Which TIVO is the fairest of them all? Looking to buy, have questions

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by BurnBaby, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. BurnBaby

    BurnBaby Member

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    Sep 20, 2007

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    I'm looking to buy a TIVO, most interested in a DVD-R, dual tuner. The more I look into the different models, the more questions I have. Which TIVO is the fairest of them all? Here are my questions:

    1) Is it worth it to buy a DVD-R model? Is the video/audio quality on DVD-Rs as good as the non-DVD-R models?

    2)What is the best, most reliable TIVO DVD-R? From the customer reviews I've read, it seems the Pioneer 810 is the one customers like best. What about the Pioneer Elite?

    3) I'm looking for a series 2, dual-tuner model. I don't have an HD tv, so don't need a series 3. I've read that some say the TIVO 240s have better video/audio quality than the newer models, but then also read that the 540s and 640s have better technology. Which is the best TIVO model and why?

    4) Do I need a USB2 adapter if I already have a wireless network set up?

    5) Because they don't make the TVIO DVD-R models anymore (grumble, grumble :rolleyes: ), I'm looking at used ones on Ebay. If a drive has already been upgraded (I'm only looking at reliable sellers), should I stay away? I'd love to have an upgraded drive, because, well, I love my TV, but not sure that I'd want to attempt upgrading myself. I know my way around tech stuff, but never upgraded anything before. How techie should I be before attempting an upgrade myself? Also, if I buy an upgraded model, should I insist on having the original drive? Is having a warranty on the upgraded drive enough? This part is where I get the most confused.

    Thanks!
     
  2. megazone

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

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    The DVD-R models are out of production and have been for some time. So you'll most likely find them used or refurbished. You might get lucky and find a new one somewhere.

    The A/V quality on the DVD units is - different. They record at a different resolution and bitrate than the non-DVD S2 units, so it isn't quite apples to apples. I think the DVD unit recordings look better, myself. But then the TiVo HD and Series3 are better then any S2.

    I own a Pioneer DVR-810H and a Toshiba RS-TX20, and I used a Humax DRT800 for a while. I'd take the Pioneer over the others without a second thought. Hands down the best unit - fastest performance, higher build quality, and the same software. Not to say the Humax and Toshiba units are *bad*, but I know which one I'd take.

    The DVR-57H, the Elite, is just a fancier DVR-810H. Same features, nothing special. No reason to pick it over the 810H - other than the 120GB drive (compared 80GB) - but you can put in a bigger drive.

    You're mixing up Series2 and Series2DT units there. The Series2DT (dual-tuner) is the 649. All of the others - 1xx/2xx/3xx are single-tuner Series2 units. So if you're looking at the dual-tuner, you have one model - well, two, the 80-hour or the 180-hour S2DT. The only difference is the drive.

    As for video quality on the older Series2 units - they're basically all the same. Same encoding settings.

    The S2DT, Series3, and TiVo HD have a built-in *wired* Ethernet port. If you have a *wired* port to plug them into, you don't need an adapter. If you want to put them right on the WiFi network, then yes, you need a USB WiFi adapter for the TiVo. And you really, REALLY should use the TiVo-branded adapter. Do NOT waste time and sanity trying to use another one - even if it works it will be insecure. (The TiVo-branded adapter does WPA - all others are only WEP.) If you get an old single-tuner S2 then you'll need a network adapter for wired too - no built-in port.

    No real reason to stay away from an upgraded unit - unless it wasn't done correctly. Then it could be a time bomb waiting to fail. But most are done right.

    Insisting in having the original drive - good luck. A lot of people don't bother keeping them, or just reuse them in something else - like a PC. (I know I never kept them.) If the drive in your TiVo fails you'll need a drive image to ready a new drive - but you can get that for $20 from DVRupgrade.com.

    Personally, I don't know that the DVD-R units are worth it today - unless you need a DVD player too and/or really expect to be burning a lot of shows to DVD. If you have a DVD player (and there are GREAT players for ~$50 these days - region free, DivX support, etc) or only plan to burn shows now and then, use TiVoToGo and burn on your PC.
     
  3. gastrof

    gastrof Hubcaps r in fashion

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    The DVD units aren't what they're cracked up to be. They don't allow any editing. All they do is dump the hard drive recording to the disc.

    If a movie was recorded at the "two hours per disc" setting, but it was two hours and five minutes long, it won't fit on one disc, and you'll have to use two discs for a miserable extra five minutes.

    Same with TV shows that run an extra minute. If they go over the capacity of the disc, you're sunk. No way to remove the breaks.

    Also, keep in mind that the Dual Tuner Series 2 machines don't handle Over-The-Air television. They're for cable and satellite only, and really can't be made to work with an antenna as a signal source. (No guide data, since they're not intended to receive off the air broadcasts.)
     
