TiVo HD and Cablecards a Mess: Not worth the frustration yet

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by instill, Aug 12, 2007.

  1. instill

    instill New Member

    Jul 2, 2006


    There are now well over a hundred pages of comments spread across multiple threads with early TiVo HD adopters having problems getting their boxes to function correctly. Many of us have spent a dozen or more hours dealing with cable installers, cablecard problems, and TiVo support calls.

    None of this frustration is worth it. Hold onto your Series 2's and wait out the bugs. TiVo HD is a neat product with a cool, super-clean, much improved interface, and a lot of promise, but the cablecard situation is just a damn mess.
  2. jfh3

    jfh3 Active Member

    Apr 15, 2004
    Denver area
    The CableCARD situation is a "mess" only because many cable CSRs and installers haven't had the education or don't have access to the tools required to pair the cards properly.

    A CableCARD installation can be done in 15-20 minutes if you can read a few numbers off a screen and the person on the other end of the phone can enter them into the computer properly.

    There are clearly some pixelation problems in some cases with the Tivo HD, but this is far more likely to be a Tivo software issue than anything else.

    I'm sure there are dozens, if not hundreds (thousands?) of successful CableCARD installs for the TivoHD in the last few weeks with no problems - remember, those who are successful post far less often than those who have trouble.
  3. jlib

    jlib Lean Forward

    Nov 21, 2002
    But the more people who get them the more bugs will be found, the more people who have a particular problem the more TiVo will be motivated to fix them and, most importantly, the more Cable Card installations the more the cable companies will learn how to to actually get the Cable Cards set up correctly. So your admonition to wait out the bugs will only slow down their resolution. I want everyone to get an HD, now.
  4. robtech

    robtech Tivohead

    Sep 13, 2005
    Antioch, IL.
    I'm in Chicago Illinois with Comcast
    Had the Motorola M-Card installed in my Tivo HD this morning.
    Since it's multi stream, only needed one. Went ok, first it came up with only about 20 channels. Then they just did a full reset to the card and it works like a dream.

    I guess you can live with an S2 if you don't have an HD TV. Otherwise you are looking at a hurtin picture.
  5. Dr_Diablo

    Dr_Diablo Dr_Diablo

    Nov 23, 2003


    Your point is well taken, for the most part I am satisfied with my HD Tivo. So much so, I am going to invest in an SATA External Storage Device. Which, I haven't decided yet. But need to shortly for I have already filled the 180 Gig hard drive in just under a week since purchased.

    Further, to make a point, I purchased an 42" HP HDTV from BestBuy this morning. The HD is remarkable, cept for the pixelation issues, of which TIVO has assured me that this matter will be resolved within the week. I spoke with a Tivo Tech yesterday. Tivo is serious with solving any and all problems that may develop with their respective products.

    Not so the case with my cable company, BrightHouse of Indy. BrughtHouse has fought me tooth an nail from the get go since I have purchased my Tivo. Had BrightHouse done the R&D with their DVR technology I would not have bought a TIVO. :thumbsdown:

  6. alansplace

    alansplace ------ Alan ------

    Apr 30, 2006
    what about those of us who are not experiencing any trouble or frustration?
    Alan :D
  7. TXTivoUser

    TXTivoUser Jeep Ninja

    Nov 27, 2002
    Denton, Texas
    Welp...I'll be sure to post my experience in this thread. I bought my TiVoHD this past week and had it hooked up for the past several days. It's had more than enough opportunity to download any updates and I've rest it several times. I think I'm on the latest and greatest as far as the software goes.

    My Cable Card install is coming on Thursday of this week and we'll see how it goes. I'll be sure to post my experiences...though I'm very excited to see that TiVo is supposed to release another update in the next week or so to fix anything new.
  8. coreyt

    coreyt New Member

    Jul 30, 2007
    I would not worry. All new cable customers will have boxes installed with cable cards in them. While most boxes are pre-paired to save headaches I'm sure the cable companies will be getting more experience dealing with them.

    Plus there's 3-5 different products in the pipeline that will be competing directly with cable companies DVR's.

    I would expect that the cable companies will eventually learn to quit the dvr business and let other companies handle it. They could then lessen their customer support headaches to people who do not want dvr services.
  9. ajwees41

    ajwees41 Well-Known Member

    May 7, 2006

    I don't see that happening any time soon. Cox and Comcast have agreed to deploy the tivo software on the motorola dvr's.

  10. Zaph32

    Zaph32 New Member

    May 22, 2000
    I have to disagree with the thread - there was pain, no question - but it's worth it in the end. Now that I have 2 boxes live with M cards, life is good.
  11. StriderWA

    StriderWA New Member

    Aug 12, 2007
    I bought my Tivo HD on Thursday at Best Buy in Everett, WA and called Comcast to schedule a CableCARD installation. My first experience was the sales rep asking me 'What's a cablecard?'... After a brief explanation he replied 'oh, let me forward you to someone that can help you'... I got sent to 4 different people until I ended up with a Tech Rep in Everett who told me all I had to do was go pick them up at the local Cable Store (Redmond, WA). He did offer to schedule a truck roll if I wanted to pay for an installation, which I politely declined.

    Walked into the cable store the next morning, asked for two cablecards (didn't say what they were for), crossed my fingers and asked for an M-card, was told they don't have them yet. She hands me two Motorola cablecards, I'm on my way within 5 mins.

