Want to keep it simple

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by Sundog301, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. Mar 8, 2008 #1 of 20
    Sundog301

    Sundog301 New Member

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    Mar 17, 2007
    Chicago 'burbs

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    I've never had and don't want cable or satellite. I've only watched OTA TV (and rent or bought cable program DVDs). Want to keep things simple. All the techie talk (I am technologically challenged) and talk about various "cards and connections" -- no thank you. I have had TiVo series 2 (with splitter) for four years with no problems. Love it.

    Just got my new Sony Bravia 40" 1080 dpi LCD flatscreen HD TV yesterday. Series 2 still hooked up for analog, but I'm already missing it (including on-screen guide) for HD channels. Because I don't have cable or satellite, would it be a simple hook-up with no problems -- no card problems, etc., etc., etc. That scares me. Should I wait a while before buying so more bugs are worked out? I'm not sure from what I've been reading . . . I have lifetime service on my Series 2 TiVo box. Can that be transferred for a price from Series 2 to HD Series 3 for less than new Series 3 lifetime service?

    Anything else I should know?
     
  2. Mar 8, 2008 #2 of 20
    jebbbz

    jebbbz Member

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    I only have experience with the more recent TiVo HD. It sounds as if you have may your eye on an original Series 3 (the expensive one). Thus, you should take my experience as only suggestive. I have had my TiVo HD since late January and, since the first day or so all of my problems have been related to cable cards.

    My OTA digital has been virtually perfect. Problems? Loss of all video during setup. You will see references to it in the forums here -- you can't view any video, live or recorded and even the TiVo backgrounds disappear. The menus are visible and shows record just fine even while you are having the problem. A reboot fixes things. This appears to be a software bug that crops up if you spend a lot of time wandering through the TiVo menus as typically happens the first day you set things up. This happened to me twice the first day I had my unit but not since unless I was struggling with cable card installations, which keeps you stuck in the menu tree for a long time.

    If you are sticking with OTA you will not have cable card installations to worry about so I would recommend you go ahead. Also, word here is that the problem has been tracked down and will be addressed in the next software update. I am not current on lifetime transfer options currently available so maybe someone else can help.

    Besides that I have had only one glitch, a spontaneous reboot the second day I had my unit. No problems since except with cable cards and even then OTA continued to work fine.

    FWIW, I have found the TiVo OTA tuning to be excellent. My TV/TiVo is in a center island seperating two rooms with no windows facing south where the Phoenix antenna farm is located (15-20 miles away). Just for fun I took a simple collapsing antenna (think half of a set of rabbit ears) that came with a USB digital TV tuner I bought for a PC and plugged it into the TiVo antenna input. With the antenna fully retracted it is all of five inches in length yet I get good to excellent reception on every channel. Some Spanish language, shopping, and religious channels are a bit iffy unless I extend the antenna but the TV itself and the PC TV tuner device won't work with such a diminutive antenna. I didn't even bother to hook up the attic antenna again.
     
  3. Mar 8, 2008 #3 of 20
    Sundog301

    Sundog301 New Member

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    Mar 17, 2007
    Chicago 'burbs
    Thanks. I'm in a condo in the suburbs west of Chicago. As I said, never have had and don't want cable or satellite. At times in the past few years, analog OTA reception has been strange, though better generally lately. Condo did work on the rooftop antenna. In the past, never quite knew what to expect when I turned on TV. ABC reception was always the worst -- at times NO recpetion?! Other stations could be snowy to varying degrees or very good. NBC was always OK. But all others would vary. So far, two days of excellent HD reception on all channels. I only ever thought of cable or satellite for reception, but otherwise I do not want it.

    So HD TiVo Series3 should be easy and work well? I will probably wait a little while and see how things go . . . but I'm anxious.
     
  4. Mar 9, 2008 #4 of 20
    jebbbz

    jebbbz Member

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    When you say that ABC gives you the most problems while some other stations are snowy you are talking analog, yes? ABC is channel 7 but that is only their analog location. Digitally they broadcast on UHF 52. Lower VHF channels are really bad for digital so when stations stop analog broadcasts they probably will keep their UHF assignments while still calling themselves, e.g., "ABC 7" or "CBS 2."

    Check out

    http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/Address.aspx

    and see how they classify your reception. I am told they are fairly conservative. You can also see what channel your digital stations are actually broadcasting on. If you have had two days of execellent reception you are probably fine although crummy weather could hurt your reception and digital TV is basically excellent or unwatchable. Analog gets a little snowy, then more snowy, then more and more but when digital reception goes bad there is very little so-so in between great and gone.