  4. d_anders

    d_anders Sr Legacy Member

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    For the money and ability to stay up with the newest software features for TiVo in the next two year (and even handle HD even at some future point if you just want SD for now), I would go with the TiVoHD and buy a separate external DVD burner.

    Keep in mind, that the TiVo2Go and Multi-Run-Viewing capabilities found on the Series 2 units are expected to the be added to the S3's and TiVoHD models this fall with an automatic software update.

    With TiVo2Go you will have the ability to send shows to your PC or MAC which then can be burned, etc. On PCs they even support a number of portable media devices.
     
  5. retired_guy

    retired_guy New Member

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    I've got a Pioneer 57H and its certainly my favorite of all the Series2 boxes. It generates a better picture for me due to the higher bit rate along with the component interface to the TV. Non-DVD-R models only have S-video for their best output. My Humax generates the worse picture. That said, I go along with buying a HD model, even without a HD set. You'll be able to to use TiVoToGo (in November) to copy programs to your PC to write to DVD-- not as clean and fast as with the 810 or 57H, but more flexible. And you should see a better picture than with most Series2 boxes, even for SD analog material and particularly better for SD digital material. When you consider the useful life of the box, the long term cost shouldn't be that much different from buying a Series2 model now and then replacing it in the future.
     
  6. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

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    All of the Series 2 and Series 3 models will be kept up with recent softwares.

    If your source is cable and/or OTA, then get the TiVoHD or Series 3.

    If you anticipate other sources, or want in cheap now, get a Series 2.
     
  7. BurnBaby

    BurnBaby Member

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    Sep 20, 2007
    Thanks so much for all the great info! And Megazone, thanks for clearing up my confusion about the models. I've added the HD models into consideration - price might be an issue here. I'm not that informed on the HD TIVO and HD issues yet, so more questions:

    If I buy a Series 2 DT, how long do you think I'll be able to use it before having to switch to HD (especially with all the changes going on with digital cable these days)? Is buying a Series 2 model with lifetime or prepaid service on Ebay really worth it or is it like throwing money out the window, because I will have to replace soon? Will the Series 3 and HD likely have good resale value or will they too be obsolete soon b/c of all the cablecard, switch digital issues to be resolved?


    Will I not be able to keep up with the latest features on the S2 then? Also what are the drawbacks of using an external DVD burner (aside from having the extra component)? And are there any people recommend?

    Is Fios included in your cable category here? I have Comcast now, but could switch in the future.



    Also:
    Can I record channels above 100 with the S2 DT? With the S3 HD? I do have a digital cable box.

    If I wait till November for Tivo to Go, I will definitely need an upgraded drive. I've heard that TTG is really slow over a wireless network - any opinions on this? Any other problems with TTG?

    Will I definitely need a cable card if I have a cable box? I have Comcast, they say they don't charge for the cable cards but I can't use the On-Demand service. :( So is it either TIVO or On-Demand or is there a way to get both?


    I know this is off-topic, but I didn't realize region-free, DivX players could be gotten for that cheap...where do I look for one of these? Right now I don't have a DVD burner on my computer, I would have to get one. I have a plain old DVD player for my TV.
     
  8. megazone

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

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    Years. The question is when you'd lose the dual-tuner capability. The S2DT supports two analog channels but *one* digital channel - from an external cable box. As long as your cable system has analog channels, the dual internal tuners work. But if your cable system ever goes 100% digital, then you'd only be able to record from the external cable box - reducing it to one tuner. So it would still work, but with that limitation.

    And, of course, there is the personal decision about going HD - you may find you want to get an HDTV and then would probably want an HD DVR.

    You won't *have* to replace it, most likely. But used is used. Lifetime is nice to have, depending on the asking price. But I personally wouldn't buy any used S2/S2DT TiVo unless it had lifetime. A used S3, maybe, if it was a good deal.

    That's hard to answer. Obsolete - unlikely. CableCARD isn't going away in the near future, even if something new (like DCAS) gets worked out tomorrow - and that's not going to happen. SDV is another issue. I think there is a very good chance of the industry introducing a solution, but it isn't a sure thing.

    The S2 is continuing to receive software updates at this time, and for the foreseeable future. That will probably end someday, but no one can say when. But I expect it to be years, not months.

    It is slow - you have to transfer the content in real time. You get quality loss, as the TiVo decodes the digital recording it made to analog, then the DVD recorder has to re-encode it for DVD. Personally I think TTG is a better solution than a standalone burner - higher quality, faster, and you can easily do edits before burning.

    FiOS does currently support CableCARD, so it works with the Series3 and TiVoHD. That *could* change, but it is unlikely. You can also use a S2/S2DT with an external FiOS STB, but that's not as elegant.

