Should I Buy New Elite or Upgrade Old S3?

Discussion in 'TiVo Premiere DVRs' started by mchiles, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. mchiles

    mchiles Member

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    Jul 13, 2007
    I am interested in hearing some opinions. I hope I came to right place. :)

    I have three original TiVo Series3 Model TCD648250B units (250GB). I upgraded each unit myself in 2007 using MFSLIVE so that each unit had a 1TB internal drive and a 1TB external drive in Antec MX-1 enclosures. (Total 6GB). All these TiVo units are currently on annual subscriptions that expire next year (I am kicking myself for not buying lifetime subsciptions for the units at the time I bought them, but the units and the upgrades were already quite expensive)

    Anyway, over the weekend, one of the units showed the Green Screen of Death and started it's reset/repair loop to try an fix itself. I let it go through its reset/repair attempts for about 12 hours then unplugged the unit and opened up the unit and found the internal hard drive had died without warning. So, I dug out the original 250GB drive that had been in the unit when it was new. reinstalled it and fired the S3 up. After several Tivo downloads and updates, I was back in business. Although I lost about 200 HD recordings.

    Due to the flood and typoons in Southeast Asia, hard drive manufacturing has come to a near halt. The price of a new 1TB hard drive is now 2 to 3 times the price it was last year at this time.

    So, now I am in a quandrary. Do I buy a new $175 - $200 1TB hard drive and go through the whole MFSLIVE hard drive upgrade scenerio again??

    Or, do I bite the bullet and buy a new TiVo Premiere Elite for $450 to $500?

    Both will give me 2TB of HD recording goodness. But, is the new Elite UI and additional functionallity of the Elite worth the premium cost?

    Expect for this hard drive failure, I have not had a single problem with any of the S3 units since I bought and upgraded them in 2007. Have all the issues with the UI been fixed with the latest update for the Elite?

    I also have an iPhone and iPad. Is the the additional iPad functionality worthy of another reason to buy an Elite?

    Thoughts anyone?????

    Thanks,

    mchiles

    3 - TiVo Series 3 units - Each upgraded to 1TB Internal & 1TB External
    3 - SlingBox Solo units - Each connected to a TiVo Series 3 DVR
    Velocity Micro Windows 7 PC with 5 - 2TB Hard Drives and TiVo Desktop Plus
     
  2. aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

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    If you are at the end of your 3 year term, those prices should persist as long as you don't sign a new contract. My one monthly box is still only $6.95 a month since the price continues from month to month. Had I known this a few years ago I probably wouldn't have converted most of my S3 boxes at the time to lifetime. Although I did recoup the lifetime cost when I sold them. Except for the two I gave to my GF.
     
  3. justinw

    justinw Member

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    Jan 30, 2007
    I would go with an Elite. Four tuners is amazing and only one cablecard instead of the two for your s3.
     
  4. bradleys

    bradleys It'll be fine....

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    I think the Premier is a worthy upgrade.

    You are not going to see any enhancements to the older S3 platform and the Premier has faster transfer rates. A major OS update is scheduled for early 2012 so you should seen some long over due improvements.

    I use the iPad app all the time - especially to browse the guide while the family is watching the TV.

    Premier vs. the Premier elite... That is going to depend on your needs (and your budget)
     
  5. mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

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    sunnyvale
    Died as in won't even power up? I have a S3 drive that "died", but it seems to spin up.. it's just never recognized (on a computer, at SATA level that is). I suspect the controller card.

    The S3 it was in ALSO died (suspiciously) sometime after when I upgraded to a new drive (I had put in the orig drive back in for a while).

    I should try buying a similar drive on eBay and swapping controller cards.. I'd love to recover my 1 TB or so of recordings.

    anyway, if it will still power up, you might be able to copy the drive to another drive.. (or two, since you had an external drive too)
     
  6. lillevig

    lillevig Cold in East Iowa

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    Marion, Iowa
    Just to muddy the waters a bit, if you call to cancel one or more of the monthly subs, they may offer you a $99 lifetime on the unit. There is a whole thread on this forum about that.
     
  7. nycmiddle

    nycmiddle New Member

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    Oct 21, 2010
    If I may offer the perspective of a former S3 owner who had the Premier XL (purchased weeks before the Elite became available) and was return the XL to TiVo for the Elite:

    I loved my S3. It did everything I wanted it to and was fast and reliable. Unfortunately, like your S3 it was starting to have problems.

    I found the XL to be slow (meaning the interface lagged and I was faster with the remote than the TiVo could respond to) and as a result challenging to use.

    By a stroke of luck I was within the return window to exchange the XL for the Elite.

    Four tuners are simply amazing. The additional memory space compare to my S3 is a relief. The speed of the interface is much, much better - quite comparable to the S3, IMHO.

