TiVo shows Series3 HDTV Cable Card unit at CES

ATTN: The original image links are getting swamped – so if you have trouble, there are a number of full and partial mirrors listed here. And I’m open to anyone else mirroring.

Sorry for the delay, I got a later start today than I’d hoped, my bad. I went straight to TiVo’s booth and I’ve been here for a while now, looking around and taking photos. I got a personal tour from TiVoPony of all the new stuff, most of which I can share. :-) Through the marvel of unsecured WiFi I’m coming to you from their booth. The biggest thing they have on display is the Series3 box. The Series3 is the CableCARD HDTV unit, which is due out in mid-to-late 2006. And let me tell you, it is a *SHARP* looking box! Very sleek design, very nice. I have photos, I’ll get them up ASAP, but I didn’t want to wait to post.

The unit has two CableCARD slots on the back and it will support Multi-Stream or Single-Stream cards. If you have multi-stream then you only need one card, but as long as only single stream cards are available you can use two of them. Yes, the unit is dual-tuner – actually, like the HD DirecTiVo it can use any two of the tuners it has, and it has six. 2 cable tuners, 2 ATSC tuners, and 2 NTSC tuners. Yes, it supports digital and analog cable, digital ATSC OTA, and analog NTSC OTA.

The only inputs the unit has are a coax cable in and a coax antenna in. There are no RCA or S-Video inputs on this unit. For output it has HDMI, Component Video, S-Video, and Composite Video. It has optical digital audio out, as well as RCA stereo out. Like the Series2 units it has 2 USB ports, and it also has a 10/100baseT Ethernet jack built-in. The unit also still has the modem, which seems increasingly archaic. :-) Oh, yeah, I almost forgot – it also has an external SATA port. ;-)

The unit has front panel controls clustered on the right, and a nice display in the middle with a very cool feature – it displays the title of the show(s) tuned at the time, so you always know what it is recording at a glance. There is also an output indicator that indicates if the unit is outputting in 480i, 480p, 720p, or 1080i – and it can be set to any of those. It can also be set to pass-through, so it will send the shows to the TV in whatever format they were received.

The remote ls also sleeker – a slick update of the Series2 peanut with minor changes for HDTV (such as an aspect button). But the big change is that the remote is backlit! It is also weighted and has a ridged pattern on the back towards the base, so there is VERY distinct tactile feedback as to having the remote the right way around in your hand. So those who dislike the peanut because of the ambiguity should be happy.

The box unit still encodes analog content as MPEG2, like the current units, but it supports playback of advanced codecs such as MPEG4 AVC/H.264. This will open up the possibilities of broadband content using more efficient codecs, including HD downloads.

The photos are currently uploading to http://www.gizmolovers.com/Photos/CES2006/ – I’ll fix the permissions as soon as they’re all up so you can see them. Warning, they’re HUGE since they’re 5 mega pixels, I don’t have time to make thumbnails at the moment. I’ll do that later – I noticed some of them are a bit blurry, I’ll take some more and upload those as well.

Oh, and remember that SATA port? TiVo will also be selling an external SATA drive for easy storage expansion, and they have that on display here too.

I have more, I’ll post it in a moment. :-)

EDIT: To clarify, it supports analog cable, even any digital cable channels sent in the clear, without CableCARD. You only need CableCARD for any protected digital channels, to handle the descryption. And since all digital cable systems in the US *must* support CableCARD – it is an FCC mandate – then it should work with all cable systems, analog or digital.

I also got a bit more info, the chipset used in the Series2 supports VC-1 (aka WMV9) and MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, along with MPEG-2, so it has all the same codecs as HD-DVD or Blu-ray. When I asked if it was using a Broadcomm chip I was told that would be a good guess.

There is also another URL for the photos: http://www.gizmolovers.com.nyud.net/Photos/CES2006/ – and if anyone else wants to mirror them, please feel free – just give me some credit. If you want to repost them in your own blog, site, etc – please COPY them to your server, don’t kill mine. :-)

As for price – nothing has been announced yet, that’s still To Be Determined.

I have more photos which I’ll be uploading shortly.

