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Do I Need the Cable Box If I Have Tivo HD DVR

#1 User is offline   bmj105601 

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 04:06 PM

I just bought A Tivo and am getting different answers from each company. My question is if I have the Tivo HD DVR do I still need a cable HD box? Tivo says I only need the card readers and the cable company says I need the box. Can someone tell me which is which? Also do I need to buy the wireless adapter from Tivo or is there any other option?


Thanks In Advance.
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#2 User is offline   mphenterprises 

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 04:19 PM

Hi BMJ. Welcome to PCWorld. :-)





I have renamed your Discussion so that it is clear what your concern is. Wow, this is a very interesting question. My gut is telling me that you do not need the box; however, from where would the signal originate if you didn't get the cable box?

- How many customer service reps did you ask at the cable company?

- How many customer service reps did you ask at TiVo?

I do not believe TiVo provides the signal. I think they just provide a means by which you can watch your shows at any time. So, after thinking about it, I believe you still need the cable box. Since I do not have either cable or TiVo, I will wait for others to confirm or dispute my answer.
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#3 User is offline   bmj105601 

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 04:34 PM

Thanks for the welcome. I wasn't sure where to post this.

I've talked to two cable people and two Tivo reps. It seems to me that the Tivo reps are saying that the cable company has to make available multi-stream cards for the Tivo. So my assumption is that the card(s) descrambles channels to the Tivo.
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#4 User is offline   smax013 

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 02:00 AM

bmj105601 said:

I just bought A Tivo and am getting different answers from each company. My question is if I have the Tivo HD DVR do I still need a cable HD box? Tivo says I only need the card readers and the cable company says I need the box. Can someone tell me which is which? Also do I need to buy the wireless adapter from Tivo or is there any other option?

Thanks In Advance.


If you have a TiVo HD box or a TiVo Series 3 HD box, then you just need either one or two CableCARDs (depending on which model you have and whether you want to have both tuners running). And cable companies are required by FCC mandate to provide CableCARDs instead of cableboxes if you ask for them. In fact, I believe that they are supposed to supply you with a cable box that uses a CableCARD if you request it (if you did not have the TiVo box). This FAQ from TiVo's site should help. This link gives a little more information on how the FCC denied Comcast a waiver. The dates for the requirement had been pushed back several times, but the FCC finally drew the line this summer. As far as I know, the line still stands. Thus, if you request a CableCARD, your cable company is REQUIRED to provide it to you. It might cost you money (just like you pay to rent the cable box most likely). Note that TiVo will NOT work directly with satelite (i.e. allow you to use the TiVo's digital tuner...but you can "capture" video out streams).



You should be aware, however, that current CableCARDs do NOT support two-way communication. As such, if you use a CableCARD, I don't believe that you can use On Demand or maybe even Pay Per View.
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#5 User is offline   mphenterprises 

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 04:47 AM

Hey Smax. Remember a while ago I wanted to know if there was a way for me to get television without cable or satellite? Would this be an alternative for me? Could it be as easy as me getting Tivo and then contacting the cable company for that card?
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#6 User is offline   smax013 

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 05:20 AM

mphenterprises said:

Hey Smax. Remember a while ago I wanted to know if there was a way for me to get television without cable or satellite? Would this be an alternative for me? Could it be as easy as me getting Tivo and then contacting the cable company for that card?

You still have to be paying the cable company for cable service. The CableCARD just replaces the cable box to decode the digital stations. The purpose of a CableCARD and the reason for the law requiring them is to allow consumers to select what type of cable box (with or without DVR functions) they want to use with the cable service...or to get a TV that has a digital tuner and a CableCARD slot. Digital cable and digital satelite signals are scrambled. In order to watch either you traditionally needed a cable or satelite box. The purpose of the box was to tuner the station AND descramble the signal. The idea with a CableCARD is that you just need to get a CableCARD from the cable company to descramble the signal...then you select what device you want with what features you want that has the digital tuner in it but has a CableCARD slot.



