Comcast TiVo In The Wild!

Dave Zatz —  October 22, 2007 — 68 Comments

While most folks haven’t been cleared to receive the Comcast TiVo and pricing still hasn’t been revealed, some lucky New Englanders have the hookup.

But before we get to the exclusive pictures, I’d like to pose a series of questions… How much will the TiVo on Comcast service cost? I’ve heard monthly fees could be anything from $2.95 – $6.95 (additional) or Comcast might even charge a one time DVR “upgrade” fee. Will New England customers receive special pricing (or free service) while Comcast ramps up and builds awareness? Speaking of New England, what’s the time frame for deployment in that region (I’m hearing next month)… and the regions beyond? What hardware will TiVo run on? Two Motorola models were mentioned at CES, but that was prior to the release of Moto’s CableCARD boxes. But the question I’d really like to get answered: Is Firewire video extraction available? (Since, I assume, TiVoToGo will never be available.)

And now, I present the first photos of a deployed Comcast TiVo running on Motorola hardware:


Comcast TiVo Central with PIP and On Demand.


Comcast TiVo Season Pass Manager. Again notice the PIP.


Comcast TiVo Season Pass Options. Notice the HD flag!


Grid guide looks like the Comcast and TiVo UIs have been fused together.


The Comcast TiVo remote is a definite upgrade over Comcast’s model.

Hover your mouse over the thumbnails for a description; Click for a larger view:

Comcast Motorola TiVo Front

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68 responses to Comcast TiVo In The Wild!

  1. Dave, great stuff! So it looks like from Tivo we get:

    Wishlist, Suggestions, Advanced Search, Dual Live Buffer, a new Season Pass w/ HD selector…and Comcast’ PIG. I wonder if the PIG can be turned off.

  2. I don’t know if it can be turned off. I’ll check on that. At CES, I don’t recall anyone mentioning it was an option. Though the pause button on the remote works while in the guides/menus, so you can prevent yourself from seeing stuff you don’t want to.

  3. There was a report yesterday that 30 second skip doesn’t work on it. Any confirmation?

  4. a tech support guy told me the site http://www.comcast.com/gettivo will eventually work and be the method for signing up (right now it links to a page that shows a “maintenance” message)

  5. Does this mean that Comcast will start replacing Scientific Atlanta boxes for Moto boxes now? or just for the folks that want the TiVo software?

  6. Ken, I don’t have confirmation yet on 30 second skip, but I find it highly UNlikely TiVo would offer hidden (and potentially controversially) features on another companies hardware.

  7. I agree with Dave. It’s one thing to have secret codes on your own device. I’m sure Comcast would be very upset it they had it on theirs, especially since they are more directly connected to advertisers.

  8. Questions:
    - a 158GB drive…tapes up to 15 hours of HD?
    - can tape only 1 show at a time?
    - multiroom capabilities?

  9. Actually, the iGuide software on the Moto boxes right now does have a 30-second skip. You just have to punch a code into the remote to reprogram one of the keys to hold the code. I have a Moto 3412 with Comcast in NH right now and I can firmly say that due to the lack of a Tivo-like “jumpback” after hitting play from fast-forward that commercial skipping is painful without the 30-second skip.

  10. Comcast already has a 30 second skip secret code on their standard DVR remotes (which is actually better than the TiVo 30 second skip because you can hard-program it to any key, rather than having to software program it every time the box restarts).

  11. DirecTV Tivos always had the 30-second skip.

  12. It looks sweet now but give Comcast a couple months and they will litter it with adds and ruin the experience.

  13. Would it be reasonable to guess that although the Tivo 30 second hack would not work, that the Iguide IR skip code would?

    My understanding is that you can use the Tivo guide with the regular Comcast remote.

    If they really make it so Iguide has skip and Tivo guide doesn’t, its going to cut out a lot of Tivo guide customers.

  14. looks great, save for the paragraph of instructions on Season Pass Manager screen that takes up the ability to display 3 or 4 more season pass entries. That will get old quick.

    Big question is – how does it run?????

  15. “Big question is – how does it run?????”

