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Tivo HD - cable companies and h.264

Discussion in 'TiVo Help Center' started by tvmaster2, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. lrhorer

    lrhorer New Member

    Of course it is.

    It was not when the unit was purchased, but it will be whenever and to whatever extent the CATV company converts to h.264. Surely you cannot suggest that a DVR which cannot record any shows is anything but broken?

    No, he isn't. He is only asking that the DVR be able to perform the basic function for which it was designed: to record shows from the CATV lineup.

    One can hope they have more foresight than that. Exactly what do you think would happen to sales of new DVRs if 30% of the DVRs in the country suddenly became inoperable and so were suddenly offered up on ebay, most of them bearing PLS? The answer is the prices on ebay would plummet and no one in the 70% of markets would buy a new TiVo, since perfectly good ones could be had for pennies on the dollar. Given TiVo's newly acquired financial position and their increasing penetration to the leased DVR market, it might not be ruinous for TiVo, but it would hurt a hell of a lot. Although the situation was a little different, the CATV companies rushed like a man with a full bladder to get the Tuning Adapters out the door, when they had far, far less skin in the game, comparatively speaking, than TiVo does.

    So how did you miss the point about dumping large quantities of units onto the market? Do you think you are the only one who would think of this?

    Just for the record, however, I would simply dump cable, and use my TiVos to watch the contents of my video library. By the time this would come about - if ever - my library will be far more than large enough to last me the rest of my lifetime.

    Yes, but that is a little different. S2s (even S1s) can be made to work with an STB or DTA. The S3 and S4 cannot. As I already pointed out, if it is not practical to deliver this for the S3, then it would also almost certainly not be practical to deliver it for the S4.
  2. steve614

    steve614 what ru lookin at?

    May 1, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    If h.264 programming becomes a wide spread problem for the Series 3 platform, TiVo would make an effort to correct things, barring a hardware issue.
    I can't believe they would just abandon all of those subscribers. The Tivo's basic function is to record TV. TiVo would be stupid to do that (IMO).
  3. wmcbrine

    wmcbrine Ziphead

    Aug 2, 2003
    I'll reiterate this: The software already exists. Version 11.3b3, deployed in Australia and New Zealand, supports h.264 on TiVo HD hardware. It might need some modification for the U.S., of course.
  4. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

    Jul 6, 2006
    Near Dayton, Ohio
    Does anyone know what percentage of digital TiVo's in use are Series 3 models vs. newer models? Is the 30% number that lrhorer threw out correct? It will be a while (probably years) before h.264 cable encoding becomes wide spread, and the Series 3 percentage is of course decreasing all the time.
    Sure, jrtroo and I (at least) disagree. You are really stretching the definition of "broken" here. There was a time when S2's were being sold and some CATV systems already had gone digital. By your definition an S2 purchased at that time was immediately "broken". Also if an S3 purchased in the US is taken to Australia, it would immediately be "broken". This isn't a reasonable use of "broken". Even if you accept this usage, it certainly isn't reasonable in those situations to put the onus on TiVo to "fix" it.

    As someone who could be affected in the future, I would hope TiVo would make the (assumed) "small" mod for H.264 for my HD. However, given this will occur a year or more from now (if ever), I think it also would be reasonable for TiVo to just say "come on guys, time to upgrade to a newer TiVo". That does not comprise "abandoning" us. If would be nice if they would offer a significant discount on transferring lifetime in that case. ;)
  5. jrtroo

    jrtroo User

    Feb 4, 2008
    It would be great if tivo can and will update units for this issue (or provide some sort of good faith offering as was done with the dead Comcast Tivo). I just don't see this happening unless the issue grows significantly so that it eventually impacts their revenues.

    Lets take this to the limit. What if a US cable co developed their own proprietary format for sending content to their boxes (ignore legalities for the sake of argument)? Would it be Tivo's fault that their hardware/software was incompatible? Would those boxes be considered "broken" despite their ability to preform all functions per the specs it was sold with?

    While there could be a glut of these eventually available on ebay, selling now would be selling ahead of the curve. And, history shows that there was not a glut of lifetime S2s dropping their pricing to a significant extent.
  6. lrhorer

    lrhorer New Member

    See William's response. It makes the point largely moot, but it would be Series 3 *AND* Series 4 units, not just Series 3. Developing the software for the S4 means most, if not all, of the work is also done for the S3. The 30% was a hypothetical percentage of CATV system subscribers who might be impacted, not the number of S3 subs.

    Partially, yes. They could not be used without the aid of an external box, but the point is they could still be used. They were not bricks. Had they been unable to control external devices, then they would have been bricks, and by definition broken for those subscribers.