My cable for example is a mix of analog and digital cable. The first 70 or so channels (actually channels 2 to 99, but not all are occuppied) are analog. This means that I can hook my cable line up to any regular TV and watch those channels using the analog tuner in the TV. Or I can hook the cable line to a VCR and record those stations. Any channel above 99 is in the digital range. Even though my TV has a digital tuner (it is a HDTV with both an analog and digital tuner in it), it CANNOT tune in the digital cable channels...primarily because they are coded/scrambled. I can use that digital tuner to pickup "over the air" digital stations (i.e. use an antenna to pick up digital and HiDef signals from local stations...if they were in range). To get the digital channels on my cable, I must have a cablebox (or CableCARD to use with a device with a CableCARD slot). As a result, I have a cablebox with a DVR and dual tuner in it that I rent from Comcast. I could, howver, if I wanted go buy a TiVo HD or TiVo Series3 HD and get a CableCARD(s) from Comcast and use that instead. It is not worth it to me to go through the hassle or cost, so I just continue to rent the Comcast box. And supposedly Comcast will be offering the TiVo software to use on their DVRs by the end of the year (at least last that I heard).
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#7 User is offline   LincolnSpector 

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 08:36 AM

mphenterprises said:

Hey Smax. Remember a while ago I wanted to know if there was a way for me to get television without cable or satellite? Would this be an alternative for me? Could it be as easy as me getting Tivo and then contacting the cable company for that card?



Of course you can get TV without cable or satellite--the old-fashioned way. Just buy an antenna. You can even get HD if you buy the right antenna. However, you'll be limited to your local stations.

Getting a cable card to plug into your TiVo requires getting cable.

Lincoln
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#8 User is offline   KellieCM 

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 08:58 AM

I have a TiVo Series 3 (which may be slightly different than the TiVo HD), and what smax, mph and Lincoln have told you is correct.

I have two cable cards (provided by Comcast, my cable provider) loaded in the back of my TiVo. My cable reception comes from there. I pay a small monthly fee for the cards. I also, obviously, pay for cable service.

You do not need a cable box, however without it you are unable to do things like watch movies/shows on demand, as the cable cards do not provide that option. The box was free to me, so I have it. Another upside to having it is that I can be recording two things on my Tivo, and then switch to the cable box and watch a third thing. There are rarely times that three things I want to watch are all on at once, but it's good to have the option should the situation come up.

On the wireless adapter -- I believe the only one that functions with TiVo is the one made by TiVo. It has a standard USB plug on it, though. It just works really well. I gave it access to my wireless network (there are instructions in the box) and it updates the television schedule via the wireless instead of a telephone line. It's fantastic and, to me, was totally worth the money.
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#9 User is offline   mphenterprises 

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 09:10 AM

Hi Lincoln. Yes, I know about the old "rabbit ears" option. :-) I have grown accustomed to watching television on my computer so watching on a regular televison just seems so passe now... LOL Had to go bilingual for a moment. :-)

I just go to the major channels' website and watch each episode online. For shows that I like to watch that normally appear on cable, well, I deal...
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#10 User is offline   bmj105601 

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 07:06 PM

Thanks again all for the answers. I had read the Tivo FAQ's. I just wanted to hear from real people. I ordered the TIVO HD DVR because of a problem with the cable box dvr. It kept cutting off the beginning or end of shows. You can't compensate for that if you use the record all new program functions. You have to remember to do it for each show each week etc. I just got frustrated. My understanding with the TIVO is that you can have the season pass start a few minutes early and end a few mins late. The other thing is you can record two shows and watch a third, Not with the cable dvr. It comes in handy now with all the sports running at the same time on different days. We don't have many HD channels yet but the shows I like come on HD along with football.

One more question. Do I need a seperate antenna to get OTA (over the air) channels or will the TIVO pick those up also?
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#11 User is offline   mphenterprises 

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 07:12 PM

Hi BMJ. If I am understanding how Tivo works in conjunction with cable, no, you should not need a separate antenna to get regular (local) stations. The card that is provided by the cable company should be all you need. Again, since I do not have Tivo, that may change very soon, I will defer to the others; however, I believe I am correct on this one.

Since you have this Discussion marked as "Answered," please select the two (2) posts that you feel were "Helpful" and the post that you feel was "Correct."
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#12 User is offline   bmj105601 

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 07:47 PM

Thanks. Done and Done!
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#13 User is offline   smax013 

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 03:44 AM

bmj105601 said:

Thanks again all for the answers. I had read the Tivo FAQ's. I just wanted to hear from real people. I ordered the TIVO HD DVR because of a problem with the cable box dvr. It kept cutting off the beginning or end of shows. You can't compensate for that if you use the record all new program functions. You have to remember to do it for each show each week etc. I just got frustrated. My understanding with the TIVO is that you can have the season pass start a few minutes early and end a few mins late. The other thing is you can record two shows and watch a third, Not with the cable dvr. It comes in handy now with all the sports running at the same time on different days. We don't have many HD channels yet but the shows I like come on HD along with football.