EDIT 2: Oh, one other tech detail I forgot. The S3 is still using IDE drives internally, only the external drive is SATA. Also, the external drive is not removable in the conventional sense. Once it is connected, the OS makes it part of the file system and shows may be recorded using both the internal and external drive – as in the SAME show may have its bits scattered on both. If you disconnect the external drive the unit will cope with it, but any shows recorded with any data on the external drive will vanish. So it isn’t something you connect, record to, then take to another unit to watch the shows.

As for CPU, RAM, etc. I don’t have that info yet, but I’ll ask.

Anything else? :-)

EDIT 3: See this entry for more info on the photos – more uploads and mirrors. Also, to permalink to this post, use this as the best direct link.

EDIT 4: Greetings Slashdotters. :-)

EDIT 5: To clarify, the Series3 WILL NOT support CableCARD 2.0. It is strictly a unidirectional device. It will support CableCARD 1.0 and MultiStream, but NOT 2.0/bidirectional. The earlier content that suggested it would was the result of a miscommunication.

ATTN: The original image links are getting swamped – so if you have trouble, there are a number of full and partial mirrors listed here. And I’m open to anyone else mirroring.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • aizjanika

    Heh. Most of this went completely over my head. I have no idea what S-video is or SD signal or IR blasters are.

    And as long as the cable providers are closed systems they can block third parties, like Tivo, from providing DVRs.

    Did you mean satellite providers? If not, I’m even more confused! :-)

  • megazone

    S-Video is one of the video connections available on TiVo. On a Series2 (non-DVD) box the quality, lowest to highest, is coax/RF, composite/RCA, and S-Video. S-Video was developed originally for S-VHS systems and it caries separate chroma and luma signals, providing a higher quality picture.

    SD is Standard Definition aka 480i, as opposed to ED – Enhanced Definition (480p), or HD – High Definition (720p/1080i/1080p).

    IR blasters are the infra-red control cables TiVo, and other devices, use to send remote control signals to external receivers.

  • anonymous

    Nooooo, is there a way to use the 3 to record in sd then watch live in hd with direct tv. I hate cable and love Tivo. This really sucks. I may have to sell my bran new HD 42 Plasma just to have tivo.

  • megazone

    The Series3 doesn’t work with satellite at all.

  • anonymous

    Will this work as a stand alone OTA DVR without having to subscribe to cable?

  • megazone


  • anonymous

    Cable companies won’t transmit all the local over-the-HDTV channels that I receive from 4 different cities. It also won’t transmit the multiple SDTV channels that are prodcast when a local station is not broadcasting HDTV.

    A separate problem is that some claim the HDTV picture quality is much better with an over-the-air antenna versus what a cable company provides.

    I think it was a mistake not to include a separate over-the-air antenna input.

  • megazone

    Uh, if you’re talking about the Series3 it HAS an antenna input.

    There are two input jacks – antenna and cable.

  • anonymous

    You wont need to install a splitter. The new Tivo Series 3 will have a built in splitter. So if you have a basic cable system with coax cable comming out of your wall, you plug it in the back of the new S3 and (this part is speculation) you can program it to record 2 channels at the same time.

  • megazone

    No speculation, that’s exactly how it works.

  • anonymous

    I just purchased a DirecTV HD tuner. Are you saying that this won’t be usable with the Series 3 Tivo? Or, basically, Series 3 Tivo will not be usable with satellite HD at all?

    I don’t really understand. It sounds wildly stupid to me and will definitely mean I won’t be getting a Series 3 Tivo. I have DirecTV because of the NFL package, so I have no options on my HD source. I didn’t purchase the DirecTV HD Tivo because I don’t like to have functions integrated if at all possible. But if Series 3 won’t work with satellite, then I’ll just have to wait til DirecTV to come out with whatever their new system is and get that. Which will be highly disappointing, as I love Tivo, but that will be dispensable before satellite.

  • megazone

    It will not work with satellite, period. And it isn’t stupid at all, it is a technical limitation. TiVo doesn’t have a choice, they can’t do HD from satellite unless it is integrated – and the satellite vendors won’t allow an integrated box.

  • anonymous

    Thanks for the post and the details about what appears to be a great first start on a TIVO HD-DVR. What is missing is burner capability. Would you be able to use the component output (assuming you use the HDMI for the HDTV) to feed something like my Sony VRD-VC20 dual-layer burner? How about the Ethernet port to feed directly to a remote PC on the network? Will there be a Humax Series 3, do you suppose?

