better than previous TiVo's -- but you can find posts complaining about them too.
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Old 09-22-2014, 06:40 PM   #10
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My only comparative comment (in the post you quoted) was that Roku or AFTV were better Netflix clients than Series 3 TiVo's (which the OP is considering buying).

Performance of any internet TV client is so dependent on local network and internet connection parameters that all we have to judge by are a collection of anecdotes. From other forum posts it looks like the Roamio's are much better than previous TiVo's -- but you can find posts complaining about them too.
If you have three set top boxes, like Apple TV, Roku, and Tivo Roamio for instance, all with the Netflix app, working with the same broadband, and the same TV, it is fairly easy to make a direct comparison of which works better by switching from one to the other which is what I did. Tivo Roamio won very easily.
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Old 09-22-2014, 10:16 PM   #11
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Thanks so much for the feedback so far. Let me give some more details (probably much more than many may care to read) that may help with more pointed advice.

After living away from home for nearly 20 years, I moved back to help my folks with some medical stuff in late '07. In late '09, I left my job to stay with my mom full-time. In between there, we upgraded the A/V situation from a non-remote console TV with standard cable to a 40" 720p unit with digital cable.

After months of the Time Warner DVR's refusal to reliably record anything, we left (after probably 30+ years with cable) and went to DirecTV. TV watching is still our only entertainment expense, and the D* service and hardware remains virtually bulletproof, but the fact that we're about 18 months beyond our initial commitment means that all new customer incentives and discounts have ceased and we're paying full freight, to the tune of ~$110 monthly.

Over the last 12-18 months, I've been thinking through options, looking for bargains, etc. I currently have an unopened Roku 2 XS and an Apple TV (MD199LL/A). We have never had an account with Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. I also hastily bought a TiVo Premiere 4 (TCD750500) via craigslist before realizing it was cable-only.

Last week, in preparation for the trial run I referenced initially, I purchased a pair of Premieres via craigslist that will allow OTA use (a TCD746320 and a TCD748000). (My original post above was a cut-and-paste from a post I made in a general A/V forum before I got these boxes. When it got no responses there, I decided to try here.)

Before buying the boxes, I did an online chat with TiVo customer service to verify what models they were since the seller sent me the TSN for each when I asked for model numbers. Other than that, I've had zero contact with TiVo.

With me having no work income, I'm trying to trim expenses everywhere I can. That said, I'd rather 'waste' a few months on monthly service fees to TiVo as a test even though I know I could buy and resell a lifetime box and break even if I changed my mind - the initial outlay for that option is the sticking point.

So, after digesting all the info above and what I've found searching the various threads here, let me ask this - given my situation and goals, what would you TiVo veterans do in my shoes? My need, if possible, is to give TiVo a thorough test to see if it will work for us without a ton of initial/upfront investment. Then, if I need to resell the boxes I have to get something newer/better, so be it, but I'm hoping I don't have to take that kind of serious plunge with no personal experience with the hardware and service.

I don't mind paying for what I get but what I'm trying to avoid with your counsel is a scenario where I move ahead with something, only to realize that I should have asked for this deal, or should only have contacted TiVo to establish service after doing that, etc.

For example, I see people discussing discounted lifetime offers when a machine is over 3 years old. Am I correct that those options wouldn't apply to me even if one if these machines is 3 years old because it wasn't ME who had the three years of service? Is there likely to be any kind of discounted monthly rate that's tied to either of these boxes I now have? And, if so, do I contact TiVo to discover that first or are their steps to follow prior to checking for that kind of thing? And does the no-commitment $19.95 monthly option apply to me since the box was previously activated, albeit not by me?

I'm so grateful for the helpful info so far and would like to thank you in advance for any further advice you're willing to share.

