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Series 3 HD cable tuner vs S4 tuner?

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by billbillw, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. Aug 4, 2013 #1 of 22
    billbillw

    billbillw Member

    161
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    Aug 15, 2005
    Atlanta
    For the past few months I've been having a couple channels that show 'No signal' on my S3 HD (Tcd652160). I have Comcast and use a single M-card. The problem is with two of the local channels. I also have a Premiere and a Premeire 4 in the house and neither of the S4 have issues with those (or any) channels. All of the cable feeds receive approximately the same strength (coming from a 4-way splitter).

    Since my S3 HD is in a less used location, I haven't been all that active about fixing it, but yesterday, I finally decided to do some testing. I had already tried a different cable card and that did not make any difference. Yesterday, I took the S3 and hooked it up in a location where I already have an S4. The S4 typically sees 60-70 signals in this location. The S3 hooked up saw no signal on any channels. I removed a splitter (for a MOCA bridge) at that location and I was able to see some signals with the S3, but there were quite a few channels that saw nothing. The S4 works with the splitter, the S3 is marginal without the splitter.

    My question is has anybody else compared the cable card tuner in the S3 HD to the S4? If so, do you find they are equally sensitive or does the S3 suffer from lower sensitivity?

    I suspect there is an issue with my S3 tuner (perhaps from a lightning surge or something) and I was going to try a replacement from Ebay, but if others have found the S3 tuner to be generally weak, then I will probably just go ahead and get a Tivo mini to replace it. I don't want to give up on the S3 because it has lifetime service.
     
  2. Aug 4, 2013 #2 of 22
    dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

    6,997
    17
    Jul 6, 2006
    Near...
    The recommended signal strength for all the TiVo models you mentioned is 80-99. See the TiVo support pages to verify this. It will say that 50 is enough but I know from experience with my model 652 that anything below 70 will be a problem.

    I'm not aware of any significant difference in cable tuner sensitivity among the TiVo digital tuner models.
     
  3. Aug 4, 2013 #3 of 22
    billbillw

    billbillw Member

    161
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    Aug 15, 2005
    Atlanta
    Well, I can tell you I've never seen that kind of signal strength with cable. I had that with OTA, but since I've went to Comcast, it 60-85. With the S4, it gives a solid signal with anything above 65.
     
  4. Aug 4, 2013 #4 of 22
    Davelnlr_

    Davelnlr_ Member

    523
    0
    Jan 12, 2011
    North...
    Im not sure how its bridged from the cable jack on the back to the internal tuner, but you might check that cable if it has any plug in connections, for corrosion. Might put a drop of alcohol on the coax connector and push it into the jack a few times to make sure that isnt corroded.
     
  5. Aug 4, 2013 #5 of 22
    A J Ricaud

    A J Ricaud New Member

    1,143
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    Jun 25, 2002
    Hacienda...
    It sounds like you need a signal booster. Comcast should be able to provide one. If not, you can always buy one yourself and put it where the main cable comes in.
     
  6. Aug 4, 2013 #6 of 22
    billbillw

    billbillw Member

    161
    0
    Aug 15, 2005
    Atlanta
    Ok, let me discuss further. As I mentioned, if I hook one of my S4 boxes to the same location, it reads much higher signals. In the basement (where my S3 box was), the S4 box is 85-90 signal on every channel. I previously had a S3 OLED in the basement and it worked fine on all channels (don't recall signal strengths though).

    The signal in my living room is in the upper 80s also with the Premier 4 box. Top floor is a longer run, and I have a splitter to drive a MOCA bridge. With the S4 box, the signals (with the spiltter) are solid at 65-75. No problems there. With the S3 HD, it was no signal on every channel.

    Bottom line, the tuner in my S3 box is not pulling in the cable signal like it should. I put deoxit (contact cleaner) in/on the cable port, I also opened up the box and found that there are no internal connections that could be culprit. The S3 HD tuners are mounted on the board directly at the input. I even took the board out and looked for bad solder joints. None to be found.

