TiVo working on WPA support

One of the weaknesses of TiVo is that their WiFi support is limited to WEP for ‘secure’ networking. WEP is about as secure as wet tissue paper and it hasn’t been considered a real secure networking system for a long time. Breaking into a WEP protected network is trivially easy, with the process being completely automated in many tools. So WEP was replaced with WPA, and today the 802.11i standard for WiFi security is also known as WPA2. Many people, myself included, have long wished for TiVo to update their networking to support WPA. Well, according to this support note, they’re working on it.

When Will TiVo Support WPA Encryption for Wireless Adapters?
TiVo is aware that our customers want to be able to use WPA encryption. We are planning to initially support that capability on the TiVo Wireless G adapter with a future software release. Please continue to check tivo.com/support for updates.

I’m sure some people are going to balk at support on TiVo’s own adapters. But I’ve been saying since they came out that we’d probably see WPA first, and perhaps only, on the TiVo adapter. And it isn’t just marketing or favoritism, there is a good technical reason. CPU. We already know that performance using a TiVo branded adapter is up to 60% better than the best non-TiVo adapter, based on user tests. Why? Because TiVo designed their adapter to offload network processing from the CPU in the box. And the CPU in the box is the bottleneck. All other adapters need the TiVo’s CPU to do all the work.

It hit me immediately that they’d probably implement WPA using the processor in the adapter, and that was probably one of the reasons they designed it like they did. Supporting WPA, which is a lot more CPU intensive then WEP, in the box would just slow down the already painfully slow transfer speeds, especially on the 5xx series boxes. *Maybe* they will support it on other adapters – but I bet you the performance gap will be even larger than it is today. Between the performance advantage and the certainty of support, I would never recommend any other WiFi adapter for a TiVo.

Thanks to ZatzNotFunny for the heads up on this.

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  • travisd

    All WPA is designed to be “run” from the adaptor — WPA was specifically designed to be backwards compatible with the weak crypto built into older WEP adaptors – RC4 I believe. WPA2 relies on hardware AES which is built into most modern (made in last ~4-5 years IIRC) adaptors.

  • corvar

    That statement has been on the support site for a long time, and no more word on when it will be realized that I have seen.

  • doc_quixote

    For those of us with ethernet jacks behind our entertainment centers, does the tivo-branded wireless adaptor do better than wired? (I’d think not, but wired does seem a little pokey for 100mbit…)

  • yakko7178

    I have nothing to prove this, but it feels a bit faster to me.

  • anonymous

    I have 3 TIVO’s one with a wired connection, one with a linksys adapter and one with the TIVO adapter. Seems to me that the Tivo adapter is fastest then the wired then the linksys….these are only my observations, and I thought that I was crazy thnking that the wireless was faster than the wired until I read this post.

  • megazone

    Definitely not faster than the Ethernet port on the S2DT. As for the older S2 boxes, I haven’t seen anything concrete. Though I suspect it would be more of an issue on the 5xx boxes which are CPU limited far more than the 1xx/2xx units.