Can I use Tivo with standard cable?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by matt2773, Apr 30, 2007.

  1. matt2773

    matt2773 New Member

    Apr 30, 2007


    I was looking to purchase a Tivo to replace my broken vcr. Does Tivo work just like a vcr but without tapes? Also, I dont have digital cable, can Tivo be used with standard Comcast cable. Also, I dont want the prgramming guide that you have to subscribe to, because I dont record that much, can i set the programming myself, and will the Tivo record without this subscription. I am new to researching these products, any help I could receive world be greatly appreciated.
  2. gastrof

    gastrof Hubcaps r in fashion

    Oct 31, 2003
    Potato and pen.
    TiVos have TV tuners in them.

    Series 1 and 2 had cable-ready analog tuners that could also get over-the-air channels. They can also work with cable boxes and satellite boxes.

    Series 2 Dual Tuner machines can only work with analog cable, but the second tuner can also take the input from a cable box, digital or analog. (Or with a satellite box, but only on the one tuner.)

    Early TiVos (Series 1s), if you can find one on eBay, will work without subscribing to the TiVo service.

    Toshiba and Pioneer TiVos with DVD drives come with a low-level, free version of the TiVo service called "TiVo Basic". You can also subscribe to get full features.

    Series 3 TiVos can receive over the air analog, over the air digital, cable analog, and (with cable cards) digital cable. They don't work with cable boxes or satellite boxes.

    Series 2 and 3 TiVos require your subscribing, or the TiVo is unable to record and store programs. (It's usually said that without service, they're "a giant paper weight".)
  3. atmuscarella

    atmuscarella Well-Known Member

    Oct 11, 2005
    Rochester NY
    1. All stand alone TiVos work just fine with basic analog cable
    2. All current (new) TiVos require a subscription and do not work at all without the subscription.
    3. Some older (used) TiVos like Pioneer & Toshiba DVD TiVos have a TiVo basic service that is allot like a VCR and comes with the box (no subscription needed)
    4. Some older (used) Series 1 TiVos allowed you to use them manually like a VCR without a subscription, I believe it was units that when new had a certain version software. I don't know the specifics of these units.

    Good Luck,
  4. gastrof

    gastrof Hubcaps r in fashion

    Oct 31, 2003
    Potato and pen.

    As you noted, you don't know the specifics of these units.

    MOST Series 1 TiVos will record without subscription. (I asked about that a dozen times before getting a second unit, and the guys here were pretty helpful, and made it clear that very few were made, toward the end, that couldn't do it.)
  5. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

    Feb 18, 2004
    Ontario Canada.


    The official word is they need to have come from the factory with 1.3 or lower software. When they changed the policy, the factory version went to 2.x. Unofficially, all Philips units, and Sony units manufactured before October 2001 are capable of recording without a sub.

    To The OP, you can use a TiVo to replace your VCR, but you have to relaise, for the most part, the TiVo is a TV recording service you subscribe to, not an outright replacement for a VCR.

    If you want a simple fee-less VCR replacment DVR, TiVo might not be for you.
  6. aus1ander

    aus1ander New Member

    Sep 17, 2004
    I was exactly in the same boat as the OP a few years ago--bought a Philips Series 1 off eBay and used it without a subscription for a month.

    You can record without a subscription with any Philips Series 1 TiVo, but you will be annoying nag screens all the time. Also, there will be no labels on your recordings except the air date and time.

    I ended up trying the TiVo series for a month (with their 30 day guarantee) and loved it so much, I never looked back. In fact, I lifetime subbed the Series 1 and bought a Series 2 six months later. Once you try it, TiVo will suck you in. :)
  7. ashu

    ashu User title defunct

    Nov 8, 2002

    So basically what you're saying is that TiVo sucks!?

    in THIS context, i'm forced to agree ;)
  8. usnret

    usnret New Member

    Nov 25, 2003
    NW Ohio
    I started out in the same boat as you. I first went to a Toshiba SD400, with basic no monthly payment services. Then I started reading this forum and got a 540 S2. I have DSL and networked the 2 of them. Then I got the itch to record and burn programs. Then I got a good deal on a DT and networked that booger as well.
    Guess your bottom line is to go with the SD400 to start, then be careful, cause you are going to get the "Tivo Itch" and expand (it's a good thing that we don't have cable HD up here cause things might get really "Itchy").
  9. mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    I suggest that if you REALLY don't want to subscribe to a service (or buy a unit with lifetime subscription off of ebay for example), then getting a non-Tivo unit that's designed to work more like a VCR is likely to be far better for you.

    Tivos nag you if you don't have a subscription, and the manual recordings are in some ways less convenient than a recorder designed to be used that way. For example, all of your recordings will just be called "MANUAL RECORDING", but with other units, you can either manually type in the name (once for repeating recordings), or rename recordings after the fact.

    I have 3 Tivos (2 series 1 and a series 3), and a Toshiba XS32 hard drive/DVD recorder. I got the Toshiba because you can't edit recordings on any of the Tivos. Tivos certainly get the win in overall reliability, but they're not designed to be used without a subscription. I originally intended to get my second series 1 to use without a subscription, but it was a (known) broken unit that ended up actually having lifetime on it. Since then, I have changed my mind and don't think using a Tivo without subscription is really better than a third party recorder, ESPECIALLY if you get a combined hard drive/dvd recorder.

    Now Tivos *with* a subscription can't be beat.
  10. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    Jan 2, 2004
    so you are saying it takes a good bit of scratch to get the S3 to do HD ;)
  11. usnret

    usnret New Member

    Nov 25, 2003
    NW Ohio
    Man, would I love to be able to scratch that itch!!!!

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