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Amazon VOD pixelation on Premiere

Discussion in 'TiVo Premiere DVRs' started by smbaker, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. sbiller

    sbiller Active Member

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    I didn't realize you were still on 14.9.2.2 on your Elite. I'm optimistic that it will no longer be a doorstop once you get 20.2 on it. Just out of curiosity why didn't you provide your TSN to @tivodesign to get on the priority list earlier? If I have one complaint it would be that the priority list isn't easily accessible by users like it was in the past. I'm guessing that they will go back to a web-based sign-up form for priority updates like what existing many years ago.
     
  2. wmhjr

    wmhjr Well-Known Member

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    To be honest, the reason I didn't submit my TSN was because AT THE TIME my Elite was (other than the Amazon issue) performing quite well, and I wanted to see how others faired with the new version of SW rather than breaking mine. It was only 10 days ago that I began to have real issues and since then, the issues have increased significantly. It really concerns me that with no changes, I and others have experienced random increases in symptoms of defects after weeks or months of at least acceptable performance. As somebody with extensive product design and engineering background, I am extremely troubled by this.

    20.2 may well help (whenever I get it) but I have to say, the responses I've gotten from Tivo and some of the things they've told me combined with my most recent experiences have eliminated any optimism that Tivo has improved. 14.9.2.2 was performing pretty well for me. Then it wasn't. Based on this, there is absolutely no reason to believe that 20.2 will be any different.
     
  3. sbiller

    sbiller Active Member

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    I'm also an engineer with fairly extensive product design and engineering experience (20+ years). We know that 20.2 was a major re-write of the code so there will be bugs but I think the response has been very good and the release is pretty solid. I'm surprised that tech support couldn't figure out a way to authorize you for 20.2.

    I'm really not sure TiVo was even aware of the Amazon VOD problems until recently since most people wouldn't even report such a problem directly to technical support. I tweeted to Margret directly and resurrected this thread after experiencing the problem multiple times.
     
  4. wmhjr

    wmhjr Well-Known Member

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    Like I said in other posts, I've found Tivo tech support to be pretty much of no value whatsoever. For me, they are effectively just a way to insure that defects are communicated to Tivo - though I never have high hopes of defect remediation in any kind of realistic time frame. I call them to report issues so that Tivo cannot say that they didn't know of them. Tivo support has never in all the years I've been a customer solved a single problem for me. In all fairness, I tend to solve my own issues, and when I can't, it's typically a "systemic" issue which requires SW/HW changes. That's clearly not the case for everyone.

    I was surprised at a number of things on my recent 2 calls. First, that the techs (especially the one tonight) were so blatant about saying that 14.9.2.2 was a failure and that they were "standing behind 20.2" (creating the obvious question - as opposed to "not" standing behind 14.9.2.2?). I was also surprised that the techs basically knew nothing, had no suggestions, and felt that even though perhaps the 20.2 software might relieve some symptoms, I should send the box back and have it replaced at a cost of $49.

    Beyond that, I'm just surprised that Tivo can't seem to get software development right, and that pretty much every release seems to have critical SW defects. Let's face it, for the most part these are closed systems. Yes, there are differences in some of the management systems (such as SARA) being used by cablecos, but beyond that Tivo has an incredible amount of control over the configuration of these devices, and yet we continue to see critical software component failures. I'm very thankful that Margret is here but honestly, I continue to be astounded by the apparent quality issues. The competition is catching up in many ways (and in some ways has surpassed Tivo frankly) and as I've said elsewhere, they are effectively reducing their service fees for DVR service in many cases while Tivo increased theirs by 25%. Don't get me wrong. I in no way expect zero defects. I've never been involved in a release that didn't have defects. But CRITICAL defects which affect the core functionality of the unit? Nope. Good shops just don't do that. There is no CMM level that allows for the production release of defective critical core components. That's a deal breaker.
     
