TiVo Series3/HD Get External Storage, Multi-Room Viewing, TiVoToGo

No surprise here — TiVoToGo, Multi-Room Viewing, and external storage have arrived for TiVo Series3 and TiVo HD units (as promised). All you need is system software 9.2 (request it here) and for TiVo to flip the switch on their end. I’m on the road, but looking forward to checking out the transfer features via Slingbox and LogMeIn.

External Storage
Currently, the 5ooGB Western Digital My DVR Expander ($200) is the only “TiVo Verified” external drive – good for about 65 hours of HD content. However, a variety of eSATA drives will work just fine – if you’re looking for more storage or a lower price point, review this thread. FYI The WD drive doesn’t have the TiVo guy on it as pictured (sorry) but should show up at the TiVo store shortly.

Multi-Room Viewing
Video transfers between and amongst both Series2 and HD TiVo units are now available. The only (unsurprising) caveat being that Series2 units are limited to standard def content.

TiVoToGo video transfers to computer are also being enabled, including HD content. Current methods for playback and conversion, including the official TiVo Desktop (PC) and Roxio (Mac) software, should work fine.

41 thoughts on “TiVo Series3/HD Get External Storage, Multi-Room Viewing, TiVoToGo”

  1. What do you mean by TiVo needing to “flip the switch”? Are these 3 features available as soon as 9.2 is deployed to a S3, or does TiVo need to further enable it somehow? Also, do you know if an update to the TiVo Desktop for this stuff, or 2.5 all you need?

    Nice use of “amongst”, by the way.

  2. I’m surprised & pleased that the TTG also supports HD content, I wonder how that’s accomplished, is the stored HD content on the TiVo already in MPEG2 (or another computer usable format) or is it transcoded as it’s transferred?

    Also re: the external storage, I wonder what encryption or other DRM is on the files on the external HDD that would prevent/impede someone from just plugging the HDD into their PC.

  3. Mike, TiVo has the ability to turn features on/off from their site. Rhapsody on TiVo is a good example. Once 9.1 was in place, all they had to do is flip the switch. FYI I checked my online TiVo account – both the Series3 and TiVo HD indicate transfers are enabled. I forgot to email Melissa about this last night and she’s at work now, so I can’t get her to reboot the THD or turn on my desktop PC (for LogMeIn). I’ll test as soon as I can, but I fully expect TiVo to flip the switch today if they haven’t already.

    Pol, Did it break just the transfer feature or both transfer and conversion…? (Assuming those can be separated – something I don’t know.)

    Robert, I believe the content is already MPEG2 as Bob Pony mentioned to me a few weeks ago in NYC that no on-box transcoding takes place. Regarding the external storage, more than just encryption there is some marriage between a specific TiVo unit and a specific drive. I don’t know the details, but I wonder if the Cable Labs docs would shed some light on it?

  4. Looks like it’s time to get a 2nd HD and get rid of the other SA8300.. MRV will be awesome with HD. I wonder how slow it will be though..

  5. Granted, I am not well versed in external storage, but I was surprised by the FAQ on http://www.tivo.com/expand. It says that the storage device is not transferable between TiVos and must be reformatted to work with another TiVo. I thought the whole idea of having an external storage (beyond extra space) is to have shows safe in case something goes wrong with the TiVo box. What benefit is there to have an external storage unit verses upgrading the internal hard drive?

  6. Some people don’t want to go through the process (or pay someone) to upgrade the internal drive. With eSata drives basically being plug-n-play simple, a regular Joe can go out, get a drive, and hook it up.

  7. By the way, where is the “official” public news release from Tivo on all these great new features???

    Don’t you think they would be screaming from the rooftops?

  8. From the Western Digital documentation:

    “Removing the DVR Expander does not allow you to play your recordings on a different DVR. Because each recording is distributed equally between the DVR’s internal drive and the DVR Expander, you cannot gain additional storage by using more than one DVR Expander.”

    No encryption to satisfy DRM, just splitting programs between the internal and external hard drives.

  9. Can someone confirm that I could sit in front of my not-yet-purchased TivoHD, which would be connected via wired network to my existing Series 2 Tivo, grab SD programming from the Series 2, and start watching, almost immediately?

  10. I have 2 Tivo HDs and 2 Tivo Series 2 and all have received the update and after forcing a service update on the Tivos everything is working as advertised. One thing I did notice is when transferring 1080p and 720p videos from my computer to the Tivo HD they transcoded down to 480i. HD programs transferred from Tivo HD to Tivo HD remains the correct resolution. Another thing I noticed is my Tivo HDs are labeled DVR in the Now Playing menu opposed to the name I assigned to them. Both Series 2 Tivos are labeled correctly. But over all the update is working great.

    I got my test HD videos from the following link, I will continue testing other HD video formats to see if there is one that can actually be displayed at 720p or 1080i when transferred to the Tivo HD:


  11. Allanon,

    TivoPony said on TCF that HD content will only stay in HD format if it originated from your HD box (or S3). It won’t stay in HD format if it originates from a 3rd party location (like MSFT). I don’t know if they plan to change that down the road.

