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Considering getting a Tivo. But had a few questions. I would appreciate any advice!

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Mossme89, Oct 6, 2017.

  1. Oct 6, 2017 #1 of 12

    Mossme89 New Member

    Oct 6, 2017
    I have FiOS and want to get a Tivo for the DVR. Still live with my parents while I save for a down payment so they pay the cable bill and have made it clear that they don't want to pay for another device (even if I reimburse them). So whatever I purchase, I'd want it to be stand-alone and not connected to their cable bill. I'm okay with paying the full retail price and monthly fee.

    So as for my questions:

    • I see that external storage can be added to the Tivo. It's an eSATA port I think? Could I get a USB 3.0 to eSATA adapter to attach a standard WD external hard drive?

    • The Tivo Bolt is the cheapest and the other models are 2-4 times as expensive as the Bolt yet I'm not sure what extra features you get aside from extra storage. What am I missing?

    • Is there any DLC from the recordings when you transfer them to a PC? Or are they standard H.264 video files?

    • Can you choose your quality? It says 75 hours but that's at 4k. I don't need 4k, 720p is probably all I need. If it had options for 480p too, that would be great.
    Thanks guys!
  2. Oct 6, 2017 #2 of 12

    sfhub Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2007
    For extra storage, I would look at upgrading the internal drive. The drive expander is small, no longer sold, and not readily found. Probably around $130 for 3TB.

    The difference between Bolt 500, Bolt 1000 is just storage space. Bolt+ has black case and 6 cable tuners, but no OTA tuners. Otherwise they are mostly the same.

    The units do not "transcode" so when you select the quality, it is basically record the SD version if FIOS broadcasts it, or the HD version. Whatever they send, your TiVo records.

    I don't know what FIOS charges for CableCARDs, but you are at least going to have that go onto your parent's bill. Probably around $1.50-$2.00/mo I don't know what FIOS charges for cable boxes, but theoretically you might be able to save your parents money if you replace all their boxes with the TiVo, then use TiVo Mini's to share the tuners from the one CableCARD.
  3. Oct 6, 2017 #3 of 12

    Mossme89 New Member

    Oct 6, 2017
    Could I just put the cable card from my set top box into the TiVo? I mean once the Tivo is setup the only thing I’d need to use the box for is on-demand and I never use that.
  4. Oct 6, 2017 #4 of 12

    krkaufman TDL shepherd

    Nov 25, 2003
    Likely not. Couldn't you return the STB to Fios and get a CableCARD, instead? I'd think the CableCARD would cost less per month than the STB, so a net gain on your parents' bill.

    Be sure to account for the TiVo service fee (either a one-time All-In/Lifetime fee or a monthly/annual subscription payment) when contemplating TiVo models.
  5. Oct 6, 2017 #5 of 12

    sfhub Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2007
    Like krkaufman said. Often the CableCARD in the STBs are bound to the STBs and not available for re-pairing. It is possible it might work without re-pairing if you don't need any premium channels, but that might not be something you can depend on going forward. For example I don't know if a CableCARD pulled from an STB will be set up to get channel tables. It would be better to return the STB and replace with your TiVo and CableCARD rental. Then add TiVo Mini's whereever you need access to the TiVo's recording or the TiVo's tuner.
  6. Oct 6, 2017 #6 of 12

    UCLABB Well-Known Member

    May 29, 2012
    Riverside, CA
    If you want to save some money, buy a used Roamio on eBay. The only advantage of a Bolt is that it is slightly faster and has 4K which you say you don’t need. Should be able to get one without life time for roughly $100 or with lifetime for roughly $300. It’s a tad easier to upgrade the hdd on the Roamio versus the Bolt.
    krkaufman likes this.
  7. Oct 6, 2017 #7 of 12

    krkaufman TDL shepherd

    Nov 25, 2003
  8. Oct 6, 2017 #8 of 12

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    Yeah, if you don't mind switching inputs when you go from FiOS TV to streaming apps, I agree. Buy a used Roamio, Roamio Plus or Roamio Pro (but NOT a Roamio OTA) on eBay. Those have been going lately for anywhere from $250 to $500, depending on model, with lifetime service included. For less, of course, without service included.

    And then you can use a separate quality device (Roku, Apple TV, etc.) on a different input for all your streaming needs. (That said, if all you ever stream is Netflix, you might get by OK with the Netflix app on the Roamio, as long as your unit doesn't have the audio drop-out bug, like mine. But otherwise, streaming on the Roamio isn't good.)

