I’m still waiting to hear back from TiVo with official answers to the questions I posed in this morning’s post, but some of the answers seem to be coming in from the user community already.
As many people are certainly already aware, MRV & TTG were indeed turned on today. To use these on your S3 of HD you will need the 9.2 software – so if you don’t have that, sign up for it: www.tivo.com/priority You will also need to go to Manage My Account online (www.tivo.com/mma) and make sure ‘Enable Video Downloads’ is checked for your unit(s) under ‘DVR Preferences’. If so, you’re unit should have these enabled the next time it calls home – which you can manually force of course. You’ll see the status of ‘a,a,a’ on the System Information screen instead of ‘i,i,i’.
That’s good news, unfortunately there is some mixed news as well.
Based on what users are reporting, the Series3 will work with any eSATA drive, but the TiVo HD is ‘locked down’ and will only work with the official drive. This is kind of lame, I agree, but such is life. I would much rather see the HD work like the S3, where you can use other drives ‘at your own risk’. This may be a factor in deciding between the Series3 and the TiVo HD.
Still, I do not recommend connecting just any drive to your S3 either. Not all drives are created equal, and you need something that can handle sustained 7×24 usage. You’ll also want something quiet and cool. It is worth spending a bit more for a good drive and not using a no-name drive for save a few bucks. Remember, if the external drive fails you lose all your recordings and the TiVo stops working until you manually intervene to ‘divorce’ the dead drive. Murphy’s Law dictates that this will happen the day you leave on an extended trip.
The good news for TiVo HD owners willing to do a little work is that you can manually ‘marry’ a 3rd party external drive to your TiVo HD using the traditional dual-drive upgrade techniques. So there are ways to get that 1TB external drive working on your TiVo HD if you really want to.
Speaking up upgraded units, one thing I didn’t note this morning is that you cannot just plug-in an external drive to a unit that has had the internal drive upgraded. The way the upgrade hacks work alters the file system and interferes with the way the TiVo software is designed to use the external drive. You can add an external drive, but it requires manually marrying the drives as above.
Not wasting any time, WeaKnees announced on their blog that they’ve begun selling 3rd party eSATA drives for TiVos. These drives are meant for the Series3, since they aren’t ‘blessed’ for the TiVo HD. They’re also offering the same drives for $50 more with a ‘marrying’ service. Ship your previously-upgraded Series3 or your TiVo HD to them and they’ll do the work to marry the drive to your unit and ship it back to you. So you can finally have that 2TB TiVo you’ve always wanted.
Anyway, when and if I hear back from TiVo with official replies I’ll share them.
EDIT: I just cleared out the blog spam queue and released a comment Morac made earlier today that linked to a post from TiVoPony on TiVoCommunity.com that confirms the S3 works with any drive but the TiVo HD is locked down:
The backdoor that allowed any eSATA drive to work with the Series3 was not intended for public consumption. Once it got out though, there was little we could do short of disabling all the drives the community had already purchased and installed. That would have been unpleasant for everyone, so the Series3 is grandfathered to work with non-verified eSATA drives via the eSATA menus. We will not provide any support however for non-verified drives, or any issues that arise from having used one.
There wasn’t a backdoor for the TiVo HD platform, nor will there be one. The TiVo Verified solutions are the way to go with a TiVo HD. I’d recommend it for the Series3 as well!