  • megazone

    No burner – DVD wouldn’t be able to hold HD content, and HD-DVD or Blu-ray is too expensive now, too new. You can still feed the component or S-Video out into an external recorder. And TiVoToGo should be supported for transfers to a PC. No word on what brand the S3 will be available under.

  • anonymous

    I have a series 2 Tivo, the current model uses those silly little IR rabbit eyes that have to be taped/glued to my existing cable box.. I would love to see a new system that does away with this silly mechanism, and thankfully, I don’t see any such ports for these on the back of the pictures… can anyone confirm how the Tivo will alter the programming with the series 3 model?

    many thanks,

  • megazone

    The Series3 will not work with a cable box – it isn’t required. The S3 has dual digital cable ready tuners, so it can tune digital and analog cable internally, with no cable box. With CableCARD it can decrypt encrypted digital channels as well.

  • anonymous

    2 months since last post, but I need help with something.

    Why couldn’t the Tivo Box allow for component input (ie, add a component-in connection)? I must be missing something here, but I run a component out of my DTV box to my audio receiver and then another component cable to my TV. The picture passes through with no problems. Taking that set up, replace the audio receiver with a Tivo. You’re saying Tivo is not capable of recording a component video-in signal? This is done on home desktop computers, why can’t it be done with a Tivo box?

    I must be missing something because it sounds too simple, huh?

  • megazone

    This was discussed in other comments. There are consumer component capture cards, but most, if not all, are SD, not HD. Compressing an analog HD signal in real time takes a lot of power, making it fairly expensive to do at this time. Adding that capability to the Series3 would greatly increase the cost, plus there would still be a quality loss as any realtime encoding can never match the professional multipass encoding at the head end. So real videophiles would prefer a DVR that captures the raw digital data. For the added cost and complexity – not just a much more powerful encoder, but the physical ports, etc, the market isn’t worth it. Note that the S3 has a simplified input – it accepts a cable and antenna input – and that’s it. No A/V in at all. It keeps it simplified and reduces the costs.

  • anonymous

    I see…I think. lol So I guess I lose. Over-priced and terrible service cable is not an acceptable option for me and DTV’s version of HD TiVo isn’t as feature rich. So my options are drop the features and get my HD content, or keep the features and waste my HD hardware. I think TiVo is going to lose me on this one. :(

  • anonymous

    BTW, thanks for the reply. I was pretty confused as to why I couldn’t do what I was questioning. You helped me realize what direction I’ll have to go when I make a change eventually.

  • anonymous

    The series 3 will replace your cable box, you will get a cable card from your provider and insert it into the series 3 unit.

  • anonymous

    Am I missing something? Why is it technically impossible to encode an external HD stream, just as the current standalone Tivos do it now with an SD stream? Is the hardware just not up to snuff to handle that or are we talking digital copyright flag?

  • megazone

    This has been discussed several times in comments on S3 posts. The short, short version is real-time encoding of an analog HD stream takes powerful, expensive hardware.

  • anonymous

    The point everyone is missing is this is a stand alone dual tuner option for anyone on cable. I love Tivo and have the Comcast DVR I came from DirecTV but after I moved I can’t get satellite anymore due to trees and a hill. I would love to have a Tivo again but I can’t live with a single tuner as I have about 45 programs I record and many of them overlap and are not reran. This is the answer for people like me who hate the Cable providers DVR so much that they have threatened to smash, burn, and throw it out a window in communications sent to their cable provider. Yes I did say these things in a email. They ignored my comments and told me that it would be as much as a year before a upgraded model will come out will screw them and there $20 up charge for having the use of there piece of junk. I’m getting a Series 3 and it will be by a great deal of control and comments from the wife to keep me from throwing the piece of junk they call a DVR through the window of the local cable office.

  • anonymous

    Ok so let me get this straight. No satallite will work. But if i order digital tv from Cox communication i i will get digital TV that is HD?
    Am i correct?

  • megazone

    If you have an HD package from Cox and get a CableCARD (or two) from them, yes.

  • anonymous

    what would the second cable card do for me? And the t3 would support all channel that cox provides?

