There is a slim chance that you may not have realized yet that I am a technology geek. In case there’s any doubt, let me explain to you what’s been driving me batty for a few weeks now: My wireless TiVo system.

Which one is TiVo-approved?

In our two-person, two-dog, two-cat house we have two Dell laptops, two DVD players, three iPods, two stereos, a Playstation2, three TVs, three DirecTV receivers, and two TiVo boxes. (We actually have three TiVos, but one is in the garage because I don’t feel like paying for TiVo service in the guest room.) Of course we also have Verizon DSL coming in through a wireless network to connect everything.

The wireless network consists of a DSL modem from Verizon connected to a Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router. Both our laptops have built-in wireless. Getting the TiVo boxes online is a bit trickier. For one of the boxes I am using a two-year old Netgear USB wireless adapter which works fabulously. Since I only have one of these, every few weeks I have to remember to unplug it from one of the boxes and plug it into the other so that the box can connect to the TiVo mothership and download updated scheduling information. This is clearly inefficient.

Finally right after Christmas I decided to buy an additional USB wireless device so that both TiVo boxes will always be online. I went to Best Buy and grabbed a Belkin 802.11g Wireless G USB Network Adapter. No dice. The TiVo box refused to recognize it. Okay, no problem. I returned to Best Buy and exchanged it for a Linksys WUSB54GC Compact Wireless-G USB Adapter. Again, no dice. The TiVo box didn’t recognize that one either. “Well now that’s an annoying bummer”, I thought. Both of these devices insisted that I run the install program from the included CD before attempting to use them. (That’s clearly impossible on a TiVo because a TiVo box has no CD-ROM drive.) I never had to do that with the two-year old Netgear USB device; TiVo just accepted it and connected with it with no problem.

I’m not going to pay an extra $20 for the TiVo model.

At this point I came to the conclusion that it has something to do with the 802.11g protocol. The 802.11b protocol doesn’t / didn’t ever seem to require any software to work. I visited the TiVo site where there is actually a list of approved wireless devices. (Of course they are promoting their branded TiVo wireless adapter, but I’m not going to pay an extra $20 for the TiVo model when I know that a non-TiVo wireless USB device should work fine.) I saw that they list a Netgear adapter so I figured I’d make another Best Buy run. I exchanged the Linksys one for a NetGear WG111US 54 Mbps Wireless USB 2.0 Adapter.

While looking at the dozens of different wireless USB adapters I realized that if I was a guy in marketing for one of these companies I would seriously convince the packaging people to slap a “TiVo Approved!” sticker on it. That would make it much easier, no? Since just about every laptop now has wireless included, what purpose could anyone have these days for a wireless USB stick other than connecting something that is not a computer to a wireless network?

I’m sure you can guess what happened next. The new Netgear adapter doesn’t work. I can only assume because it’s 802.11g and has the same gnarly warning about running the install program on the included CD before attempting to use it. It’s more than obnoxious that the old Netgear adapter works fine without any software but the new one doesn’t. (And I admit that I am a dolt for not making sure that the Netgear adapter I bought is the exact model listed on the TiVo approved list.)

WUSB11So now what am I going to do? I happen to have a wireless USB device sitting in the closet that is on the TiVo-approved list. It’s a good old Linksys WUSB11 Wireless-B USB Network Adapter from about four years ago. The only problem is that I don’t have a cable to connect it. The WUSB11 is — as far as I can tell — the only device in the history of mankind that requires a male-to-male USB cable. Why this is the case boggles the mind. Luckily I found a male-to-male USB cable on Amazon for $.01 and ordered it this morning. Now I just have to return the last Netgear one I bought and wait for the mail …

There are 5 comments on this post

  1. Yup. It’s the b thing that’s tripping you up. As a Mac user, I’m already salivating over the eventual release of 802.11n, but know that my two Series 2 TiVos will still have to plod along on the slower b network. From what I’ve read, TiVo doesn’t have any current plans to update the wireless access either. Crud.

  2. hey dave…you sure go thru a lot of trouble for TiVo! we have it through our cable company and it works great. happy new year! hope you’re doing well. go gators!

  3. Agreed. I think TiVo is a superb product and a great company, but I am amazed that they have survived as long as they have. Eventually the service they offer will be bundled with your cable and / or satellite box. And then eventually the functionality of the cable and / or satellite box will be bundled into your TV.
    I just hope that they follow TiVo’s lead. The software works.

  4. TIVO recently wwon a court case which forces most DVR makers to pay them a license fee for their patented technology or stop putting Tivo like capabilities into their own cable boxes.

    So Tivo as a company will survive even if their stand alone boxes may not.

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