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Old 07-18-2011, 07:34 AM   #1
Emacee
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Thumbs down NY Times Gives Tivo Thumbs Down

In the Personal Tech column of this morning's New York Times Business section, columnist Joshua Brushstein tries a Tivo Premiere and basically concludes it's more trouble (and money) than it's worth. Most of the trouble, it turns out, comes not from Tivo but from his cable company (Time-Warner) who either have bunch of people clueless about cable cards or are actively trying to discourage anybody from breaking away from their own DVRs. Still, it's a sign that the Tivo company is also clueless about how to market itself effectively, how to work with cable companies and to distinguish Tivo from cable-default DVRs.

Quote:
TiVo, Nice Service if You Can Get It
By JOSHUA BRUSTEIN

TiVo has a bit of a problem. It wants to be the future of television, seamlessly mixing cable television with Internet programming. But itís still largely thought of as a fancier version of the DVR available through the cable company. And it asks for a lot more in return for its service than its clunkier competitors in the world of DVRs do. ... READ MORE
http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/...er=rss&emc=rss

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Old 07-18-2011, 07:47 AM   #2
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It seems more like an indictment of TWC than the TiVo.
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Old 07-18-2011, 07:58 AM   #3
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The cable companies don't want to work with TiVo. They couldn't care less whether or not they are able to configure their service with TiVo DVRs. It's because they make far more $$$ renting their own DVRs, naturally.
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:07 AM   #4
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First a couple of very minor things:
1. The link provided has "blog" in it -- thus it isn't quite accurate to say this is the NY Times saying this.
2. The TiVo HD has been on software version 11.0k for months now -- perhaps your signature needs updating?

Now my reaction to the blog content:
The user's experience could have been one of hundreds, if not thousands, of posts on this forum, in particular the Time Warner threads in the Series 3 forum. And apparently he didn't even have to deal with a Tuning Adapter! (I wonder if he actually needs one but just didn't go far enough to realize he wasn't getting all his channels?)

He dings TiVo for not working better with cable cos but I doubt that is a valid criticism. The cable cos are clearly dragging their feet in supporting TiVo for obvious business reasons plus the fact that TiVo users are way less than 1% of their customers -- i.e., have no clout. I believe a majority of problems are caused by cable cos not setting up their systems to interact correctly with CableCARDs and Tuning Adapters, and how can you expect TiVo to fix that?

This situation is not surprising at all. The equipment needed to support TiVos (CableCARD and Tuning Adapter) was forced on the cable cos by the FCC and this is an example of what happens when you try to impose a solution that goes against basic business interests and don't have (or won't apply) the resources to enforce it -- worsened by the fact that the problems are frequently very technical in nature and can only be fixed by the cable co technical staff.
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:50 AM   #5
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It also sounds like he's being over-charged for his cable card. If anyone is registered to post comments there they should tell him that he should complain to the FCC about the charges and the trouble getting his CC installed.
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Old 07-18-2011, 10:07 AM   #6
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It also sounds like he's being over-charged for his cable card. If anyone is registered to post comments there they should tell him that he should complain to the FCC about the charges and the trouble getting his CC installed.
complain to the FCC !! The average cable customer that wants a DVR does not want to go through this trouble no matter who fault it is, TiVos is the one that should be doing the complaining as they are having the loss of business as a result of these type of cable co problems. Most of my friends now just take the cable co DVR and have no problems that the cable co can't solve, and they don't call me.
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:37 AM   #7
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dlfl: The link is to nytimes.com, the New York Times website. Nowhere on the webpage does the word blog appear. The writer is a New York Times columnist.

The reality is Tivo does not work alone. Tivo does not provide content. Cable does not need Tivo. Tivo needs cable, satellite or OTA. If Tivo wants to sell their product to cable customers, they need at least some cooperation from cable companies. Their DirecTV, Cox and Comcast deals suggest they are starting to realize it. The potential end-user doesn't care about Tivo's problems with cable companies and most will not go out of their way to get around them.

Tivo: Good product, poor marketing and bad management. I've enjoyed the product since 1999 but the way they yank customers around on deals and pricing, I feel no loyalty to the company at all.
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:44 AM   #8
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Gadgetwise is a regular blog of the NY Times.

To find it go to the homepage, click the all blogs link....
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:53 AM   #9
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It also sounds like he's being over-charged for his cable card. If anyone is registered to post comments there they should tell him that he should complain to the FCC about the charges and the trouble getting his CC installed.
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complain to the FCC !! The average cable customer that wants a DVR does not want to go through this trouble no matter who fault it is, TiVos is the one that should be doing the complaining as they are having the loss of business as a result of these type of cable co problems. Most of my friends now just take the cable co DVR and have no problems that the cable co can't solve, and they don't call me.
I agree with nrc in principle that consumers should always complain to the appropriate government entity when regulations or laws are violated. However, in this case I have to agree with lessd, although note that TiVo has complained to the FCC, numerous times. I think it's way too late for complaints about cable cos poor support for CableCARD and Tuning Adapter to have any effect beyond those that have already been filed. Also, from the way the linked blog reads, it sound's like he has already given up on TiVo, so complaining about CableCARD charges won't do him any good.