    Early reports: Better than the stock Comcast DVR software, not as nice as a stand-alone TiVo. Though the Comcast software does have a few interesting and unique features – but I suspect those will make their way onto the stand-alone platform at some point.

    “- can tape only 1 show at a time?
    - multiroom capabilities?”

    I’m aware of dual-tuning HD hardware, though I’m not aware of any multi-room capabilities at this time.

  16. Given that this is version 1.x, I am curious to see what upgrades will come down the road, and how SLOW or FAST they will be in coming.

  17. I just upgraded to TiVoHD and xferred my lifetime to it – the one thing I’ve always liked the comcast PVR over the TiVo box is when using the Guide to still see the TV show you’re watching – TiVo goes to it’s “menu” screen and you can’t keep watching your show. This hybrid bridges that gap!

  18. I wonder why they are using a DCT3416. The FCC mandated that after July 1 all STBs must have a CableCARD slot. I got a DCT3616 for my upstairs HDTV in April, and a few weeks ago I got a DCH3416 for my downstairs HDTV.

    There is no difference between the DCH and DCT software wise. The DCH has an M-Card slot and a frontal USB port and an improved LED display that has more info, like the current resolution of the output.

    I really want one of these, not that I have much against the Motorola software, this just looks a lot cooler and easier to use.

  19. But does it blend?

  20. I’m disappointed in the new grid. I think TiVo’s original grid is far superior to this Comcast hybrid. With the vertical split you can see several (5-6) hours of shows on one channel vs. 1-2 with Comcast. The guide makes us of the entire screen to display more info and is transparent so you can see the full display underneath.

  21. Dannyboy – i wonder if you’ll have the option (like I do on the TiVo HD) to have the grid that appears in these photos or the old one you refer to. On the TiVo HD you can select either the vertical split or the one that appears here.

  22. idl3mind – Nope, it means that if you live in a Comcast SciAtl area, you’re out of luck for now. This software is only being deployed in areas already using Motorola hardware. It is more than a box swap, the head-end would have to be changed as well. The good news is that Comcast and TiVo already have an agreement for TiVo to also port this software to SciAtl boxes, and that will probably be done sometime next year.

    Ryan – The initial target was the 3400/6400 platform, but this software runs on Motorola’s precursor to OCAP, so it should be able to run on later boxes, like the 3600/6600, that have the same software support. That’s part of the goal with the software – being hardware independent.

    It looks like the software hasn’t changed since CES: http://www.tivolovers.com/2007/01/09/

  23. @moo, since 9.1, Tivo’s hidden 30sec no longer needs to be reentered after a reboot.

  24. Fios is eating them up!

  25. So how’s the bootup speed on it? Is it as bad as the regular TIVO?

  26. I’ve always used this site to hack my remote to allow the 30 second skip and display of the time, and program time in the lower right hand corner.

    http://www.weethet.nl/english/tivo_dtv2_remotecontrol.php

    You should be able to set it with the code. One unfortunate issue is that it resets to the original config after a reboot (upgrade in software, power outage, etc).

  27. According to this article, S-A is launching it’s own TiVO box with Comcast. http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2007/09/10/story5.html?jst=s_cn_hl

  28. how does it perform? is it slow? can you post a video?

  29. Does it still have the ridiculously sluggish controls of the old moto dvr box?

  30. Comcast is not only more directly connected with advertisers, they sell advertisements. A couple of minutes an hour on various channels to pay them for carrying them. And they have to sign agreements with companies to get access to their channels, so they care a little more what those companies think too…

  31. Like others said, how does it perform?

    Since it runs on top of the same old moto hardware, I’m assuming that things like missing IR button pushes and so forth won’t be any better than the old TV Guide interface…

  32. Will these boxes have dual live buffers? That is key.

  33. I’m currently with Comcast and already a TiVo subscriber with a Series2 box. I’m pretty close to purchasing a Series3 HD box and ditching Comcast’s hardware in exchange for 2 CableCards (for $.99) according to their rep. Is this still the best option for me or should I stick with the Comcast TiVo box? The existing Comcast DVR sucks.

