Watching TiVo recordings on your PC
I’ve had a TiVo for ages a very welcome Christmas present from Steph. Occasionally I need to watch programs that have been recorded on my TiVo on a PC or on another TV in a different room. The way I’ve solved this problem for years was to use a pair of digisenders, a solution that does work but does have some limitations which mainly centre on the use of the 2.4GHz frequency band.
- the digisender is incompatable with Wi-Fi networks, you can switch your router and senders to different channels but there can still be problems with neighbour’s devices.
- if the microwave oven goes on the digisender goes bananas
- I think that I would like to find a better solution so that I am not contributing to Wi-Fi pollution
I did know that getting the video off a TiVo was possible but never really done it because
- I knew that the FTP service on the TiVo was very slow
- I would need to find some sort of player for TiVo files or transcode the video
It just seemed as though it would be complex and time consuming to do. However I wanted to take some TV away with me on my netbook so I resolved to have a go.
I started browsing around and found this brilliant page detailing how to setup lots of different things on a TiVo. The part I’d never done but now needed was to install MFS_FTP an FTP service on the TiVo that can be used to get the video files off and TyShow a DirectShow filter that enables me to use any media player on Windows, including Media Center.
I didn’t want to leave the service running all the time, as I don’t want to load down the aging PowerPC. So when I need to do this I open a telnet session to the TiVo and start the MFS_FTP service like this, as I have unzipped the TAR to /var/hack/mfs_ftp.
open tivo Tivo: cd /var/hack Tivo: mfs_ftp/mfs_ftp.tcl
Then I just use a regular FTP client and attach to the TiVo on port 3105, the default for MFS_FTP and I can transfer the TY files to my PC.
Initially I was finding that it was taking about 1 hour to transfer a one hour program. However there are a couple of things that I did that really made it go faster, almost twice as fast, though your mileage may vary.
- Ensure you are not using passive mode (PASV) in the FTP client on the PC as this is slow and the TiVo will still work fine
- Use wired connections rather than wireless
I did try transcoding the video but by far the best results were obtained by using TyShow and then I can just pop my laptop under another TV and use my Media Center remote control and its just like I’m in front of my TiVo.