It is the nature of our government that complaining to an agency frequently is a very unrewarding process with very delayed results, if any, although I agree it should be done. However there is no better government. You might be able to get immediate results under Sharia law by complaining to your local government council of elders (whatever they call it). But let's not go there!
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:58 AM   #10
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Nothing that we didn't already know.

I and many others have stated that cable cards while they are only thing that saved TiVo from folding. They are also the main reason TiVo can not maintain or expand the number of Stand Alone users.

It is also the reason that the big boys (Google, Microsoft, & Apple) have not entered the consumer DVR business as they push into peoples living rooms.

Without a true "plug & play" solution that covers all forms of "pay TV services" (cable, sat, IP) third party STBs/DVRs are never going to be anything but a niche market.

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Old 07-18-2011, 12:03 PM   #11
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You can blame the CC all you want. It is still Tivo's problem in the end. It's driving people away.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:15 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Emacee View Post
dlfl: The link is to nytimes.com, the New York Times website. Nowhere on the webpage does the word blog appear.......
What I said was
Quote:
The link provided has "blog" in it
, here is the link:
Quote:
http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/tivo-nice-service-if-you-can-get-it/?partner=rss&emc=rss
Where I've highlighted "blogs".
When you say the NYTimes says this or that, the normal meaning is either it's an editorial position or was stated by a corporate spokesman. As I said, it's a minor point.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:31 PM   #13
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You can blame the CC all you want. It is still Tivo's problem in the end. It's driving people away.
So do you complain to the air line you are flying on when the TSA makes you wait in a long line, feels you up, and makes your flying experience suck?

The bottom line is TiVo has no control over cable cards, all they can do is help a user complain to either the cable company or the FCC.

I am sure this causes TiVo to loose business and if that is what you mean by it is TiVo's problem in the end, than I guess I agree with that.

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Old 07-18-2011, 01:24 PM   #14
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So do you complain to the air line you are flying on when the TSA makes you wait in a long line, feels you up, and makes your flying experience suck?
Yes. People look for other forms of transportation.
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Old 07-18-2011, 02:03 PM   #15
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Never being an apologist for any corporation, I realize that TiVo is complaining to the FCC and their complaints have produced fruit. The CCs are not going to give up, however. Therefore, consumers need to complain to the FCC also. Consumers who have no financial skin in the game have more power than they realize.

While we are at it, we should complain to the CCs.
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Old 07-18-2011, 02:33 PM   #16
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I read this story on the NY Times web site today, and came here to comment on it.

My comment: Ouch. This story, whether it is the fault of Time Warner, or Tivo, smacks Tivo in the face.

It points out that Tivo markets itself as a premium (and expensive) service, but then discusses how the service is difficult, and time consuming, to activate. So, the message (to me) is that you can get Tivo, but you have to pay a lot for it, and you have to deal with a bunch of hassle.

Not good.

I know the cable companies have made it tough for Tivo to do what it wants to do. I suspect that Direct TV is doing similar things. But that does not excuse Tivo. I not going to buy a product that portrays itself as a victim of circumstances. They need to overcome these cable company issues if they want to close the sale.

I had a Series 2 until I switched to Direct Tv in 2004, and had a Direct Tivo SD until last fall when the hard drive died. Now I have an SD Direct Tv DVR and have been waiting (very patiently) for the new HD Direct Tivo to come out. But my patience is pretty much at an end.

And this article doesn't help. Even though it's unrelated to Direct Tivos, I'm just getting tired of waiting for a company that constantly makes it difficult to buy or use its products (even if they have a great product). I don't need a badge of honor. I just want a very good DVR. The Direct Tv HD DVR may be good enough.
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Old 07-18-2011, 02:49 PM   #17
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I know the cable companies have made it tough for Tivo to do what it wants to do.

I don't think Tivo was forced into cable cards. The old series 2 units used the cable box and an IR blaster just fine. I realize it's not the most elegant solution but neither is a cable card that doesn't work.
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Old 07-18-2011, 02:56 PM   #18
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I don't think Tivo was forced into cable cards. The old series 2 units used the cable box and an IR blaster just fine. I realize it's not the most elegant solution but neither is a cable card that doesn't work.
At the time of the SD to HD conversion there was no viable hardware solution to recording a HD stream. So if they were going to provide a HD solution they had to go with cable cards. At this point in time it might be viable to record an analog HD stream (component outputs) but the digital stream (HDMI) is not recordable due to licensing restrictions.

