TiVo's New Roamio is Great, Familiar CableCARD Issues Aren't
by Karl Bode 12:25PM Wednesday Sep 18 2013 Tipped by mbernste
TiVO's new Roamio DVR
appears to be a welcome evolution to the set top box, offering users a slick six-tuner cable DVR experience, plus the ability to view content from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Spotify, Pandora and YouTube. The device is also going to soon enable place-shifting, allowing users to watch their content anywhere there's an Internet connection. One problem? The cable companies.
A piece over at Bloomberg
(via Stop the Cap
) acuses cable companies of "standing in the way" of the service working well, noting that Comcast made the experience of setting up the new Roamio much more cumbersome than it should have been:
The Roamio requires a CableCARD, a special plug-in device that costs an extra $1.50 a month from Comcast and in my case, required three trips to its nearest office. (The first card didn't work; Comcast then gave me two cards in hopes that at least one of them would work; I then had to return the one I didn’t need.)
It also requires at least one phone conversation, and maybe more, with your cable company so the TiVo can be paired with your service. Comcast kept bouncing me around from department to department as it tried to diagnose why the two wouldn't play well together. Dealing with a cable company’s support department is not a pleasure.
These CableCARD issues are of course nothing new, though to be fair the device is so new, some providers may be unprepared. It should be noted that I've seen Cablevision users enjoy the new Roamio experience
without any notable headaches. In fact, Cablevision called this user back so he could share his learning experiences with other users:
I got a call back from the same tech at around 7 PM. Now here’s the interesting part. While he did call to check up to see how I made out, he also called me for help. Apparently while I may have been the first, others quickly followed suit and he wanted some information on the post-cable card configuration set up for their knowledge base. I found that kind of funny.
I'd be curious to hear other user experiences with the new hardware. It's also worth noting that TiVo last week unveiled a cloud storage DVR prototype
in Amsterdam. While that device will raise some curious questions regarding carrier usage caps, it appears that device is currently only being pitched at European operators.
Tivo, CableCARD, Comcast I use an old Tivo HD with a Comcast-issued dual-channel CableCARD. It does everything the new DVRs do except for only being able to record 2 channels at once (no Biggest Loser or Shark Tank this season, whoop-tee-do).
I think it may have been installed by a tech the first time. When I moved to a new address, Comcast didn't seem to know that it was a CableCARD and not a full tuner box that they were transferring, so I had to remove it from the Tivo and read off all the numbers until they were satisfied. Fortunately it worked when I re-inserted it (and after they re-activated it).
Haven't had any problems with it, although the Tivo HD has some annoyances. The Tivo Premiere (or whatever the successor was called) had some of these too, and Tivo fixed them via firmware in that device but frustratingly refused to do so for the Tivo HD.
I plan to stick with the Tivo HD until the cable industry manages to kill CableCARD, and then I'll have to evaluate what my best option is (new Tivo, Comcast DVR, cord-cutting, etc.). I'm not happy that Tivo makes you buy a new lifetime subscription with each new box, but my wife likes their stuff and it still hurts less than paying a monthly DVR fee to Comcast.
Re: Tivo, CableCARD, Comcast Verizon CC activation is seamless and doesn't require a SDV tuner (that $1.50 box). I go home, enter the 2 codes on a website with clear instructions, slap the CC into my device (in this case Silicondust HDHR), and 20 minutes later I am in business.
Contrast to TWC (prior to me moving to FIOS):
1. Tech shows up to hook me up. Comes with a STB hoping that I would somehow accept that. Look at the order and it says CC only. That turns out to be a problem later on because they should have also ordered a SDV tuner.
2. So they say they only keep CC at TWC depot because apparently they cycle out every 30 days. So one hour later a manager shows up w/ CC. So I have to get on the phone w/ TWC corporate to give them the auth codes because the contractor doesn't even know what a CC is (I would think they require some training). We get that working.
3. So I scan the channels and low and behold TWC in Buffalo had decided to move ALL channels (HD and SD) outside of broadcast to SDV. So now I am pi$$ed because they don't have access to SDV boxes.
4. I have to drive to TWC store, wait in line with people who are all pissed because they have messed up their bill or turning in equipment, and then the give me the SDV. I ask is there anything I need to do to activate it. They say no.
5. Of course I get home, SDV is not authenticated, and after 45 minutes waiting on the phone, they say I should have never been put in this queue, I need to be transferred. I wait another 30 minutes and then they tell me this is the wrong queue again and then they give me the # for the CC group. I call them, and by this time nobody answers.
6. I pack up my stuff, return it to TWC and cancel my service, never to do business with them again.
My take on this is that TWC is PURPOSEFULLY HOSTILE to CC because they want to people to consume their services. Look at the aggravation people are having @ Comcast telling them they own the CM that they bought, or YOU have to prove it's yours. Luckily I have competition, so I can sh**can these idiots because they want people who will blindly fork over $200 for minimal quality STB.