  • megazone

    CableCARD v1 supports a single tuner, so you’d need two cards to use both tuners. CableCARD w/ Multistream would support both tuners with one card, but that isn’t really deployed yet and may not be by the time the box is out.

    And it would probably support all of the channels EXCEPT CCv1 does not support bidirectional communication – so no PPV, OnDemand, etc, from the TiVo. If there is a way to order those services out-of-band (online, phone, etc) then they could probably be tuned by the TiVo.

  • anonymous

    I am so with you. I *HATE* the Comcast POS DVR. It has more personality quirks than an angry and tired two year old. Looks like the series three is the answer to my prayers. I’ve been hearing rumours of Comcast testing Tivo on their dual tuner DVRs, but I don’t trust Comcast. Where is my series three DVR???

  • anonymous

    Will this unit be able to record virtually any show/channel ? AND WHAT I MEAN BY THIS…i currently have a sony DVR which being able to record shows on the HD and watch tv also is a mjaor plus…but it will not record all channels…even though tv guide etc and the tv show the shows,,,it sometimes records another channel (dont know why)or the channel line up on the tv guide side doesnt even show that channel. If its manually imputed…it still does not record it correctly…for instance…time warner 149 the outdoor channel. My regular tv shows it..but not the guide…i have these channels as i pay for them….but cannot record them…some people have told me they r copy rite protected…dont by it at all. From my experience…if its protected from being recorded..it will be fuzzy unable to view..but it will record the channel example hbo…is anyone using the dmr sony eh55 ?

  • megazone
  • anonymous

    I love what you’e doing!
    Don’t ever change and best of luck.

    Raymon W.

  • megazone

    OK, thanks. :-)

  • Bonny Dennis

    Do you know of any way you can transfer shows from the HD3 to a HD2 unit (Not HD show of course!). It is irritatin whan you tape an extra show on another TIVO and you have to watch it in bed. Hae you tried Apple TV yet? I just got it and so far it is totally cool!

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    Multi-room viewing, which allows you to move shows between TiVos, is supposedly being enabled later this year.

    As for AppleTV – I’m just not interested in it. It is an over-priced media center extender and I don’t really have any use for it. I can use my TiVo to play music or view photos through my stereo system. I never buy video from ITMS because it is overpriced for what you get – I rent from Unbox on TiVo if I want video downloads. And I don’t really watch much web video.

    There just isn’t any appeal in AppleTV for me.

  • http://www.satellitesweeper.com/hacking-tivo-and-dvr.htm TiVo

    Thats true about the design, I like the postmodern look on it…

  • Cole

    So my local cable company (mediacom…. i’m located in iowa) is going to be switching to SD cable sometime in the near future. I have the HD tivo and an hdtv (the reason for getting the hd tivo). Does anyone know what is going to happen with the technology when this happens? what things are coming out that will enable me to view hd channels since mediacom is getting rid of the cablecards? am i going to need to take back the tivo and subscribe to the cable company’s DVR?

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ MegaZone

    Cole, You mean SDV – Switched Digital Video? Note that it does not ‘get rid of’ the CableCARDs, SDV still uses them. There is a solution coming – see the more recent posts.

  • cole

    but there is no hd inputs on the hdtivo and if my cable company is going to be encoding the hd signals with encoding that doesn’t use a cablecard…. by switching to SDV cable mediacom is basically making the cablecard useless, correct???

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ MegaZone

    Cole – They are NOT going to be encoding with and encoding that doesn’t use CableCARD. That’s not not what SDV is, it doesn’t even have anything to do with the way the video is encoded. It is a transmission and tuning level issue. Like I said, see the more recent posts – but if nothing else, read this one.

  • Mitch

    Sorry about bumping such an old thread.

    Stuck in hotel with a TV that only has the coax connection no cable box. I brought my DVD recorder (Poloroid DMR-2001G) I thought maybe if I had the cable come into the DRM-2001G, and out to TV that I might get something. I tried watching a dvd, but only static on TV. I read through some of the threads and now realize the tuner is anologue only, and therefore now obsolete???

    I really just thought that might help to hook up to S3. The S3 is really the only thing I am concerned about. I don’t need to record anything. I only want anyway to get audio/video out so I can watch my recorded shows.

    Any ideas? The hotel cable sucks and I am stuck for another week.


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