New TiVo purchase - having difficulty figuring out what I need

Discussion in 'TiVo Help Center' started by Ego, May 11, 2017.

  1. Ego

    Ego meep!

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    Nov 7, 2001

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    Greetings:

    I have an ancient history with TiVo, I bought the first TiVos to hit the market many years ago, and was so taken with them I had 4 of them in the same entertainment center rather quickly. I am a nerd by trade, so I of course got into the hacking of TiVos as well, and spent plenty of time in the TiVoCommunity underground.

    As time went on I migrated to the old Series2 TiVos for DirecTV. It was a no brainer, they were $99 each at the time, and I scarfed up 4 of them so I could have 8 tuners on a directv setup, it was bliss.

    Years went by, then DirecTV got unfriendly with TiVo - I tried to stick with it and tried one of the 'new' HD "TiVos" (not the old 'real' HD directv tivo, I had one of those too before they were phased out). This 'new' HD TiVo lived in my cabinet for a few weeks before being decommissioned. It was clear that DirecTV took over the whole box and it was only a 'tivo' in very limited ways. Moved on and stuck with DirecTV DVRs for about 7-8 years since then.

    I am at a crossroads and am debating leaving DirecTV. I currently have one of their 'main' DVRs, and several lesser DVRs all scattered around the house, but they all share the same playlist (each DVR can see all other DVR's recordings), so you can get at the whole house's collection of shows from any room/DVR. This is functionality I'd like to maintain.

    So last night, our "central" DVR's hard drive finally died. This covers about 85% of our total recordings being lost, and this has been the only thing "tying" us to DirecTV, we didn't want to lose all our recordings that are stored, and the hassle of trying to migrate. Now that we've got no recordings left, it seems an ideal time to get back to something better. We hate DirecTV's receivers for the most part, so its not an unwelcome change.

    So, I have no idea what I need to get though. I started scanning through TiVos product lineups, and things have progressed quite a bit since I last had a TiVo. Looks like most of our functionality requirements are there, but I still am not quite sure what the best solution is for us.

    What we need in a nutshell:

    1. Multi-room capabilities - I.E., any TV should be able to see and be able to play any show recorded on any DVR in the house.

    2. Minimum of 5 tuners total - that is what we have now with DirecTV, and often have all 5 tuners going during prime time.

    3. I am in a Comcast area, so I suspect I need CableCard capabilities (I don't know anything about cable these days, I've been a directv customer for over 15 years).

    4. I don't need 4k capabilities, it seems to me that the Roamio does not support 4k, but the Bolt does - this isn't important to me, but some of the skip/fast play functionality and UI speed seem to be much better with the Bolt?

    5. We are quite frankly couch potatoes. I have never owned a DVR that I didn't upgrade its hard drive on - we record many shows per day, and watch TV constantly. Lots of storage is a must, and I see that newer devices support eSATA. I'm also not afraid to take apart a device to upgrade the disk, but eSATA is fine too. How does this work exactly? Does it "replace" the internal drive the way a DirecTV receiver does, or does it marry the two together and use the eSATA as additional storage?

    6. Having all 'storage' centralized on a single DVR with "satellite" mini receivers at each other TV in the house is perfectly acceptable, though I am also fine with having multiple "real" DVRs each with storage of their own - the main requirement with this though goes back to item #1, we would like to be able to watch any show from any DVR in the house, regardless of where that show is recorded.

    I think I covered all of our needs. I apologize for asking such a baseline basic question, but given that this is going to be a $500-$1000 complete re-do of our entire DVR world, and considering that TV is a huge percentage of our world in general, I want to make sure I make the right choices up front. Thank you so much for insight/tips/advice.
     
  2. Teeps

    Teeps Well-Known Member

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  3. Ego

    Ego meep!

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    Nov 7, 2001
    I'll work on creating a diagram, but my wiring/cabling is pretty simple/straight forward. I have a media cabinet right now where most DVRs are, which is all hooked up to a central receiver with HDMI switching and all that. All other rooms have CAT-5 ethernet and so does the main media cabinet, so everything can talk over a 1gbit network with a 10gbit backbone. I can easily enough add wiring as well.

    Currently all the other rooms use DTV clients with no storage over ethernet to talk to the central stuff in the cabinet. Coax is run to every room in the house as well, though currently not in use (DTV wiring is all separate from the house's coax).
     