All the best.
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Old 09-23-2014, 09:01 AM   #12
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I have one additional bit of info that may generate more specific recommendations. I was able to contact the person I got the 2 units from and now have the activation and cancellation dates:

TiVo Premiere XL
Original activation date 10/29/2012
Cancellation date 05/28/2014

TiVo Premiere
Original activation date 01/18/2011
Cancellation date 04/17/2014

Both were on month to month service.
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Old 09-23-2014, 01:06 PM   #13
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Yes, in fact here:
https://www.tivo.com/tivo-mma/mma-ac...vateservice.do
click on the "Plan Details" link over on the right under the TiVo DVR heading. I've always thought Tivo's plans and terms of service were needlessly complex, so again I recommend contacting them with regard to your specific situation.
Thanks. I searched high and low on the website and couldn't find anything that said how much an ETF would be, just a lot of things referring to an applicable etf.
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Old 09-23-2014, 04:00 PM   #14
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Here's a option you might won't to check into. I have seen this DVR in use and it's sweet.
http://www.amazon.com/SiliconDust-HD...ords=tablo+dvr
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Old 09-23-2014, 04:32 PM   #15
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Here's a option you might won't to check into. I have seen this DVR in use and it's sweet.
Agreed. If it were just me, I'd be interested in something like that for sure, but I need something that's similar enough to the cableco/satco DVRs that others in the family can move seamlessly to it.
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Old 09-23-2014, 04:46 PM   #16
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Any new TiVo comes with a seven day evaluation subscription, something to consider.
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Old 09-23-2014, 07:23 PM   #17
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Any new TiVo comes with a seven day evaluation subscription, something to consider.
I wasn't aware of that option. Brand new, new to me or both? And how does that apply to the cancelling of service within 30 days?
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Old 09-24-2014, 01:41 AM   #18
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I have one additional bit of info that may generate more specific recommendations. I was able to contact the person I got the 2 units from and now have the activation and cancellation dates:

TiVo Premiere XL
Original activation date 10/29/2012
Cancellation date 05/28/2014

TiVo Premiere
Original activation date 01/18/2011
Cancellation date 04/17/2014

Both were on month to month service.

'Tis a pity, they could probably have gotten $99 lifetime on that Premiere since it had been in service for 3 years.
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Old 09-24-2014, 06:51 AM   #19
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'Tis a pity, they could probably have gotten $99 lifetime on that Premiere since it had been in service for 3 years.
I was thinking the same thing when I saw those dates yesterday. If I understand the "Premiere Lifetime for $99" thread correctly, it'd be hit and miss as to whether I could get that as the 2nd owner, correct? And that it'd be highly unlikely to get it without at least subscribing myself for some period of time?
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Old 09-24-2014, 09:21 AM   #20
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If you're cutting the cord (no cable, no SATV), given your circumstances and goals, I recommend a used Series 3 (model 648 or 652) with lifetime.

I can think of 3 risk factors for this:
1. Getting acceptable OTA reception. You can assess this **before** buying the TiVo by just using your TV to experiment and find what antenna will do the job in your location. Here are two web sites that are helpful in that regard:
antennaweb.org and tvfool.com . Whatever works for your TV will work with a Series 3 TiVo -- very little risk there.

2. Bad hard drive. Replacing can cost from under $100 to over $200 depending on how much DIY you contribute.

3. Bad power supply. Fixing DIY involves soldering in new capacitors and can cost under $20, or replacing it can cost $100 or more.

With regard to items 2 and 3 above, I don't know exactly what kind of return or warranty policy you can get if you buy via eBay. Maybe you can protect yourself. Both items show up as flakey performance of the TiVo. The most common symptom of bad HDD is pixelation while a bad PSU can cause a wide variety of symptoms. You can get plenty of help and info on the DIY approaches on this forum.
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Old 09-24-2014, 10:19 AM   #21
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If you're cutting the cord (no cable, no SATV), given your circumstances and goals, I recommend a used Series 3 (model 648 or 652) with lifetime.

I can think of 3 risk factors for this:
Thanks for that info. Since I jumped the gun and got the 2 used Premieres before thinking through all the possibilities, I guess it's down to 1) try to recoup my money there and get a 3 w/ LT instead, or 2) just get service on one (or both) of the (generation-newer) Premieres to test the suitability of TiVo for the rest of the fam.

Regarding the risks:

1) OTA should be fine - I'm less than 25 miles from the 2 regional antenna locations. (I neglected to post my TVFool report) So far, I've only tried rabbit ears, but I have an unopened Antennas Direct DB4 available for installation.

2) I repair computers as a hobby, so hard drive replacement, imaging, etc., are very DIY-able.

3) I'd probably pay someone more skilled to handle that one.

I think I've boiled it down to... TiVo's the only reasonable choice and, if that proves unusable for our situation, we'll have to stay w/ DirecTV. So now, I just need to pull the trigger on service for either the unit(s) I have or get another one w/ lifetime.