    While here it verges on treason to mention them, there are alternatives if you are going OTA only. It is pretty easy to set up a PC with a digital TV (so-called ATSC) tuner card, and either Windows or Linux. If you have the hardware (either spare or or your main PC available part-time) that would be very cheap and the software and guides are pretty good (I started with Beyond TV and still use it to back up my Tivo for OTA). Since you are inclined to wait a bit, keep an eye out for a DVR from EchoStar. I have read that they are rolling out a DVR, under their own name or that of Slingbox, that will only handle ATSC and NTSC but which includes guide data in the purchase price. The DVRs that Dish (previously owned by EchoStar) offers, the Vip622 and Vip722, get pretty good reviews so the offering from EchoStar might be pretty good.
     
  5. Mar 9, 2008 #5 of 20
    Sundog301

    Sundog301 New Member

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    Mar 17, 2007
    Chicago 'burbs

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    Thanks, jebbz, your info helps me understand it more. The past reception problems I was talking about were analog. ABC was the worst. NBC always OK. There was a period of time (talking a year or two or three!) a while ago when I pretty much never knew what to expect reception-wise when I turned on the TV. But after the condo did some work on the roof and the antenna last year, the analog stations have been very watchable though not excellent for the most part. The long period of bad reception was strange. I've been in this condo for going on 23 years. Early years here reception was fine.

    I don't get a channel 52? ABC's D/HD channels are 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3. Thanks about the antennaweb site. They ask about high buildings in the area. TV antenna is on the roof of the five story wing of the condo building. The other wing is only three stories. Nothing else higher in the nearby area. The network and PBS stations in the area generally have more than one D/HD channels (.1, .2, etc.).

    YES, want to stick with OTA. The PC set-up you talked about. I am technologically challenged. Won't do anything like that. Keep it very simple. So I could use other-than-TiVo DVRs? I tend to go with what I know. My Series 2 TiVo has been great. No problems. I'm hoping Series 3 would (will after bugs worked out?) work just as well with my simple set-up?

    ATSC and NTSC -- what are those? Haven't figured out those acronyms yet. The rooftop antenna? I've asked various people / places if anything needs to be done to it for digital reception. Some say no and some say yes. Far as I know, the condo hasn't done anything to it for digital reception. I'm getting digital/HD reception . . . so nothing needs to be done to antenna?

    Thanks for your help.
     
  6. Mar 9, 2008 #6 of 20
    jebbbz

    jebbbz Member

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    While ABC digital and HD channels are called 7.1, 7.2, etc., they are all being broadcast on UHF 52 (according to AntennaWeb). ABC and other broadcasters were allocated a second channel in the UHF band over which to broadcast their digital programming while maintaining their analog broadcasts on their original channel. Digital tuners in your TV, TiVo, PC, etc., are set up to re-map your remote control entry of "7.1" to tune to the actual channel, 52, ABC has been assigned for digital.

    Each channel is 6 MHz (six million cycles per second) and while an analog broadcast takes the whole 6 MHz you can broadcast more than one digital program in 6MHz, for example, one in high definition and one in standard definition, or three or more in standard definition. All of the ABC digital channels you mention are being broadcast on UHF 52.

    Sorry for the acronyms... NTSC stands for National Television Standards Committee (I think) and refers to analog broadcasting standards set up decades ago and modified over time. ABC on channels 7 is analog broadcasting that follows NTSC standards. ABC 7.1, 7.2, etc., must follow broadcast digital TV standards set up by the Advanced Television Stadards Committee, ATSC. Cable TV transmits their analog channels in NTSC format so any TV or VCR tuner capable of handling OTA analog can tune analog cable. Digital cable, however, is not ATSC-compliant so you need a different kind of tuner, usually referred to as a QAM tuner (I am simplifying a lot). Your TiVo S2 has only NTSC tuners and so can only handle analog OTA and cable. The S3 and HD TiVos have hybrid NTSC/ATSC/QAM tuners capable of handling analog OTA, analog cable, OTA digital and digital cable (cable cards do not affect reception of digital cable, they are security devices only).

    Lastly, digital OTA is broadcast using ordinary RF frequencies so you do not need a special kind of antenna. If it gets good analog reception it should get good digital reception. Orientation of the antenna may have an effect on digital reception but that is true for analog, too. The way I think of it, if you looked at an analog TV signal on an oscilliscope you would see a wildly squiggling line. If you looked at a digital TV signal you would see bursts of squiggles like Morse code. The antenna doesn't much care if the squiggles are continuous or bursty, only your tuners care.

