Oh TiVo, how you’ve failed me, but that’s okay.


Oh TiVo, how you’ve failed me…

I’ve been a pretty loyal TiVo customer for over 10 years. I originally got a Direct TV TiVo back in 2003-ish days, then later got a Series 3 TiVo HD in 2008 when I got married. My wife also became a big fan of TiVo, and we ended up being filmed for some commercials for TiVo in 2009 (just talking about different features. The videos were originally used internally and on YouTube).

When TiVo decided to release a new “Series 4” box, the TiVo Premiere (aka “The One Box”), we were asked again to see if we would be able to help out and do another shoot. Working with the same group as before (and the ever awesome, Shanan Carney), we had to go back through or own wardrobe to find what we wore as it was sort of a “continuation” shoot with some of the same families. We got to know
about the great new features of the TiVo Premiere, and how they were really looking for it to be an all-in-one box for consuming media.

As a thanks and a great parting gift from Shanan as she left TiVo, she was able to get us participants a TiVo Premiere with the coveted Lifetime Subscription service (a $499.99 value in just the subscription). We used this TiVo as we moved into our new place, and it’s been a staple of our TV watching lives most evenings.

Fast forward 3 years, and it appears that the hard drive on this little guy went out.

I had been hearing a fan start to go bad about a year ago. It whirred and whirred along, trying to cool down the unit, but then ultimately it failed and took the hard drive down with it.

I initially took to TiVo directly to see if the warranty would cover anything, but with the device being a “promo” device, and well out of warranty, they wanted some ridiculous amount like $199 to just replace the box, and then we would have to transfer the lifetime service for an additional $300! I did what any rational person would do and said “Hell no!” (well, it wasn’t quite that dramatic)

Instead, I took to my trusty TiVo Community forums to find out what could be done to replace this hard drive and fan. I had been a visitor to this forum for a few years, but it was mainly to catch up on TV show talk (great memories of chatting about Lost and 24 through the years). I had also heard of the WeaKnees service to replace TiVo hard drives with more storage, but I also needed the fan replaced, which they actually didn’t cover on their site. I instead found some great users who all had the copy of their old original TiVo Premiere drive and hosted it online for others to make a copy. I was also lucky to find a tool called DvrBARS and the jmfs Live CD where you could install a larger size hard drive and have TiVo recognize it with the same Lifetime subscription that was already signed to the box.

After a trip to my local Fry’s, a lot of frustration and troubleshooting with not being able to initiate the eSATA drive in my home PC, I finally had everything working again and my TiVo has an astonishing 1000+ hours of HD recording time. Where TiVo might have failed me, the TiVo community stepped up and now I have an even better machine. This just goes to show how communities are really essential to companies, and while this one is not run by TiVo at all, it’s perhaps the best one for TiVo users.