Thanks,
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:11 PM   #19
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The article doesn't mention whether or not he was replacing his only cable box with TiVo, which could be a dangerous thing as (a) you don't get messages from the company (okay, most of them are ads for upcoming MMA or Wrestling PPVs, but occasionally they do tell you about things like free previews or new channels), and (b) you can't access PPVs.

(Now there's an idea...have some Netflix-style streaming ability for InDemand's main channel available to TiVo boxes.)
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:29 PM   #20
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Never being an apologist for any corporation, I realize that TiVo is complaining to the FCC and their complaints have produced fruit. The CCs are not going to give up, however. Therefore, consumers need to complain to the FCC also. Consumers who have no financial skin in the game have more power than they realize.

While we are at it, we should complain to the CCs.
TiVo users have complained to the FCC but too few and too late -- this has been going on for over three years. Consumers mostly don't bother complaining to government agencies because it's rarely going to get them any immediate satisfaction. Even worse it may never get anyone any satisfaction. I don't know if the culture on this is different in Europe and, if it is, I wonder if the net result is any better?

As for complaining to the Cable Cos, Good luck with that. The only complaint that would really get their attention is one that threatens their revenue, and TiVo users are too few (well under 1%) to have impact. And a lot of them will stay with cable (and likely provide more revenue) even if they give up on TiVo.
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:48 PM   #21
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Until TiVo makes the cc install/paring so simple that your granny could do it, it will continue to be a stumbling block. The cable cos have no incentive to concern themselves with third-party installs. TiVo is missing the boat big-time, by not handling the cc setup with the major cable cos.
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Old 07-18-2011, 04:05 PM   #22
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............. I not going to buy a product that portrays itself as a victim of circumstances. They need to overcome these cable company issues if they want to close the sale.
........
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........ TiVo is missing the boat big-time, by not handling the cc setup with the major cable cos.
It is well beyond TiVo's capability (or that of any company viewed as a nuisance competitor by the cable cos) to do what you say they should. The install problems are caused by deliberate or negligent incompetence on the part of the cable cos. They are tecnically very intricate, understood and controlled only by cable co internal tchnical experts who are not sufficiently motivated by their management to do better. And the details are different for every operator. TiVo doesn't have a chance in this scenario.
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Old 07-18-2011, 04:18 PM   #23
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Tivo should have included the ability to control a set top box with analog output, and allowed QAM channel mapping.
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Old 07-18-2011, 04:21 PM   #24
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The FCC should be proactive instead of waiting for customer complaints. The FCC should conduct test installs in various markets and penalize the cable companies for poor performance.
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Old 07-18-2011, 04:34 PM   #25
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The FCC should be proactive instead of waiting for customer complaints. The FCC should conduct test installs in various markets and penalize the cable companies for poor performance.
I don't think we can afford that. One of the main reasons (just one, there are others) we have a $14 Billion national debt is having government do everything someone thinks they should do. I have to wonder if we wouldn't be in an overall better situation now if the FCC had not forced the cable cos to do CableCARDs and Tuning Adapters, and just let market forces work. Who knows? Maybe something resembling AllVid would already have emerged?
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:19 PM   #26
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You can blame the CC all you want. It is still Tivo's problem in the end. It's driving people away.
ITA. If Tivo was producing a compelling enough product, then people would jump through hoops to get it. They would also file complaints with their cable co, the FCC and their state's telecommuinations commission if necessary but why bother when a cable co. DVR is sufficient enough?
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:17 PM   #27
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Maybe something resembling AllVid would already have emerged?
I.... highly, highly doubt that. The cable companies would have liked nothing better than to essentially require every customer to use a rented cable box from the provider for every TV, once they had the appropriate all-digital upgrades in place. Had the FCC not investigated and eventually mandated separable encryption, there would have been NO effort to separate the encryption from the boxes - this is an ironclad truth, as the cable companies make more money without separable encryption, and they will never do anything that works against their ability to make more money.

Honestly, when it works well, especially when no tuning adapter is needed, Cablecard is great - it just works and you don't have to think about it, you're not supposed to pay for your first one if you don't have any other cable box, the fee is low compared to a cable box, and really, that's exactly what was supposed to happen - but a) installation screwups and b) billing screwups have made that difficult.

I think the big issue is that the FCC started to require CC's in all boxes - but forgot that the cable cos would just pre-activate their boxes and make Tivo installs hell. If cable cos were required to go through the SAME PROCESS for their boxes - on the customer premises, inserting a card, calling in, pairing and so on and so forth - I have a feeling CC would be much better understood and much easier to get done, just from sheer volume.

