Series3 & TiVo HD FAQ

Version 1.6, Last Revised Saturday December 1, 2007 19:33 EST

What is the full name of the product?

The original model is theTiVo® Series3™ HD Digital Media Recorder, the lower-cost model is theTiVo® HD. For purposes of this FAQ the original is the Series3 and the lower-cost model is the TiVo HD. S3 is used to generically refer to the family

What is the model number?

The Series3 is the TCD648250B and the TiVo HD is the TCD652160.

What are the product highlights?

See this page.

What are the unit’s physical dimensions?

Both Series3 & TiVo HD: 16.5″w x 12.625″ x 3.375″h

Will TiVo allow the transfer of a lifetime subscription from a Series1 or Series2 to a Series3?

TiVo did offer transfers when the Series3 was first released, and later offered a lifetime transfer to the TiVo HD. However, these offers have expired.

Are the User Guides available online?

Yes. The Series3 and TiVo HD guides are online.

Is the Series3 THX certified?

Yes. The Series3 is the world’s first, and only, THX certified DVR. The TiVo HD is not.

What physical ports does the Series3 have?

  • Power
  • Phone Line
  • Digital Audio (Optical)
  • S-Video
  • Component (Y, Pb, Pr)
  • A/V 1 (Audio L/R and composite video)
  • A/V 2 (Audio L/R and composite video)
  • Ethernet (10/100baseT)
  • USB 1
  • USB 2
  • HDMI Out
  • First CableCARD
  • Second CableCARD
  • External Storage (E-SATA)
  • Antenna In
  • Cable In

What physical ports does the TiVo HD have?

  • Power
  • Phone Line
  • Digital Audio (Optical)
  • S-Video
  • Component (Y, Pb, Pr)
  • A/V 1 (Audio L/R and composite video)
  • Ethernet (10/100baseT)
  • USB 1
  • USB 2
  • HDMI Out
  • First CableCARD
  • Second CableCARD
  • External Storage (E-SATA)
  • Antenna In
  • Cable In

What cables does the Series3 come with?

  • Power cable
  • Phone line
  • Phone splitter
  • Coaxial RF
  • A/V cable (composite video, RCA stereo)
  • Component Video (Y, Pb, Pr)
  • HDMI

What cables does the TiVo HD come with?

  • Power cable
  • Phone line
  • A/V cable (composite video, RCA stereo)
  • Component Video (Y, Pb, Pr)

How long as the A/V cables included with the S3?

Roughly 2 meters / 6 feet.

Does the S3 require a phone line?

No. While it can be setup with a phone line, it also supports Guided Setup over the network.

What sources can the S3 be used with?

The S3 supports NTSC antenna, ATSC antenna, analog cable, and digital cable.

Does the S3 support satellite?

No, the S3 works only with antenna and cable. You can use the S2 or S2DT with external satellite boxes.

How many tuners does the S3 have?

The S3 has two tuner blocks. Each is capable of tuning NTSC, ATSC, analog cable, and digital cable. CableCARD is required for digital cable.

How many programs can be recorded at the same time?

The S3 can record two programs at a time, from any mix of sources.

Since the S3 has dual tuners, does each tuner have its own 30 minute buffer?

Yes. There are two, independent buffers.

Are the antenna and cable channels fully integrated in the guide?

Yes. The channels from both sources are fully integrated in the guide. Using the S3 with both sources is a seamless experience.

Does the S3 have a channel scan to find available antenna channels?

Yes. The S3 has an automatic channel scan. You can edit the list of detected channels in Channels I Receive.

Does the S3 have an integrated signal meter to test a digital cable connection?

Yes. The S3 does provide a signal meter for testing reception, for both antenna and digital cable.

Is CableCARD required to use the S3?

No, CableCARD is not required to use antenna (NTSC or ATSC) or analog cable.

Does the S3 support unencrypted digital cable channels, aka QAM in-the-clear, without a CableCARD?

Partially. Clear QAM channels can be tuned directly by entering the correct channel number. Recordings can be scheduled by time and channel. There is no guide data for digital cable channels without CableCARD, and hence no Season Passes or Wish Lists are possible. There is currently no way to manually map channels. TiVo is looking into the possibility to provide mapping in the future.

How many CableCARDs are required for digital cable?

The S3 has two CableCARD slots. Two cards will enable both tuners for digital cable.

