TiVo DVR Box
Credit: www.tivo.com

TiVo is designed to work with Comcast and other cable providers. Using TiVo with Comcast is as simple as clicking a button on a remote that takes you to your collection of recorded shows, or Xfinitiy OnDemand.

You can also use your TiVo software to watch Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant and Youtube.

How Much Does Tivo Cost?

There are two ways you can pay for the TiVo service. If you think you will be a customer for years, they offer a product lifetime service which is a one-time fee for that particular box.  The cost depends on the type of DVR box your purchased, but for a Romio 4 tuner box, the lifetime cost is $499. 

Or you can pay the TiVo monthly fee of $14.99 If you do the math, it would take you 33 months to equal the lifetime product rate so if you think you are going to stick with the service, then the product lifetime payment makes sense.

It may have entered your mind that you will just use TiVo without service because you do not need the fancy software, however, that is impossible. You will not be able to record anything or update the television schedule to record anything.  The box is essentially a big hard drive, so if you do get a lot of favorite recordings you do not want to delete, you will be able to keep them stored on the box and watch them in the future if you decide to cancel the service. I have an older series box that I bought a decade ago and it still contains shows I recorded during that time period.

However, the downside to the product lifetime fee is that if something happens to the DVR, the lifetime service is not transferable to another box.

How Does Tivo Work?

TiVo and Comcast work together using a TiVo Comcast CableCard that is inserted into the back of the box. You will not need a separate cable box for the television where you are planning on locating your TiVo DVR.

Once connected to your cable provider such as Comcast or Time Warner, the service will communicate with the cable providers in the middle of the night via the internet connection. It will update all of the television programming schedules for the next 2 weeks so you have an accurate schedule.

TiVo Roamio HD Digital Video Recorder and Streaming Media Player (TCD846500)
Amazon Price: $199.99 $177.00 Buy Now
(price as of May 19, 2016)

Comcast Setup

After you take the DVR out of the box, the setup is straight forward.

Simply insert the cable card into the back and connect the box to your home network either wirelessly or through a hard wired connection if you are close to your router.

About the cable card…

It took a week get my TiVo box setup because of Comcast. First of all, they do not make it easy to even get a TiVo Roamio CableCard. I had to go to a local Comcast Service Center twice because the first one they gave me was a dud.

Once I got one that worked, another nightmare began, dealing with Comcast help.  The CableCard requires activation through a “special department”.... in the Philippines. After some frustrating phone calls and a few hours of waiting for the activation to kick in, it finally worked.

Does TiVo Work with On Demand Comcast?

TiVo with Comcast
Credit: mjpyro via TiVo

TiVo and Comcast have created an app to give access to On Demand offerings from Comcast. The app is available within the TiVo Roamio or Premiere.

Starting at TiVo Central, go to Messages & Settings-> Settings -> Channels- > My Video Provider List

At that point, you will be able to view the Xfinity selection under Search for Content within the software.

Can You Use Tivo Without Cable?

Yes, you can use the service with over the air HD signals broadcasts locally if you are a cord cutter. This type of setup is very simple and requires no interaction with Comcast or any other provider.

To setup local channels for use with the service, simply choose the antennae option and allow the system to search for local channels.

Watch Recording in Other Rooms Using a Tivo Mini

TiVo Mini
Credit: www.tivo.com

TiVo allows you to view your recordings in other rooms if you buy an additional device called a TiVo Mini. Basically, you will be streaming your recordings from the Roamio to the Mini.

This add-on product allows TiVo multi room viewing. However, there is an additional monthly charge of $5.99 per mini device unless you pay upfront for the lifetime fee.

TiVo and Slingbox

If there is one negative (at least for me) it is that I cannot use my Roamio box with my older Slingbox that I purchased in 2007. That early version of Slingbox connects to DVRs via component cables which are the red, white and yellow wires that you plug into connections.

Here is the issue. The new TiVo DVRs do not have component connections so since I purchased my new DVR, I have had to stop using my Slingbox which is a bit of a downer because it is great when you are away from home.


Is TiVo worth it? In my opinion, yes. It is basically a wash on the monthly cost for DVR service if you were using a DVR from Comcast.

However, the TiVo software is so much better that the Comcast interface so you are getting a better product for your money.

If you are new to the service, I would not commit to the product lifetime payment for a new device right away. Five hundred dollars is no small amount to invest in something that you are not familiar with.

My advice is to purchase one of the boxes from the any retail outlet and set up the service with a monthly fee. You are committed to a year by doing this.

If you cancel the service before then, you will be charged a prorated cancellation fee similar to what the cell phone companies charge if you attempt to leave early out of one of their contracts. The reason is because the company subsidizes the cost of the DVR boxes so they need to get some of their money back on monthly fees.

But do not let that deter you. I have used the service several times now and I find it to be a much better option over Comcast’s DVR.