  5. Dr_Diablo

    Dr_Diablo Dr_Diablo

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    Problem is that Tivo is the only game in town thus we are stuck with their inability to have a functional device that preforms as advertised
     
  6. sbiller

    sbiller Active Member

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    I understand your frustration. There is no doubt that TiVo has had their software quality issues starting with the release of the Premiere two years ago. I'm guessing and speculating that at some point they realized that patching and improving the 14.x code was impossible and the software required a complete re-write from the ground up. I believe 20.2 is the result of that massive effort where they now have a unified code base for all Series 4 based software. If you have a chance go peak at the Virgin Media forums. Overall you'll find a very active user community that is extremely satisfied with the product which far exceeds their competition. Those users in the UK are talking more about advanced features that they want added to the box instead of problems like spontaneous reboots and sluggish behavior. With 20.2 we now have a code base that is unified with the VMED software and we are starting to see the benefits of the completely re-architected software.
     
  7. snagitseven

    snagitseven New Member

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    I've had my Premier for over a year and Amazon movies were downloading initially in HD just fine. However, I believe since Amazon went to VOD streaming vs. downloading since about 6 months, 100% of my movies are pixelated as described by others (I never watch a movie until fully downloaded). Some are worse than others, but all now have issues from mildly annoying to unwatchable with pixelating, tearing, freezing and frequent audio dropouts.
    Tivo and Amazon need to get their heads together and get this fixed. Enough is enough. Margaret, are they really, really working on this?
     
  8. nrc

    nrc Cracker Soul

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    Has anyone actually documented a case of the problem as Margret requested with program details and a snapshot?

    Why not post info and snapshots here? Maybe we can see whether the problem is repeatable?
     
  9. Dr_Diablo

    Dr_Diablo Dr_Diablo

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    I'm puttin my money on the freakin cable companies for forkin up the signal as it passes through the Tivo
     
  10. sbiller

    sbiller Active Member

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    I did both (see my post above with pictures) and Margret acknowledged my email.

    I believe they are working on a solution to the problem. I would be very surprised if they don't already know what the issue is. I'm betting on some sort of decoding issue with the encoding that was optimized for the Series 3 platform. The question is how easy it will be to fix because different files for the Series 3 and Series 4 is probably not a viable option.

    I think most of the thread readers just want to ***** & moan and don't really want to help Tivo solve the problem.
     
  11. wmhjr

    wmhjr Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure what you're saying here. Amazon HD VOD movies are not streamed. They are still, today, downloaded. The idea that you may be able to start watching it prior to it completing the download does not mean it is being streamed. That being said, I agree that 100% of Amazon HD movies in my experience are pixelated on my Premiere, and I also never start watching ever until the movie is fully downloaded.
     
  12. wmhjr

    wmhjr Well-Known Member

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    I think that's exactly the kind of statement that really pushes my buttons. I absolutely do not agree with it in any possible way. I would characterize it far differently.

    1) Some people have simply given up for the moment on this "feature" and are not willing to throw good money after bad and waste more time downloading, watching a terrible quality movie, taking videos, uploading/emailing those videos, etc. Frankly, for somebody technically competent that's actually a major intrusion. For somebody not technically savvy, it's a nightmare. I can't blame people for not wanting to go through this. For myself, as I said - due to yet larger problems of more core criticality, I don't really use the Elite for anything other than a repository any longer.

    2) Frankly, I don't see people "whining" here. I see complaints - such as my own - that aren't all THAT ticked off and where many (including myself) have said that this is an annoyance but not completely critical.

    3) The biggest issue is that I simply don't even understand the necessity of Tivo asking for this. I'm not pushing back to Margret. I appreciate her involvement. But this is a very clear, easy to replicate, location agnostic defect. There should be absolutely no need whatsoever for customers to hel replicate this defect. As opposed to the random reboot issues where perhaps better instrumentation on the part of Tivo could lead to data collection which helps diagnose the root cause, this particular issue is a slam dunk in being able to replicate it.

    Just my 2 cents. I really get hacked off when people criticize PAYING CUSTOMERS who are OBVIOUSLY NOT GETTING WHAT THEY PAID FOR rather than holding Tivo accountable. That may not be your intent, but that's the way that statement came across. Sorry if I did not interpret it correctly.
     
