TiVo cablecard woes

17 August 2008, 13:47 CDT

Ever since shortly after getting cable cards for my S3, it “loses” channels seemingly randomly. It was a pretty rare thing at first, once a month or so a channel would just be black. Not all channels, and usually not more than one. The problem has gotten progressively worse over the last 10 months or so – happening more and more often. I’ve noticed that changing the channel seems to cause the behavior. That is, switch to a channel and it will show the programming for about 1 – 1.5 seconds and then go black. This is happening every day or so now. A couple of days ago I was at home and the TiVo switched both tuners to record shows and both stopped working – just a black screen.

I’ve changed from 2 single-stream cards to 2 multi-stream cards as per TiVo support’s direction, but it didn’t help. Within the last week or so, I’ve had the box itself replaced, but that hasn’t helped either. I can’t get a straight answer from TiVo as to where the problem is. Some say it is an issue with the cablecards not being properly authorized, others say it is a software issue that is my fault because I have 9.x on the box. (Too bad it wasn’t my choice, and the replacement box has 8.0, with the same problems). Still another says it is a problem with Scientific Atlanta cablecards. I’m trying to figure out if Timewarner has Motorola cable cards, but I’m seriously doubting it. One suggestion from TiVo was to just power down and reboot when the channel stops working. That is annoying – there goes 10 minutes of the show I was trying to watch while waiting for the TiVo to reboot. This is also not useful if I’m not home — because this happens both when I change the channel manually and when the TiVo does so to record something.

While on the phone with TiVo the other night, one of the “missing” channels came back on its own. From black screen to clear picture with no prompting. Other times, it will go for the entire length of a show it should be recording and not actually record anything – because the TiVo doesn’t think it has anything to record.

Except – the “signal strength” meter for the channel looks normal – 95-97%. Really, really frustrated that such an expensive piece of equipment has such an incomprehensible problem.


2 Responses to “TiVo cablecard woes”

  1. zonereyrie says:

    I had similar issues a while back with my S3, and it wasn’t TiVo, it was my cable MSO. They screwed up pairing my CableCARDs, in that case they’d mis-entered the Host IDs. So I wasn’t properly authorized for some channels. Sometimes I’d just get a black screen, other times I’d get a few seconds, then black.

  2. rhornsby says:

    Thanks for the tip. You might be onto something there. But the implication is that the cableco is worse than incompetent, because the hostID has been called in at least 4 times :/

    (Most of the time) causing the cards to reset (ie rebooting the box) makes the channel come back. It used to be that changing the channel and changing it back would fix the problem, but that doesn’t seem to work nearly as well anymore. Originally T/W told me to pop the cable cards out and reinsert them. A couple of days ago, a T/W supervisor told the CSR to tell me to never remove the cards.

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