My main lingering concern is if there's anything I need to do - or not do - in that regard. I'm familiar with CSR roulette in other scenarios, so I'm hoping to find out via this discussion if there's anything specific to do/not do or ask for/not ask for when I start service on whatever machine(s) I end up with.

In my mind, I can live with hardware failure more than I can the 'buyer's remorse' of someone telling me a week after I take the plunge, "Oh man, you could have saved $X if you'd just done Y instead of Z." If I make the attempt to cure as much of my ignorance as I can prior to diving in, I can greatly lessen the potential for frustration down the road.
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Old 09-24-2014, 05:22 PM   #22
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One other related thought/question while I'm seeking input...

As I've been sitting at the hospital with my mom all day for the last several days, I've been searching and reading threads. One mentioned a bunch of refurb (and maybe other) specials that TiVo ran from Black Friday '13 until the beginning of this year, IIRC. Is there any reason to believe that waiting 2 more months would yield similar 2014 savings?
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Old 09-25-2014, 07:26 AM   #23
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Thanks for that info. Since I jumped the gun and got the 2 used Premieres before thinking through all the possibilities, I guess it's down to 1) try to recoup my money there and get a 3 w/ LT instead, or 2) just get service on one (or both) of the (generation-newer) Premieres to test the suitability of TiVo for the rest of the fam.

Regarding the risks:

1) OTA should be fine - I'm less than 25 miles from the 2 regional antenna locations. (I neglected to post my TVFool report) So far, I've only tried rabbit ears, but I have an unopened Antennas Direct DB4 available for installation.

2) I repair computers as a hobby, so hard drive replacement, imaging, etc., are very DIY-able.

3) I'd probably pay someone more skilled to handle that one.

I think I've boiled it down to... TiVo's the only reasonable choice and, if that proves unusable for our situation, we'll have to stay w/ DirecTV. So now, I just need to pull the trigger on service for either the unit(s) I have or get another one w/ lifetime.

My main lingering concern is if there's anything I need to do - or not do - in that regard. I'm familiar with CSR roulette in other scenarios, so I'm hoping to find out via this discussion if there's anything specific to do/not do or ask for/not ask for when I start service on whatever machine(s) I end up with.

In my mind, I can live with hardware failure more than I can the 'buyer's remorse' of someone telling me a week after I take the plunge, "Oh man, you could have saved $X if you'd just done Y instead of Z." If I make the attempt to cure as much of my ignorance as I can prior to diving in, I can greatly lessen the potential for frustration down the road.

If you've ever used a soldering iron without picking it up by the hot end or setting the house on fire, you can probably replace capacitors in a 648 or 652/658 power supply without much problem.


TiVos are computer-ish, but they aren't PCs and don't use the same partition scheme as PC hard drives, so you would need to learn about the TiVo specific software which has been created by hobbyists (and is therefore free) specifically for TiVo drive wrangling, but that's not impossible, either.

And unlike most PCs, you'll need Torx bits for the screws that hold a TiVo together.
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Old 09-25-2014, 09:07 AM   #24
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If you've ever used a soldering iron without picking it up by the hot end or setting the house on fire, you can probably replace capacitors in a 648 or 652/658 power supply without much problem.
Perhaps you give me too much credit. I'd still probably prefer not to start a learning curve on something that important.

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TiVos are computer-ish, but they aren't PCs and don't use the same partition scheme as PC hard drives, so you would need to learn about the TiVo specific software which has been created by hobbyists (and is therefore free) specifically for TiVo drive wrangling, but that's not impossible, either.
Understood. I've skimmed some of the posts that mention those methods and the specific software they employ, the images available for download, etc. If it comes to that, I feel sure the info already posted here can successfully get me through that

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And unlike most PCs, you'll need Torx bits for the screws that hold a TiVo together.
No worries there - dad rebuilds wrecked cars, so we have screwdrivers, socket bits, etc., in all Torx sizes.

Thanks for the reply.
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Old 09-25-2014, 09:09 AM   #25
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After reading about 40 pages of the thread on swapping to a larger drive in a new Roamio last night, I was wide awake in bed until after 4am with my mind racing, thinking through all the options. I had a new thought and debated starting a new thread, but, since this is all related to starting with TiVo by potentially getting service on a used unit, I'll keep it here for future readers/searchers.