One more question. Do I need a seperate antenna to get OTA (over the air) channels or will the TIVO pick those up also?


I am able to start a series recording (same things as TiVo's season pass) to start consistantly early or end consistantly late with my Comcast Motorola DVR. It could just be the difference in the DVR software that your old cable box DVR was using compared to what Comcast uses on mine. And it seems that I am able to record two shows and watch a third show. I have not really tested it, but I have basically experienced it when I was actually watching a show being recorded and pause/rewound it and thus was still watching that show when it had finished recording and went on to record a new show. So, under that circumstance, I have watched a show while two shows were recording.



And I know what you mean. Some TV shows don't "sync" well with the built-in on screen guide. I have missed the last minute or so of Stargate Atlantis recent due to such things.



As to your new question, if you cable service provides you local OTA channels through cable, then you don't need an antenna. If, however, you want to received the local channels actually over the air (i.e. not through the cable...maybe your cable does not provide a particular local channel that is broadcast "over the air"), then you will need an antenna to receive such stations. If you are trying to receive an actual over that air signal, then you need an antenna. The TiVo will only give you what your cable service is providing.
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#14 User is offline   LincolnSpector 

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 07:26 AM

bmj105601 said:


One more question. Do I need a seperate antenna to get OTA (over the air) channels or will the TIVO pick those up also?




The Tivo is not a replacement for an antenna, cable, or satellite dish. It's a replacement for (and improvement over) the time-shifting capabilities of a VCR. You still need to get a signal.

If you have cable, you don't need an antenna. With Satellite, that's a maybe. I believe your Tivo can record OTA programs, but only if it's hooked up to an antenna.



Lincoln
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#15 User is offline   KellieCM 

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 08:46 AM

bmj105601 said:

My understanding with the TIVO is that you can have the season pass start a few minutes early and end a few mins late.



Yes, you can do this. Although I generally find the TiVo to be very accurate. Some networks, like VH1, tend to start a bit later, sometimes cutting off the end of shows. But at least on my system, it's right 99% of the time. You may want to try it without the time adjustments to see if it works better for you.

bmj105601 said:


>The other thing is you can record two shows and watch a third, Not with the cable dvr.


No. The Tivo has to "watch" the program to record it. The same way that a VCR works -- it records what is playing on the TV. If you have two cable cards, you can record one show and watch another show, or you can record two shows. But it only has two cable inputs, so it can only do two things at once. (I said earlier that I could record two things and watch a third, but that is because I also have a cable box, which is my third input.) I hope that clears things up for you.
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#16 User is offline   bmj105601 

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 10:28 AM

Thanks again to all for the answers. I hate to sound like a flake and seem to have come off half-cocked. This was something going on for awhile and it's gotten to a point of frustration. It also gave me the reason I needed to buy a TIVO:8}.

Three more questions, I think. If I want to record two shows and watch a third, I'd need a cable box right? Now if this is the case does the cable box need to be HD or can I just go with the regular digital cable box?

I talked to a tech at the cable company and he said that they have to install the cable cards. He said that the cable cards are digital cards. Does that make a difference if I want to watch HD programming or do the cards need to be HD?

I have a computer question also and would like to know what thread I should be at so that I don't ask a question that has already been answered. I have been getting the Mag for a year and it has been a great help. But this real time help is amazing.

Thanks in advance.
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#17 User is offline   KellieCM 

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 02:23 PM

1) Yes, you need a cable box to watch two shows and record a third. If you want the third (that you can only watch) show to be on an HD channel, you will need a box and access to those channels. If you don't care that much, then don't. But my guess would be that most boxes you get from the cable company will be HD capable.

2) Yes, the cable company needs to install the cards. When I called to make the appointment, I told them that I needed cable cards for my TiVo Series 3, and they brought the right cards. Before the tech leaves your place, make sure that you can access the HD channels. On my system, they are the 700 channels. But ask, and make sure.

3) You should start a new thread either here in Answer Line or in the appropriate community for your question. Don't worry about it being already answered... if it is, we'll point you to the answer.

