Tivo and Your Home Network

The folks behind Tivo have gone out of their way to make sure that a Tivo box is as simple to set up and use as possible. For the most part, they've succeeded. Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) like Tivo have become an almost indispensable part of a lot of households.

However, a lot of people are missing out on some of the best Tivo features because they've opted for the simplest possible Tivo setup. They plug their Tivo box into a telephone line, which allows Tivo to download program listings and software updates as needed. Features such as Multi-Room Viewing and TivoToGo are only available to those individuals who are willing to go one step further and connect their Tivo box to their home network.

Wireless Network Connections

Most people set up their Tivo boxes to work wirelessly, which means buying a USB Wireless Network Adapter. An example device is shown in Figure 1; the device shown is already branded for Tivo, and can be found at retail stores like Best Buy for about $65. You'll need one for each Tivo box that you want to connect to the network.

Figure 1: Tivo-Branded USB Wireless Adapter
Tivo-Branded USB Wireless Adapter

Direct Network Connections

Alternately, if your house is wired for networking (as mine is), a direct Ethernet connection works just as well and is, in fact, generally faster than a wireless connection. The Tivo Series2 DT and Series3 HD DVRs include a built-in ethernet port, so getting them networked is as easy as plugging in an Ethernet cable. For older models, like most of us with older Series2 models, you'll need a USB to Ethernet Network Interface Adapter. This is a little more rare than the wireless adapter, so you probably won't find it at your local retail store.

In fact, your typical Best Buy representative will: A) look at you like you have two heads if you ask for one, and B) proceed to tell you that such a device doesn't exist because he's never heard of one. Trust me on this.

I got mine at CompUSA a few years ago, but they were phasing them out at the time in favor of the wireless adapters which were easier for most of their customers to set up. Figure 2 shows one of these items. The device costs about $30; you'll need one for each Tivo box that you want to attach directly to the network. You can easily find web sites that sell them.

Figure 2: USB to Ethernet Network Interface Adapter
USB to Ethernet Network Interface Adapter


  • Tivo Support: A list of categorized support articles from the Tivo organization; the section on "Network Connections" provides some good information on getting DVRs connected to home networks.

  • Tivo Help Forums: The web site of the Tivo organization includes forums where answers to a lot of Tivo setup issues can be found. The forums are embedded deeply within the site and are somewhat hard to find.

  • TivoCommunity.com: This web site, unaffiliated with the Tivo organization, has 130,000-plus members and extensive forums on every Tivo subject imaginable. A great source of information on every aspect of your Tivo box.


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