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.

  1. 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.
  2. if the microwave oven goes on the digisender goes bananas
  3. 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

  1. I knew that the FTP service on the TiVo was very slow
  2. 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.

  1. 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
  2. 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.