    And finally, the iPad app is really quite quite enjoyable. I think it eliminates the need (if you ever thought there was one) to have the slide remote because you can search for programs on the iPad.

    I am very satisfied with the Elite. I would be hesitant to recommend the XL if that was what you were contemplating upgrading to. However, I have been very pleased with the Elite and believe you will be as well.
     
  8. mchiles

    mchiles Member

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    Jul 13, 2007

    That's interesting... That would make my working S3 significantly more valuable on ebay if it has a lifetime subscription.
     
  9. mchiles

    mchiles Member

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    Jul 13, 2007

    Thanks for your thoughs about S3 vs. Elite. I am only considering an Elite. I have absolutely no interest in an XL.

    I love my upgraded 2TB S3s (all three of them) but I am stuck in 2007 tech. I think it may be time I upgrade to 2012.
     
  10. gteague

    gteague golftango

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    dfw (euless)
    thanks for starting this thread as i find myself in nearly the exact same predicament except that i have one, 5-year old s3 that just died on me. i guess i have bad karma because right in the middle of the hard-drive famine with the taiwan flood i lost 3 hard drives this week--two in my desktop mac and the one in the s3--it cost me more than twice what i paid for the hds originally to replace the two in the mac with the same size.

    i was vaguely aware of the elite model (the non-elite models didn't seem to offer much extra value over the s3 and the reviews were decidedly lukewarm at best and i haven't been paying close attention), but the price seemed astronomical for the unit ($500) and the lifetime service ($400). i called tivo and they would have worked with me on a refurb'd s3 and i would have been able to keep my lifetime service (the fiscally conservative and sensible option, for sure), but i decided to bite the bullet and go for the elite which should hopefully be delivered by this evening.

    but what i'm sweating is getting it up and running. i was one of the early cable card users and it took 3 weeks with several days of 8-hour phone calls just to get my s3 going originally and i don't want to repeat that. and now we have the additional sdv tuner device as well. and i don't know if i have the new 'm' cards or not in the dead tivo, although i think i do.

    anyway, i'd appreciate any tips or links from anyone who has gone through the process of replacing an old s3 with a new elite. i'm on time-warner in the dfw area. i only have today off and if i don't get it running overnight i don't have another day off until next year and that's a long time to go stuck only the 40 or so basic catv channels i can get by plugging the coax into my tv!

    thanks,

    /guy
     
  11. nycmiddle

    nycmiddle New Member

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    Oct 21, 2010
    Guy -

    I am actually a TWC customer in NYC and essentially went through the same thing as you (comments above) and had similar cable card concerns.

    My experience is that you cannot take a cable card that has been authorized/paired with one TiVo and simply plug it into a new TiVo and have it work.

    It requires TWC to repair the old cable card (assuming it is an M-Card) with your new TiVo. I can't tell you that your S3 has M-Card(s) in it. Mine did not. However, I was able to have the M-Card from my XL paired to my Elite via a phone call.

    I would not suggest it was easy or fast to get through to a CSR who can do the pairing. However, when I finally got to the right person it went very fast.

    I wish you the best of luck with your Elite and hope you are as happy with it as I am with mine.
     
  12. gteague

    gteague golftango

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    dfw (euless)
    @nycmiddle:

    thanks for the reply. i'm currently awaiting delivery of the elite which is showing as being on the truck for delivery, but it's getting late and i suspect i might miss anyone at the cable company who knows enough to work with me. since tivo is on pacific time i still have plenty of time to contact them to get service going.

    i've been able to confirm that i do have 'm' cards in the old tivo s3 and i've recorded the numbers from the cards. as you point out, i think it's going to come down to whether i can get a knowledgeable csr to work with me on getting the cards paired up to the new device. the old s3 picked the absolute wrong time to die in the height of the holiday season.

    /guy
     
  13. WVZR1

    WVZR1 Active Member

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    The WV...
    Assuming your card is an "M-card"!

    If you purchased directly from TiVo the machine is already "activated"! Do the set up and when it asks for the card insert it. You'll likely not have any of your "premium" services but you'll should likely have the balance of your subscribed services.

    You won't need a conversation with TiVo and if you're fortunate enough to catch a cable CSR with some knowledge or that will pass you on to one who does you could probably have everything this evening still.

    If you go to TiVo.com/activate and enter your machine ID it should say "already activated"!
     
  14. gteague

    gteague golftango

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    dfw (euless)
    i got this one from amazon.

    got service activated with tivo and spoke with a tech there who went through some of the cable card menus with me and said that definitely the cable company would have to re-pair the cable card. good news is that everything else looks good to go if they can do that. but i'll have to repeat the guided setup afterwards. i have my doubts about the ability of time-warner after hours tier-one folks to accomplish this, but the tech at tivo said they are open another 1-1/2 hours and would be willing to help if needed.