    I get home, pop the first one in slot 1, call comcast, the gal knew what a cablecard was, kept apologising because she doesn't get these calls often, and got card 1 working after about 10 mins. (she kept puting in the UA # instead of the host # or something, when she realized this it went right through)

    Card 2, upon inserting, kept generating error 161-1. She tried hitting it, nothing. She said it's probably a faulty card, so i went to go switch it out.

    Back to the cable store, comcast rep asked me if my other card was red too, I confirmed, she gave me a replacement red Morotola and said if this one doesn't work, bring them both back in and swap them out for the blue labeled ones. She said those ones were newer. (At this point I'm thinking 'why didn't she give me blue ones in the beginning if that's the case? Grrr...)

    Get back home, call in, pop in card 2, another call to Comcast, Error 161-4 pops up, she said that's because she hit it and the channels should come up. 2-3 mins later, it's working too.

    All in all, relatively painless. As far as I know, I'm not even paying per month on either card, guess I'll find out on my next month's bill. (The gal at the cable store didn't ask me what they were for etc just gave them to me, checked them out on my Comcast account) :D

    So not everyone is having chronic problems with cablecards. I'd imagine that the easiest solution for any cable company is to allow people to just pick them up and install them on their own. If I wasn't able to go swap out my one bad card and had to wait for a second truck roll, I probably would be pissed. This sounds to me like some of the cable companies are making it as hard to get a TiVo HD running as possible so you keep their DVR and because they're still pi$$ed that they are being forced to carry cablecards.
  12. instill

    instill New Member

    Jul 2, 2006
    I spoke with a Cox tech that lives in my neighborhood today. He claims the cards being used in Las Vegas are all Scientific Atlanta garbage. He said the Motorola stuff is awesome but the SA gear is all unreliable trash. Went on to tell me the SA-branded DVRs are reliability plagued and riddled with software bugs and glitches.

    Could our problem be focusing in on Scientific Atlanta cablecards?
  13. robtech

    robtech Tivohead

    Sep 13, 2005
    Antioch, IL.
    I think the issue is a combo of bad cards ( we had one bad during the install) and the cable company adopting and learning a new technology.
  14. jfh3

    jfh3 Active Member

    Apr 15, 2004
    Denver area
    Many "bad" cards are simply cards that haven't been properly provisioned by the cable company. You can't simply take them out of the box from the manufacturer and hand them to the technicians .
  15. aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

    Jan 31, 2002
    That was my experience back in December. One of the techs swore up and down the cards must be bad but I convinced him to leave them. When I finally got a tech that knew what he was doing, he got everything working fine. It was a matter of getting a tech that knew what he was doing and having that tech get in contact with the correct person at the headend so the correct info can be entered. Once that happened the Cable cards starting working properly after just a few minutes.

    At Comcast here there was only one person at the headend that had authority to enter this info. He had to physically be at the location to enter the info. Giving the info to a CSR would do no go since they didn't have access to enter the info at the correct location(even though they think they did but them entering the info did nothing)

    I'm hoping when I get the cable cards from FIOS next month the process with the will be better. But I'm going to start slow with FIOS and just have the cable card installed in my TiVoHD first and leave my Series 3 boxes with Comcast for a while.
  16. randymac88

    randymac88 Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Did your chat with TiVo give you confidence that they were going to provide some sort of new update this week to hopefully address the pixelation issues? This is intruiging and not something I've heard yet...
  17. TiVotion

    TiVotion Early Adoptersaurus

    Dec 6, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    The problem is that the gamut of things that can go "wrong" with a cablecard installation (and TiVo setup, etc.) is wide, and people want to lump many of the failures into the same bucket. I don't think you can make a blanket statement that there is a massive inability to get the HD (or S3) boxes working with cablecards. I can attest to success - I had cablecards installed in my S3 the week it came out, and everything went fine on the first try. I then switched providers (to Verizon FIOS no less), and had to do the install on the S3 box all over again. Two more cards, no problems. I've since purchased an HD box, and two cards were installed in that one sucessfully. I never experienced downtime or broken cards, and that's having had a total of 6 cards installed.

    In fact, I mentioned to my last Verizon installer that there seemed to be a lot of talk (on the Internet) about people with failed cablecards, and that their use (cablecards) seems to be in very limited demand. The installer said on the contrary, he installs several cards per week, and he has yet to see a failed cablecard.

    When you're reading these forums, I think you have to take into account that you're talking about a small segment of the overall population. Many TiVo owners won't come here and have their opinions logged, especially if they are having a favorable experience. That isn't to say that there aren't legitimate issues with the product, because clearly there are - I too am experiencing macroblocking issues with the HD, but not with the S3. But my issues are limited and not severe; it is not critical enough in my installation to deem the box a failure and return it. Others are having more difficulty, I am somewhat fortunate and I understand that. But for as many people who have posted here, there are far more people out there with working installations that you'll never hear from. I think it's easy to lose context.

    I think we also tend to assume that every problem that is reported can be traced to the same limited cause(s), which clearly cannot be done. There is likely a more universal cause at the root for the macroblocking issue (which I believe can and will be fixed, as it was with the S3), but other issues - cablecard errors, etc., have many variables. In short, on the subject of "problems", I think that there will always be several explanations, some global, some related to individual installs...but there are also a lot of success stories out there, some documented, some not.

    You may feel that you're taking a risk if you purchase an HD box based on the information posted here, but you're also taking a risk that, like many others, the installation might also work.

    I'm not trying to sell TiVo to anyone, but after the 100th "the sky is falling" post, I've decided that a lot of people just don't think about both sides.

    Whatever you do, just buy from a reputable company with at least a 30 day return policy, and save your receipt. Then you're covered either way.

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