My Comcast CableCARD experience... This was my Comcast CableCARD experience for last weekend:
- Go to office
- Ask for CableCARD
- Was asked if I know what kind I need, I tell her I need an M-Card
- Lady walks back to cabinet, pulls out a card, brings it to desk
- Pulls up my account on system, scans card with POS reader, punches a few buttons
- System prints out receipts which I sign one, keep the other
- Lady points out activation # at bottom of my receipt to call
- Go home, put card in device
- Call activation line as listed on receipt
- Put in phone number to pull up account, follow instructions as prompted
- "Please wait while we activate your device"
- "Your device has now been activated, it may take up to 24 hours for blah blah blah, you may hang up or blah blah blah."
5 minutes later I'm browsing the config setting on my device and pulling a channel guide lineup. I was totally prepared after perusing both DSLR and Comcast forums with L2 support phone numbers, escalation contact info, local office numbers, etc., and ready to hop in the car for another trip across town to get another card based on all the horror stories. I was at the very least expecting to sit on hold with some poor clueless CSR for a while. Nope. It was actually about as painless as painless can be. Perhaps I'm the exception to the rule I guess.
Moved from Media Center to Roamio Just moved from Melbourne, FL - A Brighthouse area where I used my Windows Media Center with InfiniTV Tuner to Cutler Bay, FL - A Comcast area where I installed the new Roamio.
I was setting up new service and was told that I could not do a self-install - A truck roll was required, so the appointment was setup for this past Sunday for 3-5.
A contractor came out and told me that my signal was no good (single digits at the tap). He requested line maintenance and pushed my install back to Monday.
Monday the same contractor showed up, ran a new cable (Will be buried later) and began the setup process. It took him about 90 minutes but my service was up and running without any issues (I'm well aware of the many cable card swaps I had to do before...but only one was used on this install).
For the last 2 nights, the g/f and I have been enjoying our new Tivo. The speed of the unit is significantly faster than my old WMC box (Menus, tuning channels and etc).
While I haven't had a chance to check out the Amazon/Netflix/Hulu integration yet, I do appreciate the fact that its there. I will likely be picking up 3 mini's soon to complement this unit in our game room/spare bedrooms.
One drawback to this unit is that the series pass doesn't allow you to look for recordings on all channels, with another drawback being that you cant actually stop playback of a recording/live TV unless you put the unit in standby (Maybe there is...I just haven't seen it).
Overall, a great unit! I will be putting my WMC box up for sale shortly
Two things to note, I seem to recall a $9 monthly recurring charge for my cable card, and a $1.50 monthly charge for a tuning adapter...which it seems I don't need as I don't believe Comcast has deployed SDV...so I will be returning the tuning adapter this week
Additionally, I now get access to Xfinity on Demand through my Tivo...this would've been impossibly with WMC unless I used a separate box from the provider.
Re: Moved from Media Center to Roamio
Uh OK...since Comcast (definitely) does NOT use TA's at all - then what exactly kind of "TA" device DO you think Comcast gave you in the first place??? (you do realize this doesn't make a lick of sense, right???) IOW, WHY would Comcast give you a device, for a service they do NOT even offer on (any) of their systems to begin with???
I rented a new cable card, and new tuning adapter from Comcast. They never told me they didn't have SDV, so I played it safe. Since I don't need the tuning adapter with Comcast, I will be returning it.
Are you perhaps confusing a TA with a DTA box they might have given you - which CC DOES have on the majority of their systems now? The DTA has NO involvement with cablecards in any way; it's basically a stripped-down digital cablebox that works totally on it's own w/a TV - & is NOT intended for an (HD) DVR/Tivo. The fact you said it was $1.50 tells me this is probably what they actually gave you, as other areas charge between $1.50 - $2.00 month for each one.
When you asked them for a "tuning adaptor" - they probably thought you were (really) asking for a DTA. (Digital Transport Adaptor)
(FYI - DTA's are NOT compatible w/SDV, either)
TWC & BH are starting to deploy the same (type) DTA's as well on some systems.
Cox in Phoenix My first Tivo HD was painful with Cox -- they required a truck roll, and the first time didn't have a cable card. Once the second guy arrived with one, he spent a lot of time on the phone getting it paired. I also had waited to get a Tivo HD because I saw a lot of issues with the CC firmware on tivocommunity.com.
The second time (for a Tivo Premiere) was much less painful. I was able to pick up the card at a Cox store, install it myself, and called in with the Tivo's pairing numbers.
The only real issue is the tuning adapter for SDV. Unfortunately I do record some channels that are SDV, so I require it. It locks up every few weeks and needs a power cycle. When it's locked up, nothing records, not even the non-SDV channels.
Also, the pass-through on the Cisco STA1520 tuning adapter doesn't work -- there's too great of a signal loss. Cox now supplies them with a splitter, but I had to figure this out when they first came out.
Yes, Tivo is just easier, so it's worth it to me. The interface is vastly better than the Cox DVRs.