extended tivo’s lease on life

I purchased my Tivo in 1999. The 30 hr Sony model has served me well — reliably, if not excitingly. It doesn’t play streams off the internet, I can’t even get it do to a photo slide show, but when you go away for a two week business trip, you want it to capture every Mythbusters and What Not to Wear, no matter what. And that’s what this box did.

Spinning constantly for 6+ years, the hard drive finally gave out. Which left me with choices

  1. Buy a shiny new Windows Media Center PC
  2. Buy a new series 2 Tivo
  3. Get a “DVR” from Time Warner Cable
  4. Get a replacement harddrive for the existing machine

This turned out to be a not-so-difficult decision. I felt that it didn’t make sense to go with a Media Center PC when I don’t have HDTV. And damn no matter how you slice it they are expensive. Likewise a series 2 Tivo made no sense because I bought “lifetime” service with the original box and while it sounds like it might mean my lifetime, it means lifetime for the box itself. So if I bought a new Tivo I’d have to get a new service plan and well F that. For #3, I already pay $125 a month for cable and I just can’t stomach paying yet more money every single month to Time Warner Cable.

So I went for the smallest drive available, a $120 replacement drive from WeaKnees. You can’t just go buy a blank drive from CompUSA because the whole Tivo software and operating system (a PPC linux btw) lives on it and the process to build it is tricky enough that you want someone else to do it for you. So WeaKnees sells them all ready to go, their name comes from the idea that it is too scary to do yourself. I don’t actually know how big the drive is in GB, but it is listed as a 90 hours. Not bad. And I figure this setup will get me through the last of the non-HDTV years or months.



  1. First, I had an MCE previously and it just wasn’t cutting it. It is, after all, a computer, and it consistently proved to be more trouble than it was worth.

    I considered the Tivo, but the upfront cost (lower now), single tuner (at least w/o paying for a second cable box). and the fact that i would still need that damned IR blaster turned me off.

    I really love the Time Warner DVR though. It has dual tuners (both HDTV), records HDTV (very expensive for the HDTV Tivo), and integrates directly into the cable guide. There’s no second device to take up space, no IR Blasting, etc.

    For me, it was also more economical. Obviously your situation is a little different in that you’ve already paid for the lifetime subscription, but the DVR service is actually less per month than the Tivo service. On top of there, I didn’t have to lay out any money for equipment, and I’ve already gotten two upgrades in the year or so I’ve had the service.

    From what I understand, the DVR is not quite as good as Tivo (i.e., no recommendations, etc), but it does the job (I can set up my own series, not a big deal). But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Comcast and TWC offering Tivo once DirectTV ends that deal.

  2. I get that the name is supposed to be "Weak Knees" since the idea is that it is too scary to do yourself…but, do you think they know that by running the words together, it could be pronounced like "Weenies"?

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