TiVo announced the enabling of their esata ports and the availability of the my DVR expander, will these work with your units?

The My DVR Expander will work on units purchased from us as long as they have not been upgraded or contain a “primary” drive that has already been expanded.  We do not disable the ability for the My DVR Expander to work properly, but it is a function of the tools used in the upgrade community – to date there is no known way to offer an upgraded unit that will also work with a My DVR Expander as a “plug and play” device.   There is a way to configure an upgraded TiVo to work with a My DVR Expander, however it involves reconfiguration of the software on both of the drives, so we’d need all the equipment here to do so.  With that in mind, we will always recommend single drive configurations over dual drive configurations be cause they are inherently more reliable.

Installing CableCARDs in a Series3 HD DVR

This article is reprinted from TiVo’s knowledge base article published here .

Two CableCARDs (either S-Cards or M-Cards) must be installed in the Series3 HD DVR and activated by your cable provider before you can view and record two digital cable programs at once (including high definition cable programs). If you install only one card, you will be able to view/record only one program at a time.

Most cable companies require CableCARDs to be installed by one of their field installers. If your cable provider allows you to pick up the CableCARDs and install them yourself, make sure you get a telephone number to call to get the cards activated.

If you already have a CableCARD installed in your TV, contact your cable provider to see if you can transfer it to the DVR. Many cable providers associate CableCARDs with the device numbers of the slots in which they are installed when the CableCARDs are active; if you insert the card in the Series3 HD DVR, the card will not work, and may stop working when inserted back into the TV.

Before the Installer Arrives

If possible, do the following at least two days before your installation appointment, to ensure that the DVR can connect to the TiVo Service and download any software updates that are available:

  1. Write down the serial number of each CableCARD (or any other information that the cable provider may need), and then begin Guided Setup. Follow the on-screen instructions to agree to the Service Terms, confirm that you’ve activated your service, and enter your zip code. (See How Do I Begin Guided Setup? for instructions.)
  2. From the TV Programming Source screen, highlight your program source (Cable Only orCable & Antenna) and press SELECT.
  3. On the CableCARD Decoder screen answer Yes and press SELECT; The CableCARD Decoders screen appears.
  4. Insert the first CableCARD decoder into slot 1 (the bottom slot) on the back of the TiVo DVR. Make note of which card is in this slot. After a few minutes, the gray CableCARD MMI screen appears automatically.

    This screen provides data that may be needed to activate the CableCARD decoder. The content on this screen is determined by the cable provider; TiVo makes a screen available to display the information in compliance with CableCARD certification requirements.

    The CableCARD will take a minute or two to initialize. During this time, the CableCARD screens will display a message such as “Card not in normal operation”.  This does not indicate damage to the CableCARD; as soon as initialization is complete, the message will be replaced with information generated by the CableCARD and the installer will be able to proceed with activation.

    If you see the message Updating Firmware when you insert a CableCARD, or if the configuration screen does not appear within 5 minutes, it means that your cable provider is updating the CableCARD’s internal software. DO NOT remove the CableCARD or unplug the DVR until the firmware update is complete! Doing so may permanently damage the CableCARD.

  5. Call your cable provider to activate or initialize the card.

    For Motorola CableCARDs, many cable providers send an activation signal that causes the DVR to issue error 161-4. This is normal and can be ignored. If you see 161-4 more than once, or if you see any other 161-x signal, it means that the card is damaged and needs to be replaced.

  6. Press CLEAR on the TiVo remote to continue installation. On the CableCARD Decoders screen, highlight Configure CableCARD1 and press SELECT. You are about to use the TiVo menus to test the channels on the CableCARD.  Some installers may want to perform a channel scan; this is not necessary.
  7. Highlight Test Channels and press SELECT.
  8. Press the CHAN UP/DOWN button to make sure the card is receiving channels. Then, using the number buttons on the remote, enter the number of at least one encrypted channel (a premium channel, for example) to make sure the card is decrypting properly.
  9. When you finish your tests, press CLEAR to return to the menu, and then highlight Go Back and press SELECT to return to the CableCARD Decoders screen.
  10. Repeat Steps 4 through 9 to configure CableCARD2.
  11. When you are finished, highlight Continue on the CableCARD Decoders screen and press SELECT.
  12. On the TiVo Service Connection screen, highlight the method you want to use to connect to the TiVo Service, and press SELECT.

Are you an authorized TiVo reseller?

Yes, we are authorized to sell TiVo DVR units and accessories.  Most of the units we sell are acquired directly from TiVo, although from time to time we use other authorized TiVo distributors as a source for our systems and accessories.  None of the TiVo Premiere systems we sell are refurbished however if we were to sell items that way, they would be clearly labeled as such.

Information about CableCARDs and Switched Digital Technology

Certain cable operators are using switched digital technology to add new channel lineups on existing bandwidth or eliminate duplicate feeds of premium channels.

Currently, switched digital channels are unavailable to TiVo DVRs that use CableCARDs. However, cable operators will introduce a new external adapter in 2008 that will enable TiVo Series3 HD and TiVo HD DVRs to access switched digital cable channels. For more information, visit www.tivo.com/switched.

