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#373662 - 28/12/2021 01:50 Leaving TiVo, maybe cutting the cord
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3772
I've had a Tivo Roamio Pro (circa 2014), connected to my Comcast Xfinity service, and it's done its job without complaint until a few days ago. It's been boot-looping, where it gets up to letting you watch TV, then it tries to download an update from TiVo, then it crashes. Repeat. This happens with Ethernet or WiFi.

So far, all that TiVo has done is confirm all this with me and leave me with an escalation trouble ticket number. The TiVo still works, but I had to disconnect the network, and it will eventually run out of guide data. Needless to say, this does not spark joy. Based on TiVo's apparent absence of product support, much less any new product launches in the past two years, and it seems that I should ponder my alternatives.

The two top choices would be going deeper with Comcast and getting an X1 setup, or going in the other direction and subscribing to YouTube TV, wherein everything is "in the cloud".

YouTube TV is abstractly the correct solution, because it plays nicely with the TVs we already have (built-in app on one, Google TV dongles on the others). Bonus points that you can use it on the road, like connect a Google TV dongle to a hotel television, figure out the stupid hotel WiFi, and you're good to go. (Remember when we'd travel? Sigh.)

Another attraction of YouTube TV is that I would be down to buying a single service from Comcast -- just the Internet and nothing else -- which means that my other local choice, AT&T Fiber, would be price competitive, and it would be really easy to just switch back and forth every year based on whoever had the best deals at the time.

Of course, Google being Google, you never really know whether they're fully committed to any of their products. Never mind whether or not there's going to be network peering shenanigans that artificially degrade YouTube TV's QoS. That said, it's probably difficult for an ISP to distinguish regular YouTube from YouTube TV, and they don't want to degrade regular YouTube.

Pricing notes:

My current Comcast monthly bill, with the "HD digital starter plan", HBO, and 500 Mb down / 15 MB up, is $210.33. I'd previously had a variety of negotiated discounts that knocked this down to more like $150, but those have expired. And there are going to be some rate increases coming in the next billing cycle, I think. Now's a good time to jump.

Meanwhile, there's a T-Mobile customer discount on YouTube TV that causes the price to be $55/mo, which may or may not go up to $65/mo. I think, maybe, that I can also get my HBO through them, although for exactly the same $15/mo that I'd pay for getting it directly from HBO.

For raw Internet with no additional services, the prices seem to be:

- AT&T Fiber Internet 500 (500 Mbps symmetric, $45/mo plus taxes plus another $10/mo for equipment rental, minus a $200 "reward card"), so probably $65-70/mo, all said and done.

- It's hard to find a straight answer on a data-only plan from Comcast, but one sketchy web site claims I can get 600 Mbps down / 10 Mbps up for $50/mo "starting price" and then $96/mo after that. I already own the cable-modem, so no equipment fees.

- What about fixed wireless? T-Mobile fixed 5G is not yet available in our neighborhood. Verizon offers "LTE Home Internet", but not 5G, so this presumably isn't going to be enough bandwidth.

This tells me that it might be worth it to switch to AT&T, but keep the cable-modem around so it's easy to switch back later on. Alternating between each vendor, on annual basis, to get the best promotional deals, might be the best way forward.

So.... what am I missing here?

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#373663 - 28/12/2021 02:58 Re: Leaving TiVo, maybe cutting the cord [Re: DWallach]
Attack
addict

Registered: 01/03/2002
Posts: 590
Loc: Florida
Do you use the TiVo to skip commercials? Any time I'm using any streaming service the missing 30 second skip or "D" skip commercial break is what has prevented me from changing to any steaming service full time. I've tried YoutubeTV, Hulu LiveTV and Sling and they don't have a great way to skip the commercials from what I tried. I had Sling for all of the college football season since Comcast didn't have ACCN at the time.

The issue you might be having with the TiVo might just be a bad HD or if you are lucky a clear and delete all might fix this issue. If you have many unwatched shows you will not want to use the clear and delete all option.

