I don't know if this is a pro-Western Digital story or an anti-TiVo story, but I just learned that the companies are so cozy together, DVR expanders from Seagate or others are officially blocked.

Am I pissed off? Yes, because Seagate just sent over this beautiful, whisper-quiet 1TB eSATA drive that's compatible with quite a few cable-co DVRs. Well, I don't want to test it with my crappy Motorola DVR, I want to test it with my TiVo HD, which, with a tiny built-in 160GB drive, is in dire need of extra space. I guess you could say I'm mad because I love TiVo. Oh TiVo, why did you have to go and complicate our beautiful relationship?


All I get on screen is a message saying the drive is "unsupported," despite it being a relatively generic eSATA configuration designed for CE products, currently supported by DVRs from Scientific Atlanta, Motorola, DirecTV and Dish, and even runs, though technically unsupported, on the original TiVo Series3. I followed up and TiVo said this:

Western Digital has gone through our testing and certification process. We know it will work 100% of the time, something we cannot guarantee with other expanders.

The irony there is that when I did have a WD drive on a TiVo about a year ago, it actually malfunctioned once and I had to reset it, losing TV shows in the process. I pressed TiVo for a list of other companies it was testing. Turns out, there isn't one. This is all I could get:

The class of Western Digital drive in the DVR expander is designed specifically for 24/7 use in a CE device. It is optimized for constant read/write cycles and is designed to last much longer when used in a DVR application. Un-optimized or unknown drives add risk to system stability and would reduce expected lifetime.


I have to say, this logic only works when we're talking about drives intended for something other than DVRs, or drives from companies that do not have a reputation as a great hard drive maker, as Seagate does. The question is, why did TiVo stop testing CE eSATA drives after falling in love with WD's? I can only think of two reasons, sheer laziness or cash money dolla dolla bills, and of course, I'm not going to get a confirmation of either.

I have absolutely nothing against WD (even though that one did fail in my TiVo back in 2008). I like a lot of their products. I just can't believe that there's any merit to this exclusive partnership. When I buy an electronic toothbrush from Braun or Philips, am I restricted to using a particular kind of toothpaste? No. The understanding is that I will use toothpaste, but not what kind. Ditto here. There's an eSATA port, so the understanding is that I will use it. But, within reason, the brand choice should be up to me.


I will continue talking to both companies about this issue, because I feel strongly that the ban on Seagate drives be lifted here, especially for a totally legitimate means of adding extremely necessary additional storage. All this does is promote hackery. Speaking of which, anybody got any good tips for hacking a Seagate DVR expander onto my otherwise awesome TiVo HD? [Seagate Product Page]

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