TiVo: THIS is the best product out there???

I’m too angry to write anything approaching coherence right now, pregnancy so I’ll fill in the details later. For now, more about I’ll just post a quick opinion piece in case you, view too, are planning to give a TiVo unit for Christmas this year: I absolutely hate this f!$%^ing thing.

More to the point, I’m having a hard time recalling a more disappointing and frustrating experience with any product to date. A hell of a lot of promise, but only with the right secret combination (or, of course, a POTS line, which I was prepared to expect for the initial setup, but was not willing to have installed for everyday use).

Thanks to everyone who responded to my recent questions concerning TiVo vs. ReplayTV, but for ReplayTV’s sake, I sure hope many of you were wrong: I unpacked my new TiVo three days ago, and so far it’s seemed the worst implementation of a great idea I’ve ever seen (And that includes Microsoft’s Plug-and-Pray and Verizon’s Bluetooth plan!).

Or rather, it’s the worst implementation of an idea I have yet to see.

Long story short: I don’t have the time to hang out at yard sales and swap meets comparing serial numbers on used USB adapters just to find all the obsolete, out-of-production networking components one needs to actually make this damned thing work. Why a land line? No Vonage? And why will the Linksys WUSB11 Versions 1 & 2 work, but not the available Linksys adapter, version 4? (And for the record, 3 is iffy!) And why the Belkin 6050 but not the 7050? And the D-link 122, but not the D-link G122? Just how “universal” is your Universal Serial Bus, TiVo?

And has anybody at the company ever heard of a frickin’ RJ45 jack? I understand some people use ’em for networking these days.

Oh well, the TiVo’s back in the box for now, and I’ll be calling TiVo service for an RMA as soon as I calm down enough not to scream at them.

OK, if this is the good one, I sure as hell won’t bother with the competition. I’m off to return a half dozen useless wireless USB adapters now (wrong fourth digit in the serial numbers, I guess). Looks like I should pick up a few more VHS tapes while I’m at it.


How ’bout that? Looks like I had time to go into the details, after all. Not like I’m watching recorded TV shows or anything. (And yes, I realize I was just griping here. That’s the advantage of having one’s own site. And it’s called “Turdhead.com;” whattaya want for nothing?

For a followup to this article, see this entry.


18 thoughts on “TiVo: THIS is the best product out there???”

  1. 😆 Dang, man! That sounds rough! And you still came into work at 2:30am? I’ll bet interacting with this delightful contraption gave you the “angry power” to stay away for a good long while…

    See? I think I will build my own PVR: at least then I’ll have (mostly) myself to blame for failure! Neat! 😀

  2. I have no POTS line. I took my TiVo over to my friend’s house, updated the software over his POTS, got everything set up and working, and returned home a happy man. It took a little while, but I was fine with that.

    I will say that I did a great deal of studying and question asking *before* making my purchase so I was aware of the requirement of a phone line when I purchased it. But not everyone has the time and energy to do that.

    It is hooked up now with a Lynksys USB wireless adapter.

    Unfortunately, I believe that my TiVo is on it’s last leg. I will probably be purchasing one in the near future.

    I’m sorry that you were frustrated with yours. I absolutely love mine.

  3. Thanks, Leif: Sadly, I did a lot of reading, too, so while I was expecting headaches, I wasn’t prepared for what actually turned out. The issue isn’t just with the initial setup call: Even after the guided setup, the Tivo only supports a handful of USB wireless adapters, and most of them are no longer in production. In fact, I’m beginning to think none of them are. Hang on to that antique Linksys — you’ll need it if you ever want to see your new Tivo alive again.

    Case in point: The Linksys WUSB11 ver 4 DOESN’T work (1,2 and sometimes 3 do). The D-link DWL-G122 (firmware version A2) works, but the D-link DWL-G122 (firmware version B1) does not. And my personal favorite (from the Tivo support site no less!):

    NETGEAR WG111, WG111 ver.2, NETGEAR WG111T, WG111US Only serial numbers starting with WG16,WG41,or 165

    WHAT THE F**??? Who’s got time for that?

  4. Units manufactured in the past couple of months don’t need a POTS line at all, they’re shipping with 7.2 installed. There is still stock in the retail channel with pre-7.2, which needs a POTS line. (Or a WIRED network adapter and the ,#401 backdoor.)

    For those who don’t want to hunt for a matching network adapter, TiVo sells them on their website so you know they work: http://www.tivo.com/2.7.1.asp 9thTee.com also sells one: http://www.9thtee.com/tivousbethernet.htm TiVo is better than many other consumer electronics devices that use adapters. Some only support one model, or only support adapters sold by the same compamy. TiVo gives you a few options.

    As for why the selection – it has nothing to do with USB. USB is standardized – but USB network adapters are *NOT*. You need a driver for that specific adapter. On a PC they can give you a CD with the drivers needed. Since the TiVo is a Linux box running on custom hardware, they need drivers for the TiVo. Many new WiFi chipsets don’t have any Linux support until the open source crowd can reverse engineer it. Most adapter vendors just don’t care – Windows and Mac is good enough for their sales, so they don’t help. And they often don’t even publish the specs on their adapters, which makes it hard for 3rd parties to write drivers. And they’ll change the chipsets they use without changing the model number – which is why some revisions of an adapter work, others don’t.

    Netgear even puts the TiVo logo on the box of their compatible adapters, making them easy to find at retail.

  5. Why did you even bother with a store bought systems. You need to try Time Warners DVR service!

  6. My unit has the 7.2.1 software installed, and therefore does not officially “need” a POTS line, either. However, it does need some way to connect to the Tivo servers, and thus, the dependence on obscure USB wireless networking solutions.

    And this is not just for setup. This is for everyday use.

  7. I would like to point out, ReplayTV does not have this setup issue. It connects with an Ethernet cable, and initial setup takes 10-15 min. to download updates, local channels, etc. Out of the box goodness.

    But seriously, I think your best solutions is the same as Leif’s: goto someone’s house who has a landline and initialize it that way. Now, if you only knew someone with a POTS line….

  8. I haven’t had POTS service for 5 years now but I had 2 lines hooked up back in dial-up days. Phone co. almost ALWAYS has one of my lines hot for whatever reason. I was unaware I needed a POTS line but DL’ed in the wee hours using my line which must be someone’s number. I should call Germany or somewhere….

  9. all you need to do is click your mouse to the TiVo online store. They now offer a TiVo wireless adapter made by TiVo. It’s only 50 bucks, and it looks pretty cool. I got mine a few days ago and it looks pretty slick sitting on top of my box. This is the website: http://www.tivo.com/2.7.1.asp

    Enjoy it!

  10. From reading your comments along with numerous other threads, blogs, and newsgroups, there is no DVR/PVR that appeals to everyone on the market, the techie and the non-techie. I am in the process of developing a set-top box and would like to ask the consumer what they want in a DVR/PVR. What features would you guys like? What add-ons would you guys like available? What features of other DVRs do you not like and like?

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