    Many older aircraft require aviation gas in order to run. The problem is, however, aviation gas is getting harder and harder to get, because petroleum refiners are shutting down av-gas facilities, and soon the last one will be gone. At that point, those planes will not fly. They will be broken, every bit as much as if they had thrown a connecting rod and bent their crankshaft. Can they be fixed? Surely. They can have their engines replaced, which is precisely what would be done with a bent crankshaft.

    Don't bother to point out the manufacturers of those craft are not recalling the craft. I already asserted a hardware retrofit is a much different matter than a software update.

    Well, not entirely, but for the sake of argument, let us stipulate it to be the case. Indeed, it would be, and it would be broken by the act of moving it geographically. It is no more or less broken than it would be by removing the hard drive.

    Don't be foolish. Of course it is. "Broken" = "does not work properly". The term in no way implies how the device is malfuctioning or what caused the malfunction, merely that its is to some extent malfunctioning. A unit which is unplugged is technically broken. The fix in such a case is of course trivial.

    If the actions of the user broke the TiVo, then certainly not. Far more salient is the fact 30% of all TiVos are not going to be moved by some third party to Australia, and there is a big difference between one unit failing and a large fraction of all units failing.

    It almost surely is. The THD already plays h.264 content from the hard drive very well*. All that is required is to allow an h.264 stream to be copied to the drive from the output of the CableCard. As William pointed out, this has already been done for S3 TiVos down under. Not only does this mean it is definitely trivial for TiVo to produce it for S3 TiVos here, it also means they have already undertaken that step for a market with much smaller impact than 30% or something like that of the US market.

    Only if they refuse to take any further MTM payments or activate service on the older models. At this point, TiVo will still activate a Series I.

    'Not interested. It is highly unlikely TiVo will be offering an acceptable piece of hardware at that point in time.

    * - Acually, the big problem will arise if the coding of the content is not standardized across the industry.
  7. lrhorer

    lrhorer New Member

    How did the lack of a Tuning Adapter impact the revenues of Cable Companies? As companies go, most CATV companies are far more revenue fixated than TiVo historically has been, yet they stepped up to the plate to the tune of several $million that earned them no direct revenue at all. TiVo's record holds them far more considerate than your cynicism supposes. I'm not saying they are altruistic or are not properly focused on financial considerations. It is just that financial considerations can be combined with parochial ones, and that they definitely must consider possible future impacts. Dealing with a financial impact after it has fully developed is far too late. The astute business must try to forecast to some extent the possible impacts to future revenues of decisions made right now.

    That is not the limit. The limit would be if every single CATV system suddenly switched to, say PAL. Every TV, not to mention every TiVo, in the US would suddenly be broken. Yes, broken.

    Fault (in the sense of negligent responsibility) has nothing to do with this issue.

    What else would you call them? Perfectly functional? It would be remarkable indeed if hundreds of thousands of DVRs and TVs suddenly wound up in landfills and not one of them was broken. Your persistent call for an unreasonably complex definition of the term "broken" reminds me of the old joke, "The operation was a success, but the patient died."

    Enough of the semantics. Whether you want to call them "broken" or "egg salad" is irrelevant. The fact is they would be non-functional, and TiVo would be the only entity capable of making them functional again. Doing so will inevitably cost TiVo some money, and there is no question that beyond some point that amount will be unreasonable, even if not spending it were to mean TiVo would go bankrupt. At some much smaller amount, however, the potential possible impact to future revenue due to various vectors makes the expenditure a good bet. At some point below that, it is merely good business, or if you will a cost of doing business.

    That wasn't my point. That you might jump ship earlier than the bulk of users doesn't mean at some point it will not become a torrent.

    That is a completely different situation. S2s are still functional today with a fix from the CATV company, and would be even if the CATV companies all go to 100% MPEG4. The S3 and S4 will not be, unless TiVo updates them.
  8. jrtroo

    jrtroo User

    Feb 4, 2008
    I'm not being cynical, I'm being a realist. A cynic would be certain that Tivo would not make the code changes regardless. I'm not certain, I just believe it is unlikely knowing what we know today.

    I guess "broken" will need to mean different things to different people.

    Note: I don't know how dlfl feels about my arguments, but I would guess dlfl would not want credit for my post.
  9. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

    Jul 6, 2006
    Near Dayton, Ohio
    LOL, yes. I'll stick in the camp that doesn't consider something broken just because the power plug is not inserted, (or because an externally imposed change impairs the desired basic functionality even though the device is still performing exactly as originally designed) :D

    I have to admit I do find a statement such as "The CATV changed their encoding and it broke my TiVo" understandable and not objectionable. However, I think it is actually not a strictly correct usage of "broke". However language does evolve and this usage may show up in dictionaries if it is used enough. Somehow I doubt if "you pulled the power plug and broke my TiVo" will ever become that popular though. ;)
    @lrhorer: In case it wasn't obvious, jrtroo is pointing out you incorrectly attributed numerous quotes to me in your post #22.

