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183 of 191 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All the Gotchas
If you're too lazy to do more research aside from looking at this page, then you may be a bit surprised when you open the box. Here's what you need to know:

1) This TiVo requires a CableCard. It does NOT work with your cable box. It in fact replaces your cable box, so things like On Demand won't work anymore. Cable TV companies are required by the FCC to give...
Published on October 7, 2008 by Mike

versus
27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars nationwide problem with smartcard tivo units, failing daily
I never thought I'd be steering people away from Tivo, but no function of this unit outweighs the fact that Tivo has refused to fix a fundamental operating system error within this product that surfaced in January of 2009. These units will not reliably function in your household.

After nearly four months of silence from Tivo to the public demand for a solution,...
Published on May 13, 2009 by Jeffrey


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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars nationwide problem with smartcard tivo units, failing daily, May 13, 2009
By 
Jeffrey (Carnation, WA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: TiVo TCD658000 HD XL Digital Video Recorder (2008 Model) (Electronics)
I never thought I'd be steering people away from Tivo, but no function of this unit outweighs the fact that Tivo has refused to fix a fundamental operating system error within this product that surfaced in January of 2009. These units will not reliably function in your household.

After nearly four months of silence from Tivo to the public demand for a solution, I have given up on Tivo for good. This unit requires a cable card (smartcard) to function, and there is a fundamental error that causes these units to halt, potentially losing your programming and requiring a visit from your cable installer on a daily basis. Google 'tivo green screen smartcard' and you will discover for yourself the nationwide issue with all brands of smartcards since January 2009.

Put simply, any brand of smartcard will randomly error, putting the Tivo operating system into a green screen with high pitched squeel. The resulting green screen of death occurs when your smartcard within the tivo receives a diagnostic signal, upgrade, or encryption error during the viewing of an hd signal. This is a daily occurance for many, including me. It has nothing to do with the cable company. Non tivo branded units do not have this issue.

To reset: You will be forced to reboot your Tivo over a two hour period. Mine reboots daily, along with hundreds if not thousands of other users.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazingly versatile device, December 21, 2008
This review is from: TiVo TCD658000 HD XL Digital Video Recorder (2008 Model) (Electronics)
Until a few days ago, I had never owned or used a TiVo. Oh sure, I'd read the reviews. Everyone said they were better than the cable DVRs, but I had my doubts. I only bought one because I'd upgraded to an HDTV. A VCR just wouldn't cut it anymore and a DVD recorder was too expensive when you add in all those DVD writable discs you'd have to buy. So, I bit the bullet.

Am I ever glad that I did!

The TiVo HD XL is a remarkable piece of equipment. It has a slim, simple design, which doesn't take up much space. Unlike your VCR, there's no time displayed on the front, either, just a little green LED light to tell you it has power. It has a nice set of connections, including HDMI, and a generous recording time. Setup is easy. I mean REALLY easy. I popped in a multi-cable card in one of the two front slots (which has to be activated by your cable provider) and was quickly setting up the channels I wanted to watch and how I wanted the TV guide to display. It's a snap to record any show, or series of shows you want. The "season pass" is a particularly clever feature, as you can tell it you only want new episodes or all of them, and let it know whether to keep them or delete them after awhile. Downloading the show information is fast if you have a way to connect to the internet--it's probably much slower by phone line.

I've used a variety of on-screen TV guides before, but this one is more detailed and configurable than I've run into before. It's very useful.

What are the surprises? I love the remote. Someone put some thought into this. It really feels good in your hand. And it only took me about 30 seconds to set it up to control both my TV and my home theater sound system. That one remote controls it all.

Another surprise is how much I love streaming music from my computer to my TiVo. This requires three things. You need to download the free version of TiVo desktop, have music mp3 files on a computer, and have a connection (either wired or wireless) to your computer. Rather than deal with yet another wireless system in my house, I ran 50 foot ethernet cables (which you can buy very inexpensively on Amazon) from my wireless cable gateway router in the computer room, to the TiVo in my living room. The TiVo instantly saw my desktop and those music files that I "published" to my TiVo desktop program. Voila. Instant jukebox. You don't get visualizations like you would with Windows Media Player, but unless you have high end computer speakers, the sound quality will be a great deal better!

This unit has a number of features I haven't tried yet, including the ability to play photos and video from your home computer. I also have not yet tried letting it make suggestions of shows I might enjoy watching. Apparently it takes it awhile anyway to figure out what you'll probably like. However, it could be an interesting feature. If you can shoot home video, you can apparently have those files show up on the TiVo's of friends and relatives--a great way to share footage of the kids with the grandparents.