The seller of the 2 Premieres I bought has already offered to call TiVo if needed. Both of the units show up in her account as deactivated and able to be reactivated. Here's what I thought of last night... I see at least 2 potential scenarios:

1) she calls TiVo to see about personally reactivating the one that had monthly service for 3 years, with the hope that they'll offer $99 lifetime, after which we can go through whatever steps it takes to get it officially transferred to me.

2) I call TiVo as the new owner of the box and see if they offer me anything like discounted lifetime.

3) I thought of a third scenario last night, again with her calling, but my mind's fuzziness will not allow me to recall that tidbit.

I'm also wondering if her account had enough history that, IF they were to offer $99 lifetime on the Premiere, if they might also offer it for reactivating the XL at the same time.
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Old 09-26-2014, 01:44 PM   #26
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After reading about 40 pages of the thread on swapping to a larger drive in a new Roamio last night, I was wide awake in bed until after 4am with my mind racing, thinking through all the options. I had a new thought and debated starting a new thread, but, since this is all related to starting with TiVo by potentially getting service on a used unit, I'll keep it here for future readers/searchers. The seller of the 2 Premieres I bought has already offered to call TiVo if needed. Both of the units show up in her account as deactivated and able to be reactivated. Here's what I thought of last night... I see at least 2 potential scenarios: 1) she calls TiVo to see about personally reactivating the one that had monthly service for 3 years, with the hope that they'll offer $99 lifetime, after which we can go through whatever steps it takes to get it officially transferred to me. 2) I call TiVo as the new owner of the box and see if they offer me anything like discounted lifetime. 3) I thought of a third scenario last night, again with her calling, but my mind's fuzziness will not allow me to recall that tidbit. I'm also wondering if her account had enough history that, IF they were to offer $99 lifetime on the Premiere, if they might also offer it for reactivating the XL at the same time.
Having her call is probably the best bet to getting $99 lifetime. I would have her do that, asking about activating both units and then see what they offer. If it's the $99 deal, then tell her to jump on it and you will reimburse her via paypal or something and also throw in a few bucks extra for her troubles.
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Old 09-26-2014, 02:13 PM   #27
SVTarHeel
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...If it's the $99 deal, then tell her to jump on it and you will reimburse her via paypal or something and also throw in a few bucks extra for her troubles.
Thanks for the confirmation, that's what I was planning to do. We're going to chat in a few hours while she's in the middle of a 3+ hour road trip.
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Old 09-26-2014, 04:16 PM   #28
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Thanks for the confirmation, that's what I was planning to do. We're going to chat in a few hours while she's in the middle of a 3+ hour road trip.
Tell her to put it on speaker and keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road.
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Old 09-26-2014, 05:11 PM   #29
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Well, I have potentially great news: I just got off the phone with her. She's going to call TiVo tomorrow to see if they offer her $99 lifetime on the older box and anything on the newer XL4. She'll take the $99 lifetime if they offer it on either but I told her I didn't think I was in a position to absorb $199 lifetime on one, even though I could make it back in the long run. So, I'll either get no benefit or I'll get $99 lifetime on one or both Series 4s.

Interestingly, after we spoke, her memory was jogged and she thinks they did offer her the $99 lifetime option when she called to deactivate the boxes several months ago.

I'll post back when I know more so future readers/searchers can find it.
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Old 09-27-2014, 02:41 AM   #30
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I wasn't aware of that option. Brand new, new to me or both? And how does that apply to the cancelling of service within 30 days?
Sorry for slow response, been sick, still sick.
Both* There's no service to cancel because there is no service after the seventh day. Let's walk through a senerio. You go to Best Buy or Frys for example. You purchase a brand new TiVo and take it home. You inbox it, hook it up, and perform a guided setup. The TiVo will see that there is no subscription and account associated with the TSN during the guided setup and use the free trial subscription only good for seven days. The TiVo will give you seven days of the electronic guide, you can record and use video services as it would if it was on a normal subscription with the exception of account required features such as multi room streaming and transferring. After the seventh day you'll see messages telling you a subscription is required and the functionality is reduced to watching live TV and pre recorded shows. You'll still be able to record new shows but the guide will be useless as all listings on every channel will be saying the same thing.

Here's a tread about it. http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...d.php?t=495834

*I say both because I had an old unplugged Premiere that I had sitting in its box with an subscription that had long since been transferred away. I did a clear and delete everything wipe on it before packing it up and three years later upon hooking it back up it was acting like it was brand new with the trial sub.
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