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Old 01-02-2014, 04:55 PM   #1
HiFi777
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Caller ID on television with TiVo Roamio & Premiere / caller ID on TV without cable

Many TiVo users want Caller ID on screen, but TiVo took that away with Series 4, ridiculously enough! Even though many people switching from cable set-top boxes / DVRs are now used to caller ID on TV, TiVo obviously won't bring it back, and it looks like there's only one outside device that can do it while keeping video at HD quality.


Summary:

Caller ID on screen is a recurring topic on TCF since the ability was lost with Series 4, but there hasn't been a new solution offered on this board in years.

60% of American households have landline telephone service. Cable TV STB/DVR provide caller ID on-screen for incoming calls, when subscribed to a cable double-play and triple-play bundle with digital telephone service.

Many consumers find caller ID on TV convenient. People who switch from cable STB / DVR to TiVo -- or who cut the cord entirely -- may still want on-screen caller ID. Roamio and Premiere are not hackable like previous TiVo models to add this feature. I found one solution, a DIY device that keeps television content at HD quality, called the NeTV. It is paired with a USB modem or ATA box (like a Vonage, Obi, or Linksys SPA device) and open-source NCID software to transmit the caller ID information.


Full version:

Background

Longtime lurker here. After becoming a cable 'cord cutter' and buying TiVo, I spent hours of research here and elsewhere trying to figure out how to get caller ID on screen.

(Before anyone jumps in with the usual sarcastic quips about caller ID on television, please see my preemptive answers in the section below.)

Most of the threads on TCF addressing this topic -- some of which I've compiled in a list at the bottom -- are more than 2 years old, and have thoroughly hashed out the pros and cons of on-screen caller ID.

As many of you probably know, Caller ID on the TV screen was possible with TiVo in the past with DirecTiVo and with series 1 or by modding / hacking the EEPROM on series 2 and series 3 models.

But that ability was lost with TiVo Premiere and Roamio.

Desire for on-screen Caller ID

A majority of American households (60.6%) have landline telephone service (source: CDC-NCHS, Dec. 2013), with many households using Vonage, MagicJack, Ooma, CMRS Wireless Home Phone by AT&T / Verizon / Straight Talk / T-Mobile / Sprint, or another VoIP provider.

Many people with cable TV with set-top box service have become accustomed to caller ID on screen. It's likely that some people cutting the cord from cable triple-play or double-play bundle service or who are switching from their MSO cable provider STB/DVR to TiVo would like to keep their old 'default' option for caller ID information on-screen.

As other posters have eloquently stated in past threads:

Fofer:
Quote:
"The TV is the display you're most likely looking at, while in the family/living room. Makes more sense to have caller ID info there, than on a tiny screen on a phone base"... "That way you can decide if you need to get up off the couch, or pick up the phone."
ah30k:
Quote:
"In my opinion, pausing the current show so that I can find the handset and look to see who is calling is annoying."
miller890:
Quote:
"While watching Tivo, my biggest interruption is the phone ringing. CallerID on screen would mean no more pausing and looking for the cordless phone. "
JWThiers:
Quote:
"The Onscreen CallerID is what I miss the most about my hacked DirecTivo.... It beats reaching for the phone to see who is calling, its displayed right on the TV. "
Quote:
"Have you ever had on screen caller id for any length of time? It can grow on you really quickly. A perfect example of when it is really convenient, sometimes I actually do watch live tv (I know scary) [...] and the phone is on the other side of the room [...]. Wouldn't it be nice to have that information just a glance away? "
BlackBetty:
Quote:
"The convience would be that when the phone rings, you just glance at your TV to see who's calling you. Instead of having to hunt down your cordless phone and then realize that you got up to find your cordless and you didn't even want to talk to the person calling in the first place. "

Other, old solutions

I looked at some of the workaround solutions people have discussed previously, but they're ugly.

1. The CallerTV box, by NetMedia, inserts itself between the TiVo and the television, but uses composite video for it's signal in and signal out (no HDMI model available), which creates an ugly result, obviously. Also, the Roamio doesn't have analog out, so you couldn't use this device (without a digital-to-analog converter or DAC) even if you wanted to.

2. The TelNote, by Southlake, is just a gawky device (connected only to the telephone line, not the television devices) -- especially to have it sit on or adjacent to your TV in an otherwise sleek entertainment center. (And it's $50-$90+, which is expensive for what it does).