What do I dislike? Not a lot. I think the cost for the lifetime service of your unit is high, especially considering they hit you up with all kinds of product placement and advertisements. Although I suppose some folks might love ordering a pizza from Domino's on their TiVos, a lot of their advertisements are just plain annoying and inappropriate given how much I'm already paying for this service. The music playing has a banner with the title and artist that jumps around on the screen as it plays (probably preventing burn in for plasma users). The movement is jerky and distracting. Personally, I'd rather it turn off after a few seconds or give me a fantasia-like visualization the way Media Player does, but that doesn't seem to be an option.

All in all, I really have to recommend this unit. First-timers needn't be afraid of it. Experienced users will probably like the extra space. Just remember to mentally add in the service fee to your total cost. Without TiVo activation, it's nothing more than a very expensive (and large) paperweight.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tivi HD XL, October 24, 2008
By 
KD (Naperville, IL United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: TiVo TCD658000 HD XL Digital Video Recorder (2008 Model) (Electronics)
I recently purchased the TiVo TCD658000 HD XL DVR and have found it to do what TiVo says it will. The best part is being able to record a program and transfer it to my computer for storage. There are down sides, any HD program more than a half hour has not transferred in full yet. Half Hour show has worked. Other downsides are that you cannot tell how much room you have left on the 1TB hard drive, having to pay for the TIVO service and getting advertisements on the menu screen and the price of the TiVo unit.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All but excellent, December 25, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: TiVo TCD658000 HD XL Digital Video Recorder (2008 Model) (Electronics)
The first unit failed to recognize the cable cards - fortunately the Verizon tech was with me as Tivo tech support were not willing to accept a hardware fault initially. Amazon return policy (on line, emailed UPS sticker etc.) was a delight. The faulty Tivo went back while Amazon sent a replacement at no additional shipping charge to me. The new unit works fine ..... oh, so much better than the Motorola DVR.
This is the first item I've ever needed to return to Amazon for any reason, and my experience with the process was simply excellent. Kudos Amazon!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy new NOT refurbished., February 13, 2010
By 
KPM "KPM" (Wrentham, Ma United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: TiVo TCD658000 HD XL Digital Video Recorder (2008 Model) (Electronics)
You cannot beat a TiVo DVR. Not even close. I have a Comcast box with a DVR in a second room and use it for the kids but when my second refurbished HD TiVo box went down I began using the Comcast box for the meantime. While serviceable, if you record a new episode of a show, say The O'Reilly Factor, and it plays again during the night or even next morning, it will record that as well. The problem with that is the limited space provided by the Comcast box, at least to this point, gets filled up very quickly that way. Never mind if you're like me and enjoy recording a ton of stuff you may never watch but like to have. Add to that a second or third person in your home recording their own stuff and you just cannot use a regular DVR. However, with a TiVo HD box, you not only get a TON of recording space, but you can add an external storage device VERY easily and never have to worry about available space again. Not only that, but the functionality of the TiVo box and user friendliness are unmatched. When fast forwarding through commercials you can speed as fast as you want and when you see the first frame or two of your show, press play and TiVo automatically rewinds to the last "blip" of commercial, starting EXACTLY at the beginning of segment your show is in. You never have to put up with either missing something or having to add an extra step of rewinding again. Just can't beat it. For those of you who know the difference between a PC and Mac, feel wise as well as intuitiveness, TiVo is a Mac and everything else is a PC. In addition, a TiVo box acts as a video renter...be it a Blockbuster account, Netflix account, Youtube and a number of others. When you connect it to your internet service, you use your TiVo box to control all these sites. You don't have to use your PS3 to get Netflix, etc. Again, 'can't do that with a regular DVR. Just don't buy a refurbished box!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best audio/video purchase I've made in ages, December 31, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: TiVo TCD658000 HD XL Digital Video Recorder (2008 Model) (Electronics)
The TiVo HD XL is a fantastic device. I had a TiVo years ago when I had DirecTV. I had to leave it behind when I switched to cable and have missed it ever since. After getting fed up with Verizon's DVR, I broke down and bought the TiVo. I quickly remembered the great things about it. The set up was a snap and they even provide step by step instructions for the cable installer to set up the CableCard. TiVo's help and support were so good, they even helped me get the CableCard working when the Verizon installer screwed it up. I simply checked the TiVo website where I easily found troubleshooting instructions. Even though the detailed diagnositics the TiVo displays can be confusing, their online help documents make it easy to find the right information. This allowed me to call Verizon tech support and tell them what was wrong. Once Verizon fixed the problem on their end, it worked beautifully. Hopefully, you won't have similar problems with the installation, but at least if you do, you know TiVo will help.