CableCARD M-Card Support Overview

Some cable operators are deploying M-Cards™ (multi-stream CableCARDs) into the field. An M-Card is a CableCARD that is capable of running in either single-stream mode (supports one tuner) or multi-stream mode (single card can support multiple tuners). Both the Series3 HD DVR and TiVo HD DVR have M-Card support. For further information, see below.

TiVo Series3 HD

Currently, the Series3 HD DVR will support M-Cards in single-stream mode, which means that the DVR requires two (2) CableCARDs to run in dual-tuner mode. The DVR must also be running software version 8.0.1c or later. (S-Cards are supported in all software versions.) Your Series3 HD DVR may have shipped with an earlier version of the software installed. The software will be updated automatically, but not until the DVR completes Guided Setup for the first time, and then downloads and indexes the full 14 days of Guide data immediately after Guided Setup.

To ensure that your CableCARD installation runs smoothly, we recommend that you complete Guided Setup on your Series3 HD DVR before the installer arrives to install the CableCARDs. If you perform Guided Setup at least two days before your installation appointment, your DVR will update to the latest software automatically and will be ready to run either S-Cards or M-Cards.
If you perform Guided Setup on the day of the appointment, you should check your software version and, if necessary, force a software update.  For more information, go to Software Version Troubleshooting.

TiVo is also exploring support of M-Cards in multi-stream mode for the Series3 HD DVR.

You can perform Guided Setup even if you don’t have cable service yet. For instructions, go to Running Guided Setup (Series3 and TiVo HD DVRs).


The TiVo HD DVR supports multi-stream mode for M-Cards. This means that the TiVo HD DVR requires only one (1) M-Card to receive two digital cable channels at once.

TiVo Premiere Line

TiVo Series4 units require M-Cards or Multistream cards to be able to record more than one show at a time. These Premiere units have only ONE CableCARD slot.

CableCARD Firmware Update

During installation, if the configuration screen does not come up within 5 minutes after a CableCARD is inserted in the DVR, the card is probably undergoing a firmware update. Firmware is software that is stored in the CableCARD’s hardware. Some CableCARDs will display a message, but other CableCARDs will simply appear to “hang” when a firmware update is in progress.  If you go to the CableCARD menu, however, the you will see”Card Not In Normal Operation” instead of the menu items, and if you select Test Channels you will see a message that a firmware update is in progress.

Your cable provider may also send a firmware update at any time after installation. This is uncommon, but if it happens, you will see a message that a firmware update is in progress when you view live TV.

Firmware updates are sent by the cable provider through the cable connection, and cannot be controlled by TiVo. DO NOT remove the CableCARD or unplug the DVR while an update is in progress, or you could permanently damage the card.

Firmware updates may take up to 40 minutes. If the CableCARD has not yet been activated, the configuration screen will appear immediately after the update is complete. The cable provider can then proceed with activating the card. If the CableCARD was already activated, it will resume working as usual after the update is complete.

If the process takes more than 40 minutes, or the update stops and then restarts, the firmware update failed and the CableCARD is unusable. If the installer is not there, you will need to contact your cable provider to get a replacement CableCARD installed and activated.

Why do the Standalone TiVo DVRs have four levels of recording quality, but the DIRECTV/TiVo units have only one?

DIRECTV’s television signals are compressed digital signals. The DIRECTV/TiVo units are equipped with technology that allows the TiVo to record those compressed digital signals directly to the TiVo’s hard drive. Therefore, when the signal is recorded and then played back through the TiVo, there is no quality loss. Thus, the DIRECTV/TiVo units record in only one quality: Best.

On the other hand, the Standalone TiVo units (which work with cable and satellite) convert the signal into digital form. At the time of this conversion, the TiVo must compress the signal prior to saving it to the hard drive. This is true even if the Standalone TiVo is connected to a DIRECTV receiver or a digital cable box.

How do the Series 1 Standalone TiVo DVRs differ from the Series 2 TiVo DVRs?

  • Smaller footprint – the TiVo itself is smaller than the older models from Philips and Sony.
  • Better components – the original components were good, but some components (especially modems) began to fail over time. We have yet to see a failed modem in a Series2 TiVo.
  • Faster processor and more RAM – Ever wait when you set a Season Pass or scroll through a list? These new units are up to four times as fast as the older ones.
  • USB ports – The new units have two USB ports that can be used to access local ethernet networks for guide data (TiVo service is still needed). The home media features, including TiVoToGo, can be used on standalone Series 2 units as well, enabling you to move content from your TiVo DVR to your PC.

Can I record two shows at one time on my TiVo?

All DIRECTV DVRs with TiVo (which require DIRECTV) can record two shows at the same time when connected to two lines from the satellite dish. If you have cable, the TCD649080 and TCD649180 can record two shows at the same time, so long as one of those shows is from an analog, non-scrambled cable channel (through the RF input on the TiVo).

All HD TiVos (for cable, Verizon FiOS, and DirecTV) can record at least two shows at once, and some can record four shows at once.