How do I set up my TiVo HD DVR with a standard definition TV and a VCR or DVD recorder?

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These setup instructions describe how to connect a TiVo HD or TiVo HD XL DVR to a standard (non-HD) TV 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 this DVR, make sure you cover the front of the older 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. 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 TiVo DVR

The exact configuration of your setup will vary depending on your available program sources, equipment, and available hookup cables. The TV program sources for this example are cable (with or without CableCARDs) and antenna. (CableCARDs are installed during or after Guided Setup.)

NOTE: With the setup illustrated below, the VCR or DVD Recorder must be turned on and set to the correct input source in order to view programs from your TiVo DVR.

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

For example, if your TV and VCR each has an S-Video jack, you can use an S-Video cable (sold separately) to connect the S-VIDEO OUT jack on the DVR and to the S-Video In jack on your VCR. (For the audio, you will need to use a composite cable to connect the red and white audio A/V OUT jacks on the DVR to the audio A/V In jacks on the VCR.) You can then use the same type of connection to connect your VCR to your TV.

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 DVR? for 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 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 a component cable to connect the DVR to the TV, set the source or input setting to "AV".) You should see the "Welcome to TiVo" screen.

NOTE: If you cycle through all the input settings and still do not see a TiVo startup screen, make sure all the equipment is powered on, check all your connections, and try again.


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