WeaKnees Cracks The TiVo Premiere Code

Dave Zatz —  April 14, 2010


WeaKnees has cracked the TiVo Premiere code, and is now shipping upgraded units with larger drives. Whereas the base Premiere integrates a 320GB drive, WeaKnees offers DVRs with up to 2 terabytes of internal storage which should net you nearly 320 hours of HD recording capacity. But wait, there’s more. If you don’t mind an external drive (I do), WeaKnees can provide an additional 2TB of storage.

When the WeaKnees crew emailed the good news earlier this week, I asked for photos of their work space and some sort of discount we could provide to our readers. They delivered — the pics speak for themselves and code ZNF saves you 5% on any Premiere (upgraded or stock) through the end of the month.


Folks don’t generally purchase drives from WeaKnees or DVRUpgrade to save money, they do it for convenience. But the Premiere upgrade technique is currently exclusive to WeaKnees. Meanwhile, as the hacker community continues to dissect the new TiVo, Omikron has made an entertaining discovery:

For some reason the “Killer Joke” from Month Python  is buried deep within the TiVo Premiere’s PROM code. It brought a smile to my face when I found it. Premiere  may not do everything, but I don’t know of any other DVR out there can kills Nazis.

20 responses to WeaKnees Cracks The TiVo Premiere Code

  1. Can Tivo disable this with software updates? Like if I Jailbreak my iPhone, I have to be careful about upgrading the firmware, unless I know there’s another patch for it.

    Sounds like there will be a long line of software updates to fix this unfinished product. Sadly a lot of issues are also apparent, not only the slowness but also lock ups. 2TB or not, I’m still not buying it!

  2. @cypherstream Similar hacks like these have been around since the original Tivo’s and (for the bigger drives) no update has ever disabled them.

    Other code patches for other items can be wiped out with an update, then you have to wait for another updated patch. No update, to my knowledge, has ever disabled a Tivo.

    Personally, I feel hacks like this have helped Tivo in the long run. I wouldn’t have been a big fan of the original Tivo with it’s original drive that only held 14 hours (at basic recording – yuck). Once I got a bigger drive, it was much more enjoyable.

  3. I realize Weaknees needs to recoup their cost of development, but man those prices are insane especially considering they don’t even include the original drive as a backup in case their upgrade fails.

  4. Any word if they will offer upgrade kits?

  5. cypher, It could be disabled. But I doubt it’d happen intentionally. I see the WeaKnees/DVRUpgrade folks at all the trade events and they work with TiVo, are resellers. It’s a synergistic relationship. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if wk had some “help” in making this happen.

    jon, yeah – kits are coming.

    bernnok, yep they’re high. But right now they own the market.

  6. I love my eight Premieres. I don’t plan on upgrading, but if I ever do it will be when the tools are available to do it yourself. Just like I upgraded my 20+ older TiVos.

  7. brennok, they have to provide warranty service as well. That adds to the cost since the customer can’t send their unit to tivo for repairs.

  8. Regarding Monty Python’s “Killer Joke”, if you follow the DealDatabase link (above) and then on to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Funniest_Joke_in_the_World), you might be amused to read that “John Cleese retorts “Zat’s not funny!” but then he too starts to giggle hysterically before falling down dead.” :-)

  9. Wow, that is crazy. And surely an homage of some sort. ;)

    Off topic and related to my SBUX frap post… Steve, yes I’ve had Peet’s iced and blended stuff. I do generally prefer coffee drinks actually made with coffee/espresso and I’ve enjoyed Peet’s other than the too frequent grounds that come free with every beverage it seems. Maybe I’m just unlucky. They don’t have any east coast outposts, so my visits are pretty in irregular. (I actually drink more iced coffee than fraps these days, and Caribou’s cold press is usually superior to SBUX. But again, no convenient outpost and Starbucks provides a better blogging environment.)

  10. Hopefully WinMFS will be updated in the future with Premiere support (nothing against WeaKnees – I like doing my own upgrades) so when the warranty on my Premiere boxes expires I can upgrade my two boxes.


  11. Why do you mind external drives?

  12. It’s mostly just a clutter thing. I prefer fewer boxes and fewer cables. Even if hidden in closets or cabinets.

  13. The other issue with external drives, is if the external drive goes bad (the WD expander drives have a reputation to die after a year), then you not only lose the shows on the external drive but all shows on the internal drive also.

  14. John JMesserly April 15, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Dave I’m confused. The 4TB Tivo comes with a 2TB external, but AFAIK the only Tivo compatible external is from Western Digital and they don’t offer a 2TB external, so is this something different? If so, does Weaknees plan to sell it separately?

    To echo Gilbert’s remark, on the Premiere isn’t the external still linked with the internal like in the S3 so that data on the internal is not accessible if the external fails (or is not powered on?).

    Tivo obviously had a motive to mess with the Disk organization. Because they understand the changes, Weaknees is in the best position to have some ideas about what the objective of the changes were. For example:

    *Larger volume capacity? If so, what is the maximum?
    *New reserved directories for unknown uses- eg Flash apps?
    *New disk DRM scheme? Eg: allowing a public PC/ mac accessible directory structure on the external that is accessible by Flash Tivo apps?
    *Internal and external drives “delinked”?

  15. John, I have the same questions. I assume they’re spoofing the WD or some other hackery. And, yes, I suspect the same as you and Gilbert in regards to drive behavior in case of external drive behavior. I’ll follow up with WeaKnees with these sorts of questions. Although, they may not want to say anything that would give up their secret sauce… or secret assistance. (And long time, no see!)

  16. Is there any reason I’d want to get the Premiere XL over the Premiere aside from storage? WK offers both upgraded to 2TB internal drive, and there’s a $200 price difference.

  17. Peter, the XL ships with a Glo remote and THX certification. I don’t know that it’s worth it.

  18. Aw shucks- I am flattered you remembered. I have been involved in other activities, but not disinterested in this space. It has been a *much* slower burn for Tivo than I ever imagined, but their trajectory is exactly as I predicted, and they are capitalizing on broadband delivered content.

    I am glad to see they are doing something more with the app platform idea though my understanding is that the Flash 3.1 stuff was Broadcom’s, not Tivo’s initiative. Unless there is a huge take up rate of new Premiere’s, it will be a while before it is an interesting enough platform for ISPs even if they did expose a substantial API. Doug Swallow and I are of the same skeptical opinion about that possibility. Until then, I’d expect a lot of Chumby type applets. Which is not necessarily as amateurish as it sounds, because if you can run an applet and normal Tivo video at the same time- it might be cool for large numbers of users to see Facebook/Twitter/RSS feed/Nasdaq threads running in the unused space next to 4X3 content (assuming you can can consolidate margin space on one side and use that).

    BTW- I updated the Tivo DVR article on wikipedia because it had zero info on Premiere. If I got anything wrong on it, feel free to fix.

    Take care Dave.

  19. The restriction on the type of eSATA drive is software, not hardware. Remember even the TiVo HD, which is restricted, could use non-WD external drives in 2-drive upgrade kits – they’re just married like the old A/B internal upgrades, not using the TiVo external drive function. That does mean that you cannot remove the external drive and fall back to just the internal like you can using the factory feature.

    I don’t know that the new WeaKnees 4TB upgrade is like this – but it probably is.

    I’d actually be more interested in a RAID solution. Even if it mean no internal drive – route the primary SATA to the external and connect a SATA RAID array. Never lose anything again due to drive failure.

  20. Jason Williams May 20, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I want to know has someone hacked the tivo HD so i can install premiere OS?