  12. “where is the “official??? public news release from Tivo on all these great new features?”

    Kevin, TiVo sent out a media alert to the press yesterday with the embargo set for this AM to coincide with Western Digital’s press release. Not sure if TiVo is doing a formal press release for this though. In addition to the press coverage, I expect the next TiVo Newsletter will highlight these features for existing customers.

  13. I got 9.2 on my HD today. My S2s are still at 9.1 and MRV works fine.

    Dan Schneider, Yes, that’s correct. I prefer to let it copy for about 10 minutes so as I fast forward through commercials I catch up with it..

  14. Great! Now if only they’d change the activation date for the lifetime transfer offer to, say, 12/26/03, I’d make the leap to HD.

  15. Regarding the encoding format on the Tivo HD units, since they don’t encode the samples the video is an MPEG-2 transport stream, which they simply capture and save in the format is was encoded in by the cable company. ISO/IEC 13818-1 format MPEG-2 transport stream using ISO/IEC 13818-2 format MPEG-2 video and AC-3 5.1 192Kbps or 2-channel 128Kbps audio. The HD stuff will be in the 14-15Mbps range, the SD stuff will be around 3.6-3.75Mbps.

    Assuming you extract it with DirectShowDump or whatever, you’ll have a standard MPEG-2 transport stream you should be able to play as long as you have a DVD player installed (to get the MPEG-2 support, or use a CODEC pack) in WMP. Or your player of choice. Or edit with VideoReDo (wonder if it needs an update…)

  16. Oh, I should mention of course that some of the content might be scrambled, and would be decoded on the Tivo using the Cable Cards. I assume it won’t decode/play on the PC no matter what you do unless somebody cracks the encryption scheme, which will likely be very difficult. Don’t know exactly what content will be scrambled, but I assume the HD channels from ABC, CBS, NBC etc will be in the clear, while subscription channels like HBO, SHOW etc will be scrambled. What about ESPN HD or others? No idea…

  17. I’m very curious about what content the cablecos are allowing TiVo users with CableCARD to move around. I suspect you’re right, Glenn, about the basic HD channels being available but not the subscription ones. If anyone has tried this out yet and knows for sure, please share.

  18. Mari:

    Its all over the map, and different from one cable operator to another. I expect you’ll see people saying my copy of XYZ from TBS HD is restricted from transfer respond to by others that say that’s funny, mine isn’t.

    Exploring ways to ensure consistency and accuracy of application, as well as lobby to minimize use of restricted flags would be good for us consumers and you CE makers.

    One little personal note: When TiVo enabled transfers, they apparently did it independently of the OS the TiVo is running. My newest TiVo HD still has 8.1… and it got TTG capability off my PC server. Of course, with the difference in MRV between 9.X and pre-9.X, MRV was not possible as all my other TiVoes had 9.1

  19. Dave, Pol: I can confirm that Roxio didn’t do something to handle 9.1 correctly. My automatic transfers from my Series2 are all screwed up now (except Doctor Who – I’m not sure why that is) and TiVo Transfer doesn’t even see the Series3 any longer (it used to see it, but wouldn’t supply a listing of programs). I’m about to go digging and see if Roxio has answered those of us who have complained on their forums.

  20. Here’s the thread on Roxio’s site concerning the Mac TTG:


    It looks like there is also an issue burning DVDs from shows transferred post-9.1.

    I always thought the Roxio solution was a bit sketchy. Now I know it is.

  21. Wow, that’s pretty disappointing ESPECIALLY since the media blast said the new TTG is supported by Roxio. :/ Hopefully it suggests a fix will be rolling out shortly.

  22. I seem to only record shows on network broadcast and premium pay – I guess I ignore all the stuff in the middle (We’re talking HD here). Anyway, as you’d expect all the network stuff (ABC, NBC etc) is free to move to the PC. Also, some stuff I recorded a year ago from premium channels (star wars movies) can be moved, along with a recently recorded Pushing Tin. Most other stuff from HBO, Cinemax etc cannot be moved. I have set the Tivo to record some TBS HD to see how that fares.

  23. Glenn – are you implying that I could record a Showtime series, like Weeds, leave it on the Tivo’s harddrive, cancel Showtime and then when I attempt to playback Weeds off the Tivo, it would be scrambled? That’s crazy! (Not you, the policy, if true.)

    Mike – And if my cable system (Cablevision, Westchester NY) encodes almost all HD content, I wouldn’t be able to transfer any of it to my computer’s harddrive for supplemental storage? That’s my current behavior – and I bring things back all the time to watch them. I don’t use Tivo to go at all.

