Thursday, September 2, 2010

TiVo + Comcast begins

DirecTV is fired.

The TiVo Premiere arrived Tuesday night and Comcast came yesterday.

We'd been using DirecTV for 15+ years, so when we moved into our house we never hooked up the cable. A month or so later comcast physically disconnected our cable and left it dangling in the wind. So when we called them up for new service, I assumed they might need to cut off the last few inches of that cable, put a new connector on it and plug it in.

I was a little surprised that the tech instead actually replaced the entire drop. But he did a solid, professional job, and he arrived on time in the middle of the two hour window. All in all, I now have as high an opinion of Comcast's field service techs as I do of PacBell/SBC/AT&T.

Installing the CableCard took way too long and was way too much trouble, but this may simply be a self fulfilling prophecy. We stuck the card in and he made a phone call to give two series of numbers to the mothership. That done, the TiVo went into a mode where it was trying to acquire the channel list. That went on for too long, so we started doing stuff. What finally worked was repeating guided setup. Either doing that fixed... something... or it simply took so long to do that in the meantime the card got whatever it needed from the mothership and turned on. The problem is that both I and the tech had heard so many horror stories about TiVos and CableCards that we expected the worst from the start.

The biggest problem we face right now is that the TiVo has four copies of our local stations. Not kidding. We have our antenna plugged into the TiVo along with Comcast so that we can get some of the out-of-market stations that come in for us. So, for example, for KTVU, we get it on 2-1 (antenna), plus a copy of the signal on the analog portion of the cable, an SD digital channel and an HD digital cable channel. This is ok, except that I caught the TiVo taping a suggestion from the analog cable channel! Bad TiVo! If you're going to tape a suggestion, at LEAST tape an HD version if it's available (or at least include some sort of option to let me pick which to prefer)! So now I need to go through the channel list in the TiVo and remove all of the SD versions of channels for which we get an HD version.

The only other complaint I have about the TiVo is that it refuses to use the 1TB eSATA hard disk I plugged into it. Instead, they insist that I buy a particular one. Grumble. I can only assume that they've run into support issues and have taken this extra step to cut down on the number of support calls they get related to low quality eSATA drives. Fortunately, the eSATA drive they want you to use doesn't cost more than the same drive does otherwise - that is, they're not charging a premium for it being TiVo compatible. I'm probably not going to go out and get one, however, since the whole idea behind having a TiVo is being able to offload the shows from it onto the computers using iTiVo.

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