That said, I'm HOPEFUL for the self-installation requirement that's coming in over the next few months, depending on the company. I'd seriously guess that a good bit of Tivo's issues result from completely incompetent installers / clueless CSR's, or those who are actively malicious against Tivo for various reasons, including, yes, selling the cable company DVR. Eliminate that guy and the installation appointment and associated fees and bam, you're already well on your way to being better off. Once the cable cos HAVE to have someone for CUSTOMERS to call directly about cablecards - not just the unreachable backend people who talk to installers - hopefully it will become easier and some much-needed training will have to happen. If it doesn't, I could see the FCC being upset that they don't actually let anyone self-install.
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Old 07-18-2011, 09:11 PM   #28
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Hey folks,

As you saw in this report, at times it can be a challenge obtaining a CableCARD. This is absolutely something we have been aware of, and we are very pleased that as of August 8, 2011, all cable providers are mandated by the FCC to allow subscribers the option of a hassle-free, no charge self-install of the cable card.

Our customer support team does have contacts with all of the major cable companies in the U.S., and we do our best to work with each company to make sure that they are aware of the law and are doing their best to solve any problems that our customers report.

Out of curiosity, have you or someone you know had similar experiences since the FCC announced this mandate in October 2010? We would like to hear your story.

Best regards,
Stephen

EDIT: Corrected date -- changed August 1st to August 8th
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Old 07-18-2011, 09:34 PM   #29
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I.... highly, highly doubt that. The cable companies would have liked nothing better than to essentially require every customer to use a rented cable box from the provider for every TV, once they had the appropriate all-digital upgrades in place. Had the FCC not investigated and eventually mandated separable encryption, there would have been NO effort to separate the encryption from the boxes - this is an ironclad truth, as the cable companies make more money without separable encryption, and they will never do anything that works against their ability to make more money.
I agree with what you say here but I think the lack of separable encryption would have created pent up consumer demand that might have spurred developments that might have been better than what we got.
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Honestly, when it works well, especially when no tuning adapter is needed, Cablecard is great
But that "especially when no tuning adapter is needed" is a big condition. I've actually had no problems with my CableCARDs at all but my TA has more than made up for it. And it's not the TA device itself, it's the signals (missing or incorrect) that Time Warner sends to it. More systems are going SDV all the time.
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Originally Posted by TheWGP View Post
I think the big issue is that the FCC started to require CC's in all boxes - but forgot that the cable cos would just pre-activate their boxes and make Tivo installs hell. If cable cos were required to go through the SAME PROCESS for their boxes - on the customer premises, inserting a card, calling in, pairing and so on and so forth - I have a feeling CC would be much better understood and much easier to get done, just from sheer volume.
But that's an unreasonable, inefficient and costly requirement that even I as a TiVo user would not wish on the Cable cos. It probably costs 10 (maybe 100) times as much to do it with a truck roll as at the factory, and they install more than 100 of their boxes for every TiVo installation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWGP View Post
That said, I'm HOPEFUL for the self-installation requirement that's coming in over the next few months, depending on the company. I'd seriously guess that a good bit of Tivo's issues result from completely incompetent installers / clueless CSR's, or those who are actively malicious against Tivo for various reasons, including, yes, selling the cable company DVR. Eliminate that guy and the installation appointment and associated fees and bam, you're already well on your way to being better off.
To eliminate the incompetence in that guy, you have to have a sea change of corporate attitude toward TiVo. His incompetence results from lack of caring starting at the top and going down. So to "eliminate that guy" is a big deal.
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Originally Posted by TheWGP View Post
Once the cable cos HAVE to have someone for CUSTOMERS to call directly about cablecards - not just the unreachable backend people who talk to installers - hopefully it will become easier and some much-needed training will have to happen. If it doesn't, I could see the FCC being upset that they don't actually let anyone self-install.
I believe one of the major cable cos already has self-install and that it's working pretty well. However, many problems don't arise from a bad CableCARD or TA installation. They are complicated signal and programming problems that either the head end technical staff can't solve, or that they don't have enough management incentive to solve. This occurs most frequently when a system first rolls out SDV. I hope you don't think the cable cos are quaking in their boots worrying about whether the FCC might get upset about something. They've learned how to manage the FCC and hold them off for years.
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Old 07-18-2011, 10:09 PM   #30
innocentfreak
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Join Date: Aug 2001
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Originally Posted by TiVoStephen View Post
Out of curiosity, have you or someone you know had similar experiences since the FCC announced this mandate in October 2010? We would like to hear your story.

Best regards,
Stephen
Well there is this guy...http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...d.php?t=472872. Not directly related to getting a CableCARD but definitely fits the bill about supporting tuning adapters fully.

I know there have been other posts about getting CableCARDs, but none that I could point you to off the top of my head.
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