  24. I can confirm that Californication and Weeds recorded from ShowtimeHD via S3 transfered just fine to my XP box, ran direct show dump and burned both to dvd no problem. Resolution of the remuxed mpeg2 stream was 1920×1080

  25. So last night my Series2 and Series3 were enabled for MultiRoom viewing…yea! So I tried it but then it asked me to transfer the program before viewing…

    Does this mean I have to wait for x hours for the transfer to complete before I can see the show, or will it allow me to watch it before it completes the transfer? I also assume there has to be enough space at the target Tivo for the transfer?

  26. Yes, there has to be enough space on the target TiVo and, no, you do not have to wait until the transfer is complete to begin viewing. I think we would all love if the remote could stream the video, but that’s a lot to be asking the remote TiVo’s processor (and your home network if it isn’t decently fast) to do.

    The local TiVo will give you the option of starting to watch the program after the transfer begins or to continue browsing the remote TiVo.

    Also keep in mind that only one transfer can occur at a time, but the local TiVo will create a queue of the shows you select to be transferred and pull them all down, one after another.

  27. After reading about Roxio problems on the Mac, I decided to try TiVoDecode Manager instead. It took three tries to get it to connect to my TiVo HD (and I had to supply the IP address rather than have it auto-discovered), but I am now downloading a half hour show in ~12 minutes.

    But… is it really true that nothing recorded prior to the update is available for downloading? The stuff that’s been collecting on my S3 for nearly a year now, clogging up its internal drive, is precisely the stuff I was hoping to transfer so I could finally delete it. However, it appears that none of these shows are available for downloading. In TDM, the “Now Playing” list shows only seven shows recorded in the last nine hours. :-(

    Anyone else seeing this? Should I try the Roxio stuff anyway?

  28. I did not have the issue of seeing earlier shows on my S3 via TDM – I’ve seen things going back into September (I have not tried transferring them, though). You could by the My DVR Expander solution to give yourself additional room while waiting to transfer.

    Roxio employees keep telling us to hang tight and there is a patch for Leopard and TiVo on its way… but I guess we’ll have to see what happens.

  29. I started watching your blog about a month ago and love it. It’s priceless for Tivo information and you talk about lots of other cool things too. Thanks Dave!

  30. Strange, today when I connected, all of my shows are available, so I’ll see how it goes…

    Is there also some way to push shows back onto a TiVO after you’ve offloaded them (assuming you haven’t changed the format, I suppose) ?

    Rather than get an external drive for the TiVo and run into the same problem in another year or so, I’d rather be able to suck shows off the TiVo, archive them, and be able to push them back later if I ever feel the need to watch them again.

    I would happily do this with an external TiVo drive if only they supported having (and disconnecting and re-connecting) multiple drives with some sort of UI to move shows back and forth from internal to external.

    Frankly, the idea of adding an external drive and then losing everything that is stored there if I ever disconnect it is not very appealing. :-(

  31. Actually, Steve, I am moving my ‘Save Until I Delete’ shows off my Series3 Tivo to my network server (500GB) through my PC.

    I have the latest Tivo Desktop, and I can select any show (HD included) to the local drive. When that is complete, I copy the file over to the networked drive.

    I created a shortcut pointing to the folder containing the .tivo files in the networked drive. This shortcut sits in the default Tivo Desktop folder (‘My Tivo Recordings). So, when I open up the Tivo Desktop icon in my Series3 Now Showing list, it lists the shows in the networked drive automatically!

    I have a Buffalo NAS 500GB, connected through my ethernet hub.

    Hope this helps.

  32. Ever since the “hack” leaked about adding external storage, I’ve had a 750GB drive hooked up. I can’t live without it and now my wife and I hardly ever fight about which shows have to be deleted first…now if I could only get her to stop watching all the reality crap out there. And with the latest update now allowing TiVoToGo functionality, I’m even happier…just wish I could keep my awful home network from cutting out all the time.

  33. Hey CuriousJ: you do what I do, using an external WD MyBook 500gb drive on my PC and TIvo Desktop essentially as an archive for Tivo viewing.

    My problem is I upgraded my Series 2 Tivo to 500gb internal as well, and I’ve probably got 250gb of the MyBook filled with archival recordings.

    First, Tivo Desktop takes about 5 minutes to “load” – i.e. it takes forever to show what’s in the archive before I can use the software for anything.

    Second, when I direct Desktop to then look at my Tivo harddrive (to tell it what to copy to the PC), it takes another 5 minutes to attempt to load that, and ultimately fails about 4 out of 5 times – which means restarting Desktop (5 minutes more) each time to make another attempt!

    Is Desktop just very weak with what ultimately is not a very large database, or what?

  34. I was told by two TiVo techs today that my multi-room viewing feature will not work between my TiVo HD and my Series 2 TiVo unless both are running 9.2 software. (I was told this after trying to get MRV working for the past three days. It worked great earlier with two Series 2 TiVo’s. I’ve since swapped out one Series 2 with a TiVo HD.) Has anyone else had this same issue?

  35. I forgot to mention that I have 9.2 software on the HD machine and 9.1 on the Series 2. (I’ve now put my Series 2 on the priority list for a software update.)


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