Twice as Nice

My TiVo started acting up a few weeks ago, locking up and requiring a power cycle (unplugging) to recover. This isn’t the first time I’ve had problems, but this time it was chronic. Each reset would buy me a day or two before another lockup. The last time I had problems, I considered a MythTV setup, but I decided to check into a new TiVo first.

Glad I did. TiVo currently has a $100 rebate offer. I decided to buy two new 40 hour Series 2 TiVos- the rebate is good on up to two units. Total after rebates was $200. I doubt I could build a single MythTV unit for $200. For another $60 or so, I added a pair of USB wireless ethernet adapters. I now have a Tivo in the bedroom and one in the family room, each wirelessly connected to my LAN.

Why two? With both units connected via the LAN, I can transfer shows between them (Series 2 TiVos only). This means I can watch shows upstairs that were recorded downstairs. Plus, with two units, I can setup one TiVo to record my shows, and Sherri can setup the others for her shows. With show transfer, we can watch anything on either machine on either TV.

Another handy feature of having the machines networked used to be called the “Home Media Option,” and was $99 per unit (one time fee) when the Series 2 was introduced. Since that time, the fee has been dropped- thankfully, since I wouldn’t see paying for it. For free, however, it’s handy. It allows you to view pictures or listen to music from a PC on the network. The picture viewer is nice for showing everyone pictures from our digital camera (the only camera we use anymore).

I’ve had this setup in place for a couple of weeks, and I love it. A couple of tips for others trying to use a USB Wireless Adapter with a TiVo: First, while your TiVo can download program info over the web instead of dialup, you’ll have to hook up the TiVo to a phone line for it’s first call home. Secondly, many newer USB adapters (including newer firmware releases on common models, like the Linksys WUSB11) require a software update to the TiVo in order to be recognized. After your TiVo has made it’s first call home and finished updating program info (up to 4 hrs post-phone-call), use the setup menu to force another call home. This time, you should download the newest TiVo software. Once the call is done, you’ll need to restart the TiVo (again, setup menu). After the reboot, your adapter should be recognized.

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