    So, back to my original question. Has anyone directly compared the S3 HD (not OLED) to an S4 box on the same cable feed? If so, did you find any variance in signal strength?

    At this point, I will probably assume that its just a bad tuner in my S3 and I will try another S3 HD box and see if the cable signal is any better. They go cheap on Ebay these days, especially for ones that haven't been upgraded.
     
  7. Aug 4, 2013 #7 of 22
    Davelnlr_

    Davelnlr_ Member

    523
    0
    Jan 12, 2011
    North...
    I have both a Tivo HD (not OLED), a Premier, and a XL4. All 3 boxes report the same signal strength with my Xfinity feed (89-92).
     
  8. Aug 4, 2013 #8 of 22
    billbillw

    billbillw Member

    161
    0
    Aug 15, 2005
    Atlanta
    Thanks. I will replace the S3 and hopefully it gets better signal strength. Also hope Tivo will transfer the lifetime without hassle.

    EDIT: Before everyone chimes in and tells me they won't transfer lifetime, I just figured that out. I called to check and was given the bad news. At least I figured that out before buying another S3. Tivo did say they would transfer lifetime if I sent in mine in for repair/replacement. He looked it up and it would be replaced with a Premiere 500GB for $150. That's actually a pretty good deal and I'll probably take them up on it.
     
  9. Aug 6, 2013 #9 of 22
    ELEVO

    ELEVO New Member

    25
    0
    Aug 4, 2013
    Wow that is an Amazing Deal :eek:) Maybe i can get Same deal ? But Mine will be a Transfer from the Original Owner to Me "New Owner" I wonder if they will offer me same deal since i am the second owner of the S3 Lifetime Service i wonder if that would interupt and offer like yours ?

    Anyways that is a great deal you a getting :up:
     
  10. billbillw

    billbillw Member

    161
    0
    Aug 15, 2005
    Atlanta
    Well, crazy thing. I have no explanation. I tested this issue over and over for at least 2 months. I changed cabling, took the unit apart, re-flowed some of the solder joints on the tuner, deoxit on the connections, tried at least 2 different cable cards, moved the unit to another location, etc. Nothing helped the issue. 60% signals strength was the best I could get. Several stations were "searching".
    So, on Monday, I finally called Tivo and took them up on the $150 offer to replace with a Premiere and transfer the Lifetime sub.

    Yesterday, I noticed on my online account, that Tivo had already swapped my lifetime to the replacement Premiere. I figured I would go down and find my old HD unit saying "call Tivo to activate" or something like that. I grabbed the old box to pack it up, and I thought I would just check it to see what it was saying.

    First, when I turned it on, it was not saying "call to activate" or anything like that. In the info screen, it says status "Unknown", (vs Lifetime). All the features were still working. Then for some reason I decided to check those bad channels again and amazingly, they came in perfect. Then, the real kicker is when I went to check the signal strength, it was 100 on most of the local channels. It was over 85 on the other channels.

    WTF? I did nothing, touched nothing for several days, and all of a sudden, it works perfect!

    Now, I have to decide if I want to return the Premiere and have Tivo put the lifetime back on my HD or if I just want to keep the Premiere.

    If it wasn't for the announcement of the Roamio S5 boxes, I would probably just take the Premiere and be happy, but now I think I might be better to hold off.
     
  11. unitron

    unitron Active Member

    16,387
    2
    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    I wish I'd seen this thread sooner.

    I'd have asked you to check to see if you were having the same problem on tuner 0 and tuner 1 (which since you've been inside it you know are both in the same "module")

    And I'd have asked you to check the DVR diagnostics page to see what it had to say about the channels not being received.

    But fixing it by changing account status is a troubleshooting technique I don't think I'd ever have thought of on my own.
     
  12. billbillw

    billbillw Member

    161
    0
    Aug 15, 2005
    Atlanta
    Previously, strength was the same on tuner 0 and tuner 1. Not sure if I checked the diagnostic page.