I'm glad you like the community and I hope you stick around!
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#18 User is offline   smax013 

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 03:41 PM

bmj105601 said:

Thanks again to all for the answers. I hate to sound like a flake and seem to have come off half-cocked. This was something going on for awhile and it's gotten to a point of frustration. It also gave me the reason I needed to buy a TIVO:8}.

Three more questions, I think. If I want to record two shows and watch a third, I'd need a cable box right? Now if this is the case does the cable box need to be HD or can I just go with the regular digital cable box?


I talked to a tech at the cable company and he said that they have to install the cable cards. He said that the cable cards are digital cards. Does that make a difference if I want to watch HD programming or do the cards need to be HD?


I have a computer question also and would like to know what thread I should be at so that I don't ask a question that has already been answered. I have been getting the Mag for a year and it has been a great help. But this real time help is amazing.


Thanks in advance.


Recording two shows and watching a third will depend on how you cable company has it's service is setup.



If part of your cable service is analog cable, then you can hook the cable line to splitter and have the one line go to the dual tuner TiVo, which will record the two stations...and the second line can go directly to your TVs traditional analog tuner. This will allow you to watch the analog channels on the TV while the TiVo still can record the two other shows. This is basically how my cable current is setup. The first 99 channels (2 through 99...although only about 70 or so are used) are analog cable stations. Thus, if I hook up a cable line to TV with tuner or a VCR or TiVo, I can watch (TV) or record (VCR or TiVo) the analog stations. Any station above 99 is digital. In order to watch them, I need to have a cable box of some sort. Thus, I cannot watch them with just a TV or VCR or a "regular" TiVo (i.e. one that does NOT have a CableCARD).



If your cable is pure digital cable (which is where cable is heading...some companies might already be there), then you would need an additional cable box to watch ANY channel as the "third" thing in addition to the two channels that TiVo is recording...or some device that will accept a third CableCARD (there are some TVs with digital tuners that can use CableCARDs to tune in digital cable stations).



The point is that you need the same number of tuners that will work with your cable as number of recordings and "watchings" that you want combined. So, if you want to record two shows at once and watch a third, you will need three tuners that can work with your cable. If you want to record two shows and watch two shows, then you will need 4 tuners (and two TVs). And the tuners can come in a variety of forms such as built into TVs, in TiVos, in cable boxes, built into VCRs, etc.
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#19 User is offline   smax013 

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 07:58 PM

bmj105601 said:

Thanks again to all for the answers. I hate to sound like a flake and seem to have come off half-cocked. This was something going on for awhile and it's gotten to a point of frustration. It also gave me the reason I needed to buy a TIVO:8}.

Three more questions, I think. If I want to record two shows and watch a third, I'd need a cable box right? Now if this is the case does the cable box need to be HD or can I just go with the regular digital cable box?


I talked to a tech at the cable company and he said that they have to install the cable cards. He said that the cable cards are digital cards. Does that make a difference if I want to watch HD programming or do the cards need to be HD?


I have a computer question also and would like to know what thread I should be at so that I don't ask a question that has already been answered. I have been getting the Mag for a year and it has been a great help. But this real time help is amazing.


Thanks in advance.


You need to have the same number of devices with tuners in them as the combined number of shows that you want to record or watch. This is true if you have cable, satelite, or use a regular antenna. Thus, if you want to record two shows while watching a third, then you will need to have three devices with a tuner.



Now, how this specifically works will depend on how your cable system is setup. Some cable companies are pure digital while some are partially digital and partially analog. If your cable system is 100% digital, then you will need either a cable box from the cable company or another device that will work with CableCARD as digital cable signals are typically scrambled. The exception to this might local stations might not need decoding. If your cable system is setup this way, then you will need to have a cable box or a TV with CableCARD slot, etc in addition to the dual tuner TiVo. If your cable system is partially analog, then you could hook a cable line directly to the TV and at least get the analog stations typically using the TV's tuner (this is how my cable system is...I have a cable line going directly to my TV, which allows me to watch about the first 70 channels or so on the TV without a cable box...I cannot watch any of the digital channels that way...I then also have a cable box with a DVR with dual tuners. Thus, I can easily watch a show while recording two others).



As to your question about HD and CableCARDs, to my knowledge, a CableCARD is a CableCARD. There is no special cards to get HD. It is purely a function of whether or not your cable system has HD channels (Comcast STILL has not gotten off their tushie and added HD to my area). You might have to pay a little extra to get the HD stations...it might not be your current cable "package".
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