Has TiVo hardware quality diminished recently?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by KillTheGrimace, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. KillTheGrimace

    KillTheGrimace New Member

    Nov 16, 2003
    Portland OR


    We're long-time TiVo proponents; I think we've been subscribers for 9 years? Our old Series 2 boxes were real workhorses, and we only replaced them when our cable company switched to digital-only a couple years ago.

    We replaced both Series 2 units with TiVo HD XLs, which were great for the first year. Then in 2011, the following things happened:
    • We bought two slide remotes, and they worked great! For a week! And then the one in the living room completely stopped working, while the other would function only in IR mode.
    • The HDMI port on our living room TiVo stopped working. Thankfully we were able to switch to component video, however it limits the viewing options on our TV (my wife is obsessive about changing zoom and aspect ratio depending on what she's watching, and apparently the TV doesn't give her as many choices now with the component connection).
    • The hard drive on our family room TiVo failed hard. (It was rebooting every day, so I ran the diagnostics. All three Kickstart 54 tests failed, and then it never started up again after running the tests.)

    Anyway, last night, immediately after setting up our brand new Premiere XL to replace the one with the failed hard drive, it occurred to me. Have I just made a big mistake? Is this Premiere going to prove as brittle as our two HD XLs and two slide remotes?

    When the one with the bad HDMI port gives up the ghost, should I just bite the bullet and go with whatever it is that FIOS Portland is offering?

    Anyway, so here's my question. Am I just incredibly unlucky here, or is the recent TiVo hardware just not that good?
  2. atmuscarella

    atmuscarella Well-Known Member

    Oct 11, 2005
    Rochester NY
    The reality is no one but TiVo has the answer to your question and they will never disclose their failure rates past or present.

    When it comes to hard drives there is not much TiVo can do about them. They buy industry standard ones - I believe currently from Western Digital. However when (not if) the hard drive fails it is an easily replaceable item.

    Good Luck,
  3. wmcbrine

    wmcbrine Well-Known Mumbler

    Aug 2, 2003
    The fan in the Premiere seems to be a problem. Other than that, although the Premiere is clearly designed to cost less to make, I haven't seen any signs that it's poorly made. And it's more energy efficient, yet also faster.

    Oh, and my Slide is still going strong after many months, and repeated drops onto a hard floor.
  4. mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    I had a dead S1 originally.. But both my TivoHD and (dead) S3 have had more problems than my S1 that's still running (and I have another S1 that would work if I plugged it in). These are just anecdotes, however. Both of them have had me upgrade the hard drive, so have had "unauthorized" openings of the cases.
  5. Series3Sub

    Series3Sub Well-Known Member

    Mar 14, 2010


    The original S3 is probably the best build quality TiVo ever. It has gone pretty much down hill from there, but the S3 648 was designed to the be "Cadillac" of models. However, it had a far too expensive retail price. The subsequent HD and HDXL were designed to be cheaper to build and have an acceptable retail price. The Premiere is easily TiVo's least cost to build and offers it at a low retail price (with commitment). Yes, I, for one, believe the build quality has gone down from the S3 648, no doubt. But everything is a compromise.
  6. replaytv

    replaytv gun talk ignore list

    Feb 20, 2011
    Denver ish...
    I think Tivo could do something about the hard drives by not engineering them to record 24 hours a day 365 days a year doing the half hour time slip. I am surprised that the hard drives last as long as they do recording all the time like that. It surprised me that when you put the Tivo in 'standby' it just keeps recording that half hour time slip.
  7. atmuscarella

    atmuscarella Well-Known Member

    Oct 11, 2005
    Rochester NY
    The Original Series 3 is the only unit I have had a problem with that wasn't a hard drive and I had 3 bad original Series 3 units. If you would like to be amused by my saga you can check out this thread:

  8. aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

    Jan 31, 2002
    The hard drives are designed for 24/7/365 use. Stopping them and starting them will probably have a more detrimental effect than the drives constantly in use.

    I had some DirecTV TiVos that I gave to my friends. They have pretty much been running constantly for 9 to 10 years and are still running fine at my friends houses.
  9. sathead

    sathead Member

    Jan 12, 2008
    Yes, constant & frequent power up and shutdowns are detrimental to hard drives, but that could be managed under certain circumstances/conditions to extend the life of both the hard drive and PSU in the TiVo's...

