Can You Use a TiVo Receiver with Charter Cable?by Darrin Meyer
TiVo is an independent manufacturer of digital video recorders (DVRs) that record and store television programming to play back at any time. TiVo designs its receivers to be adaptable to the service of various cable TV providers, replacing the set-top boxes and DVRs of those providers. TiVo receivers do work with Charter digital cable, though one piece of additional equipment is required, in most cases, in order for all channels to be accessible.
TiVo created and marketed the first DVR, and has remained a viable product even after other TV providers introduced their own DVRs. Purchasing a TiVo DVR and subscribing to the company's service provides access to the full range of TiVo features, including optional online viewing sources such as Netflix and Amazon Video. The TiVo DVR acts as a substitute for the set-top box of cable providers, and also can also be used with an antenna to record over-the-air (OTA) TV broadcasts.
Charter Communications is the third largest cable TV provider in the U.S., with over 5 million subscribers at the end of the first quarter of 2011. Its digital cable service offers a variety of programming packages that can include high-definition (HD) channels, premium channels and on-demand and pay-per-view content. In January 2011, Charter signed a multi-year deal with TiVo to provide the TiVo Premiere DVR as a receiver/DVR option to its subscribers.
Though the TiVo receivers provided by Charter will include the necessary software to access all channels in the subscriber's programming package, for all other TiVo models a CableCARD is required to unlock the encryption that accompanies Charter digital cable channels and video services. A CableCARD is obtained through Charter (for a small monthly fee) and inserted into the designated card slot of the TiVo receiver, allowing the receiver to display the encrypted channels. However, a CableCARD does not allow access to interactive features such as on-demand and pay-per-view video and the Charter on-screen guide.
Using a TiVO DVR instead of a Charter set-top box allows you to eliminate the monthly fee that accompanies the receiver/DVR service (with the exception of the Charter TiVo DVR), though you will have to pay TiVo's monthly service fee. The TiVo Premiere also has capabilities that exceed those of many other DVRs, with two different models that have a storage capacity of 45 and 150 hours in HD programming, respectively, or 400 and 1350 hours in SD. A third, newer model--the Premiere Q--also adds the ability to record up to four channels at one time.