Can I use one Mutli-Stream CableCARD, or M-Card?

Currently the TiVo HD supports M-Card, but the Series3 does not yet support it. While the Series3 Viewer’s Guide has the following on page 102: “Note: A single multi-stream CableCARD decoder installed in the bottom slot on the back of the DVR enables dual tuner functionality.”, this is incorrect! I spoke with Bob Poniatowski (aka TiVoPony) of TiVo by phone on Thursday, September 21st, 2006 and he clarified that. He also later made a post at which contained the following:

There is currently no certification process for multi-stream cards (MCARD) in uni-directional devices such as the Series3. We are tracking the creation of the certification for this very closely and will work with CableLabs as this certification is finalized and becomes available. In the mean time, you will need two cable cards in your Series3 to enable dual tuner functionality (MCARDs in a uni-directional device act as SCARDs).

The Series3 should support M-Card via a software update in the future.

What about one single-stream card?

If only one S-Card is inserted, the entire system reverts to single-tuner operation. You lose dual-tuner support for antenna and analog cable, as well as digital cable. Unlike the S2DT, the S3 is not capable of asymmetric operation.

Does the S3 support CableCARD 2.0?

The current CC 2.0 specification requires hardware the S3 does not have. Therefore, the S3, as it stands today, would not be able to support bidirectional communication for CC 2.0 features such as OnDemand or Switched Digital Video.

Does the S3 work with Verizon FiOS?

Yes. Verizon supports CableCARD with FiOS.

Does the S3 work with AT&T U-Verse?

No. U-Verse is IPTV and does not support CableCARD.

What should I do if I have problems getting CableCARD from my cable provider?

All major cable providers are required, by the FCC, to issue CableCARDs to any customer using any Uni-Direction Cable Receiver (UDCR) on CableLabs’ list of certified, verified, or self-verified cable products. The TiVo Series3 is on the list.PDF

What if they still refuse to provide a card?

Report the incident using this form. Then call TiVo Customer Support and they will work with you to get your cable provider to provide the cards.

Are the CableCARD installation instructions online?


Does the S3 support multiple video interfaces simultaneously?

Yes. All of the video output interfaces are available concurrently. You can connect HDMI to your TV and S-Video to your Slingbox, etc.

Can you configure each video interface independently? 16:9 on HDMI and 4:3 on S-Video?

No. There are global settings for aspect, etc.

What is the software version of the S3?

Both the Series3 and TiVo HD are currently running 9.2a.

Does the S3 have all of the features found on the S2/S2DT?

As of the 9.1 software release, yes.

Why were network transfers disabled? Will were they enabled?

TiVo had to disable transfers to comply with CableLabs CableCARD certification requirements. TiVo worked through the issues with CableLabs and networking features such as TiVoToGo, TiVoToComeBack, and Multi-Room Viewing were enabled as of the 9.1 software update in the fall of 2007.

What about Music, Photos, and Home Media Engine?

All other network features were always present, only the video transfer features were disabled.

Does the S3 support new video formats?

The decoder used in the S3 supports MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, and VC-1/WMV9. However, at this time there is not yet a way to load video on the S3, and both ATSC and digital cable are MPEG-2. TiVo stresses the support for advanced codecs as important for future broadband features.

Does the 30-second skip backdoor still work?

Yes. The SPS30S (Select-Play-Select-3-0-Select) code still toggles 30-second skip support on/off.

What about the on-screen clock and elapsed time indicator backdoor?

Yes. The SPS9S code still works as well.

Are there new codes for the S3?

Yes. Select-Play-Select-Instant Replay-Select toggles an on-screen data display that shows different information along the bottom of the screen depending on if it is a recording or LiveTV.

What size hard drive does the S3 have?

The Series3 has one 250GB SATA drive, while the TiVo HD has one 160GB SATA drive.

Can the storage capacity be expanded?

The S3 has an eSATA port that can be used for additional storage. This port was enabled in the 9.2 software update. The Series3 can use any eSATA drive, while the TiVo HD is restricted to using officially approved drives. The TiVo HD can be made to use unapproved drives via hacks.

How many hours of analog recordings can the S3 store at the different quality levels?

Series3TiVo HD

How many hours of HD content can the S3 store?