As far as features and functionality, it's almost endless. The TiVo interface is much more intuitive than any other DVR, down to the sound effects that give you hints on whether you've done something wrong and which direction you're navigating through the menus. Customizing the guide, channel list and favorites is also simple and well explained. Not only can you create a list of favorite channels, you can also remove channels that you don't watch from the standard guide so even when you're not browsing your favorites, you don't have to sift through channels you don't care about. TiVo also knows what channels you don't subscribe to from your cable provider and automatically removes them from the channel list. The Verizon DVR didn't do that (but that was probably on purpose to try to show you what you were missing).

Recording on the TiVo is also easy. You can record from the guide, search for programs, record by time or set up wishlists to allow you find and record shows by your favorite actor, director, etc. You can also easily record programs from the web even if your TiVo is connected via a phone line. A number of web sites provide Record to TiVo features including Yahoo TV and Zap2It. There are also iPhone and BlackBerry apps that let you set up recordings. All of these online apps use TiVo's default settings so you can usually record with 1 click.

In addition to recording from cable (or antenna), TiVo gives you access to lots of online content including YouTube, Amazon on Demand, Netflix and more. You can subscribe to podcasts from a number of directories integrated into the TiVo interface or even create a custom subscription using RSS. TiVo also works with your Mac or PC, allowing you to download videos for watching on your computer or syncing with your MP3 player or iPod. You can also share content from your computer with your TiVo.

The one feature I would like to see added is the ability to access content on a network without having to rely on a computer. TiVo can show photos or videos directly from your Mac or PC, but if you have a network-connected hard disk (or NAS device), TiVo won't be able to access the files directly. A pretty minor issue given all of the other features.

The only other drawback is the service fee. TiVo is no good without the service. The lifetime fee was the most logical choice for me and while it is a fair chunk of change ($400), I compared that to the $19.99 / month for the Verizon DVR and found it would only take 3 years to pay for itself. Given the added functionality of TiVo, it is well worth it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So good, I bought two, but only after great TiVo customer service, June 21, 2009
By 
djk1940 "Don" (Asheville, NC USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: TiVo TCD658000 HD XL Digital Video Recorder (2008 Model) (Electronics)
My cable company support for their Moxi DVR was declining, so I begin to look for other options, including satellite. The TiVo features stood out...especially the features of connection to my home commuter network, providing TiVo's own version of Video on Demand via Amazon.com, Netflix, and other websites. In addition, the ability to transfer recorded video within that network provided a recording backup capability only dreamed about by cable DVR users. Also, when I uncovered all the hidden cost of renting Charter's DVR (it turned out to be $20/month) and did the math, I realized that TiVo was actually cheaper to own in the long-run, and had many more features...especially cheaper if I cancelled some of my premium channels and replaced them with a subscription to Netflix.

But I had a series of problems: After purchasing the TiVo HD XL from Amazon.com, it arrived defective...it would constantly reboot itself. But rather than contact Amazon, I contacted TiVo's customer service. After a short series of test with me on the phone, TiVo agreed the DVR was defective, and quickly shipped another, also paying the postage to return the one purchased from Amazon. However, the 2nd TiVo also arrived with a version of the same defect, and again this was quickly exchanged. Finally, the 3d TiVo arrived, and worked perfectly. I was so impressed with it's capabilities, and TiVo's customer service, that I decided to also purchase the TiVo HD model for my wife to use as her own, knowing we could transfer recording between the two DVRs. This would also provide her with an incentive to learn to use the DVR, and not depend on me to record her favorite programs.

But again, I had the same problem with this model ...but also again, TiVo customer service was outstanding, this time agreeing to lengthen my guarantee period if I would accept another replacement, rather than a refund. I have now had both TiVos for 6 months, and they continue to work perfectly. Having the two TiVos also resulted in more user friendly setup for my wife, which she now takes full advantage of it, including the recording capabilities of TiVo. In addition, with TiVo's relationship with Netflix, we are now watching much more recent movie releases...some on DVDs, and others via instant downloads onto the Tivo.

I have read that a constant rebooting of a TiVo is an indication of a hard drive failure, and the only thing that now makes sense to me is that the defective TiVos I received might have experienced some rough handling in their UPS route to my home. However, I am very glad that I was patient with TiVo's customer service, because they were very patient with me, and the TiVo HD XL and HD models are well worth it.