    [later] well, exactly as i expected so far about 3 hours in. to recap, tivo told me that a field in the cc diagnostic menu indicated the card wasn't paired. all other comms with the card and the tuning adaptor were good. call tw and got lucky enough that a field tech was passing through the room and actually understood what was needed in regards to connecting my account to the card and he claims it was done. problem is that the field tivo told me to look far does not have the correct info and i have no authorized channels. the finger pointing begins just like it did for the 3 week ordeal five years ago when i installed the s3. i've been on hold with some 'cc hotline' tw gave me for 45 minutes now waiting for someone to pickup although i suspect they're closed and no one will ever answer. being ever the eternal pessimist, i can't say i didn't predict this very scenario ...

    [later] bottom line after nearly 5 hours on the phone, i finally finagled my way into the tw cc tech support hotline and they couldn't initialize either one of the cards from my dead s3. i'll need to get tw to send out some more cable cards to try and then hope that i can get back into one of the support lines where they know how to re-pair them. what a friggin' clusterfsck. i doubt i'll have tv again until next year.

    /guy
     
  15. nycmiddle

    nycmiddle New Member

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    Oct 21, 2010
    Guy -

    As frustrating as it might be, may I recommend calling TWC back at a time that is convenient for you and see if you can connect with a CSR who might be able to pair your M-Card.
     
  16. gteague

    gteague golftango

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    dfw (euless)
    tks. i was hoping against hope that i could get it going yesterday so i could start recording programs again. i lost all my saved and recorded programs when the s3 died. i work 12-hour, overnight shifts and thus don't have enough time between shifts to work on this and i won't have another opportunity until tuesday of next week and only a few hours then.

    and that's if i get the promised cable cards by then (doubtful over the christmas weekend and the post office cratering fast) although i can, as you suggest, try again with my existing two cable cards from the s3 although i am 99% sure i was with an expert tech at their own (tw) hotline and she knew what she was talking about when she said the cards i had couldn't be paired. i'm a network tech support tech, and even though i don't know the specific terminology involved in catv, i can usually tell whether someone is competent or not.

    it's funny that those two cards were working perfectly in the s3 and, afaik, the only reason the s3 quit working was because of hdd problems, so the cards shouldn't have been affected in any way. the only thing i can even guess is that some low level address for those cards is not clearing properly, sort of like a MAC address from an ARP, in my network terminology. maybe a fresh cable card with no legacy history info leftover will pair up right away. it was fairly easy to follow along with first the tivo tech, then the tw field tech, then the support tech as they showed me in the tivo diagnostic screens where the cards were talking to the server and vice versa. i'm sure the sticking point is dammed drm/copy protection/encryption bs which by all rights ought to be a hanging offense to use.

    anyway, after the cc failure i tried to set up the elite as best i could and ran into other things that didn't work. i got a message saying i couldn't access amazon 'yet' or 'right now', whatever that means. i'm hoping that will clear when my service subscription populates on tivo's page. also, the netflix folder wouldn't move into the now playing menu although i'm hoping that clears up when i have an actual recorded program in there instead of just the demos from tivo.

    also, my tivo iphone and ipad app won't find my tivo although it's right there on the network. although i can't see how this is related, i'm hoping that when my service subscription populates on tivo this will clear up as well. neither app offered me to input my tivo media id, which i thought would be necessary. being able to use my iphone and ipad as tivo remotes was a big factor in my decision to upgrade and if that doesn't work i'm going to be very disappointed indeed.

    the elite hd menu system is a mess. i thought i'd give anything for a live tv image playing while i messed around with settings, but this menu system is not consistent--it bounces around and shrinks and grows and has to redraw at different sizes and is an all around nightmare to use. thank the godz they've allowed you to use the previous menus.

    right now i'm not feeling at all pleased with myself for spending nearly $1k to replace my dead s3--i've got virtually nothing to show for it and am back to using rabbit-ears on my tv.

    [later note: i called tivo and they confirmed that the issues with amazon and the iapps not working are because my account hasn't fully activated in their system yet. also they said that one possible explanation as to why the cc's out of the s3 didn't work were because the newer tivo models demanded more up-to-date cards with newer firmware or software.]

    /guy
     
  17. nycmiddle

    nycmiddle New Member

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    Oct 21, 2010
    Guy -

    Hang in there. I work a great deal as well and appreciate just how frustrating and challenging it can be to try to schedule all of this.

    I have had issues with the App as well - in fact I just sent an email to TiVo about an issue with guide data.

    What I can tell you - and you are completely correct in feeling not so hot about spending 1K and having the challenges you are having, is that shortly these problems ARE going to be behind you.

    When those challenges are in the past, I think you are going to be very pleased with the TiVo you now have. In the interim it doesn't make it any better - I get that.