New solution

I spent hours looking for a solution that would:

1) place caller ID information on screen, while
2) keeping the video signal in high-definition (HDMI)

I already submitted a feature request through TiVo's website for caller ID on-screen with the Premiere through a TiVo approved add-on device, but obviously that's not actually going to be realized.

The only solution I could find that's for sale at this time is a DIY (do-it-yourself) device called the NeTV by Adafruit. It's a cousin to the Raspberry Pi, which was covered in the tech news a lot in 2012 and 2013.

The NeTV is placed between the TiVo and the television -- it has HDMI passthrough, with an HDMI input that comes from your TiVo or other tuner and and an HDMI output that goes to the television.

You add an analog telephone adapter (ATA) with an RJ-11 jack (to insert the telephone line), so you can capture the caller ID information from incoming calls.

As your ATA, you can use either a USB modem or a full-scale telephony device (I believe that Vonage and Obi boxes and the Linksys SPA-1302 would work). After researching it, I believe that the ATA can be located in an entirely different room (e.g., where the telephone line comes in), and can transmit the caller ID information from the ATA by ethernet or WiFi (depending on the ATA specs) to the NeTV.

There is an open-source software effort (called NCID on Sourceforge) to help with capturing caller ID information from the ATA, transmitting it to the NeTV, and displaying it on-screen. TCF user JLC has written about this effort previously.

For more info, also look at the posts by user TAA on the Kosagi website. Also, TCF user LRHorer has discussed in previous posts how he set up his Vonage ATA to send caller ID information over Ethernet/WiFi to his NCID clients and had the information display on-screen.


Preemptive answers to the usual sarcastic responses

TCF user Tiassa usually jumps into these caller ID threads to say:

Quote:
"There is this really cool invention called the "Wireless telephone handset". Not only does it give you the caller ID, it allows you to answer the phone as well!"
Quote:
"Just get a cordless handset...then you can answer the call."
Quote:
"buy a cordless phone with caller ID display. That way you can not only see who is calling, you can answer the phone as well! "
My response: See other TCF users' response above. In summary, the whole reason I want caller ID on screen is that I'm already looking at the TV screen, so I want the information on that screen.


TCF user AbMagFab has responded that he doesn't have a telephone jack near his TiVo and doesn't want to run a telephone line to the television area.

My response: As I note above, you can keep the ATA device in a separate area near the telephone jack, and it can still transmit caller ID information by WiFi or ethernet to the NeTV.


TCF user Sugarbowl suggested just using the Telnote to avoid the difficulties of caller ID on screen.

My response: I'm not interested in a separate gawky device in the field of vision like the Telnote marring on an otherwise 'clean' looking entertainment center.



Main old threads from TCF about caller ID on-screen with TiVo

"Caller ID and Screensaver?"
TCF showthread.php?t=447275

"Caller ID on-screen"
TCF showthread.php?t=351434

"Caller ID?"
TCF showthread.php?t=495937

"Wife asks where is Caller ID?"
TCF showthread.php?t=430359

"On screen caller id? "
TCF showthread.php?t=351417

Last edited by HiFi777 : 01-02-2014 at 11:46 PM. Reason: telephone-->telephony, spelling, etc, more in summary, top point
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Old 01-02-2014, 09:18 PM   #2
lessd
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For some Comcast customers TiVo added OD so I guess they could add the Tel number on the screen, but I don't know if that would require some additional hardware on TiVos part.
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:40 PM   #3
HiFi777
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Originally Posted by lessd View Post
For some Comcast customers TiVo added OD so I guess they could add the Tel number on the screen, but I don't know if that would require some additional hardware on TiVos part.
As I understand it, on-demand (VOD) programming is a separate set of signalling functions from caller ID.

In other words, while Comcast was able to figure out how to do two-way communication with a CableCard-enabled TiVo for OD, you're unlikely to see most MSOs offer caller ID on screen to TiVo.

My guess is that there are technical problems with offering it, or that they are limiting caller ID on screen to their own DVRs to lock people into lucrative monthly rental fees.
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Old 01-03-2014, 07:34 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by HiFi777 View Post
My guess is that there are technical problems with offering it, or that they are limiting caller ID on screen to their own DVRs to lock people into lucrative monthly rental fees.
Or that it's just a niche feature that isn't really in demand.. I don't know of a single person in my family and friends that has it or would care about it and 50% of us have no land lines, obviously YMMV.
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Old 01-03-2014, 08:25 PM   #5
HiFi777
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dianebrat
Or that it's just a niche feature that isn't really in demand
...which is exactly why so many cable companies make it a default setting for all digital subscribers with phone service...

