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TiVo's New Roamio is Great, Familiar CableCARD Issues Aren't
by Karl Bode 12:25PM Wednesday Sep 18 2013 Tipped by mbernste See Profile
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.

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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.

topics flat nest 

Ai Otsukaholic

I wish they would still do the lifetime transfer...

The few reps I spoke to recently said they no longer have the "transfer fee" promotion for lifetime. So I will be sticking with my current 2 tuner models.
Nocchi rules.

Iowa native
Springfield, MA

Truck roll

With CableCards, you are better off just paying for a truck roll to have them install it.

Just make sure to request an in-house tech.

Wakefield, MA
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Truck roll

why its so simple with verizon, just a website and we enter the key 2 minutes later its activated.

Comcast needs to get their crap together and stop dragging their feet and come into the 21st century.
"It's always funny until someone gets hurt......and then it's absolutely friggin' hysterical!"

Norwalk, CA

Re: Truck roll

its not always the case with verizon. hbo and showtime need it paired i believe the word was. the website works for the rest of the stations but takes time to get it truly activated. most people dont know exactly how it works so you have to call a couple times and some cases put of a fight to get it to work.


Kent, WA

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.

East Amherst, NY

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.
Raleigh, NC

Re: Tivo, CableCARD, Comcast

EXACTLY. They want it to be the biggest pain in the ass they can get away with to push people to using their (crap) STBs. (for which the make millions "renting")

Madison, AL

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.

Shrinking Time and Distance
Frisco, TX
·Time Warner Cable

Re: My Comcast CableCARD experience...

In my experience it depends almost entirely on your local cable system. When I got CableCARDs for my TiVo HD in 2007, the local Comcast office was completely clueless. The first-party tech they sent to my home accomplished nothing until he actually handed me his phone so I could talk to the folks at the office and instruct them on what to do. He had six single-stream cards on him and we could only get one to pair successfully. I didn't have both tuners available until a week later.

What followed was three years of constant billing problems (which often resulted in me losing authentication on one tuner or the other) until eventually I cut the cord entirely.

Since 2010 I have used my TiVo HD (with lifetime service) for OTA recordings, at which it has been doing a phenomenal job.
"The counsel of fools is all the more dangerous the more of them there are." -?lafr H?skuldsson


united state
I had this exact same experience. I changed Tivo's and I needed to re-pair the card. I called the number on my Self Install Kit and found out that number was disconnected. I guess it was some dedicated CableCARD support line. I called the main Comcast support number and was prepared for a headache because that dedicated number helped me in five minutes. Luckily I got a decent tech on the phone and was done in five minutes.

Bowie, MD

I have FIOS and ROAMIO Plus

I had no issues at all. I had a Premier prior to getting the Roamio this past weekend. I just popped the card out of the Premier, and into the Roamio, and was done. Appears they did not lock the pairing. Now I need to get a new M card for the premier (the 2 single stream ones from my S3 don't work in the Roamio)

Off topic slightly, I am really hoping the get remote streaming soon, I work out of town now for 5 days a week, and live in a hotel. I can download a weeks worth of stuff with the roamio to my idevices. But that is not the ideal solution.

Currently I am attempting to set up a separate VPN using OpenVPN and the TAP driver to bridge the networks, but combining that with the existing routed TUN network, and around 150 static routes has proved unsuccessful at the moment.

To the west

All most no problems with Comcast cable cards

I have bought the s3 with 2 cards 2 premiers and a elite. I also tried Centon card and a tv. In in 9 out the 10 worked with in 10 min of getting home and inserting the cards except one. The only bad one I took back and exchanged it with no problems of getting it to work.


Palm Bay, FL

2 edits

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.

East Amherst, NY

Re: Moved from Media Center to Roamio

With Microsoft dissolving my XBG Family pass, my 5 xbox extenders are going to get really expensive to stream XBG in 6 months time but I am up in the air to wait for the mystical Verizon VMS or pull the trigger on Tivo and pay their pillaging fees.

Does Tivo still give discounts if you have multiple boxes (thinking mini) or do they just whack you for $6.

Back in the day I used to always buy the lifetime, and could resell but with the future of cablecard unknown and Tivo (I hear) not offering deals on the upgrade, I just don't know.

Would like to hear your perspective on this

Palm Bay, FL

Re: Moved from Media Center to Roamio

Can't speak to the multiple boxes since I only have the one now...but everywhere I read I did see information on multiple box discounts.