  34. I’m totally happy with my TiVo. Unless I’m getting screwed on my bill, here’s something to consider…even though I’m paying for service and premium channels, etc., I still to pay $6.95×2 (digital service to two devices) and additionally for my cablecards. I thought I would be saving a small chunk of money every month (was hoping for about $30 by getting rid of my DVR) by switching to TiVo, but because they are still hitting me for $13 for the service to both cards, I’m only saving about $10 a month.

    I still like my TiVo though. There’s nothing better for watching TV.

  35. Although the last thing I need to be doing is spending MORE money on my cable package, I’d be willing to pay $10 more per month just to get rid of the Comcast DVR.

  36. All and All I love my TiVo…and thats all I have to say…

  37. I love mine, too. I remember 8-9 years ago, a friend of mine bought one. When he told me about it, all I could think was, “You are paying $10/mo to record TV? that’s insane.” I’m not sure what I would do without my TiVo now. I would miss so much good TV.

  38. I know it’s a long shot, but I wonder if the Tivo Comcast software will have the new Rhapsody stuff that Tivo just announced. I’m a Rhapsody subscriber and it would be just amazing to be able to listen to Rhapsody thru my home theater w/o having to hook up my laptop or later on (as planned) buy and hook up a media center PC.

    Convergence, baby.

  39. It’s Official! Comcast is now offering Tivo in my area (Milton, MA). I just scheduled an exchange of my HD STB for the Tivo DVR. The cost will be $2.95 over the DVR, or $10.95 more than the HD STB. No special discounts, and a “service visit” fee of $18 to install it. No option to do a walk-in exchange.

    quote:

    You asked to be the first to know. And we delivered. Comcast DVR with TiVo® service is now available in your neighborhood.

    Comcast now has TiVo® service!

    • Comcast combines TiVo ease of use with Channel 1 On Demand—and gives you complete access to Comcast HD with tons of HD shows and movies.

    • Find and record your favorite shows with exclusive TiVo features like WishList® and Season PassTM.

    • Instantly search across television or through a library of thousands of shows and movies On Demand.

    • All in one box!

    Learn more at comcast.com/tivo.

    Thanks,

    kirby
    ksfiles@gmail.com

  40. Any update on 30 second skip?

    So far the only poster on the Comcast/Tivo avsforum said that the Tivo SPS30S sequence doesn’t work (as expected). But he didn’t report on the standard Comcast/Motorola IR skip code.

    Maybe Kirby can try it.

  41. Kirby – That’s awesome! This is great news!

  42. I have that cable box, dual tuner, HDMI, the usual, but it doesn’t have that remote. TiVo can work with Comcast without being integrated, but are they really making an intergrated one? We have Comcast DVR, which records, but it’s not nearly as cool as TiVo, when do you think this might come to UT?

  43. With this upgrade, will we now be able to TIVO on demand shows?

  44. You can order OnDemand shows from the Comcast TiVo interface, but I don’t believe you can record them.

  45. I’m having Comcast’s TiVo service installed on 1/12/08. They tell me it’s a $17.95 fee for the technician visit to install it, and $2.95 per month after that (on top of the ludicrous $12.95 they charge for their terrible DVR). I’ll post again once I have it.

  46. Doug, where are you located? For that price I’d dump Comcast as the middle man and just buy a TiVo Series3.

  47. I’m in southeastern Massachusetts. The jacked the price of the DVR from $9.95 to $12.95 for “service improvements” about 4 months ago. Calling their DVR a “service” is a bit of a stretch, I think. I’m hoping TiVo makes it usable. I thought about a standalone TiVo, but I already have 2 Series 2 units, one with lifetime service and another with 14 months left on the contract.

  48. That makes it even tougher. Having experienced and continuing to use an actual TiVo powered DVR just makes Comcast’s look like even more of a “less than service.” You’d get the multi unit discount on your monthly fee for another unit wouldn’t you. You’d be saving $10/mnth just on the service costs.