    The S2 and S2DT can record digital channels - which are generally those above 100 - *if* you connect an external cable box to the TiVo. The TiVo uses IR blasters to control the cable box, and it feeds the TiVo over A/V input.

    The Series3 and TiVo HD *cannot* use a cable box, period. Instead both of their internal tuners are capable of tuning and recording digital cable directly - but you need CableCARD to enable that.

    So both families can do it, just in different ways. The S3 & HD record the digital channels natively, including HD, which produces a higher quality picture. And they're both dual-tuner for digital, while the S2 & S2DT are both single-tuner only for digital.

    Why?

    TTG performance depends on the network, how that network is configured, and the TiVo involved.

    WiFi is generally going to be slower than wired. But if you have a solid 802.11g network and you use the TiVo-branded WiFi adapter, performance is generally OK. WiFi is kind of time-shared, so performance will vary depending on how many devices you have actively using the WiFi network at the same time. Also, if the TiVo is connected to WiFi, transfers to a wired PC will be much faster than transfers to a WiFi connected PC - due to the way WiFi works. (TiVo transmits a packet to the router, then has to wait while the router transmits the packet to the PC, gets the acknowledgment, and relays the ACK to the TiVo. If the PC is wired the TiVo can transmit much more rapidly as it doesn't have to wait for the router-PC communication which isn't using time on the WiFi network.)

    The Series3 and TiVo HD are both higher performance boxes, so transfers from those should be fairly quick. The S2DT is also fairly speedy, though not as fast as the S3/HD. The 540 model S2 on the other hand is the slowest TiVo on the market, and even on a solid WiFi network, transfers are very slow. The box just doesn't have a lot of power to push network traffic.

    If you go with the S3 or HD and want to record digital channels - yes. The S3/HD *cannot* use a cable box, at all.

    Right now it is either/or. You can only get both if you have a S3/HD *and* a cable box. You'd use the cable box just for OnDemand content (or watching 'live' while the TiVo is recording other content). There is no mechanism for the TiVo to handle OnDemand/PPV type content with CableCARD.

    On the other hand - since you'll have TiVo and the ability to record any content from any channel you receive at any time, and watch it when you want, do you really need OnDemand? I can say I don't miss it at all.

    I got mine from Amazon.com. :) I have a Philips DVP5982. Which is a little more expensive, I paid $60-something for it a couple of months ago. There is also the DVP5960 which is a little cheaper with fewer features - 1080i upscaling and not 1080p, etc. But still nice, a friend has one - him getting that is what made me look into buying one, and then I spotted the 5982 for a few dollars more.

    Oh - they're not region free out of the box, but there is a simple code to change the region.
     
  9. BurnBaby

    BurnBaby Member

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    Sep 20, 2007
    Thank you Megazone - you have been so amazingly helpful! To answer your question as to why I would need a bigger harddrive if I get an S3 and wait till November for TTG, I'm thinking I would use up too much space with shows I was waiting to burn - but it has a bigger hard drive so maybe not?

    So now I have to do TIVO math. :D A used Pioneer 810 with upgraded hard drive & lifetime plus went for about $600, A S2 DT with lifetime, regardless of whether or not it has an upgraded hard drive is going for about $500-600. The new TIVO mentioned above plus a 3yr prepaid would about $400 (plus in my case a new DVD burner for the computer). So used lifetime seems to make sense only when the unit will be used for more than 3 yrs.

    As for the Pioneer 810, , to watch one channel and record another, could I use a splitter? I've been assuming this but wanted to double-check.

    BTW, For anyone else looking to buy - I just called TIVO to ask one question - the very nice salesperson wanted to make a sale. Because I was hesitating, he lowered the price and offered a new S2 DT with free wireless adapter for $84.99. I am still considering which model to buy, so I couldn't take him up on the offer, but for anyone else looking...that's a great deal, no?

    Edit: To answer the question about what On Demand has that TIVO doesn't, they have a host of local stuff, some classic tv shows like Soap, shows that have ended their run for the season, like The Closer, My Boys, etc., right now there are free pilots of new NBC shows and there are always the free movies (I never watch the movies though).
     
  10. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

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    Some of that stuff is on Unbox, of note, the free NBC pilots.

    To watch one record another you typically need a splitter in the mix.
    If your source for now is just analog cable, you can use the TiVos RF circuit as a passthrough. Otherwsie you need to split to your box and TV tuner.
     
  11. BurnBaby

    BurnBaby Member

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    thanks classicat.

    Yeah I've been checking out what amazon does and doesn't have. The NBC Pilots aren't free anymore but they've got some FOX and CBS free shows.
     
  12. megazone

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

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    You're welcome.

    Ah - well, the S3 does have the largest standard drive. It really depends on how much you record and how much you want to archive long term. I tend to watch things and delete them as soon as I'm done, so the standard drive has been plenty big enough for me.