    It sounds like you get decent digital reception with the condo antenna as-is. Don't worry about it, just enjoy your digital and HD TV.
     
  7. Mar 9, 2008 #7 of 20
    Sundog301

    Sundog301 New Member

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    Mar 17, 2007
    Chicago 'burbs
    THANKS! And HD TiVo Series 3 now or in the future?

    I have to check again, but some of the local UHF analog stations aren't airing in D/HD as yet. The local UHF ION station, channel 38, currently has a watchable analog picture. TV listing for my area shows 38.1, 38.2, 38.3. Get NO digital signals from that station. I do watch channel 38 sometimes (therefore would watch their digital channels). Will they get better /stronger in the future or will I eventually be without channel 38 when analog is gone? (That may be the case with other UHF stations.)
     
  8. Mar 9, 2008 #8 of 20
    jebbbz

    jebbbz Member

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    TiVo HD now or later? Can't say. My situation is such that I can't count on having a uniterrupted time to watch TV (family health problems) so if I don't record it I can't watch it. I started with a cheap PC with a couple of digital TV tuners but with the writers' strike ending scripted TV and more and more of my local teams going HD on digital cable I went ahead and got a TiVo HD (and am struggling with cable card problems like a fair number of others).

    I'd go for it now. I doubt OTA with a TiVo will get much better so it is only a question of cost. Even if there are no good lifetime transfer promotions going on you have an S2 with lifetime so you qualify for multi-service discount, $10.00/month or $100.00/year pre-pay. You can pick up re-furbed TiVo HDs with full warranty for $200.00 and my guess is that when the S4 comes out there will be lifetime transfer deals for those that your S2 will qualify for. If you don't need a second HD TiVo sell the THD/S3, use the proceeds to help buy the S4 and do your transfer then.

    As for channel 38 I don't know. Some stations are broadcasting a low-power digital signal, waiting for the shutoff of analog before boosting power (electricity costs money) or it may be they have yet to broadcast digitally at all (digital equipment costs money). Give the station a call and see what is up.

    In some respects, digital TV is still in the experimental stage, less so than a few years ago but stations are still working out kinks, getting new equipment, even facing the prospect of re-building sets. Analog TV was so low-def that chipped paint and shabby sets weren't apparent. Neither were wrinkles and imperfections in the faces of their on-air staff. Here in Phoenix, I swear the local NBC affilate is electronically processing images of their anchor desk newsreaders to hide somebody's old acne scars...
     
  9. Mar 9, 2008 #9 of 20
    Sundog301

    Sundog301 New Member

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    S4?!! What? When? There was never anything more / better for analog than S2, correct? I miss my quick TiVo / on-screen guide. But I'm still switching to analog to use it for recording when I'm away and in the middle of the night, and the occasional record something and live watch something else.

    I looked at the Antennaweb site again. Looks like ION / channel 38 won't be transmitting in digital until the change.
     
  10. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    San...
    No matter how one slices or dices it, the situation is not simple. If that daunts you, I'm sorry, but it is the way it is.

    If you intend to stay with OTA, then the TiVo HD or the Series III will suit you just fine. You're going to need something to get off-air reception by this time next year, and the S3 class units are golden for that venue. There are a number of differences between the Series III and the TiVoHD, but the ones about which you are likely to be concerned are cost, recording time, and the remote. The Series III is somewhat more expensive, but a stock unit holds about 60% more content than a stock HD - a bit under 30 HD hours or so vs less than 20, and it comes with a backlighted remote whose feel is superior to the one which comes with the HD. Note there are 3rd party vendors (Weaknees, DVRUpgrade) who handle upgraded units of both types with up to 1TB of internal storage - about 150 hours of HD. Note also that both can be easily upgraded by even the most technically illiterate individual by purchasing an eSATA hard drive.

    If you intend to get cable, then at some point the CableCards are going to be a necessity. When depends on your viewing habits and the decisions made by your local CATV provider. Eventually, all the programming on your local CATV system may be SDV, and there is no guarantee at this point any of it will ever work with an S3 class TiVo. It's very likely it might be compatible within the next six months or so, but no guarantees. All analog content and all non-interactive digital content will work fine with the S3 class units. You can call or perhaps go online to find out which channels on your local provider's lineup are currently SDV. I doubt they will make you any promises as to which ones might convert in the next 18 - 24 months, however.


