How to Set the Video Output Format on Your DVR

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HDTVs can display content broadcast in the following formats:

  • 1080p, 1080i, and 720p are high-definition
  • 480p is known as enhanced definition
  • 480i is standard definition

The number indicates the resolution; generally, bigger numbers mean sharper, more detailed images. The letter indicates the method of scanning (interlaced or progressive).

Roamio Series and Premiere Series DVRs support all five formats, while Series3 DVRs support all except 1080p. Although these DVRs record programs in the original quality they are broadcast at, all of these TiVo models can convert incompatible video formats so that they can display on your TV. For example, if a program is broadcast in 1080p, but your TV is only capable of displaying in 480p, the TiVo DVR will adjust the picture so that your TV can display it. However, if a program is broadcast in a lower-quality format, the TiVo DVR cannot convert it to a higher-quality one.

You can set the video output format from TiVo Central (all DVRs), by pressing the Resolution button (on the back of Roamio Plus/Pro) or the Format button (on the front of Premiere and Series3), or during Guided Setup (Roamio and Premiere).

To set the video output format from TiVo Central:

  1. Press the TiVo button to go to TiVo Central and select Settings & Messages (or Messages & Settings) > Settings > Video > Video Output Formats.
  2. Select an output format that is compatible with your TV.
  3. On Roamio and Premiere Series boxes, check the boxes that are compatible with your TV, or choose Test Formats and follow the on-screen instructions to choose compatible formats.

    IMPORTANT: You MUST select 720p or higher to use HD menus on Premiere Series boxes. You must also choose the widescreen aspect ratio. If you do not have an HDTV that support widescreen format, you must use the SD menus.

    Choose from the following settings:

    • Native: The box sends all video in its original broadcast format, with no conversion. Native mode is recommended if your TV supports all four formats. It is also a good format to choose if you consider yourself an HD novice.
    • Hybrid: Choose 1080i Hybrid or 720p Hybrid. The box converts HD broadcasts to 1080i or 720p and converts standard broadcast signals to 480p. Your TV must support both the HD format you choose and 480p.
    • Fixed: The box converts signals broadcast in other formats to the fixed format you choose, and video is always displayed in this format. Select the fixed format that matches your TV’s scanning mode and highest resolution (1080i, 720p, 480i, or 480p). Refer to the manual that came with your TV if you are unsure of the setting you should choose.

    NOTE: A Native or Hybrid setting may give the best picture for both high definition and standard definition programs; however, channel changing can appear to be slower, or the picture can flicker as your TV adjusts to a new video format when you change the channel. A Fixed format does not preserve or optimize the output based on the video signals, but it eliminates any delay or screen flicker associated with switching formats.

  4. Press Thumbs Up three times to confirm your selection.

To set the video output format from the buttons on the DVR itself:

  1. Press the LiveTV button and tune to a high definition channel.
  2. Press the Resolution or Format button (depending on your model, the button will be either on the front of the box (below the clock display on the Series3 or to the far right of the output display on the HD/HD XL and Premiere Series boxes) or the back of the Roamio Plus/Pro) to display the video output format. While the display is still visible, press the button again to change the format. Observe whether the new setting improves the high definition video quality.
  3. NOTE: If you select a format that is incompatible (the screen goes blank, for example), press the button again to go to the next setting.

  4. Tune to a standard definition channel and observe whether the setting also improves the video quality at standard definition.
  5. NOTE: If the current setting is Native, or one of the Hybrid formats, the video format may change when you change channels. There may be a delay, or the picture may flicker, as your TV adjusts to the new format.

  6. Repeat steps 1-3 until you find the best setting for your TV.


Need additional assistance? Chat with a TiVo representative.

To get help from other TiVo users, visit the TiVo Help Forums.

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