What are the "lifetime" components inside a TIVO premiere

Discussion in 'TiVo Premiere DVRs' started by John7777, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. John7777

    John7777 Member

    Jul 23, 2017
    I have a premiere with lifetime that is having trouble starting up. Right now the problem happens every so often, but it got me to thinking what if something is seriously wrong with this thing, and I lose the unit along with the lifetime service. My question is: What is the part or parts of the tivo premiere that have the lifetime data on them that could be transferred to another tivo premiere, since I have two other units (with no lifetime) that I got cheap at a thrift store (one for ten, and one for twenty) with high hopes that they might have lifetime service on them. Would it be worth the hassle, or should I wait for this thing to die and wait for another trade up deal from tivo. I tried to do a search on this issue but didn't see anything, so sorry if this has already been addressed.
  2. JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

    Dec 7, 2012
    Ashland, PA...
    This is one of the misunderstood issue with "lifetime" or "All-In". The Lifetime is not for hardware. It's for the service like the guide, software updates and the programming database. Not for hardware. There is a different "charge" when you pay monthly and some part fails. Then the charge is low for a repair/replacement.
  3. Jonathan_S

    Jonathan_S Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2001
    Effectively the lifetime service is tied to the motherboard (specifically I think it's tied to information burned into one of the non-removable chips on the motherboard). You can't transfer that service it to another premiere. However if the power supply or hard drive of the TiVo is failing (not uncommon as they age) those can be replaced without affecting the lifetime service.
  4. Teeps

    Teeps Well-Known Member

    Aug 16, 2001
    For a data point the hard drive failed in my XL4 after 2 years of lite use.
  5. HerronScott

    HerronScott Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2002
    Staunton, VA
    Lifetime/All-in service is tied to the device which is what the OP is asking about and if he can "move" that to another TiVo via hardware magic. :) (The answer is not with the Premiere). He's not asking about if that service provides repair/replacement for the hardware.


    All-In Plan
    The All-In Plan ($599.99 one-time fee, plus any applicable taxes) replaces Product Lifetime Service (PLS). The All-In Plan provides service for the life of the TiVo device for which it is purchased, and remains with the device in the event of an ownership transfer. The All-In Plan is available for TiVo BOLT Series Unified Entertainment Systems and Roamio Pro DVRs. Devices that already have PLS will continue to receive service for the life of the device.

  6. series5orpremier

    series5orpremier Well-Known Member

    Jul 5, 2013
    The OP is correct a Premier could possibly be traded in for a discount on a new TiVo, but only with TiVo’s permission. They periodically have a sale just for that purpose - the last one was in August. You just have to make sure the Premier is continuing to make contact with the TiVo service for guide updates, and sooner or later another sale like that will probably come along.
    PCurry57 likes this.
  7. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2005
    An interesting typo. (?) there, by TiVo: as far as I am aware and as the rest of the chart indicates, All-In still is priced at $549.99.
  8. jamoses

    jamoses New Member

    Jun 2, 2011
    Unfortunately the original question was not answered. There must be some yet-to-be-identified surface mount chip(s) that can be swapped using a solder rework station in order to bring another board up with the same serial number personality. I had an Premiere that had a motherboard failure and another unused unsubscribed Tivo with identical board part numbers and revisions. Made me wonder which chip(s) I needed to swap out to make it take on the same s/n.

    >(specifically I think it's tied to information burned into one of the non-removable chips on the motherboard)

    Every chip is removable with the correct equipment.
  9. ggieseke

    ggieseke Well-Known Member

    May 30, 2008
    On Premieres and later models it's the CPU, not a separate encryption chip like earlier models. On Series 2 & 3 models it "only" required a surface-mount rework station. Switching the main CPU on later models is possible if you can swap BGA (ball grid array) chips without destroying them, but how many people have the skills and hardware to do that reliably?
    HerronScott likes this.
  10. PCurry57

    PCurry57 Liberal Hippie Chick

    Feb 27, 2012
    Dallas, TX
    These usually also require the trade in device had made a service call in recent history.

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
  11. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    In some database(s) at TiVo, Inc., Product Lifetime Service is tied to a particular TiVo's unique TiVo Service Number.

    On a TiVo's System Info page you'll see where it says

    TiVo Service Account Status:

    and to the right of that a lifetimed unit will say

    5: Product Lifetime Service

    and a by-the-month subscription will say

    3: Account in Good Standing.

    On the next line both will have

    TiVo Service Level:

    and to the right of that something like


    In this particular case that number means March 2nd, 2019, but a week or so before that the monthly sub fee will have been paid and it'll change to 04something19.

    Something similar will happen with a lifetimed unit without any more money having to be paid, but still the "paid up for another month" status has to be updated each month.

    When a TiVo "phones home" to the TiVo servers, it transmits its TiVo Service Number to the them and they look it up in their database(s) and inform the TiVo of its current status.

    So you have to have the combination of the TSN and TiVo, Inc. telling the unit reporting that TSN what its current status is.

    On the Series 1 and Series 2 models there was an integrated circuit (surface mount device, not through hole) made by Atmel and informally referred to as the crypto chip, and it was in that chip that the TSN is permanently stored.

    The recordings a TiVo makes are also tied to that TSN, which is why you can't just move a hard drive from one TiVo to another without losing those recordings.

    I rescued some recordings several years back by moving the crypto chip from one Series 2 TCD649080 motherboard to another of the same model.

    The first of the Series 3 models, the 648, also had a separate crypto chip, and I've so far unsuccessfully tried to rescue some recordings via a chip swap from one 648 motherboard to another one.

    I haven't given up hope of succeeding, I've just been snowed under with everything else under the sun (or lack of sun here in hurricane country).

    The other two Series 3 models, the 652 and 658, incorporated the crypto chip into the main CPU, which isn't like an off-the-shelf Pentium but is custom made for that model of TiVo. It's not standard SMD, where you and a magnifying glass and small tip soldering iron can see and get to the tiny little "legs", it's a Ball Grid Array, and swapping them in and out is another level of complexity altogether, although I think some people with hot air re-work stations have done it, though I don't remember if they were successful in actually getting the chip to work on the new motherboard.

    So anyway, if you have experience with hot air reworking and the necessary equipment, you could start by moving the CPU from one of those non-subbed Premieres to the other one and seeing if it'll at least boot, and then go from there.

    Let us know how it goes if you do.
  12. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    And be careful to keep track of which chip has which TSN, and if you get a working unit, put it in the case with the TSN (on sticker on back) that matches the CPU's TSN.

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