  49. I figure I’ll look into another standalone once the 14 months are up. I don’t want to have to explain to the wife why I’m adding ANOTHER piece of equipment to the home theater.

  50. Well, after a couple of weeks with the Comcast Tivo, I can share my experience.

    Overall, I’m happy to have Tivo, OnDemand, and HD integrated. The box behaves mostly like a Tivo, albeit a bit more slowly. The dual-tuner integration, and picture-in-picture while browsing the guide, are nice. I’ve had no luck getting 30s skip working, which is a bit of a shame, as the box is just unresponsive enough to make high-speed fast-forwarding unreliable. The Tivoization of OnDemand browsing and searching is a *great* improvement. In fact, you can choose whether to have OnDemand movies show up in your regular Find Programs search.

    The biggest disappointment is the poor response of the Moto box. You just never know how long it will take to acknowledge a button press. Even at its best, it’s not as responsive as my Series2, and fast-forwarding and entering letters for searches can be frustrating.

    At its worst, it can stop responding to the remote for minutes, and then suddenly execute dozens of commands in an insane order. There appear to be times of the day where it is doing house-keeping, and it just is super sluggish for about 10-20 minutes.

    When the DVR is *not* being really sluggish, I haven’t noticed a huge difference between its predictive adjustment after fast forwarding — it mostly jumps back to where I was in the show when I pressed play.

    There are some definite times when you can tell it’s not a Tivo: it doesn’t go back to the same place in the Now Playing list as when you last visited; it doesn’t seem to remember your place in a live show (not being recorded) if you go to a recorded show and back to live (e.g. on a Series2, if you pause and check out a recorded show, then hit live TV, you are still at the same place in the live show).

    The combination of these deficits makes switching back and forth between live and recorded shows tedious.

    Another sign you aren’t watching a Tivo — when you swap tuners, it briefly plays a couple of seconds of current footage before going back to where you had paused.

    Anyway, I’m happy to finally have an HD Tivo of my own, and not to have to sacrifice OnDemand or other programs.

    –kirby

  51. Doug, you’re not adding. You’re replacing and existing, defective piece of equipment with a superior TiVo DVR.

  52. Just called and cancelled the order with Comcast. Got approval to grab a TivoHD with lifetime service!

  53. Kirby….can you TIVO on demand progams? That would be nice.

  54. No, sorry. No recording OnDemand content. You get the Tivo “bong” whenever you try to record while watching OD. Also, you can only fast-forward at one- or two-arrow speeds. 15m skip does work.

  55. I wonder why they do not allow you to record on demand shows. Also the two arrow speed maximum is a bummer. I really thought that would be upgraded.

  56. Jay – It is probably a licensing issue. When they license the content to use on their VOD network there are restrictions over the kind of use they can allow and enable. VOD is meant for a single viewing per purchase.

  57. Doug, so are you going to get the CableCARD’s from Comcast? Be sure and let us know how that goes. Depending on your experience I may upgrade immediately!

  58. I just got Comcast TiVo installed today. I previously had a Comcast DVR. The installation went smoothly, but I’ve lost the 30-second skip feature that I was able to program into the remote with the old interface (http://dcortesi.com/2005/05/04/motorola-dct6412-comcast-dvr-30-second-skip/). I tried this TiVo method: (http://bigmarv.net/how/tivo30secondskip.html) but that doesn’t work either.

    I have the old Comcast remote still and the “A” button on that remove (that previously performed the 30-second skip) now skips to the end of the program (same as the Advance button does on the new TiVo remote).

    I was afraid this was going to happen. Any ideas on how to get this working with the new Comcast TiVo combination would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

  59. Just got TIVO downloaded. It is definitely not ready for prime time. On Demand freezes indefinitely. Comcast says they are having server problems for TIVO subscribers wit On Demand. When you switch tuners during live programming it plays live for a few seconds then skips back about ten seconds and starts again. And it is accompanied by tiling. I may go back to the generic DVR until they get the bugs worked out.

