Do I Need a Phone Line for Guided Setup?

This article applies only to software version 7.1 or earlier. If you have software version 7.2 on your DVR, your can connect your DVR to your network duirng Guided Setup.hey

Yes. You will need a land-based phone line to run Guided Setup when you initially set up your new DVR.
This is a lie. I did it without one, as have many other people. You can too.

Hello, I'm your shiny new TiVO ... In just a few minutes, you'll enter the exciting world of 21st Century Television. Now, please connect me to a device invented in the 19th century and designed for two HUMANS to speak to each other. What morons. They have this new thingy .... it's called the INTER-NET. It's designed SPECIFICALLY for COMPUTERS to talk to OTHER COMPUTERS.
Couldn't have said it better myself. And that comment is over a year old.

Let me emphasize that I am not a coder, I am not a hacker, I am not a geek as geeks define themselves. Which would be why I bought a TiVo in the first place rather than building my own Windows media box. (That, and it's about $500 cheaper. )

But I don't have a land line. Because it's $50 a month that gets me (and everyone else on the planet) nothing I need. I have a cable modem, and a wireless network. TiVo does support WiFi - but NOT OUT OF THE BOX. Nor do they feel compelled to put the latest versions of their OS in brand-new boxes.

I am hoping you came across this link via Google because you have the same problem I did and you just want someone to set out, in plain English, how to fix this problem without having to lug your box over to a neighbor's house - a neighbor who doesn't feel like watching television or using the phone for eight hours. Here is what you can do:

  1. Purchase a USB to Ethernet adapter.

    There are three brands that are reported to have worked:

    I put the Belkin on top because that's the one that worked for me. I put the LinkSys on the bottom because a number of people have also reported that one NOT working. However, they may have had problems elsewhere, as I'll cover in a bit. You should be able to find any of these at an online retailer for around $30, which, while pricey, is much less expensive than activation fees on a land line.

  2. IF you have NEVER plugged in your TiVo, skip to step 7. If you have begun Guided Setup, proceed to step 3.

    The TiVo is a machine so radically advanced it has no power button. The only way to boot it (or reboot it) is to yank the plug out of the wall, then cram it back in. Genius. So if you've ever booted it up without the adapter, it won't know that's what you need and it won't have configured itself properly. So before you can use the adapter, you've got to ERASE the primary configuration. The procedure for this is not very intuitive, and it all happens behind the scenes.

  3. Select "Demo Mode (for retailers only)".

    That may not be the exact wording, but you get the idea. To find this, you will have to page allllll the way back to the very beginning of Guided Setup - the second screen, I believe. A very long and sappy commercial will begin. No, you won't have to sit through it.

  4. Reboot.

    As mentioned above, this is done by unplugging the TiVo and replugging it. That's gotta be good for the hard drive!

  5. Select "No, return to Guided Setup".

    This option should be immediately available when the machine finishes booting. See, it was all an elaborate ruse to get the TiVo to wipe its inital config settings. On the front of the box, angry red lights will appear next to the happy green lights, terminating the non-ethernet info along with your zip code and email address and whatever else you typed in there. Eventually it will return to the beginning of the Guided Setup menu, but you're still not ready to go ahead with that.

  6. Unplug the TiVo.

  7. Connect the USB end of the adapter to the TiVo.

  8. Connect the Ethernet end of the adapter to your router.

    Remember, this will NOT work over wireless. Nor will it work if you connect the TiVo directly to your cable modem, or DSL jack. Come to think of it, I don't even know how you'd go about connecting it directly to the DSL. I just do what I'm told.

  9. Plug in the TiVo.

    Marvel at the interminably slow boot for at least the third time today. Sigh in exasperation as the "Welcome!" screen disappears only to be replaced by "Almost there!" Entertain yourself by repeating "Almost... there..." in the voice of that dude who did not make it to the end of the Death Star trench.

  10. Select "Yes - Go to the Phone Dialing Options".

    Before you get to this selection you will of course page through about ten screens of info, entering your time zone and other crap like that.

  11. Enter Dialing Prefix ",#401".

    That's COMMA POUND FOUR ZERO ONE, over. As the screen itself will tell you, you enter a comma with the Pause button and a pound sign with the Last/Enter button. This prefix was specifically engineered by the good liars people at TiVo to let the machine know it's using a broadband line, NOT a phone line. However, the machine still won't BELIEVE you about this unless the adapter was attached during the very first boot. This is where I got stuck for a couple days.

  12. Select "Use these Settings".

    And that's it, that's all you can do. The little indicator next to "Connecting" on the Setup Call screen will spin as it dials, and it really honestly should work on the first try. From then on, it's all gravy. Because your broadband line is considerably faster than your phone line, your download should be completed in one or two hours, not four to eight like your screen says. Soothe any lingering wrath by composing a bile-filled email to TiVo's website, such as the one below:

I intended to send this message to your Customer Support department, not to the Webmaster, but you apparently no longer offer support by email, which seems hideously neglectful.

First of all, let me say that I enjoy your product very much. A former roommate of mine had one and I used it quite often. However, I recently bought my own box and found the setup procedure to be a nightmare of frustration, due to the fact that I have cancelled my land-based phone line. I was even more incensed when I discovered that a phone line WAS NOT NECESSARY for Guided Setup, which I successfully completed through my broadband connection.

I did this all thanks to the help of private individuals posting on various DVR-related forums, with no assistance from your Customer Support website, which continues to insist a land line is needed, though I was never warned about this before I bought the product. Though you have been perpetuating a lie, you are not even bothering to spread it in a place where, if it were true, it could do any good.

Let me sum up the ways I am dissatisfied with the setup procedure:

It is RIDICULOUS that your machine supports wireless but does not support immediate wireless setup.

It is RIDICULOUS that you ship brand new boxes with old versions of system software.

It is RIDICULOUS that your Customer Support site contains erroneous information.

It is RIDICULOUS that you would even expect people to buy a product your marketing describes as a "revolution" when it is supposedly dependent on obsolete technology.

It is RIDICULOUS that the box does not contain an RJ45 Ethernet jack, forcing me to spend thirty additional dollars on a USB to Ethernet adapter built for ancient laptops.

It is SHOCKINGLY RIDICULOUS that although you must have been aware for at least TWO YEARS that Guided Setup can be done over broadband (as the information is freely available on the web), and have even programmed the box with a special dialing prefix to accomplish this, your site has nothing in the way of a detailed walkthrough for this relatively simple procedure.

I wish that all this absurdity was causing me to laugh at your incompetence. Instead, I'm just angry.


Walt Er

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