  13. wmhjr

    wmhjr Well-Known Member

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    I humbly suggest you read through this post before taking that position. I believe we have sufficiently investigated this and proven that this is not the case. It is simply not possible. When you have users (such as myself) who own multiple units including multiple HDs, where the HDs never ever have this issue, where the HD units were even swapped (location, HDMI cables, CAT5 Ethernet patch cords, RG6 port and cables) and the HD units had zero issues but the Premieres do not, when you even then download the exact same titles on the Premiere and then on the HD, and the HD always ALWAYS plays fine but the Premiere ALWAYS has the heavy pixelation.....

    I fail to see how the cablecos can somehow alter the packets but ONLY the Premiere exhibits the issue. Consistently. Every time. And, BTW, where we've measured signal strength/SNR. And, BTW, where this is happening across virtually all cablecos. It is not manifesting itself on just one or two carriers.

    I'll take your money if you like. It's very hard for me to defend cablecos, but in this case I can't find a single solitary possibility where they could even be contributing to root case. As others have said, this strongly points to an encode/decode issue.
     
  14. wmhjr

    wmhjr Well-Known Member

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    sbiller, I hope you're right, but frankly that doesn't change my impression. Tivo software quality issues started LONG before the Premiere. I lived through the early days of the HD, and I waited a long time before getting a premiere because of those quality issues in the HD. I was kind of teetering between leaving Tivo or not, and then the Elite came out. Simply because of the 4 tuners and the capacity (literally nothing else really was important to me). So, it looked "OK" and I gave Tivo another chance. Now, as you say we're here - 2 yrs down the road on the Premiere line, with higher service fees, dealing with the same old software quality issues. Again, I'm not expecting zero defects. I AM expecting no high severity critical core defects. The pixelation defect is not IMO a high sev critical defect. But it's ridiculous in that I can't for a moment excuse the fact that it exists. This one was far to easy to catch in testing. The others (reboots, etc) are high severity critical core.

    So, while I obviously hope 20.2 is a serious improvement, that in no way excuses Tivo for what I believe to be simply quality that can't even be described as mediocre. I paid a big chunk of money for that Elite. I pay yet more (meaning both just that I'm paying for another unit service AND that Tivo increased service rates by 25% or more), and I'm in no possible interpretation getting value for that money.

    Here's my own situation FWIW. I now own 2 HDs (1 with a Weaknees high capacity drive) and the Elite. I also have a free (for as long as I own this home) Verizon HD DVR and a free HD STB (which does whole house streaming). I don't have lifetime subs on them, for several reasons. Most notably, because I truly believe we're in a time of rapid change where there is far more IP delivered content and we're approaching (though clearly not there yet) the time when we'll get content far differently than in the past. In that case, Tivo is absolutely not in a position which guarantees them top billing. Maybe they will be, maybe they won't. I tend to think they won't because even in a closed system, they have consistently demonstrated UI excellence, but quality problems. Since it takes IMHO at least 26 months to even break even on the upfront investment for lifetime, it just isn't worth it to me. What that means is that while I know there are other strategies, in MY strategy there is no incremental value for Tivo, and any cost decrease from alternatives instantly means I save money. So, I continue to look at media server based systems, as well as newer upgraded offerings from the providers. The current equipment I have from Verizon is the same equipment I've had since 2007. It has never, ever failed. Ever. It has never rebooted, it gets VOD content seamlessly. Clearly, it has its limitations. The UI is nowhere nearly as good as Tivo. The capacity is severely limited. But I'll live with a mediocre UI over a great one that isn't reliable. IF their STB ever approaches the capacity and tuner content of my Tivos, I will likely leave Tivo. It's just that simple. The real problem is that I think my perception far more closely mirrors the average "joe" on the street who doesn't want to pay for a device up front, who doesn't want to be locked into a contract, and who doesn't want to pay $300 or $400 for "lifetime" for a "specific" unit - which cannot be transfered. And who doesn't want to have to have "insurance" or be responsible for the cost of repairs/ replacement after 12 months. He'd rather take a failed unit to his local provider, hand it to them and have them hand him a replacement. For free. Keep in mind that just yesterday, the idjuts in Tivo tech support told me that since I have 14.9.2.2, and was experiencing reboot issues, and since they could not get me 20.2, that I should pay $49 to swap an ELITE that I just paid $499 for - less than 3 months ago - knowing that it would not likely solve any problems.
     