    If I have no recordings scheduled for a week or two or three (which can easily happen during the pre/post holiday re-run season) why can't TiVo owners have an option allowing the unit to go into deep sleep mode where the hard drive only powers up an hour or two before a scheduled recording is due to commence then goes back to sleep?
    Certainly having the hard drive spinning spinning/buffering for 504 hrs (three weeks) results in more wear than one startup and record for 2 hours (one hour pre-recording time to check for guide changes, one hour for actual recording) session.

    In my case- I don't use my TiVo other than during the six month NFL season. The remaining six months it isn't used at all. There's no reason to believe that having my hard drive sleep for 4,308 hrs (6 months) wouldn't result in less wear and tear than would result in it spinning/buffering/updating the guide for the same 4,308 hours.

    Hard drives and power supplies seem to be by far the two most common items that break down in TiVo's. I would love to see some user enabled options to power down the hard drives and reduce load on the PSU's.
  10. atmuscarella

    atmuscarella Well-Known Member

    Oct 11, 2005
    Rochester NY
    I would think your situation is pretty rare (but I could be wrong), but the simple answer is if you really are not going to use it for that much time pull the power plug. I have a lifetime series 2 I only power up every few months (qualifying unit for MSD) and I pull the plug on my Series 3 unit for most of the time as it is really just a spare and rarely used. But the 2 units I use for regular use are used daily and I would expect that to be normal. Plus I want them to call in every night, check for web changes regularly and download various pod casts - so they really do need to stay alive.
  11. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I don't record anything between 4am and 4pm the next day and have for years been turning my TiVo off with a timer, never had a problem with the hard drive.
  12. mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    Though again, an anecdote, I have a dead S3.. while my S1 is going strong.
  13. replaytv

    replaytv gun talk ignore list

    Feb 20, 2011
    Denver ish...
    I didn't say anything about stopping the hard drive. I was talking about stopping recording that half hour time slip.
  14. morac

    morac Cat God TCF Club

    Mar 14, 2003
    My original S3 has a broken button on the front (the up arrow doesn't work). I don't think it ever worked. Fortunately I never use it.

    I dumped my original S2 when the noise it was making was so loud I could hear it over the TV.
  15. bradleys

    bradleys It'll be fine....

    Oct 31, 2007
    I love the half hour time slip... I am forever turning on the TV and seeing something interesting and pushing back on the buffer. I know I am not the only one - we have several threads complaining that the buffer isn't long enough, wanting a full hour!

    And consider the complaints if you had to wait for TiVo to move into a ready state every time you wanted to use it!

    I have heard this before and it is just not a good idea. Good thing TiVo's engineers agree with me!
  16. SJPstl

    SJPstl New Member

    Mar 27, 2005
    I'm convinced the quality has dropped. I used to be a strong supporter of TiVo, recommending it to friends and family. I don't do that anymore. I bought an HD a couple years ago and had to ship back two units before the third finally worked. And it still scares me anytime I have to reboot it. I have an S3 that started an infinite power-up loop last night (the reason I'm on the board this morning) and I'm heavily leaning towards going a non-TiVo route for the first time rather than fixing it or replacing it with a new Premiere. I also own three S2's that are still going strong but very dated.
  17. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    Have you taken a good look at the capacitors in that S3's power supply?

    Is it lifetimed?
  18. hc130radio

    hc130radio Active Member

    Sep 16, 2004
    Rockwall TX
    My 80hr series 2 is a beast! still motoring along after 3 cross country moves. Hopefully it will last forever!
  19. Charles R

    Charles R Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2000
    I think there is a big difference between building materials (heft, etc) and quality. I have used TiVo's for over a decade and the circuit boards have become more integrated, hard drives smaller and perhaps the chassis is now thinner. Not unlike most every other electronic device nowadays. :) I tend not to keep my TiVos all that long but the only one I had an issue with was a DirecTV model...
  20. wmcbrine

    wmcbrine Well-Known Mumbler

    Aug 2, 2003
    Exactly. People feel heft as a shorthand for quality... which is damned silly, if you think about it. Some manufacturers even add weights to their products just to take advantage of this false perception.

    Will the Premiere hold less weight than a Series 3? I dunno; maybe. I know it will hold a 19" LCD TV, or a Blu-Ray player. But more to the point -- what does that have to do with its functionality? I mean, it's nice if it won't break if you accidentally step on it, but I'm a lot more concerned with how long it will work in normal operation.

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