UPDATE: After one year, both TiVos continue to work perfectly. Charter Cable in our area has started using "Switched Digital Video", which for most CableCard tuners would mean that they could not receive the switched stations. However, TiVo and Charter are cooperating to provide a free "Tuning Adapter", which allows TiVo to receive these stations. With a Tuning Adapter attached to TiVo, one would never know which stations are switched...the only way I now know is that I also own a Sony DHG-HDD250 DVR which also requires a CableCard, and it can no longer receive most of the digital SD stations. In addition, Charter has increased their minimum download speed to over 20,000 kbps, making downloading even HD movies quick and with no problems. Both TiVo and Charter Cable deserve credit for providing an excellent product and the service to improve its capabilities.

UPDATE2: After nearly 4 years, both TiVo's continue to work perfectly. I see no advantage in upgrading to the new model TiVo's, despite the fact that one new model has 4 tuners, a 2 TB hard drive, and access to Hulu (Get a Roku instead!). However, since my wife's TiVo only had a 160 GB hard drive, just to "keep up", I replaced her TiVo hard drive with a 1000 GB hard drive at a very reasonable price. Two TiVo's, each four years old, total of 4 tuners and now total 2 TB of hard drive....still a good investment!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, December 16, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: TiVo TCD658000 HD XL Digital Video Recorder (2008 Model) (Electronics)
This is my third Tivo DVR. My original Series 2 is still working just fine after many years. I upgraded to a TiVo HD with a My Expander external storage device for the extra storage capacity. They worked together well for a year and a half when the Expander stopped working, but the TiVo HD works okay alone. I ordered a new Expander, but the TiVo HD would not accept it. So I returned the Expander and upgraded to a TiVo HD XL, again for the storage capacity. After just six months, it started having problems. I'm glad I bought a three-year Extended Warranty because I was able to get a replacement, but it was a refurbished one, not a new one. I wonder how long a refurbished one will last, when a brand new one only lasted six months. And, I had to buy another Extended Warranty in case this refurbished one gives out because the original three-year warranty can only be used once. I'm wasn't actually covered for three years, as one would think, just until there's a problem within three years. Obviously TiVo quality has gone down since I bought my original Series 2. The TiVo concept is GREAT, but the quality of their newer models isn't very reliable, I'm disappointed to say.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very satisfied, November 15, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: TiVo TCD658000 HD XL Digital Video Recorder (2008 Model) (Electronics)
Had the HD XL for little less than a year. No problems. Connects to the internet through my WI-FI network. Views Netflix streaming movies with-out a hick-up. Records digital high definition w/o a problem. I bought this because my satellite TV subscription rate was increasing again and I hate paying for 150 channels when I only watch about six, and the commercials were getting out of hand. So I quit the satellite and now only receive the over-the-air broadcast TV. For $13, TIVO provides all the programming info I need to set-up and record the programs I want to watch. Now I can sit down and have more choices than I will ever be able to watch. Plus TIVO provides you Netflix, U-Tube, Internet radio, various Podcasts etc. for no additional charge.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You owe it to yourself to get one of these, April 23, 2009
By 
J. Chilton (United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: TiVo TCD658000 HD XL Digital Video Recorder (2008 Model) (Electronics)
This is my second TiVo. My first was a Series 2, but as I'm about to make the switch from analog cable to digital FIOS, I needed a device compatible with digital TV and high-def. I've used DVRs supplied by cable companies at friends' homes and they're all uniformly terrible. The company providing my FIOS (let's just say their name rhymes with "Merizon") has DVRs that get really awful reviews. So it was well worth it to drop the money on a TiVo.

There's not much I can add that hasn't been said by others. The TiVo is really easy to integrate with your home network. I have a Mac, and use the TiVo dashboard widget (freeware) to send video back and forth to the TiVo. I can easily download video from TiVo and use VisualHub (shareware) to convert it for use on my iPod. VisualHub also allows me to download video with BitTorrent (only legal, copyright free files, of course!) convert it to TiVo's MPEG format and then transfer it to TiVo using Galleon (freeware).

TiVo integrates seamlessly with Netflix and YouTube. It automatically downloads video from the Onion News Network for me. The "suggestions" feature is simply outstanding. By telling TiVo which shows you like and which you don't it figures out what you might like, and records it when it's not already recording something else. And it makes intelligent use of its immense, 1-TB hard drive space by treating suggestions as low-priority that will get deleted, if necessary, to make room for stuff you've set to record.

TiVo is easy to set up, easy to use, easy to program. High-def, digital, and analog TV all work fine.

Yes, I know it's expensive. And don't forget that you're going to have to shell out around $10/month for service (or else buy a lifetime subscription for a few hundred dollars). But it's seriously worth it. You'll never have to surf channels again--just browse through the TiVo suggestions, and you'll find something interesting to watch. TiVo really allows you to watch TV on your terms--skip commercials, pause live TV, etc. If you watch TV, you owe it to yourself to get a TiVo. And the HD XL is the best TiVo there is.
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