The Series3 can store up to 32 hours of HD content. The TiVo HD can store up to 20 hours of HD content. Since all digital content is recorded as-received, capacity will depend on the compression of the source material.

How does the capacity of the S3 compare to other TiVos?

TiVo Series325052:0076:24120:12303:50
TiVo HD16045:3073:1796:34184:26
Humax T250025085:54137:41181:23301:51
Toshiba RS-TX20120324694141
Pioneer DVR-810H8016306293
TiVo Series2DT8025:2040:0552:3286:51

What does that mean for video quality? How does in compare in GB/hour, as an indication of bitrate?

TiVo Series32504.813.272.080.82
TiVo HD1603.522.181.660.87
Humax T25002502.911.821.380.83
Toshiba RS-TX201204.502.611.280.85
Pioneer DVR-810H805.002.671.290.86
TiVo Series2DT803.162.001.520.92

As you can see, the S3 uses much more space per unit time at all but Basic quality. This implies a much higher bitrate, and hence a higher picture quality. Which, subjectively, does appear to be the case. The TiVo HD appears to be a slightly lower bitrate than the Series3, but it is still a higher quality than other units. Note that the GB/hour values are only rough estimates. They were determined using the raw drive capacity, and some of that capacity is used for the OS, swap, reserved space, etc. So the actually GB/hour values will be somewhat lower. But without knowing exactly how much space is available on each unit, I couldn’t generate fully accurate values. Still, these values serve as a reasonably comparison between the different models of TiVo, as the ‘lost’ capacity is similar.

Which CPU does the Series3 use?

Broadcom BCM7038 system-on-a-chip, including the MPEG-2 decoder.

Which decoder does the Series3 use?

Broadcom BCM7411 MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 and VC-1/WMV9 decoder.

Which MPEG-2 encoders does the Series3 use for analog recordings?

Two Broadcom BCM7042.

Which CPU does the TiVo HD use?

Broadcom BCM7401 system-on-a-chip, including the MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, and VC-1/WMV9 decoder.

Which MPEG-2 encoders does the TiVo HD use for analog recordings?

Two Philips/NXT SAA7138CHL.

What is the speed of the Ethernet port?

It is a 10/100baseT port.

Is WiFi built in to the S3?

No. However, the TiVo 802.11g USB WiFi adapter works very well with the S3. See for a list of supported adapters.

How much memory does the S3 have?

The S3 has 128MB of memory for the general system, and additional memory dedicated to the encoders.

Does the S3 have a built-in Closed Captioning decoder?

Yes. The S3 can decode both analog and digital closed captions internally and overlay them on the video output.

How easy is it to control the Closed Captioning?

In the channel banner for a recording or LiveTV there is a CC icon on the right. Selecting that takes you directly to the settings screen where you can control the captions. When you’re done, ‘Left’ takes you back to the program. Very easy.

What video output formats does the S3 support?


  • Native
  • 720p Hybrid
  • 1080i Hybrid
  • 480i Fixed
  • 480p Fixed
  • 720p Fixed
  • 1080i Fixed

TiVo HD:

  • Native
  • Hybrid
  • 720p Hybrid
  • 1080i Hybrid
  • 480i Fixed
  • 480p Fixed
  • 720p Fixed
  • 1080i Fixed

What does Native mean? Hybrid? Fixed?

Native means that the S3 outputs the video in whichever format it was received in – 480i, 480p, 720p, or 1080i. Hybrid modes convert all HD content to the resolution specified, and all SD content to 480p. Fixed modes convert all video to the resolution specified. The standalone Hybrid mode on the TiVo HD converts 1080p and 1080i to 1080i, 720p stays 720p, and 480p and 480i are both 480p.

How do you setup on TVs with a fixed input format?

There is a ‘Format’ button on the front of the S3 which allows you to toggle through the four output formats to force the S3 to use the correct format for the display.

What aspect ratio displays does the S3 support?

The S3 supports three aspect ratio settings:

  • 16:9 Widescreen
  • 4:3 Smart Screen (4:3 SD, 16:9 HD)
  • 4:3 Classic Screen (4:3 only)

Does the S3 have different aspect correction modes?

Yes. The S3 has three modes:

  • Full, which will stretch the image to fit your screen.
  • Panel, which uses letterboxing/pillarboxing.
  • Zoom, which zooms in on the image. Used for widescreen content broadcast with letterboxing in a 4:3 signal.