Quote:
Originally Posted by dianebrat
I don't know of a single person in my family and friends that has it or would care about it
...and clearly you and your friends speak for all American consumers ... In that case, do I get to blame dumb reality TV programming and the folks in PeopleOfWalmart on you then?


By the way, do you really want to make the implied claim that not a single one of all your friends and family members is a cable subscriber with a set-top box or DVR that displays caller ID on-screen or might want such a thing?

Incidentally, I think you may have missed the many TiVo users quoted in the original post discussing their desire for caller ID on screen.

Or you may have missed the fact that many cable companies offer this feature.

And you understandably missed how a google search for this feature brings up extensive amounts of information on how to use this feature -- and plenty of webpages with non-cable subscribers asking for something equivalent.





Last edited by HiFi777 : 01-03-2014 at 08:42 PM. Reason: formatting
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Old 01-03-2014, 09:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by HiFi777 View Post

By the way, do you really want to make the implied claim that not a single one of all your friends and family members is a cable subscriber with a set-top box or DVR that displays caller ID on-screen or might want such a thing?

Incidentally, I think you may have missed the many TiVo users quoted in the original post discussing their desire for caller ID on screen.

Or you may have missed the fact that many cable companies offer this feature.

And you understandably missed how a google search for this feature brings up extensive amounts of information on how to use this feature -- and plenty of webpages with non-cable subscribers asking for something equivalent.
A: Yes I can attest that my friends and family don't give a care about this feature, in fact the subject has come up in discussion in the past and none of my close circle could see a desire for it, they have cell phones, and those are usually at hand.
B: A handful of us here at TCF are not representative of the global community wanting features or not wanting features
C: Cable companies offer lots of things some users don't care about.
D: What some folks care about others do not
E: I am aware of how to Google..

As much as you want to post War and Peace on my short comment, the fact is that this isn't a "killer app" feature, and I would wager the majority of DVR users probably don't care about it.

As important it is for you to have written your extensive initial post, it's equally unimportant to others. There are plenty of features that could be on my list to be added before you'd ever get to Caller ID, I don't even have a land line anymore, I haven't for almost 10 years.

The fact is land lines are going away at a record pace, it would not be a wise business move to invest time and energy in developing a feature for a market that is decreasing that rapidly, I applaud Tivo for not going there.
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Old 01-03-2014, 10:03 PM   #7
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I'm with db on this. I don't need another way to see that "UNKNOWN" is calling my landline, which I only have because triple play is cheaper than double play.
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Old 01-03-2014, 11:05 PM   #8
L David Matheny
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Originally Posted by HiFi777 View Post
My guess is that there are technical problems with offering it, or that they are limiting caller ID on screen to their own DVRs to lock people into lucrative monthly rental fees.
TiVo could probably offer on-screen caller ID, but (as with the cable company offerings) it could be done easily only for customers whose phone service is delivered via TV cable, not for those with a normal phone line. The cable companies want to promote that because it encourages people to use them for (Internet) phone service. TiVo has no such ulterior motive.

To offer on-screen caller ID for people with a real (not Internet) phone line, TiVo would have to add a phone jack and caller ID hardware, neither of which would serve any other purpose. Could they do that? Of course. They could also offer features like an on-screen indoor/outdoor thermometer, but why should they complicate their hardware and firmware for things so far removed from DVR functionality?
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Old 01-03-2014, 11:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by L David Matheny View Post
TiVo could probably offer on-screen caller ID, but (as with the cable company offerings) it could be done easily only for customers whose phone service is delivered via TV cable, not for those with a normal phone line. The cable companies want to promote that because it encourages people to use them for (Internet) phone service. TiVo has no such ulterior motive.

To offer on-screen caller ID for people with a real (not Internet) phone line, TiVo would have to add a phone jack and caller ID hardware, neither of which would serve any other purpose. Could they do that? Of course. They could also offer features like an on-screen indoor/outdoor thermometer, but why should they complicate their hardware and firmware for things so far removed from DVR functionality?
A smart TV could do the same thing if wanted but a phone line is not normally available at TiVo or TV places, to run a phone line would be a pain to many people, the cable system uses the CID from the cable itself that everybody with a cable provider has to have at the TiVo and or a cable box. I have only seen it used once and everybody has it that uses a Comcast cable box. Comcast can also download a program that gives you CID on your internet connected computer, I tried it, was a pain because I have two Comcast lines.
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