  4. Ego

    Ego meep!

    101
    3
    Nov 7, 2001
    Hello! Thanks for the response.

    In answer to the first question, yes, all Ethernet in all rooms is connected to a central 10gbit switch, which routes out to the internet if necessary.

    What you mapped out is what I've kind of gathered from reading all afternoon, it seems that the Bolt+ along with Minis would suit our needs (though disk storage is wanting, we have 4tb disks in 3 different DVRs, all are about 50% full, we're tv-show packrats), so we might have to adjust how we watch TV or go for a huge eSATA drive instead, but either way seems like this would work. The 6 tuners definitely covers our needs. Will we still need a Tuning Adapter, or is that only for the regular Bolt, and not the Bolt+?

    Cost-wise for the hardware I figured about $1k ($500 for the Bolt+, $150 x 3 Minis for 3 rooms) = $950. Lifetime tivo subscription will obviously bump that a lot, but sounds like this is the "right" way to go, and we're fine with paying more now to make sure we have a good solution that lasts us a while.

    Thanks for the input!
     
  5. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you want a TiVo Bolt+, with TiVo Mini's in each other room, connected via Ethernet. (Although you didn't specify, I assume that your router is connected via that Ethernet.) This gives you 6 tuners plus the need to have only a single cablecard, as well as only a single TiVo subscription (modern Mini's include a "free" subscription in the purchase price).

    Please note that the cost will be over your $ estimate.

    If you want more tuners or satellite storage, you could throw another TiVo box into the mix in place of a Mini. But this will add significantly to the cost--in addition to the box itself, there also would be another TiVo subscription charge (unless you're using a Roamio OTA) plus the need for another cablecard (again, unless going OTA or being willing to rely on cable show streaming from the main box).

    Although TiVo no longer sells them, you also could go a Roamio Plus or Pro, such as from weaknees.com (Pro only) or via Amazon.com, or used. Weaknees also sells TiVo boxes with expanded storage capabilities (although at a markup which you could avoid by doing the storage replacement yourself).
     
  6. UCLABB

    UCLABB Well-Known Member

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    Roamio Pro or Plus would work for you too. You'd have to find a used one. I'd forget about the external drive. It has to be a TiVo enabled 2tb WD drive if you can even find one. Most people avoid the external because it double the chance of losing all recordings. If money is no obstacle, I think you can get a big external from Weaknees.

    If your content is not copy protected you could use a pc for storage.
     
  7. HerronScott

    HerronScott Well-Known Member

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    Comcast never went with SDV so you won't need a Tuning Adapter. Also, note that the TiVo only supports a specific WD eSATA drive which is 1TB in size so generally not a recommended method here for increasing disk space assuming you could find one for purchase now.

    Increase recording capacity

    You can upgrade the internal drive to a larger size or you can offload shows to a PC or home server

    Scott
     
  8. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    I think that your thinking is right on point. (And sorry for any confusion by my having deleted and re-posted my original response--I wanted to add in TiVo Roamio and weaknees.com info., and you posted in the meanwhile.)

    You can increase the storage of your TiVo dramatically, by replacing its hard drive. Also, weakees.com sells "pre-augmented" boxes. For up to 3TB drive replacements, the box itself will do all that is needed for the new drive; over that and you will need to use software tools here as part of the process. Physically, the replacement process is fairly simple for either box (one step more difficult than plug-and-play). I don't recall, off the top of my head, what the hard drive TB limit is nowadays, for either the Roamio or Bolt--there are posts here on that and others readily will have that info. Note that the Roamio uses a 3.5" drive and the Bolt a 2.5", and so the Bolt may be more restrictive in that regard.

    One word as to an external storage expander: many people favor internal expansion over external, as the TiVo box will split a single show's storage between the internal and external storage, increasing the possibility of loss if things go wrong somewhere.

    Separately as to storage: you might want to also consider off-loading shows to a PC or external storage. Not as handy as keeping your TiVo box as a mega-jukebox, but a way to develop a storage solution. Various software tools here can make it easy and are well-regarded, and can include features such as commercial deletion. pyTivo Desktop will transfer shows both directions; kmttg and Archivo from a TiVo box.
     
