How do I set up my TiVo HD DVR with an HDTV and a VCR or DVD Recorder?

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These setup instructions describe how to connect your TiVo HD or TiVo HD XL DVR to a high-definition TV (HDTV) and an optional VCR or DVD recorder. The instructions apply whether your program source(s) are CableCARDs, basic cable, cable & antenna, or antenna only.

Watch a short video on how to set up your new TiVo HD DVR

Before You Begin Installation

  • If your DVR did not come pre-activated, we recommend that you activate your TiVo Service. DVRs purchased at the TiVo store always come pre-activated. If the DVR was purchased at a retail store, you can activate it online at
  • If there is another TiVo DVR in the room where you're installing your DVR, make sure you cover the front of the other DVR, or unplug it, to avoid sending commands to it from the new TiVo remote. After you complete Guided Setup, you can program the TiVo remote to control both DVRs (see Controlling Two TiVo DVRs with One Remote) or set up each remote to control only its own DVR (see Controlling Two TiVo DVRs with Separate Remotes).
  • If you're going to install CableCARDs, call your cable provider to order the cards. HD TiVo DVRs are not compatible with cable boxes. If your TV is already connected to a digital cable box, you may want to connect the cable box to another input on your TV while you're waiting for CableCARD installation, so you don't miss any of your favorite shows. After CableCARDs are installed, you can either disconnect the cable box and return it to your cable provider, or use it to receive interactive cable services.

Hook up the DVR

The following example is intended as a guideline. Your setup will depend on your available program sources, equipment, and cables. This example uses cable and antenna as the TV program sources. (CableCARDs may be installed during or after Guided Setup.)

The HDMI cable shown in the example below is included with the TiVo HD XL DVR and is sold separately for the TiVo HD DVR. Using an HDMI connection between your TiVo and your TV will give you digital sound and video, ensuring you have the best possible home entertainment experience.

If you do not use the HDMI cable with this setup, the VCR or DVD Recorder must be turned on and set to the correct input source in order to view live TV or recordings from your DVR.

If your TV has a DVI jack for video and a digital audio (optical) input, you can connect an HDMI-to-DVI cable (sold separately) from the HDMI jack on the DVR to the DVI In jack on your HDTV. You will then need to connect an Optical Digital Audio cable (sold separately) from the DIGITAL AUDIO (OPTICAL) jack on the DVR to the Digital Audio In jack on your HDTV.

OPTIMIZE YOUR CONNECTIONS: You may need to purchase additional cables to make the connections to and from your VCR or DVD recorder. An HDMI connection provides higher-quality video than component connection, which in turn provides better quality than S-Video, which in turn provides better quality than composite video. Use the best quality connection you can, based on the jacks on your VCR or DVD recorder, and on the cables you have available.

CONNECTING TO THE TIVO SERVICE: Set up either a network connection (recommended) or phone connection from the DVR to the TiVo Service using one of the following methods:

  • Wired network connection: TiVo HD DVRs have a built-in Ethernet port. If you have a broadband connection to the internet, connect one end of an Ethernet cable (sold separately) to the Ethernet connector on the back of the DVR, and connect the other end to a port on your network hub or router.
  • Wireless network connection: If you have broadband, but need to use a wireless connection, connect a wireless USB network adapter (sold separately) to one of the USB ports on the DVR. A compatible wireless adapter is available at, or refer to Which network adapters work with my TiVo DVRfor a list of compatible adapters.
  • Phone connection: If you need to use a phone line to connect to the TiVo Service, connect the provided phone cord from the DVR to a nearby wall jack. Use the provided phone line splitter if the DVR is sharing the wall jack with a telephone.

NOTE: If you have DSL on your phone line, but the DVR is set to dial in to the TiVo Service, you will need to use a DSL Filter on your phone line to improve your connection.

After Hooking Up Your TiVo HD DVR

Turn on your TV and press the Source or Input button on the TV remote until the setting matches the video connection you made between the DVR and the TV. (For example, if you used an HDMI cable to connect the DVR to the TV, set the source or input setting to "HDMI".) You should see the "Welcome to TiVo" screen.

  • If you selected the correct source or input setting and you still do not see the "Welcome to TiVo" screen, press the Format button on the front of the DVR until the front panel display shows a video input format that is compatible with your TV. (For more information about the TiVo format settings, go to Setting the video output format on an HD TiVo DVR.) If you are unsure which formats your TV supports, refer to the owner's manual included with your TV.
  • If you cycle through all the format settings and you still do not see "Welcome to TiVo," make sure all the equipment is powered on, check all your connections, and try again.

You are now ready to begin Guided Setup.


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