Author Topic: DVR / TiVo help...  (Read 928 times)

Offline Village Taphouse

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DVR / TiVo help...
« on: October 24, 2015, 07:57:48 PM »
Gang:  My Dad is 87 and his VCR went down.  I know.  He has/had a VCR.  My neighbor had an old one that was sitting in the attic for 5 years so I brought it to my dad's house and hooked it up.  It didn't work.  I told my dad that he should just look into a TiVo.  He didn't know what it was but after I explained it he sounded excited.  We went to a nearby Target to pick one up but they didn't carry any so I told my dad I would just get one from Amazon.  But now I see that there is a subscription service for the TiVo.  He lives in a retirement community where everyone lives in their own "house" and I think the complex receives signals with a large dish and then distributes everything to the residences via cable.  My dad has no cable box.  Just an old-school cable coming in from the wall and into the TV.  The picture is surprisingly good.  Anyway, what options does he have to record and playback content?  No cable box, no "guide" of any kind on the cable system.  I see many TiVo products on Amazon but not sure what is what and I would rather not tie him up with a monthly subscription service.   Thanks gang.

Offline brick pig

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2015, 07:28:55 PM »
TiVo requires monthly, yearly or lifetime (of the machine, not the owner) payment for service. This service includes guide data, which is brought in by TiVo from King Media Service, and periodic software upgrades for the TiVo itself. (It also requires connection to either a phone line or the internet.) Without the service, the TiVo is essentially useless. The software updates are just that, but the guide data is the lifeblood of the TiVo experience. In addition to providing a channel guide to the user, it also enables all the search functions and, if you choose to set advance recordings, the guide data is how TiVo knows which channel to record and when.

There are several different TiVo models.* If his cable service is directly off the wire, as you describe it, with no converter box of any kind involved, you need to be sure to get a TiVo with Over The Air (OTA)
capabilities. Even though your father's service is likely coming from a cable provider, the fact that his connection does no require a decoder box means that TiVo will see the signal as an antenna --or over the air-- source. Some TiVo models ONLY work with cable cards, others ONLY work with DirecTV, etc. If the model doesn't specifically say OTA, chances are it will not work for you.

*Some very old TiVo models were able to partially function without a service plan, and you can sometimes find these old machines on eBay or the like. By partially, I mean that without the guide data, you could still use them just like the old VCRs: Make recording on this day, start the recording at this time, end recording at that time, etc. Might as well just get another VCR instead.

Edited to add: The above is very much an overview. I've been using TiVos since 1998, and can provide you with a lot more information if you want it, especially if you have specific questions.

« Last Edit: October 26, 2015, 07:34:18 PM by brick pig »
--Monty

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2015, 11:07:21 PM »
TiVo requires monthly, yearly or lifetime (of the machine, not the owner) payment for service. This service includes guide data, which is brought in by TiVo from King Media Service, and periodic software upgrades for the TiVo itself. (It also requires connection to either a phone line or the internet.) Without the service, the TiVo is essentially useless. The software updates are just that, but the guide data is the lifeblood of the TiVo experience. In addition to providing a channel guide to the user, it also enables all the search functions and, if you choose to set advance recordings, the guide data is how TiVo knows which channel to record and when.

There are several different TiVo models.* If his cable service is directly off the wire, as you describe it, with no converter box of any kind involved, you need to be sure to get a TiVo with Over The Air (OTA)
capabilities. Even though your father's service is likely coming from a cable provider, the fact that his connection does no require a decoder box means that TiVo will see the signal as an antenna --or over the air-- source. Some TiVo models ONLY work with cable cards, others ONLY work with DirecTV, etc. If the model doesn't specifically say OTA, chances are it will not work for you.

*Some very old TiVo models were able to partially function without a service plan, and you can sometimes find these old machines on eBay or the like. By partially, I mean that without the guide data, you could still use them just like the old VCRs: Make recording on this day, start the recording at this time, end recording at that time, etc. Might as well just get another VCR instead.

Edited to add: The above is very much an overview. I've been using TiVos since 1998, and can provide you with a lot more information if you want it, especially if you have specific questions.
Thank you very much for that.  I have learned a little bit since I posted but you filled in all the blanks.  I don't really want to strap my dad with this monthly service fee (does anyone know what this fee is for the month?) but it's possible that he'll like the sound of it.  There is a phone near his TV (no web... he says he's too old for web :D)  so the phone connection would have to be the source.  Thanks again.

Offline denny

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2015, 11:16:00 PM »
Ken, when my VCR dies, Tivo wasn't an acceptable option, so I bought a DVD recorder.  Picked up a really nice, reliable Panasonic for about $125 IIRC.  Another plus is that it will be pretty much like using s VCR for him.
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2015, 02:58:13 AM »
Ken, when my VCR dies, Tivo wasn't an acceptable option, so I bought a DVD recorder.  Picked up a really nice, reliable Panasonic for about $125 IIRC.  Another plus is that it will be pretty much like using s VCR for him.
Yeah, I saw a DVD/VCR combo (I was surprised at that) at the local Target.  I've been away from VCRs and DVD recorders for a long time... is a DVD recorder and blank DVDs an option still?  That could be a good option for him.