  9. ThAbtO

    ThAbtO TiVoholic by the bay TCF Club

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    I would not recommend the Bolt line, as you said, 4K isn't necessary and no one yet is broadcasting in 4K.

    eSata is for an external Tivo branded expander drive and shows are stored on BOTH drives (parts on each). So an internal upgrade is recommended.
    Upgrades on Bolts are difficult as they use 2.5" hard drives and failures come quickly because there are not many (if any) 2.5" drives that survive constant read/writes

    Roamio use the 3.5" drives and easier to upgrade, up to 8TB. Roamio Plus/Pro has 6 tuners and is digital cable only with cable card. A basic model is 4 tuners, (One is OTA only, another is either cable or OTA).

    Minis are streaming devices only over wired (or ethernet via coax) and stream from other Tivo DVRs on the local network.
     
  10. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    Also, on external storage: some users have modded a Bolt in that regard, increasing, I believe, the amount that can be stored externally. There are posts here about that, should you want to go that direction.
     
  11. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    Just to clarify for the OP: the physical upgrade is fairly simple and similar on both models. And there may be some disagreement as to issues with the Bolt and 2.5" drive replacements--there is a specific Toshiba 3TB drive that most people seem to have had success with (at least, based on posts here).

    As to Bolt vs. Roamio: apparently, the Bolt is a bit speedier, especially with apps. Unclear if that really is meaningful. The Bolt also is the most recent model.
     
  12. UCLABB

    UCLABB Well-Known Member

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    Sorry man, I posted my reply without first seeing yours.
     
  13. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    The more info., confirming or not, the better! :) And I always forget that there can be copy protection issues with PC storage (an OTA guy here).
     
  14. Ego

    Ego meep!

    101
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    Nov 7, 2001

    Offloading shows?! This is something I did long, long ago with a series 1 and series 2 Tivo using TivoWeb (3rd party stuff way before Tivos did networking natively, had to put a PCI riser board and PCI ethernet card in the tivo and such) - since then copy protection and "locked down DVRs" have prohibited me from that being an option anymore. Knowing I can do that, how does it work with a TiVo? Can you only watch that recorded show I assume with TiVo software so the encryption remains and can be decrypted? Or does it store as a native video format with no encryption? (I would be shocked if it did).

    This is actually a huge thing for me, I have a 70TB file server with redundant everything (its a rack-mount chassis work hand-me-down with 32 disks). I've got tons of free space there, and if the tivo can store to a network share, that's a huge, huge bonus for me. Off to read up on how this all works. :)

    On the subject of disk upgrades, I'm totally comfortable with that, just trying to figure out what my limits are. I've upgraded disks in just about every DVR I've owned (TiVo's and DirecTVs), back in the day when you had to use mfstools and stuff to build out the new disk on a linux box. I definitely prefer an internal disk replacement, and it "sounds" like the Bolt+ is what I want (so I get the 6 tuners), but the 3tb is a bit too small, so I thought "6-8TB disk upgrade, done and done", but then I'm finding that the Bolt uses a 2.5" disk and .. reliability is crap on those things no matter what size.
    Based on other posts here too, it sounds like a Bolt might be a bad choice, though, UI performance is definitely a concern for us (though I guess anything we get that's a TiVo will blow away what we have, the UI is horribly slow on the DTV HR34/HR21's we have, sometimes 30 seconds to a minute just to page down in the list of recorded shows). Perhaps a Roamio pro is the key here...
     
  15. Fant

    Fant Member

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    Aug 31, 2016
    Just get a bolt+ (6 cablecard only tuner) and minis for each of your room and upgrade the hard drive yourself to an external 8tb drive and offload to your NAS on a regular basis.
     
  16. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    Maybe others here will correct me, but I haven't read of much issue with the Toshiba 3TB 2.5" replacement drive; it seems to be a drive-of-choice for the Bolt. But if 3TB is not enough space, little solace--and, of course, the Bolt+ already comes with 3TB. ;) I don't recall info. here about larger-capacity 2.5" drives (and don't know what's available)--in looking at weaknees.com, their mega-systems seem to use an internal 3TB drive and then a large external drive. This may be the determining factor for you, as people readily are using 8TB replacement drives in the Roamio boxes (a drive of choice, the WD red line, sometimes removed from a WD external storage solution selling for less than a bare drive).