    Honestly, I have no idea what fixed it. The changing of account status is probably circumstantial, but who knows. Perhaps the deoxit took a day or two to clean things up and dry? I don't know. From what I can tell, the overall Comcast signal strength in the house has not changed (the channel strength readings on the other units are the same as before).

    I still haven't decided what to do. I'm not even sure Tivo will take back the replacement Premiere that they sent me (arrived yesterday) and switch the lifetime back to my S3.


    Pros for the S3:
    The S3 is paid for, has lifetime, works well (now at least), seems pretty reliable, has a very quiet 500GB drive in it.
    Cons for the S3:
    Slow transfers to my Premiere boxes, no streaming from Premiere boxes, outdated Netflix app, no 1080p, no chance of ever getting On Demand from Comcast. Drive is more than 2 years old now, box is approaching 5 years (caps in power supply may start to go?)

    Pros for Premiere:
    Newer drive, new power supply, streaming from other Premieres, HD interface, drive capacity indicator, smaller footprint, chance of On Demand from Comcast (although who knows in Atlanta).
    Cons for Premiere:
    It cost me $150 to exchange. Premiere boxes seem more glitchy to me. Annoying switch between HD and SD menus (even more apparent with my 'slow-to-sync HDMI' Epson projector).
     
  13. unitron

    unitron Active Member

    16,387
    2
    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    It just occured to me that since you got that Premiere you might be able to talk TiVo into letting you have lifetime on the S3 for $99, which would be worth it from a resale value standpoint, or you could keep it to use in a second room and copy shows back and forth if the cable company doesn't have them locked down.

    And if the tuner problem returns when the lifetime status does we would have a very valuable clue.
     
  14. nooneuknow

    nooneuknow TiVo User Since 2007

    3,554
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    Feb 5, 2011
    Cox Cable...
    Sadly, that sort of thing wouldn't surprise me at all. :(
     
  15. unitron

    unitron Active Member

    16,387
    2
    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    Even if it did happen that way, I wouldn't be inclined to think it was on purpose.

    But ever since what they did to S1 owners in the UK, including lifetimers, I'm more willing to consider it not impossible.
     
  16. billbillw

    billbillw Member

    161
    0
    Aug 15, 2005
    Atlanta
    I talked to Tivo yesterday. They 'claimed' that the subscription status should have absolutely nothing to do with signal strength. I kinda hinted around at the option of keeping both, but it didn't sound like something they would agree too. In the end, I decided to put the original drive back in the S3 and box it up to send back.
     
  17. unitron

    unitron Active Member

    16,387
    2
    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    I'd think they'd almost have had to go way out of their way for account status to screw up the tuner, and I don't see where it would be any real benefit to them to do so, but electronic gear with a problem doesn't usually heal itself the way yours did, so it's still a very puzzling occurrence.

    Apparently there's "something" amiss with S3 HD cable tuners, but we don't know what it is yet, or how to fix it.
     
  18. tedshred

    tedshred New Member

    17
    0
    Jan 27, 2006
    Rainy Ol' NW
    Hey did Tivo exchange your HD up to Premiere fo$150 total, or $150 for the transfer + 150-$200 for the new Premiere unit? They've offered me a similar deal for my HD with the same channel loss issue. Called Tivo to see if I could get the transfer offer extended to the Roamio, but no luck. I think I'm going to go for the transfer offer and hopefully be done w/ my issue
     
  19. billbillw

    billbillw Member

    161
    0
    Aug 15, 2005
    Atlanta
    Ted,
    It was $150 total to 'service' the Tivo HD, which meant to replace it with a working equivalent (which is now the Premiere). There was no fee to transfer the lifetime service.
     
  20. tedshred

    tedshred New Member

    17
    0
    Jan 27, 2006
    Rainy Ol' NW
    Did you have any sort of extended warranty on your unit? I'll cb and quiz them on the "service" transfer.
     

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