  15. nrc

    nrc Cracker Soul

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    Good job. Not sure how I missed that. I don't have a Premiere yet or I'd check those identical screens to see if it's consistent. It's not quite worth $4.99 to me just to verify that it's ok on the S3. :)

    Since decoding is done on chip, it seems like the worst case would be a problem with the firmware for the chip that would have to be fixed by the maker. Hopefully it's just a problem with the way the data is being passed to the chip and it will be an easy fix for TiVo.

    Unfortunately I think that you're right about bitching and moaning. People assume that problems like these are easy to find and isolate and that bitching and moaning should be enough. The truth is that they can sometimes be needle in a haystack problems that are only found when you have thousands of customers rolling around in the haystack. Just screaming "ouch" doesn't make it any easier to find the needle.
     
  16. nrc

    nrc Cracker Soul

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    Have we really gathered enough information here to say that? Most of the complaints don't even bother mentioning what download they're complaining about, never mind whether it's repeatable or consistent.
     
  17. wmhjr

    wmhjr Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure how we could really conclude anything else. Have you read through the posts to see some of the testing and troubleshooting people have done? And how repeatable it truly is? To be honest, this is perhaps the most repeatable, consistent, and clear defect I've seen in years. Not saying the actual root cause is that clear or that remediation is. But that duplicating the issue seems to be unbelievable easy.

    Truly, I'm curious as to whether you've read through the threads and some of the other posts.

    I'll also reiterate the fact that in this case, expecting customers to go further in troubleshooting the issue means expecting that they will also pay extra money to do so. Specifically, that it takes paying for, then downloading, then watching content in order to provide feedback - not even inclusive of the time spent documenting. I am offended that this gets characterized as just moaning and complaining without helping when in fact as an example, I've gone through hours of troubleshooting, relocating units, swapping HDMI cables, ethernet ports, etc - all clearly documenting that in every single case the problem ALWAYS follows the Elite and never occurs - including on the same titles (content) as the HD. That's a lot more than moaning and complaining. Remember, we're the (paying) customer, right?

    I should also mention as I forgot, there is a poll I created here which is hardly scientific, but clearly shows at least a pattern of consistency. Again, I am curious if you've read the other threads and posts. My guess is that you missed them.
     
  18. nrc

    nrc Cracker Soul

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    I think we're talking in different terms here. You clearly have a different idea than I of what it means to duplicate a software problem or demonstrate that it repeatably. I'm not arguing that there's not a problem, I just haven't seen it demonstrated in any of the threads I've seen as consistent or repeatable.

    That would mean, for example, someone else downloading the same movie as sbiller posted above and reporting that they're seeing the same issue in the same places.

    Nobody is obligated to help TiVo troubleshoot this problem or spend any money doing so. But when you're troubleshooting complex software systems the more specific details you can gather about a problem, the faster it can be solved.
     
  19. sbiller

    sbiller Active Member

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    nrc, that is a great point. Anyone in this thread buy and download The Ides of March? Its not a bad movie! :)

    It would completely eliminate any thesis about the downloaded file being corrupted if the behavior was identical.
     
  20. SamuriHL

    SamuriHL New Member

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    I see this issue on pretty much any HD Amazon VOD that I put on my Elite. I've got the entire season of Rocket City Rednecks (hey don't judge! :D) and episode 2 of Pan Am and all of those tend to show video corruption at various points. I've learned to live with it but if they do manage to fix this then that'd be truly awesome. I have not had a chance to try them since I updated to 20.2 a few minutes ago.
     

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