    Is it possible we have broken this thread? :eek:
  10. lrhorer

    lrhorer New Member

    You really would do well to take a good course in general semantics.

    So do the words "blue", "hard" and "automobile". Meanwhile, a good dictionary definition can be found here under 4a and 10, and broadly in context under 4b and 5a. No matter what, no DVR which cannot for whatever reason record any channels from its intended source can be considered properly functional.

    Sorry about that. I forgot to re-load the clipboard.
  11. lrhorer

    lrhorer New Member

    It isn't performing as originally designed. It was designed to decode the QAM carriers provided by the CATV system and save them to the hard drive. It can no longer do that.

    Occam's razor demands we not unnecessarily complicate things. If something does not work properly, it is broken. Again, as far as being broken or not, the cause is irrelevant. Fixing the item is a matter of returning it to a fully functional state (or at least within reasonable limits), irrespective of whether a 6 year old chlid can easily do it in a matter of seconds or it takes more effort than building the pyramids. Just because something is trivially broken, perhaps even so trivially as to be not worth mentioning, does not mean it is not, nevertheless, broken.

    It absoluetly is. There is a spectrum of operational existence for any device. At one end, the device is considered "fully functional", at the other the device is "completely broken". While a device may be partially broken (or for the glass half full folks partially functional), it is still nonetheless either broken or not, and the classification has nothing to do with how the device is broken. Only the matter of how well it works is at issue.

    It has been common for decades.

    You obviously have never worked for a CATV company in an engineering or field support role. Easily 60% of reports of the cable being broken (they often use the term "not working") are due to unplugged STBs or DVRs, especially at Christmas time. When I was working for them, they did not charge for sending out a technician to troubleshoot and repair such issues. (Note repairing something is not possible unless it is broken.) I believe they have since started charging for such frivolous dispatches.

    Yes, it was obvious.

    "We" didn't, but I did. I just fixed it, however. Need I point out again that by definition I could not have fixed it unless it were broken?
  12. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

    Jul 6, 2006
    Near Dayton, Ohio
    Who is this Occam guy and why is he threatening me with a razor? :D

    Sorry but there's just no argument, or amount of arguing, that will convince me that a device is broken just because it's unplugged. You get credit for verbosity and sophistry though, although I'm not sure where you can get a discount on a cup of coffee with that.
  13. tvmaster2

    tvmaster2 New Member

    Sep 9, 2006
    @lrhorer, you are of course, correct.

    when the TivoHD was released, both mpeg2 and mpeg4 existed. It would be idiotic of Tivo to assume that "software" and codecs may one day, in the near future, cause Tivo's software to not communicate properly, and ignore an operating system structure which could be altered to follow these changes.

    All you need to do is read the user manual (and box) which the TivoHD arrived with to realize that the machine CANNOT record HD programming from a cable company (if said company uses h.264). Therefore, quite simply, the TivoHD does not do what it's own advertising material claims it does, regardless of release dates, etc.

    Therefore, whether you use one term or another, it is NOT functioning as advertised. If it cannot function in the future, then Tivo should be offering an extremely inexpensive alternative, either FREE transfer of lifetime service to a unit that CAN record HD material from a cable company, or a combination of low-cost hardware/service plans.

    If you, as a company, manufacture hardware products that rely on third-party software events, then you better base your hardware on a platform that can be updated as well.

    Tivo has one, single attribute that trumps all the others: it's SOFTWARE interface. For Tivo to conveniently ignore the part of their software that invisibly makes the machine function, so they can expect idiots to update their hardware at their own cost every three years, then they will lose me as a customer.

    Tivo's sole goal should be stealing, and keeping, as many customers away from the mostly awful software that runs satellite and cable co's set-top boxes, as well as finding a solution to the ON-DEMAND limitation that those same companies have to this point, denied Tivo users from using.

    Sorry, Tivo. lrhorer and myself may be in the minority, but we are correct. Fix your products.

  14. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

    Jul 6, 2006
    Near Dayton, Ohio
    Umm... I guess the above quotes are not what you think he is correct about, right? ;)

    Given the TiVo HD design is now at least 5 years old, and (as lrhorer said in an earlier post) it will be 2 or 3 years before H.264 cable is anything but rare, I think TiVo did fine if they didn't address that functionality in their design. Get real and stop trying to put a guilt trip on TiVo.

    BTW, in an effort to say something exactly on topic in response to your first post, I'm on Time Warner and I've seen no hints they are about to go H.264.

    I hope TiVo, in their generosity and to promote customer good will, does come up with an H.264 mod for the HD.

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