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Old 07-22-2014, 05:20 PM   #1
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Got a Tivo Series 2 for five bucks. Discovered I know virtually nothing at all about

Model: TCD540080 manufactured September '04

What I do know:

It's a SD unit
The guide data isn't free
It doesn't do ATSC by itself

What I don't know:

If this unit has lifetime service it doesn't
How to find out the former learned how to do that now
If it even turns on it turns on
Pretty much everything else

I got the box. It's just the box, no remote or power cord. The stickers are intact and the case is in good shape save a couple minor surface scratches. As far as I can tell it's never been opened, or more to the point it hasn't been opened recently. There's a hard drive in it which by all appearances is the one it came with (Maxtor 80GB).

The power cord isn't a problem to get, I probably have half a dozen just like it and it's just a matter of finding where I put them. I found a similar power cord and cut notches in its shroud to fit, works perfectly. I heard the hard drive do its POST but that doesn't mean it isn't dead. Right now it's showing a welcome screen, going to give it a little while since I've got nothing else to do but watch that welcome screen or watch Torchwood. Now if I can just find a universal remote that works...

Once it finished its startup procedure, which I didn't stick around to wait for, it showed a little bar saying it was doing or failing a channel scan or something. Doesn't matter, it worked. I left it like that for a while because I couldn't locate the code for my universal. Found codes online, first one worked. The Tivo is 100% functional as far as I can tell, even had some movies on it that I played a bit of. The "blip boop" sound really is as irritating as they say too.

The settings say "in good standing" but lacking the network adapter or a phone line that can do data I don't know what it would say if I let it call home. I did some trickery with an old ethernet adapter, a 10/100 switch and ip masq. Everything worked as expected so I went ahead and ordered service to try it out for a month.

I'd like to get the same remote it came with or the best Tivo-brand replacement. It's not a branded box, just a plain Tivo S2. A link for the IR blaster cord would also be helpful. Amazon is preferred unless the price is outrageous.

Got impatient and made an IR cord, still want one that isn't all hacky though. Now to see if I want to continue service past the 30 day window.


Is there is an alternative for the Tivo wireless USB adapter? $40 seems steep.

It seems odd that the main SOC in it is sold by Broadcom as a satellite-on-a-chip since this isn't a satellite box. I wonder if that means that much of the chip functionality is just dormant on these.

Important question: For those of you with a Tivo (any type) who are OTA antenna only, does the guide provide data for all the channels you're able to receive? Looking for answers from people who get consistent, constant reception from stations outside of what the FCC considers their market. Question answered, they had everything I actually receive plus a couple more.

Update So far so good. My hack-cable is getting sideways glances but it's functional. This Series2 is dog slow... maybe others were snappier but this is like when I tried to use a 386 a few months ago. I also don't care for the SD, I've been spoiled by a HDTV now. I'm considering getting a Series3 or something instead so it has built-in ATSC, and dual tuners would definitely be nice.

Probably the last update It's working great but the RCA inputs stopped working after a power outage. I didn't bother looking in to why since I could just use the "cable" input with pretty much the same quality and that works perfectly. I replaced the hacked together IR cable with one I had for another device that was rendered unnecessary by the Tivo. I'll likely be using this box until it dies or I get rid of it in favor of a newer model.

I also installed and set up Galleon which was pleasantly easy to do. As it turns out I never used it with the Series2 though because the hardware is just too slow making it an unpleasant experience. Galleon though worked perfectly and I recommend it.

Best five bucks I've spent in a while, even with the fees being outrageously high - $12.99/mo plus ads all over the interface (many of which are intrusive regardless of what Tivo apologists say) may be the straw at some point... for now I've been outvoted though.

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Old 07-22-2014, 09:02 PM   #2
L David Matheny
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Originally Posted by JoanALopez View Post
Model: TCD540080 manufactured September '04
Best five bucks I've spent in a while, even with the fees being outrageously high - $12.99/mo plus ads all over the interface (many of which are intrusive regardless of what Tivo apologists say) may be the straw at some point... for now I've been outvoted though.
It sounds like you got your money's worth as an adventure and learning experience. If you are serious about TiVo, you will want to get at least a Series 3, and maybe a Series 4 or Series 5 (the new Roamio). Most people seem to feel that Product Lifetime Service is most cost-effective if you're going to use a TiVo for at least a couple of years. Do some more reading. Have fun.

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Old 07-23-2014, 02:08 AM   #3
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That is a branded box--it's a TiVo brand TiVo.

The 540 is the last of the single tuner models and next to last of the Series 2 line.

It's sometimes called the "nightlight" unit.

If the little TiVo guy hasn't fallen off of the front panel yet, it's in the minority of 540s.

The 540 is not famous for speed and power, even compared to the predecessor 140 and 240 S2 models.

But it records and plays back just as well, and the tuners seem just as good.

That Maxtor has a slightly higher LBA number than other brand 80GB drives of that era (same is true for their 40GB, and probably the other sizes as well).

This means that a truncated image made from that drive (or someone else's image made from an 80GB Maxtor from a 540) won't restore to an 80GB Seagate or WD.

With the right SATA/IDE adapter, you can use up to a 1TB drive (or two of them as Master/Slave).

If you go to the System Information screen, where it says

TiVo Account Status: 3:Account in Good Standing

the next line should say

TiVo Service Level: and over here will be a date (or should be)

Until and unless the unit connects to the servers at TiVo.com via either telephone or internet, it will consider itself to have a valid subscription until that date.

The previous owner, if they haven't yet notified TiVo that they're discontinuing their subscription, and if it was subscribed up until just recently, might be able to talk TiVo into giving them lifetime on it for $99.

Probably not the best of investments at this point, not because you couldn't still get several years of service out of it (and the lifetime sub on it would let you get the Multi-Set Discount on subsequent TiVo subscriptions), but, as you're well aware, it's SD and NTSC only.

While you're in the SysInfo page, use the channel down button or the down arrow button to go down and look at where it says

Remote Address: 0

If you have a TiVo brand remote that can be changed, in the remote and in the TiVo, to 1 through 9 as well while you have that page opened.

This won't matter unless you have another TiVo in the room or a Philips brand VCR, but whenever you have the System Information page displayed, the TiVo is subject to having the remote address changed if the right wrong remote is used in that same room.


"I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."

Darth TiVo, 14 February, 2011
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Old 07-23-2014, 10:56 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by unitron View Post

, might be able to talk TiVo into giving them lifetime on it for $99.
Not really worth it to buy lifetime on a Series 2 Tivo, as you can buy one with lifetime on eBay or Craigslist for less than $50 and usually get a remote and sometimes a wireless adapter and books too!

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