    You know, there is another option. Because of the agreement between TiVo and Humax, the Humax DVD-R/RW units are always eligible for lifetime on their first activation - even today. And WeaKnees.com is selling them for $49. So that would be $49 for the unit and $299 for lifetime - new box. Not bad.

    Alternatively, you can get a new S2DT for $49.99. No lifetime, but 3-years of service pre-paid is $299.

    Which is more important - dual-tuners or DVD burning in the box? :) Of course, if you get the Humax DRT400 with lifetime it will have more resale value just due to lifetime.

    Yes - you can split the cable before your cable box, or the TiVo if you just have analog cable and no box, and feed the other branch into the TV directly. You'd only be able to tune *analog* channels on the TV of course.

    Yes, that was a great deal actually. Better than the $49.99 deal on the S2DT - the WiFi adapter sells for more than $35 (the price difference) - usually around $45 on Amazon. If you need the WiFi adapter that's a decent deal - if not, well, you could eBay it new.

    I see Unbox has already been pointed out for this. :)
     
  13. BurnBaby

    BurnBaby Member

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    I do love my TV. :D And I like to rewatch some shows or at least parts of them. If I get the standard S2 80 GB hard drive, how many hours does that record at Best quality? On Ebay, I saw a new S2 DT with 180GB, why has TIVO discontinued this model? If I choose to a get a DT that's already upgraded what's the best place to buy them?

    Thanks for that info. That tivolovers deal is really good! The broadband offer I got over the phone is now available through the tivo website (I can't link to it b/c of the anti-spam thing for new posters). You do have purchase a plan at the same time on the site offer. The USB adapter is refurbished. Is it better to get the adapter new? I usually don't buy refurbished electronics.

    I'm not interested in a Humax. I know a lot of people have them and love them, but I've read too many bad reviews and customer experiences. The only DVD model I was looking at was the Pioneer. :)

    Dual-Tuner is more important, as long as I can burn DVDs on my computer.

    I am leaning towards the S2 DT - it's pretty much about the difference in price right now.. The TIVO customer service guy said that I would not see a quality difference with the HD model if I don't have HD, but in this thread and others, the actual users see a difference. Maybe the TIVO people are just pushing sales on the S2 DT and S3 TIVO harder (those are the only two models that have rebates) than the newer TIVO HD?
     
  14. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

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    Around 24, I think.

    Not a good seller? Eliminating SKUs for the new Tivos?
     
  15. fredct

    fredct Member

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    I just picked up one of these at a retailer before they run out, and am quite happy with it.

    Although my guess to why they discontinued it is different. It makes someone who wants more than 80 GB have to go to the TiVo HD. And HD & CableCards is little doubt where TiVo sees their future. It forces more people to the HD or S3 models by making the S2 a less compelling choice for moderate to heavy users.

    Either that or you need to buy a 80 hour (net after rebate: ~$100) and upgrade the drive to 180 hour (another ~$150 from Weaknees and TiVo Community). That's a total of $250 after rebate for the S2 DT upgraded to 180 hr, at which point many people would consider looking at the HD for only $50 more. Even if you don't have HD yet, its more 'future friendly'.

    I guess the short way to say this is the 180 S2 DT was probably 'cannibalizing' the sales of the TiVoHD, so away it goes.
     
  16. BurnBaby

    BurnBaby Member

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    Sep 20, 2007
    Just wanted to thank you all for your great help. I went with the Tivo HD and already the channels I'm receiving are so much clearer than what I was getting thru the cable box. So far, I've been loving it. I would've never thought to get the HD if it wasn't for the info I got here. I did a lifetime transfer from an old unit I purchased.

    Now Comcast just needs to get the cablecards working properly.
     
  17. TiVo Troll

    TiVo Troll Registered Troll

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    Actually both S3 and HD TiVos can be used to record (in standard-def) all channels available from cable boxes with coax RF outputs, but only by setting up manual recordings. The cable box must be tuned separately. A coax selector switch inserted in an S3/HD's antenna input lead even enables such recordings, when desired, without a user having to give up any of TiVo's tuning and/or recording capabilities.

    OnDemand is usful for providing programming almost instantly without taking up local HDD space at all.

    CableCARDS are not required for an S3/HD to record unencyrypted local channels manually, including hi-def programs. In my area Comcast has recently remapped some local channels so that although manual recordings are still required, the corresponding program data is conveniently just one line away in TiVo's EPG.

    A significant disadvantage to using Motorola's Cable STB's or DVR's as a source for DVD recordings is that when their signals are sent to a DVD burner the resulting picture must be ZOOMED to fill up a 16x9 ratio display, thus losing approx. 25% of standard-def resolution. When an S3/HD TiVo (or other QAM/ATSC tuner) is the standard-def source the FILL setting results in an anamorphic display whith quality approaching commercial DVD's.
     

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