"Hard core TiVo people only!"4.0 starson by ldepaoli
Pros: Dual tuner capability, HD, fantastic sound and a great remote
Cons: Expensive, no "Tivotogo", no On Demand capability
Summary: The first thing you will notice about series 3 is the price. But for those that are into their video system, it is worth the price. The dual tuner (cableCARDs) capability is nice (I thought it was overkill initially but have had to use it on numerous occasions). The sound is much improved versus series 2. 6.1 sounds great as does Prologic II.
The high def capability makes watching live TV worth while (used to have to sacrifice HD when wathcing live with series 2. Don't have to anymore).
Tivotogo is an unfortunate exclusion. As a traveler, it sure is a handy feature. I am currently using my series 2 box in order to save video to my laptop.
There is a lot of debate regarding cableCARDS and series 3. I personally have not had issues although installation was somewhat confusing to the cable guy. It appears that the cable company doesn't have much experience. But here is what has to be considered if you have installation issues:
1. Have the cable guy be sure the actual cards are not defective. My guy brought extras due to a high defect rate.
2. After the cable guy installs the card into series 3, there is a short delay while the box reads the card. Be patient and wait it out. Series 3 will inform you when it is finished reading the card.
3. After the cards are recognized by series 3, the cable guy has to write down a series of codes, of which he needs to recite to the cable company. This is a point of error as there is quite a bit of info that he has to recite. If he gives the cable company wrong info or the cable company enters it into their computer wrong, it won't work. BE SURE TO GET A COPY OF THE STUFF THE CABLE GUYS WRITES DOWN. You might need it later if you have a problem.
4. The cable company, once the info from the cable guy is entered into the computer, has to enter an authorization code, which allows the cableCARDs to decode the pay channels that you are currently subscribing to. In my case, I get all pay channels (HBO, etc). If the cable company enters the wrong authorization code, the cableCARDS will not decode the channels. This happened during my installation. The first outcome was that basic cable only was working with the cards. The cable company then changed the authorization code to include pay channels and it all worked out.
DON'T LET THE CABLE GUY GO UNTIL YOU CHECK CHANNELS ON ALL TIERS THAT YOU SUBSCRIBE! I think the mistake that people make is letting the guy go and then having a different cable guy come back when there is an issue, essentially starting all over again.
The word on 2 way cableCARDS (2.0): The reason on demand and pay per view are not possible with the current cableCARD technology (1.0) is because the current technology only can communicate 1 way (the cable company communicates with series 3). The next generation of cards (2008) will allow series 3 to communicate with the cable company (i.e. ordering a movie, etc.). For now, if you want on demand, keep your set top box (that is what I did).
Summary: With series 3 and my set top cable box, I can now do the following:
Watch 2 different programs simultaneously (PIP, cable box and DVD tuner) while TiVo records 2 completely different channels simultaneously. 4 programs functioning on one television simultaneously.
Watch Live TV in HD mode.
Watch DVDs with excellent THX sound and fantastic 1080i HD.
Watch On Demand and PPV with excellent 6.1 sound.
Listen to my 2000 song library (stored on my PC) through TiVo and my Prologic setting on my surround system (nice thing to do on a lazy Sunday morning over coffee).
Download TiVo recordings onto my DVD burner.
Download TiVo recordings onto my laptop using series 2 (set up on another monitor).
For the hardcore, go for it. If you're a casual viewer, wait a couple of years for pricing to drop and for cableCARD 2.0 to be released.