    I think that most people seem to find the Bolt as just fine, btw, perhaps apart from the white color of the Bolt (the Bolt+ is black). ;) Comments I see are that it is a bit snappier than the Roamio, especially with apps (which I don't have much knowledge of)--but the Roamio is years ahead of a TiVo Series 1 or 2 in the UI generally, and sufficiently responsive in its own rights. Appearance-wise, the UI in the 2 models is almost the same--a few cosmetic matters but also with the Bolt having all or almost all HD screens (the Roamio's still have SD screens for settings--silly that TiVo still hasn't updated that, but it's not a performance issue, apart from TiVo's inconsistency).

    Off-loading: with the software I had mentioned, you can download non-copyright protected shows on your TiVo to your PC. And with the pyTivo software, back again. I'm an OTA guy--for me, that means I can do this with all my shows; but in the cable world, there can be copyright restrictions preventing this--depends on the provider (and with some providers seeming to abuse the flagging ability). Others will known more as to that, and there are many posts here on the topic. This is all very easy to do, and there is a newly-issued interface here for pyTivo, pyTivo Desktop, that is super-easy to install; and then it simply is a matter of a few clicks on the PC software to download the show--to get it back on the TiVo box, a few clicks there to access your PC storage folder and to bring a show you want back. The separate kmttg and Archivo softwares have numerous other downloading "extras," such as the stripping out of commercials, re-encoding to other formats, and download automation with kmttg.

    Easier to use pyTivo
    kmttg / Wiki / Home
    Archivo

    And, you'll like this, downloaded TiVo shows readily can be viewed on your PC, in various ways--no special TiVo software required. They download as .TiVo files, but easily can be decrypted with the above software as part of the download process (as well as after), for normal viewer viewing. (Note that this is separate from copyright protection with copyright-protected shows.) Also, some systems can play the .TiVo files without decrypting: my Win7 PC, with GOM Player on it, has no issues with .TiVo files, and the same may be the case (I forget) with WMP on Win7--the needed codex is there. But not with Win10. 3rd-party software also can be used to play .TiVo files, such as commercial product VideoReDo, if I recall correctly.

    Relatedly, which you may like: with a Bolt or Roamio (for a Roamio Basic or OTA, with the addition of a separate, small TiVo Stream device, which sadly may be disappearing), you can stream or transfer your show to an iOS or Android device, for viewing. The system is not as perfect as people would like, and there can be glitches requiring re-starts, etc. With iOS transfer (I don't recall if this is with Android as well), this capability includes coverage for copyright-protected shows--the original copy gets deleted from the TiVo box with the transfer to the portable device. Lots of info. here about it and others will know more.

    Also, for the Roamio (but not working for the Bolt, as recently has been discovered and discussed here--sigh), Netgear has its ReadyNAS system which acts like a jukebox for the TiVo box, both for archiving and accessing shows from a TiVo box. It's not inexpensive, especially given the large-sized drives that one would want to put into it, but it's way cool for trust-fund families. ;)
     
  17. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    Also, forgot to mention streaming from a Roamio (with a separate TiVo Stream, if needed by the model) or Bolt to your in-house PC, for viewing, via TiVo Online. (TiVo was working last Fall on out-of-home PC streaming as well (and some users seem to have stumbled into that access for a while), but no word on the status.)
     
  18. ClearToLand

    ClearToLand Old !*#$% Tinkerer!

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    Greeting and Salutations fellow "TiVo Pioneer / Storyteller / Couch Potato / Tinkerer / Nerd" :handwaving:

    I enjoyed reading your post / short story so much several hours ago (I was too 'under-the-weather' to reply at that time :( ) - I too enjoy composing long, informative (and hopefully entertaining :rolleyes: ) posts. Being OCD, I tend to format and use smilies more than the average forum user. I even re-formatted the portion of your OP that I QUOTE'd to make it cleaner to insert short 'quips' (in red above - 'Click to expand') while the bulk of my reply will go below.

