Advice for TiVo Series3 owners

There is an issue unique to the Series3 that some users may have noticed – the Emergency Alert System. One of the requirements of CableCARD is that any CC device MUST obey EAS messages and switch to any channel broadcasting an EAS alert. So if your S3 is recording two programs, using both tuners, and an EAS message comes out (even a test message) it must stop recording and switch a tuner to the channel with the EAS message. TiVo has no choice in the matter, it is a requirement. Of course, this takes over a tuner and you get a truncated recording. The, fairly good IMHO, reason behind this rule is to make sure more people see emergency alerts. In many cases a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death, so taking over the tuner and switching to the message is designed to save lives.

This is great – if you’re sitting in front of the TV. But, in most households, most of the time no one is actively watching, so this interruption of the recording is pointless. However, there is a solution! When the unit is in Stand By, it does not do this. It will ignore EAS messages, and continue recording normally. Why? Because if the unit is in Stand By, it is not sending out any A/V output. Therefore it is impossible that someone is watching, so there is nothing to be gained by switching to the EAS message. On a more technical level J-STD-042-2002: Emergency Alert Message for Cable, section 5 (p12):No requirements are specified for processing the cable_emergency_alert() message when a device is in the “off” state, even though the device may be internally powered up and able to monitor an SI data stream. Stand By is an ‘off’ state.

So, there’s a reason for Series3 users to put the unit into Stand By when you’re not actually watching something. (I do – I’ve been doing it out of habit since I got my first unit over 5 years ago.)

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  • buran

    That’s useful. Now I’ll have to see if there are any quick ways to do it (I’m not at home so I can’t check).

    This idiocy (someone didn’t think when writing those rules) is probably responsible for my having lost a great photography-related show that stopped recording after 15 minutes — AND — has never been rerun. Boy, was I angry …

  • megazone

    Unfortunately there is no shortcut, you have to go into the menus. Though the S3 does obey the StandBy IR signal, I believe, it isn’t on the S3 remote. But if you use a 3rd party remote, like Harmony, I think you can program the code into a button.

  • mhaithaca

    Would be nice if you could set it to go into stand-by mode automatically after so many hours without input from the remote, say four hours. It would of course put up a little warning over Live TV along the lines of “The recorder is going into stand-by in one minute,” just like when it’s going to have to change the channel to start a recording.

  • buran

    I do have a 688, so I’ll check that out … or … the stock remote is programmable, after all, so I could always program a button I never use to the “standby” code, and just have to remember that that button sends that code instead of whatever it’s labeled as.

    After I move, if I manage it, I want to get one of those touch-screen Harmony remotes…

  • buran

    While we’re on the topic of “what not to do unless there’s been activity in the last X minutes”, my other desire would be a “don’t reboot if user has done something recently”. I can’t stand being in the middle of something, hearing the speakers pop, the screen go black, and then getting the “now rebooting” screen. If I wanted a reboot while active I would have triggered one.

    “It’s hardcoded” is all anyone ever says when people complain about it, but so what? That’s what updates are for …

    I certainly hope it doesn’t do that if a recording is scheduled for 2AM but I’ve never thought to try it.

  • krellis

    I misparsed your last sentence as “I first got my unit” instead of “I got my first unit” and was on my way to say “wow, that’s a hell of an early preview unit” before I realized I’d misparsed :)

  • megazone

    It used to reboot at 2AM come hell or high water when it had new software to install.

    Way back around 3.x they changed it so it will not reboot if it is recording, but it still reboots otherwise.

    I filed an RFE several years ago to not have it reboot if it is in use. Just like Suggestions have a 30 minute activity timer before it’ll record one, I said to do the same thing for reboots. But I think the reason is that there are only a handful of updates each year, so this really doesn’t impact a lot of users. You have to be watching something at 2AM the night the box happens to get an update. And even if you watched it 2AM every night, that’s normally maybe 4 times a year.

  • megazone

    Time travel rocks.

  • maeglin73

    Thanks for the info. I’ve been putting mine into standby out of habit as well since I got it, and this is one more reason.

  • buran

    I may be abnormal but I like to stay up late and I’ve gotten hit by that bit of “They did WHAT?!?!” user-friendliness failure more than four times. I really don’t know why something that simple would be ignored if you do get a prompt for channel changes.

    For the last few updates I’ve forced it to reboot on my terms, not its. HAH! Take THAT.

  • xdreamwalker

    Yes, the Harmony remotes will put a TiVo in standby with a single button press. I know for my S3 is it ‘Power Toggle’
    So when you hit off it will turn the TV and other things off, and then place the TiVo in Standby mode.
    What I did find out is that I had to add the ‘Tivo’ or ‘Live TV’ command when I pressed my watch TV button to bring it out of Standby.

  • shadoh

    hrm. funny. Back before I had a TiVo, I always used to turn off my cable box when I wasn’t watching TV. I knew there wasn’t really any necessity to do so, other than perhaps saving a dollar a month on electricity. :) So when I got my first TiVo and I learned I had to “leave it on” 24/7, I found this a strange concept, though I understood why. Now, ironically, putting my unit into standby sounds like such a foreign concept. :)

    Thanks for the tip. Don’t have an S3 yet, but hoping it won’t be too long before I do (but long enough for the prices to drop a little — sheesh!)