Personally, I would still go with the lifetime service...I highly doubt providers are going to make any major changes in the next 24 months or so...which is the break even point for buying lifetime vs. monthly payments

Springfield, IL

1 edit
said by myitguy:

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

While CC has NOT deployed SDV anywhere...why wouldn't you have returned the TA along with Brighthouse's cable card - since you don't own neither of them, nor could you even use (x-fer) the TA to a Comcast system regardless???

Palm Bay, FL

Re: Moved from Media Center to Roamio

Why do you think I'm trying to keep or transfer the Brighthouse equipment to Comcast?

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.

I will be returning my Brighthouse Cable Card & Tuning Adapter when I disconnect my service later this month.

Springfield, IL

4 edits

Re: Moved from Media Center to Roamio

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.

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???

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.
Brookfield, WI
·Time Warner Cable

Tivo keeps me going

Time Warner not so much. Have a 4 tuner Premiere, worked on FIOS no problem. Slap the cable card in and logged into their site and poof it works. Move to a TimeWarner area, nothing but problems. Its obvious they put out inferior equipment, they attempt to blame TiVo until I point out I just had two TiVo (HD XL & Premiere XL) working perfectly on FIOS. Then after proving functionality, I had a Tier 3 pop out a card from one of their cable boxes and put in the Tivo to prove my point...no problems. Of course, he had to put it back cuz its closely monitored. Point being TWC and others seem to do just enough to meet the letter of the law pertaining to cable cards while companies like Verzion's FIOS exceed it. I didnt mind paying $200/mo for FIOS services cuz they overdelivered and it was quality pictures. TWC...delivering substandard picture quality and ok internet.
Whats a Posting tag?

Bellingham, WA
·Comcast Formerl..

CableCARD issues must be region specific

When I got my Tivo-HD I called Comcast support and they said you can go to the office and pick up a card to install your self for free or they can roll a truck and have a tech. do it, but that will cost $30.

So I went down to the local office picked up a cableCARD. Got home popped it in the Tivo. A screen instantly popped up that said "call this number to activate service". I dialed the number, the guy on the other end had me read him a string of numbers off the screen.

a few seconds later it was up and running, while I was on the line he had be check out a few channels to make sure I was getting everything I was subscribed to.

The whole process took less than 5 minutes and I have not had a single issue with the CableCARD.
Bellingham Scanner Kicks Ass! »bhamscanner.kicks-ass.org/

San Diego, CA

Went good..

Have to be honest, my tivo premiere died and ended up with a roamio and cox had the cablecard working in ten minutes..


Suffern, NY

Cablevision Thread on Device

Here is a thread on the problems that one customer had getting all 6 tuners (as opposed to only 4) working - »[iO] My TiVo Roamio Experience On Cablevision

Fair and Balanced
Katy, TX

People still use TIVO?

People still use subscription DVRs???
Why would someone pay a monthly fee to use a DVR?
...brought to you by Carl's Jr.
Whats a Posting tag?

Bellingham, WA
·Comcast Formerl..

Re: People still use TIVO?

Main reason is convenience, I have tried the PC running XBMC method and while I liked it, my wife found it hard to use. Tivo's user interface is to borrow a phrase "so simple a caveman could use it".

Also there was a time when you could lifetime subscribe a Tivo when you bought it. It made the upfront cost higher but there is no monthly fee.

Granted the PC hardware costs have come down but for instance that Ceton Infinity tuner card is still $200, if you had to buy all the PC parts from scratch even using Linux instead of buying Windows my lifetime subscribed Tivo-HD costs less and is easier to use.

Many people chose cable company DVR's because if it fails you just call them and they give you a new one.
Bellingham Scanner Kicks Ass! »bhamscanner.kicks-ass.org/


Not that big of a deal

CableCards with Comcast aren't that hard. I've done a couple, and you just call in and they're done.

Brooklyn, NY

1 edit

Two tricks to getting a Tunning adapter working with TWC

I had TWC with a Tuning adapter for a few months this year(just moved into a house that could get FIOS).

I had issues with the Tuning Adapter and my Tivo Premiere XL4. It would drop out on a regular basis.

1. Plug the TIVO and Tuning Adapter into different Power outlets(not sure how much this helped but it was on a forum). I used different Powerboards with line filters in them.

2.(this seemed to work the best) put an Attenuator on the T/A line. I bought some 3/6/12db attenuators from Amazon for a couple of bucks. I tried the 6db first and it seemed to fix 99% of the issues.

3. Power up the T/A and Tivo with the USB cable unplugged. Plug in the USB cable when the light on the T/A stops flashing.

4. try setting up the T/A and Tivo using a splitter, not passing it(the TIVO) through the T/A.

Number 2 seemed to do the most good.


Phoenix, AZ

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.