Cutting the Cable
February 11, 2014 4:39 AM   Subscribe

I have a Series 2 Tivo (dual tuner, with a 542 serial number if it matters), with the old lifetime subscription (so we don't pay monthly for the Tivo service). We would like to ditch our cable and get a Mohu Leaf Ultimate HDTV Antenna. Is there any way to keep our ability Tivo things without replacing the Tivo (and thereby losing our lifetime Tivo service?). Tivo says, officially, "no", but I'm thinking there must be something.....
posted by anastasiav to Technology (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I found a review on amazon for the Mohu Leaf where the guy integrated Netflix, Tivo, Mohu and everything else. I don't have a lot of experience, but I looks like this guy does and got it all working together. Might be a good place to start to see if you might be able to replicate his experience.

Here is the review page. Look for the review from Henry in Tampa titled "How I quit my Cable/Satellite dependence and declare freedom!, June 24, 2013".
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 4:52 AM on February 11, 2014

If you're not averse to reddit, check out /r/cordcutters. They may be able to help.
posted by inigo2 at 4:58 AM on February 11, 2014

YMMV, but hopefully this pdf from Tivo helps a little
posted by davidvanb at 5:27 AM on February 11, 2014

A Series 2 is between 8 and 12 years old at this point, and it's not even HD. Frankly I'm surprised the hard drive is still spinning after that much time in continuous use. You might want to consider that you've gotten your money's worth out of that lifetime subscription and think about getting a newer model. I'm pretty sure you get $100 off for the "multi-service discount" as long as your Series 2 is still in working condition (and you can keep it, it's not like a trade-in or anything) so you're looking at $50 for a Premiere 500GB (that's the cheapest model they make, but if you're going antenna-only you probably won't need more than that) and $400 for the new lifetime subscription.
posted by bcwinters at 5:51 AM on February 11, 2014

Best answer: I have the same Tivo with an antenna and it works fine. It gets the program info over wireless so you need to keep the internet service but you can ditch the cable part. If you want to ditch the cable completely, then you are out of luck.
posted by Ferrari328 at 5:51 AM on February 11, 2014

bcwinters: Most folks who are looking to ditch cable are not looking for $450 options. Your info is good though, don't get me wrong. You are especially correct that the hard drive is bound to get "wonky" soon. The fine folks at Weaknees sell hard drive replacement kits with much more storage than your typical Series 2 for approx $100 that can revitalize an older unit for many years.
posted by davidvanb at 6:18 AM on February 11, 2014

Weakness is great! They did a hard drive upgrade in my Series 2 when it was 8 years old so I definitely understand that it can make good economical sense. I really just wanted to make sure that the anastasiav knew that there were cheaper options for a more modern box than just the $700 Roamio model that TiVo advertises.
posted by bcwinters at 6:34 AM on February 11, 2014

Response by poster: Frankly I'm surprised the hard drive is still spinning after that much time in continuous use.

Actually, our Series 2 is a little over five years old. Tivo sent it to us after our original (series 1) Tivo bit the dust. (They also transferred our lifetime service to the new box for a small fee.) Davidvanb is correct that we would prefer not to spend $450, particularly since Tivo has demonstrated to us that they do have a mechanism to transfer the lifetime contract under certain circumstances.

Ferrari328 - can you tell me a little bit more about how, exactly, you set it up. Our Tivo does currently get programing info over Wifi, so that won't change.
posted by anastasiav at 6:43 AM on February 11, 2014

Connect the antenna, scan for channels, done.
posted by Ferrari328 at 7:09 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ferrari328: Is there a digital tuner connected to your antenna first? Since the "digital switch" a few years ago, I believe devices without built-in digital tuners, like the Tivo Series 2, required one in between the antenna & Tivo in order to receive OTA signals.
posted by davidvanb at 8:05 AM on February 11, 2014

Tivo says "Series2 DVRs with either a 649 (Dual Tuner) or a 542 prefix do not have an antenna connector; they are designed to accept either cable or satellite as a programming source."

My experience with OTA on Tivo is very limited, but I believe that at minimum you would still need a digital converter box.

I would suggest looking on a big internet auction site for used Premieres with lifetime service. The Roamio line just came out recently and many people are in the process of unloading the previous generation equipment. The going rate for dual tuner models with lifetime service is around $300 right now. That gets you HD as well as fully integrated antenna support and the streaming apps for Netflix, Amazon, etc.
posted by Max Camber at 8:20 AM on February 11, 2014

My bad, I thought I had a series two but I have a Tivo HD.
posted by Ferrari328 at 8:21 AM on February 11, 2014

Response by poster: Ah poop. You got my hopes up.

Max, I have ... concerns ... about buying any electronics on Big Internet Auction Site; I do buy (and sell) other items on there frequently, but with electronics there is SO MUCH fraud....
posted by anastasiav at 8:24 AM on February 11, 2014

Best answer: Here's an old (August 2009) AVSForum thread that may help, especially answer #8 at the bottom of the page. This example seems to indicate that it does (or at least did back then) work with a digital converter box between the antenna and Tivo.
posted by davidvanb at 9:56 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm doing what you want I believe. Someone gave me their Series 2 and we were able to transfer the account to me. I do use a digital converter box to get the over the air signal. You need an "IR Blaster", I believe I bought mine from Tivo, for the Tivo to be able to change the channels on the converter box. It plugs in the back of the tivo. It's kind of kludgy, but it works.

I have no cable tv. Tivo gets program information from wi-fi. The only issue I have is the antenna is very positional. That is, the slightest change in orientation and I lose channels. I think I can improve that by mounting the antenna up high on the house, I need to get around to that. But scheduling program recording and "Season Pass" and all that works. Though I don't watch a lot.
posted by Fortnight Bender at 5:36 PM on February 11, 2014

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