Offline toby

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2015, 01:55:32 PM »
does anyone know what this fee is for the month?
For new service, I think it's $15 per month.

Offline brick pig

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2015, 05:51:44 PM »
The service plans depend on which type of TiVo box you buy. If my assumption is correct in that your dad needs the TiVo Roamio OTA unit, there is only one payment plan option for that box, which is $15/mo as toby said. It's also locked in for one year, with a $75 early termination fee.
--Monty

Offline denny

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2015, 06:21:43 PM »
Ken, when my VCR dies, Tivo wasn't an acceptable option, so I bought a DVD recorder.  Picked up a really nice, reliable Panasonic for about $125 IIRC.  Another plus is that it will be pretty much like using s VCR for him.
Yeah, I saw a DVD/VCR combo (I was surprised at that) at the local Target.  I've been away from VCRs and DVD recorders for a long time... is a DVD recorder and blank DVDs an option still?  That could be a good option for him.

Most of those will only record from VCR to DVD.  My DVD recorder has a tuner in it and is basically a disc version of a VCR.  I use re-recordable DVDs.    I just checked mine...it's a Toshiba DR570KU. 
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2015, 02:29:01 AM »
Ken, when my VCR dies, Tivo wasn't an acceptable option, so I bought a DVD recorder.  Picked up a really nice, reliable Panasonic for about $125 IIRC.  Another plus is that it will be pretty much like using s VCR for him.
Yeah, I saw a DVD/VCR combo (I was surprised at that) at the local Target.  I've been away from VCRs and DVD recorders for a long time... is a DVD recorder and blank DVDs an option still?  That could be a good option for him.

Most of those will only record from VCR to DVD.  My DVD recorder has a tuner in it and is basically a disc version of a VCR.  I use re-recordable DVDs.    I just checked mine...it's a Toshiba DR570KU.
I know my dad will be surprised that there are no real options for him.  I guess it shows that most people may for a monthly subscription service like Comcast, Dish or DirecTV where a DVR comes with the package and since he doesn't have that, he's sort of out in the weeds.

Let me ask you guys something else.  My dad turns on his TV and our local channels are like 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, etc.  He turns on the TV and gets channel 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 5.1, 5.2, etc.  This is weird to me.  These are the digital/HD variants of the local channels.  I understand it but I'm not used to it.  Eventually he goes up on the dial and gets any of the cable channels... CNN, ESPN, TBS, etc.  When I brought an old, used VCR to him last weekend, I connected it as I would have in the old days... cable in from the wall goes to the VCR-IN and then a cable from VCR-OUT to the TV.  We put the TV on channel 3 and played a tape on the VCR and it didn't work.  There wasn't even any interference, static, etc... just nothing.  It's possible that the VCR was just not working (my sister brought it up from Atlanta and got it from her neighbor who said they hadn't used it in 5 years).  Would I have to go through a "channel search" with the VCR playing so that the TV knew that channel 3 was a valid channel?  I feel like I'm combining old technology and relatively new technology and because his setup is not what I'm used to... I'm at a loss.  His TV is a nice Sony LCD/LED flatscreen (maybe 50"?) and he does get a beautiful picture on it which is strange because there is NO cable box which is what I thought was doing the whole HD thing.  Thanks gang.  I do need to get back to him with an answer and I'm not sure I have one.  I do have a VCR that I would give to him if I knew the best way to get it to work.  Cheers.

Offline brick pig

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2015, 03:17:17 PM »
It seems like you made the right connections. Did you try changing the TV to channel 4? Most VCRs had a switch to make them display on either channel 3 or channel 4 on the TV. You have to be sure both the TV and the VCR are set to the same channel.
--Monty

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2015, 09:17:46 PM »
It seems like you made the right connections. Did you try changing the TV to channel 4? Most VCRs had a switch to make them display on either channel 3 or channel 4 on the TV. You have to be sure both the TV and the VCR are set to the same channel.

But that's only if you hooked it up with coax to the TV antenna input.  If you ran the VCR into the TV with RCA plugs, then you need to change your input on the TV.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2015, 11:05:33 PM »
Thanks Joe.  Yes, I noticed a switch on the back of the VCR (channel 3 or 4) which was set to 3.  I went to channel 3 on the TV (didn't work) then went to channel 4 on both (didn't work).  Should I play a tape and then run the channel setup routine so that the TV realizes that channel 3 is a valid channel?  I feel like I'm lost in a late '70s nightmare!  LOL.  I may bring my own VCR over there, play a tape and run the channel setup and see if it does anything different.

Offline Stevie

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DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2015, 11:19:06 PM »
Could the VCR be too old to receive modern channels? Maybe the provider recently cut the analog feed and the VCR doesn't have a digital decoder.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2015, 11:33:24 PM by Steve in TX »

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2015, 11:20:37 PM »
I've got a 52" front projection analog TV from the 80s out in my garage if you want to come get it.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: DVR / TiVo help...
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2015, 03:24:34 AM »
I've got a 52" front projection analog TV from the 80s out in my garage if you want to come get it.
LOL.  Throw in one of those top-loader VCRs that were the size of a Buick and I'm all in!!  :D