Can the Zoom level be adjusted?

No. Zoom is a fixed setting.

Can the color of the letterboxing be changed?

There are two options – Gray or Black.

What resolution are the TiVo menus in Native mode?

In native mode the TiVo screens are 720p.

What about the applications in Music, Photos, Products, & More?

The applications are 720p. Photo viewing is SD with TiVo Desktop 2.3a, but TiVo Desktop 2.4 and up supports HD (720p) photo viewing.

Is there an indication of the current video output resolution?

Yes. The front panel display indicates 480i, 480p, 720p, or 1080i.

Is there a way to tell the resolution of a recording?

The episode description in Now Playing says ‘HDTV’ for all 720p or 1080i recordings. During playback of a recording, or in Live TV, the channel banner includes the video resolution – 480i, 480p, 720p, or 1080i.

Is there a display of the bit-rate?

No. The S3 does not display the bit-rate of the recording.

Which digital audio formats does the S3 output?

The S3 can output Dolby Digital, or it can convert the audio to PCM.

Does the S3 output digital audio even for channels with analog audio?

Yes. The digital audio out is always active. For example, you can connect the S3 using only HDMI and have audio for all channels.

Is there an indication in Now Playing of which recordings are in HD?

If Groups are turned on there is a special group called ‘HDTV Recordings’ which groups all of the HD recordings in one place. If Groups are off, there is no indication.

Is there an indication in the Live TV Guide of which programs are in HD?

When using the Grid Guide style there is a ‘HD’ marker on all HD programs. When using the TiVo Live Guide style the only indication is in the episode description at the top. There is no way to tell which programs in the list are HD.

Is there a way to see only upcoming HD programs?

No, not really. However, Season Pass searches and Wishlists may be limited by selecting the ‘HD’ meta-category.

The Season Pass entries now have a double check-mark with a purple background instead of yellow, does that mean anything?

No. It is simply a stylistic change.

Does the Series3 remote differ from the S2 remote? If so, how?

Yes, a number of changes have been made:

  • The independent Select button is gone, the directional pad has been replaced by a 5-way navigator.
  • It is a learning remote, so no more concerns about the remote not having the codes for your systems.
  • The thumb buttons have been moved down, and the channel and volume buttons up.
  • It has a light-sensitive back light. In a dark room the remote lights up when used.
  • The key feel has changed. There is now a definite ‘click’.
  • It is weighted and textured to provide tactile feedback so the user knows they’re holding it the right way.

Can I disable the backlight to prolong battery life?

Yes. To turn the backlight off, press and hold the TiVo and Thumbs Down buttons until the red light blinks three times. To turn the backlight back on, press and hold the TiVo and Thumbs Up button until the red light blinks three times.

Does the TiVo HD use the same remote as the Series3?

No. The TiVo HD remote is similar to the S2 remote, with only minor label changes such as the ‘Window’ button now being labeled ‘Aspect’ and a dash (-) printed over the ‘Advance’ button as a hint to use it when entering HD channel numbers with dashes in them.

Does the S3 remote work with the S2, and vice-versa?

Yes. In fact, the S1, S2, S3, and even DirecTiVo boxes all use compatible remote codes making their remote cross-compatible. Only the Sony TiVo boxes and the Toshiba SD-H400 used a different set of remote codes, making them incompatible.

Can I give my TiVo Rewards referral to the author of this FAQ?

Sure! Just enter tivo at megazone dot org as the email address. And thank you!

Version 1.6, Last Revised Saturday December 1, 2007 19:33 EST

  • Jim Houser

    Does the tcd648250B model (thx certified HD series 3) support 120 hz?

    I wouldve thought it would, since plasmas generate well beyond that redrawing of the screen rate, however my new 120hz samsung tv seems to indicate its only recieving 60hz. TiVo seems clueless, can u help? Thank you

  • MegaZone

    No, it does not – no TiVo does. 60Hz is it. AV devices don’t output 120Hz, TVs that have 120Hz or 240Hz modes accept input that is 720p60, 1080i60, 1080p24, 1080p60, etc, and do all of the interpolation onboard. HDMI generally doesn’t support frame rates higher than 60Hz.

    There really would be no point, the source material on the TiVo is never encoded higher than 60Hz so it’d be doing interpolation just like the TV.