  60. Regarding CableCards… I’m in Brandon, MS, and we’re on SciAtlanta equipment. I’ve got a Series3 HD. I went round and round w/ Comcast about getting CableCards after purchasing the Series3 from Amazon with a 30% rebate. Someone told me that I needed to call TiVo tech support. I was told that TiVo support would three way call Comcast, bark about federal mandate over the CableCards being available to all subscribers. Well, sure enough that was the story. Comcast still tried to give us a story about “No, we don’t support TiVo, blah blah.” After all was said and done, it took three phone calls w/ me and TiVo on the phone w/ Comcast before getting anywhere. Six weeks passed before finally getting my CableCards for the TiVo. I’ve had the CablesCards for 6 months or so I guess. I’ve had no issues so far.

  61. Well,
    Comcast just left after delivering my CableCARD. It was a fairly painless process. Comcast provided an M-Card, and since the first CableCARD is included in the outlet fee, I won’t be paying an additional charge for equipment to run my dual tuner Tivo HD. The only down side I see to this setup is that it’s one way communication, so you can’t get ondemand or PPV. But you can get all of the other channels you pay for with crystal clear reception and the joys of a true TiVo! Comcast needs to streamline their setup process for the cards, it is simple enough that the average consumer could do it, but as it’s structured now, you need to reach a level of technical support within Comcast that is out of reach unless you’re an installer. Another nice feature with the TiVo HD is that you can purchase a 500GB expansion drive for it which adds a considerable amount of storage. Also, they currently offer equipment lifetime service (at least to existing customers, not sure about new subscribers). Also, TiVo took care of me– I had 18 months left on the contract on my second Series2 unit, and they let me out of it with no extra charges when I activated the new HD. Having played with both the Comcast TiVo on the lousy, unstable Motorola cable box and the TiVo HD, I’d have to say the TiVo is a much, much better choice in the long run. The monthly charges are lower, it’s expandable, and the interface as well as the hardware are superior.

  62. I had given up on 30-second skip with Comcast TiVo and 3xFF/play was growing on me, but then I found this:

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=12974226#post12974226

    I just tried it and it works for me.

  63. I have had Comcast TiVo on a Motorola DCH3416 since mid-Dec 2007. I am happy to have my TiVo interface back, but the DVR has bugs. The HDMI interface flakes out a few times a week. I get sound but no picture. Due to this problem I have hooked up the standard coax cable as a backup so I can navigate and “restart the DVR” from the Settings menu. This problem usually happens when I switch from HiDef to StdDef channels, which requires the box to switch from 1080 to 480 or 720. One time I had to do a full power-down because DVR restart didn’t work. It is annoying, but never looses programs or fails to come back. Get to fixing this Comcast! (Posted: Feb 11, 2008)

  64. re: recording on-demand:

    Won’t it just let you do a manual record/record from camera event like the regular Tivos do?

    You know, just set and start a manual record time for any channel for the length of the on-demand program (plus a little extra), if Tivo changes the channel, just use the cable remote to change to channel 1, start the on-demand show, make sure the tivo recording is working and you’re all set. The program will be listed as “On_Demand” something or other, but you’ll have it. I usually just use my old Humax Tivo for this and burn it to DVD right away to save space. Be a shame if this handy (albeit somewhat cumbersome) option wasn’t available.

  65. Kirby Files (on 1-8-08) tells it right. The one box – tivo, on demand, DVR, and HD is great…but there are many bugs to work out. I have had many issues with the moto dvr/tivo combo…usually when comcast “sends” comands out to make updates…the box crashes and can take up to 24 hours to come back online…even after unplugging and plugging back in. And yes…it can be very slow in responding to remote button pushes…make me insane sometimes. The only thing I miss is the “slow motion” button like my old DTV/Tivo box. I have the Comcast Remote…do they offer a “Comcast/Tivo” remote…it looks like it from the above pictures. Maybe they did’t have one…I was one of the first in my town (southern NH) get the Comcast/Tivo box.

  66. Doug,

    I am in Mass. Randolph to be specific. How were you able to get the M-card for no additional cost I called up an they wanted to charge me 6.95 monthly for the card. I am planning on going to the store to see if I have better luck.

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