    Your OTA hookup is simple whether or not you get cable. CableCards, not surprisingly, are only useful for Cable TV, and are not required otherwise. The back of the units have separate inputs for an external antenna and for Cable. In the guided setup, you specify whether you are using Cable, an antenna, or both. If you select "Both", the guide will then show both OTA and CATV content, and you will be able to record two shows simultaneously off whatever mixture of media you like. If you do get cable, you will not need to have cards to receive any analog content on the line, but you will need at least 1 CableCard to receive digital content whether it is in the clear or not.

    That decisions requires an intellectual and emotional bias unique to you, and I have no way of accessing it. Personally, I would say, "No", but then I'm not you.

    That said, I know of no OTA bugs in either unit, and most, if not all, the CableCard bugs have been eliminated, AFAIK. I haven't had a CableCard related problem in either my Series III units or my TiVoHD in months. The only remaining bugs in my units of which I am aware have to do with TiVo to Go and Tivo to Come Back, plus a few very minor intermittent glitches in the UI. (For example, sometimes the TiVo errroneously reports a folder to be empty after deleting a program inside it. Exiting the folder and going back in clears the issue.)

    Lifetime service is not available on a 1st time purchase S3 TiVo. I believe there are still lifetime transfers available, but that offer is about to expire, if it hasn't already. Check the website.
     
  11. Sundog301

    Sundog301 New Member

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    Thanks. 99.99% sure cable is not in my future. Never say never, but . . . .
     
  12. Sundog301

    Sundog301 New Member

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    Chicago 'burbs
    I decided on the TiVo HD (not Series 3). It'll be here Monday. I'll find out then, but . . . there's a "dot" button on my new HD TV's remote for digital channels. Looked at the up-close picture of the remote on the TiVo site. No "dot" button to change digital channels? (Or did I miss it?) Only change channels via up/down channel selector or on-screen guide?
     
  13. Eccles

    Eccles Mostly harmless

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    The forward skip (->|) button doubles as the separator.
     
  14. Sundog301

    Sundog301 New Member

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    Thanks! Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday MONDAY
     
  15. ado

    ado New Member

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    Honestly, I think even technically challenged people can deal with cable and cable-cards. One call to your cable company, set up your service and set up an appointment for installation. You don't have to deal with the cablecards, the technician should be able to do everything by himself, and if there are problems usually everything is solved (in most cases). The only advantage to OTA i see is the price (free!) but other than that cable offers many more channels than OTA and doesn't require an antenna. Good Luck!
     
  16. Sundog301

    Sundog301 New Member

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    I couldn't deal with the stuff I read here. I understand virtually none of it. And then I read when there's problems getting everything (cable and TiVo) to work -- cable blames it on TiVo and TiVo blames it on cable. I would not have a clue. No thanks. I'm sittin' on the couch enough as it is. And . . . I have plenty of DVDs. Rent and once or twice have bought some cable TV series.

    Correct that I won't need a splitter on HD TiVo to record two programs (and watch a third) at the same time? I'm going to need that Tuesday evening already.
     
  17. moxie1617

    moxie1617 Member

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    Chicago...
    You won't need a splitter, the splitter is inside the Tivo. BTW, when you say watch a third, it will be a recorded program you can watch, not another live program. Your two tuners will be busy recording.

    Also, here is a link to the Chicago OTA Reception forum at AVSFORUM. Read the 1st post to get started.

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=9948397#post9948397
     
  18. Sundog301

    Sundog301 New Member

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    TU, everybody. I had no problems ever with my Series 2. Hoping for the same with the HD.
     
  19. Sundog301

    Sundog301 New Member

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    Maybe one more question. Seems kind of obvious to me, but.... My Series 2 is still hooked up. I've always had a splitter on it so I could record a channel and watch another. When TiVo HD is hooked up Monday, splitter can stay wired in so I can record two channels via TiVo and watch a third through the TV? Even with just OTA, once in a great while three good ones on at the same time.
     
  20. jebbbz

    jebbbz Member

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    35th and...
    No problem unless your signal is marginal. If you have a weak signal to begin with, or a crummy antenna, long cable runs, old cables and numerous and/or cheap splitters you may have problems. Typically, if you are getting decent reception somewhere in your condo (i.e., the antenna and cable run from the antenna to your unit are OK) you can solve your problems with better cabling inside your unit, better splitters, and, if necessary, a signal booster.

    So, give it a try. If you have problems replace the easiest stuff first.
     

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