    But as someone who was in a similar spot to you a while ago I am optimistic that shortly this will all be resolved for you and you will be back to watching your favorite programs (x4 at a time).

    I hope you and your family have the best set of holidays ever and the best coming new year to date - until next new year.
     
  18. gteague

    gteague golftango

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    Apr 1, 2007
    dfw (euless)
    @nycmiddle: thanks, i really appreciate the support. i am optimistic that it will get sorted eventually. so optimistic that i shoved another $100 into the pot! i ordered an esata external western digital 1tb drive from newegg. it was listed as a refurb, thus the $60 discount off a new one.

    yeah, my subscription finalized at tivo and i tried the remote app again and it still won't connect. that is a puzzler and i've checked and re-checked my network and can't find any reason they won't connect. i've deleted the app and re-installed it, but that didn't help. and it's the same no matter whether from the iphone or the ipad.

    and on that subject, i've always wondered why tivo didn't have a web page where you could control the tivo and use an actual keyboard to type in searches. the actual commands would go on your local network from the pc to the tivo, of course, not through the internet. i know that's gotta be possible because apps like toast utilize the http address to browse through your play list for shows to download or watch.

    and i just had a thought about the tivo app ... does your tivo have the wifi adaptor? are you using it wireless? mine is hooked via cable to my router where it is available on both the wired and the wireless network. but i wonder if the tivo apps can only communicate with the tivo if it is directly on wireless (wifi). that would be incredibly stupid of them, but i've lived through 5 years of stupid things i keep thinking they're bound to fix tomorrow and never do!

    this support page: http://www.tivo.com/mytivo/howto/gettivoanywhere/howto_iPad.html?WT.z_links=ipad_howto just says that the tivo has to be on 'the home network'.

    i did just now try it from work using the 3g network (as the diagram on that page shows) and was able to do very little at all--it kept telling me i had to be 'on the same network' as the tivo. basically, absolutely useless--all it lets you see are program guides which you can see on the website anyhow--there is nothing that lets you see into the tivo itself such as the todo list.

    /guy
     
  19. gteague

    gteague golftango

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    dfw (euless)
    this problem with the remote ipad/iphone tivo app is just insane and makes no logical sense whatsoever. i remember that i used to login to my s3 using https and sure enough the url https://10.0.0.6/ yielded a login prompt and after looking up the login credentials i was in. but this was from my desktop mac and i thought perhaps the iphone app couldn't see it because the tivo wasn't on wifi. so i fired up safari on the iphone and connected to the same webpage, proving that the iphone was seeing the tivo perfectly on the network--something i knew all along but this proved it beyond a doubt. i did a network port scan but i couldn't pick out a specific port/service that i could connect with remote control although i just realized i could toggle the 'allow network remote' off and rescan to see if one of the ports disappears. and actually i did toggle that setting off just to see if somehow the checkboxes had gotten reversed.

    i'm stumped unless the iphone app needs some sort of local name resolution, i.e., not using the ip address. it makes absolutely no sense. especially since i can't connect with either the ipad or the iphone.

    /guy
     
  20. mchiles

    mchiles Member

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    2
    Jul 13, 2007
    I started this thread... and based on the recommendations, I bit the bullet and bought a Elite from a local Hi-Def Lifestyles store for $449 a couple days before xmas. I got it home and activated the new unit with a lifetime for $399.99. I pulled the 2 M-CARD cable cards out of the old S3 and plugged the new Elite unit in and followed the setup procedures including inserting one of the old M-CARDS. When the setup was complete, I had only a few channels and the black and white cable card information screen popped up. I called Comcast and explained that I need to re-pair a specfic cable card and read them several sets of numbers off the cable card info screen. Within five minutes I had all my hi-def and premium channels on my new TiVo Elite. It was a quick and easy procedure to get the cable card working in the new Elite. I remember back in 2007 when I got the cable cards for the S3 it took several days and several visits by a Comcast techs to get them working.

    How do I like the Elite? I love the integration with the iPad app. I don't really like the HD Tivo Menus, they are too slow and too busy. They would probably take some getting used too, but instead I just switched to the tried and true SD menus. Transfers between Elite and Tivo Desktop take about 40-50% of the time they took before. I don't like the glo remote that came with the Elite. Is seems cheap compared to the glo remote that came with the S3. Althoght the Elite remote has the A,B,C,D button, it does not have the 1/2 switch for controlling multiple TiVos with one remote. Since I am using the SD menus, I don't need the Elite remote, so I programmed the Elite to work off of the "2" on the old S3 remote. Even with some minor annoyances, I am glad I made the decision to buy a new Tivo Elite instead of buying a new hard drive to upgrade my old S3 back to 1TB. Although, buying the new Elite was a budget buster. I do miss the S3's OLED displaying telling me what is being recorded instead of just a red light on the Elite.
     

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