Trouble With Comcast TiVo?

Reader John Barger contacted me earlier this week to tell me about his troubles with the Comcast TiVo software. His experience has been bad enough that he’s asking Comcast to replace his DVRs with units running the default software, and not the TiVo interface. In John’s words “It sucks, but it works.”

He’s an existing TiVo owner, with two Series2 units with product lifetime. So he’s not new to the TiVo interface. He had the TiVo software installed on 1/16/08. Roughly a week later the box ‘lost’ the TiVo software and reverted back to the default menus. Comcast send technicians back out to reload the box. But then it died again – on Super Bowl Sunday! That time it “completely locked up”. John pulled the power and it stuck on the “Welcome” screen. Further reboots produce the same hang. So he’s given up and is going back to the default software. Comcast told him “lots of people’ are having problems with the software.

And he’s not the only one. It looks like Doug Aamoth over at CrunchGear has had a similarly poor experience. While he recommended the software on his initial review, he’s now rescinded that recommendation. It sounds like Doug’s problems are a combination of box trouble and poor customer support by Comcast, including technicians blowing off appointments. (I feel his pain, I’ve had Charter do the same to me multiple times in the past.) As Doug concludes his post:

My options, as I see them are twofold. One, I can continuously reschedule technicians to come out here, hoping to get an appointment in the morning or to get a tech that gives a damn about working until 5:00.

Or two, I can bring both DVRs into a Comcast store and exchange them for working boxes at the expense of having TiVo (an interface that bricked my first box and doesn’t work even close to correctly on my second box) removed from my account.

I think I’m gonna go with option number two.


We know that Comcast and TiVo have promised rapid updates to the software to solve a number of known issues. Hopefully they can get those out there fast, and they do resolve some of these issues. As for the customer service problems – I won’t hold my breath. I know Comcast and TiVo are breaking new ground with this OCAP software, and there are bound to be some teething issues as they blaze a new trail, but they’ll need to corral the major issues quickly before it tarnishes their image. (I can mix metaphors with the best of ‘em!) I know TiVo is determined to make this work, so I still have hope.

Do you have the Comcast TiVo software? If so, what has been your experience? Leave a comment or contact me and let me know, good, bad, or indifferent.

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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  • Michael Burstin

    I have had the Comcast Tivo for a few weeks now. Overall its been a pretty good experience, but not lacking of problems. First off, my installer was clueless and never received training, which caused a few install issues. The Comcast Tivo box requires a stronger signal than the iGuide software as it takes advantage of the built-in docsis modem, so the installers should be checking signal strength prior to installs. This issue is also a possible cause for the reboot issues that people have been having where the boxes get stuck — from what I’ve read, the boxes need to contact some Comcast (or Tivo) server when they boot, and bad signal may be preventing this.

    The software is certainly slower than my Series 2 Tivo, however, these boxes are pretty slow when running iGuide as well, leading to remote lag, etc. I sometimes am not sure if the remote got my previous command or is just lagging behind. While Tivo may be able to tweak this, I fear that the only real solution will be more powerful hardware from Motorola.

    I’ve needed to reboot the box twice (2 days in a row earlier this week) because the box has stopped DVR functionality in live TV. I could change channels, but lost the ability to pause/rewind. The Tivo software was still functional and was able to reboot the box via the Tivo menu at least and not a power cycle.

    Overall, I’d have to saw that I like the box and the software and hope that Tivo resolves some of the issues, even though I think many of the issues out there are signal and hardware related.

    I’m planning on keeping the software until there is a good solution with Tivo hardware for 2-way communication (will the “Tuning Resolver” allow you to do OnDemand as well?) and hopefully prices come down on TivoHD (with larger drives, hopefully).

  • Kirby Files

    I’ve had the Comcast Tivo for over a month now. My first one got stuck in endless reboots and had to be replaced (the installer claims to be sure it’s not a signal strength issue). My second one has been OK so far. The Motorola box is definitely a POS, and remote lag, search lag, screen redraw lag, etc. are all commonplace. It also has areas where it’s definitely not quite Tivo-ish, compared to my Series2 boxes: strange video glitches when swapping tuners or switching from guide to live TV; searching for programs and not finding them, despite being able to browse to them; ridiculously slow searching and scheduling response…

    That said, it’s the only game in town for HD Tivo with switched video and OnDemand.

    On the customer service front, I’ve actually had great customer service. I got the direct extension of a Comcast Tivo service manager in the Boston area, who solicited suggestions for improvement; the technicians came as scheduled *after 5* (so I didn’t have to waste my workday). They were apologetic for their lack of knowledge about the Tivo, and worked hard to fix problems until things worked right. The real shame is that no one in the organization has had any decent training, and a tech expressed frustration that instead of allowing a small group of support folks to become really expert on the issues (like a tiger team), they’re just leaving it to every support person to learn how to cope on the job.


  • Glenn

    I wonder if this tells us anything about what the OCAP solution for VOD will be like on a Tivo box?

    I’m already assuming it’ll run slow, and look weird, and use different conventions than the rest of the Tivo interface, but that’s okay, and maybe to be expected given what a giant kludge its going to be. Rather I worry that the act of loading up the VOD interface will mess up the Tivo as a whole, perhaps risking the recording of current shows, occaisionally requiring a reboot etc…?

    Maybe Tivo shouldn’t be very trusting of these guys…

  • Michael Burstin

    I don’t know that it will be slow. I think the slowness comes from the fact that the Comcast box has pretty weak hardware — slow CPU, not enough memory, slow IO bus. I think that a true Tivo will have better specs, and will also be running on “raw” hardware rather than on top of the Motorola OS and software.