    Keep in mind, the Roamio will give you almost exactly the same experience as the Bolt does when it comes to serving as a FiOS DVR. The Bolt is really only better in that its streaming apps are more responsive/reliable, plus it offers UHD on exactly three apps: Netflix, YouTube and Plex. But, like Roamio, it's somewhat limited in terms of the range of apps it offers. Lots of TiVo owners find that they prefer to use a separate device for streaming apps.
  9. fcfc2

    fcfc2 Well-Known Member

    Feb 19, 2015
    I would recommend you forget about using any external drive with a Tivo, it is just a bad idea from the get go.
    The Bolt is not likely to be the cheapest in any sense compared to a similar hard drive/ service level on a Roamio. Your best "value" priced units are going to be Roamios with "lifetime" subscriptions although these will look much higher priced because you don't have to pay for the monthly or annual subscription price any longer. The Bolt series use 2.5" hard drives which tend to be scarce and a bit pricey where the Roamio series uses 3.5" hard drives, WD Red series recommended if you want to upgrade or repair. Hard drives and power supplies are the most likely to fail.
    On Fios, you will be able to download most channels, but some stuff Fox,etc. and your Premiums you cannot. There are several free softwares available to use for downloads from the Tivos, KTTMG, Archivo, and pyTivo can be found here, TiVo Home Media Features & TiVoToGo
    The easiest to use IMO is Archivo and you can easily select what quality you want in your finished files, mp4 format, with or without commercials included etc.
    Fios charges $5 a month for a cable card which is usually going to be $5-7 cheaper than one of their boxes but you will need the account holders permission to make the switch. Getting a cable card from them can sometimes be a bit tricky. They used to stock cable cards in the local stores, but I think that stopped a while ago. Ignore any CSR who tells you that you that they don't have cablecards anymore and ask for a supervisor or use the Verizon Direct forum on DSLReports.
    krkaufman likes this.
  10. powrcow

    powrcow Member

    Sep 27, 2010
    TiVo records the quality of the digital stream it receives. Quality can mean resolution (480p, 720p, 1080i) and bit rate (8-15 Mb/s, for example). SD channels should be 480i (I think) and HD channels will be 720p or 1080i resolution. Bit rate will vary between channels and will determine overall file size. Note that a higher bit rate may allow for more detail in fast-moving scenes.

    If your ultimate goal is to archive shows to a hard drive to watch for later, just keep in the format delivered to you from your cable company. Hard disk space is cheap. If it is a limitation, however, you can use a program like Handbrake to reduce the size of the video, but probably at a cost of quality.
  11. randywalters

    randywalters AVS Old Timer

    Oct 21, 2003
    El Segundo,...
    I agree with all the above about getting a Roamio. When i decided to upgrade from my 2-Tuner Premiere, i had originally considered a Bolt Plus (or a regular Bolt and installing a 3TB hard drive) but the high purchase price plus the high price of the Lifetime/All-In option repeatedly kept me from taking the plunge. Even used ones on Ebay were too high.

    I started reading up on the variouss Bolt and Roamio models and after weighing the pros and cons i decided that a used Roamio Pro (3TB) with Lifetime/All-In service was the best option for me for many reasons. I don't like the shape and design of the Bolt or the curved Roamio basic, but i love the form factor of the Roamio Plus and Pro.

    I wanted 3TB so the Roamio Pro seemed like a win/win, but they tend to sell for $100 - $150 more than the Plus on Ebay so i started bidding on the Plus models only (1TB), then once i bought it i would upgrade it with a brand new 3TB Western Digital WD Red 3TB Internal 3.5" Hard Drive (WD30EFRX) which were going for $110 online. That way i get a brand new 3TB hard drive instead of using someone's 3-year-old and well-used 3TB hard drive had i bought a Pro.

    I lost out on about a half-dozen auctions (they sold for $450 to $500 or so). Some sold for almost $600. It struck me to check Craigslist and i immediately found a pristine Roamio Plus w/Lifetime nearby for $350 and bought it. Ran it heavily for a week to make sure everything was working then i swapped in a brand new Western Digital WD Red 3TB WD30EFRX Hard Drive ($90 on Ebay and Amazon among other online stores). The Plus and Pro come with WD Green hard drives which are excellent if you want to stick with the OEM drive.

    Avoid an External Hard Drive if you want more space. It's best to just upgrade the internal hard drive as it's more reliable and simpler. Probably cheaper too. Hard Drive upgrade options are very limited for the Bolt because it uses a smaller 2.5" Laptop drive, where the Roamio uses a standard 3.5" size. The WD Red is the current go-to drive for the Roamio. For the Bolt, there is a 2.5" Toshiba 3TB which is also good. On both the Roamio and the Bolt, you can simply drop in a 2TB or 3TB hard drive and it will load the Tivo software itself and be up and running in minutes.
    MichaelAinNB and Mikeguy like this.
  12. MichaelAinNB

    MichaelAinNB Member

    Dec 28, 2013
    Very informative. Thanks for taking the time.
    randywalters likes this.

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