Weakness will sell you a new drive and even do clone the old disk to the new drive keeping all your shows and settings.
https://www.weaknees.com/tivo-roamio-pro-tcd840300.php

I remember using MFStools and WinMFS to clone and expand my TiVo's in the past. WinMFS seems to required downloading form Archive.org https://web.archive.org/web/20150219190704/http://mfslive.org/forums/download/file.php?id=86

I also found a good writeup of on how to use WinMFS on Engadget.
https://www.engadget.com/2008-04-17-how-to-upgrade-your-tivo-hd-with-winmfs.html

If seems that DvrBARS seems to be the new program to use, but I've never tried it myself.
https://www.tivocommunity.com/community/...dvrbars.503261/
_________________________
Chad

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#373664 - 28/12/2021 12:34 Re: Leaving TiVo, maybe cutting the cord [Re: DWallach]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 14357
Loc: Canada
I suppose you could always just firewall the Tivo update server from your network..

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#373665 - 28/12/2021 14:11 Re: Leaving TiVo, maybe cutting the cord [Re: DWallach]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3772
I thought about firewalling the TiVo, but if it can't talk to the update server, then it won't be able to get guide data. Not useful.

Skipping commercials is definitely one of the key reasons I've stuck with TiVo for so long. If YouTube TV at least allows fast forwarding, then that's the bare minimum and would be usable. The modern commercial detection and skipping is obviously preferable. That said, we're clearly drifting away from recorded TV and towards streaming TV, so this is less important than it used to be.

I'm not sure whether I would benefit from reformatting or replacing the drive. Certainly, it's a feature that this model uses 3.5" drives, which means I could enormously expand the capacity, but that's not really necessary. I'd consider going with SSD instead, although it's unclear whether the continuous overwriting will wear them out too fast. Mostly the question here is whether I'm throwing good money after maintaining a bad machine.

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#373666 - 28/12/2021 16:52 Re: Leaving TiVo, maybe cutting the cord [Re: DWallach]
robricc
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/10/2000
Posts: 4924
Loc: Orange County, NY USA
I assume you're using the Roamio with CableCARD? In my opinion, that's reason enough to finally leave the platform. My parents had a Tivo Bolt with 2.5" 3TB drive that died. For some reason, Tivo stores the CableCARD authorization keys on the hard drive. When you change the drive, you need to find someone at the cable company able to re-bind the card. This was so excruciatingly frustrating in 2019 with Cablevision/Optimum/Altice that I gave up. It's a situation that will only get worse as CableCARD fades further into obscurity.

I have been using IP cable television services since Playstation Vue became available, and then Youtube TV once Vue shut down. I'm very pleased with Youtube TV, and that's what I moved my parents to. I would say the only thing my father misses from Tivo is the fast multi-tuner switching. He gets around it during football season by streaming one game on YoutubeTV and the other from NFL Sunday Ticket on a separate streaming box. He then uses the TV's input switching to go from game to game.

YoutubeTV allows fast forward and reverse in 15 second increments. The timeline shows a preview similar to when you hover over the timeline in the Youtube web client. I'm very happy with the service at the current price.
_________________________
-Rob Riccardelli
80GB 16MB MK2 090000736

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#373667 - 28/12/2021 17:46 Re: Leaving TiVo, maybe cutting the cord [Re: DWallach]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3772
Yes, Roamio + CableCard. And yes, we do sometimes watch sports, thus the need for live television, but we've never needed to flip back and forth rapidly.

So far as I can tell, the only competition that seems to come close is FuboTV. It costs more than YouTube TV (excluding the availability of discounts for YouTube TV) and has a similar channel lineup.

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#373668 - 28/12/2021 22:34 Re: Leaving TiVo, maybe cutting the cord [Re: DWallach]
jmwking
old hand

Registered: 27/02/2003
Posts: 748
Loc: Washington, DC metro
I had that problem with my older Tivo and upgraded to an Edge with a six channel tuner early last year. Still works great for me.

Overall, I find the Tivo experience really nice. (Though I wish there were an easy setting to get it to grab stuff with just 5 tuners and leave one for watching live/surfing between different sports broadcasts.)

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#373669 - 29/12/2021 20:19 Re: Leaving TiVo, maybe cutting the cord [Re: DWallach]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31445
Loc: Seattle, WA
I had a similar experience where an older Tivo on Comcast started hanging and rebooting a lot. I replaced its hard drive from Weak Knees as suggested, but that still didn't do the trick, unfortunately. I ended up shelling out for the newest top-of-the-line Tivo unit that they had for sale at the time, and it's been working great since then. Cable card swapped right over, the phone call to Comcast to fix up the cable card authorization was quick and painless.

