I recently rescued a nonfunctioning Series 1 from Ebay which had a dead hard drive, but everything else seemed to be in good condition. I was able to get an image and the TIVO is up and working again.
When I first booted the drive, the system information listed the correct unit Service Number, but an account status as Active Lifetime. After going through the guided setup/telephone download now the Account Status is listed as Closed. I'm assuming this either means (1) most likely that the image had a lifetime sub and when I connected the Service Number of the Unit corrected itself or (2) the unit has a Lifetime Sub and I need to call TIVO and somehow reactivate the account (couldn't be that lucky, right?).
Unfortunately your first assumption is correct and not the second one. This why when buying a used TiVo with "lifetime subscription" you need more verification than it shows lifetime on system info screen. If you call Tivo with the serial number they will tell you whether or not the unit has lifetime or not.
TiVo 240060 with 200GB Seagate (wireless)
Humax DRT800 with 160GB Seagate (wired)
Anywhere from 0-10 misc. standalones waiting for upgrades for resale on eBay.
Thanks for the answer. I didn't figure I could get that lucky, but still it looks like a nice unit for what I paid for it. I mainly wanted to use it for a large volume VCR instead of TIVO anyway so it looks like I ended up with what I started with.