    My current setup is:
    • Refurbished 500GB Roamio Basic w/ Lifetime @ $299 (4 tuners; cable *OR* OTA)
    • Refurbished 500GB Roamio OTA w/ Lifetime @ $199 (4 tuners, OTA only but***)
    • Refurbished Mini v1 @ $65
    • Old HP a6528p PC desktop (Vista 32-bit, 3GB RAM, 2x 500GB HDD internal plus 3TB external) running kmttg, pyTiVo and Streambaby
      - NOTE: This setup *WAS* originally running on a newer HP G7-1310US PC laptop (Win7 64-bit, 6GB RAM), along with the Hauppauge PVR-1212 (mentioned later in this post) until the *2ND* HDD failed. :mad: This 'situation' will soon be rectified. :cool:
    As the old saying goes "Timing is everything" and you, unfortunately, have 'missed the boat' :oops: So, what can we do about that? Well, I agree with @ThAbtO - unless you 'Live and Breathe' for its unique features, the Roamio line is MUCH more 'hacker' friendly than the Bolt. I tend to avoid purchasing 'unique' devices - i.e., I prefer having the ability to 'swap things around', either for troubleshooting or changing needs. When Woot (where I bought the Refurbished TiVo Mini v1) had Refurbished 500GB Roamio OTAs wo subscription for $25, I bought (the maximum of) three just for their spare parts; i.e. *EVERYTHING* except the motherboard with its unique serial number is now a spare part for my other two Roamios (Remote, Walwart, Fan, LED Lights, HDD, etc...) :D

    Now, getting back to why I put three red asterisks on the line with my Roamio OTA - some ingenious fellow FOUND the (PCMCIA?) connector for the Roamio Basic cablecard on an industrial supply site (the socket for it already exists on the OTA). Many of us subsequently bought OTAs w/ Lifetime *AND* a connector or two. Here's where your ethics, and TiVo's enforcement, come into play - plug the connector into an OTA, plug a cablecard into the connector and... :cool:

    So, as the wake from the boat you missed fades, "Where can I buy a Roamio?" :confused: Well, not from TiVo, anymore. But there's Amazon: TiVo Roamio OTA 1 TB DVR - With No Monthly Service Fees, and, of course, eBay and CraigsList.

    OK, you say, but "I said I needed *FIVE* tuners" - well, now more choices come into play. You could:
    1. Purchase a 2nd Roamio OTA w/ Lifetime for $399.99 NOW
    2. Purchase a 2nd Roamio OTA w/ Lifetime for $???.?? LATER (they do go 'On Sale' - set yourself an 'Alert' on camelcamelcamel)
    3. Purchase (something like) a Hauppauge PVR-1212 or PVR-1512 and rent a STB while you're waiting for the OTA to go 'On Sale'.
      - These devices will take component or HDMI output, respectively, from the STB, encode it into a .TS file, and pyTivo (all versions) or Streambaby will let you view these files, just like an archived .TIVO file (from kmttg or pyTiVo Desktop). The PVR-1212 doesn't even care what channel the video is coming from.
    Well, those are my thoughts - looking forward to your comments...

    HTH! :)
     
  19. HerronScott

    HerronScott Well-Known Member

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    Good news regarding copy protection is that Comcast only applies it to the movie channels so you can offload shows from the broadcast channels and almost all cable channels.

    Scott
     
  20. Ego

    Ego meep!

    101
    3
    Nov 7, 2001
    Wow... I have to say, thank you for such a detailed, in depth response. You spent a lot of time on that. :)

    So this is somewhat the direction I was leaning, I think my main concern with going this path really was the user interface "feel" between the Roamio and the Bolt. I saw enough comments of people mentioning that the UI was noticeably slower on the Roamio as compared to the Bolt. Thing is, I am fully aware of the perception game going on with comments like this.

    Personally, I'm used to a sluggish, crappy performing DVR and have been conditioned to "deal with it" for many years. My opinion of 'slow' is probably a lot lower of a bar than what a typical TiVo user's perception of a 'slow UI' is. I suspect that I will be elated with the response time on either device, when compared to what I've been using all these years. I do remember what my TiVos were like in the UI department, and boy do I miss it. :)

    Thanks again, you've given me a lot to chew on. Sadly I can't wait around for any deals to come along for what I need, given that the goal is fixing a giant meltdown. Knowing what HerronScott mentioned after your post about Comcast, and that I will have the ability to offload in a meaningful way, makes me more confident in this path going forward.

    I think I'll watch some youtube videos of people demoing Roamios and Bolts to see what the UI 'feels' like, but given the Roamio can take a 3.5" drive internally is a big plus for me, enough to make me 'suffer' with a 'slowER' (by tivo standards) UI. :)

    I'll also need to read up on all the tools you mentioned -- automation of offloading would be mighty slick too, I suspect with a combination of some of those tools that can be achieved.

    It makes me giggle a bit that that one website with deal in the name is still a forbidden topic around here. Its comforting really, that as much as the world changes around us, some things are just the way they are forever. :)

    Cheers!
     

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