The siren song of cord cutting from Comcast is strong, though, and getting stronger every year.
_________________________
Tony Fabris

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#373670 - 03/01/2022 16:45 Re: Leaving TiVo, maybe cutting the cord [Re: DWallach]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3772
Update: TiVo's "escalation" path ultimately sent me an email telling me to do exactly what the phone person already said and to call back otherwise.

I also tried reconnecting the network, one last time, and the TiVo again crashed while processing the downloaded content.

So, today, I started my YouTube TV "free trial" (with T-Mobile discount), which should settle into $54.99/mo, or thereabouts. Our primary television is a Sony w/ Android TV, so that should "just work", and our secondary TV has one of the newer Chromecast dongles with the remote control, which should also "just work".

I also decided to not even bother with trying to switch my Comcast service to data-only. Instead, I signed up for AT&T Fiber (symmetric gigabit!), at $70/mo (including $10 equipment rental charge). I'll drop Comcast once it's working.

Fun AT&T Fiber fact: they're advertising a $200 Visa gift card when you sign up. If you click away, midway through the signup stream, they pop up a thing on the screen giving you another $150 Visa gift card on top of that. Umm, okay. So, amortizing those discounts, my monthly service for the first year averages to $41. Also, with the gigE service, you get free HBO Max. I originally planned to get a slower service, and pay independently for HBO Max, but this bundle is better.

My plan for one year hence will be to see if Comcast is willing to offer me some kind of killer deal on data-only service as a new customer. And then every damn year I'll just switch back and forth.

So, yeah, wildly, unnecessarily complicated, but I'm looking forward to the faster uplink and having a significantly smaller monthly bill.

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#373671 - 03/01/2022 19:34 Re: Leaving TiVo, maybe cutting the cord [Re: DWallach]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31445
Loc: Seattle, WA
Quote:
So, today, I started my YouTube TV "free trial" (with T-Mobile discount), which should settle into $54.99/mo, or thereabouts.


Keep us updated on how this goes.

If you pay for YouTube TV, does it also get you "YouTube Premium" as well? (This is the feature that lets you watch regular YouTube videos without ads.)
_________________________
Tony Fabris

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#373672 - 03/01/2022 20:25 Re: Leaving TiVo, maybe cutting the cord [Re: DWallach]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3772
I'm a bit unclear on this. I've been a subscriber to YouTube Premium, back when that was just a side-effect of subscribing to the unlimited version of Google Play Music. I *think* those are two completely separate subscriptions.

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#373684 - 08/01/2022 01:06 Re: Leaving TiVo, maybe cutting the cord [Re: DWallach]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3772
Update: I'm now hooked up with AT&T Fiber and I'm measuring ~850Mbps, both upstream and downstream. That's insanely great. I'm just waiting for my Comcast TV service to die, so I'll know that they've well and truly canceled my service. Then I return the CableCard and I'm done.

YouTube TV is definitely a bit of a jarring transition when you're used to a TiVo with traditional cable TV. It's really a crazy UX, hard to learn your way around, and of course many of the buttons on the Sony remote control that say useful things like "Guide" aren't mapped into features in the app. They instead go to some feature if you have an OTA antenna. So that's also fun.

I've also noticed a lot of aliasing / moire / shimmering effects. The video feeds are generally 1080p, but whatever they're using to process 1080i into 1080p isn't nearly as smart as whatever my TV (or TiVo) was doing in the background. I've never seen this with video from a dedicated streaming app, like Netflix, where they presumably never have anything 1080i that needs to be deinterlaced. And, so far as I can tell, there's no button for YouTube TV that lets me say "just dump the original 1080i to the TV and let it figure it out".

YouTube TV does have a "4K Plus" option, for another $20/month, which doesn't really seem worth it, since hardly any content is actually in 4K. I might enable it for the one month trial right before the Olympics start, since a lot of the Olympics will be available in 4K. And, needless to say, I've got plenty of bandwidth. I'm probably less interested in the higher resolution than I am in the higher bitrate, which will hopefully result in better fine detail. Too bad there isn't a "1080p plus" option.

That said, the AT&T installer was two hours late for the scheduled arrival window, which made me have to juggle some meetings around, and I spent literally an hour trying to get a human on the line from AT&T, to only have them tell me, "yeah, he's running late, but we have nothing else to tell you."

Going forward, I'm definitely going to see how far I can push an annual alternation between Comcast and AT&T. My switching friction is now very, very low.

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