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Tivo HD Pixelation Troubleshooting

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by Chimpware, Aug 3, 2007.

  1. Sep 9, 2007 #241 of 1597
    bensler

    bensler New Member

    15
    0
    Sep 9, 2007
    I am getting awful pixelation (series 3) and have had comcast come out 3 times to fix signaling issues, and also added in some amplifiers. I am still getting pixelation issues and was hoping someone could help me with suggestions. Did you have to return the cable cards several times and switch out cable cards before you received a good signal? Tivo keeps telling me it is the cards!
    TIVO also told me that it was a software issue, but has retracted now and said that was for the TIVO HD models, and not series 3. I have no idea what to do. I want to make my TIVO work, but I have now 1. switched the cards out 8 times 2. had comcast come 3 times to my home.

    please help!
     
  2. Sep 9, 2007 #242 of 1597
    justinmm2

    justinmm2 New Member

    10
    0
    Aug 1, 2002
    Had my S3 for quite some time now, but just moved and got CableCards installed (I only had one before). As a previous poster said, it's just unwatchable. I've tried playing with the DD/PCM setting, no video smoothing, native output, 720p fixed, etc. thinking it was a CPU overload at first... then I tried a different splitter and that helped slightly but it's still almost constant pixelation on both tuners... I even tried that Radioshack attenuator with the knob... I picked one up last year. As described, if I cranked it up to max, I'd lose all signal, but anything else and it was still pixelated.

    SD recordings/tuning is fine.

    I've noticed in the signal strength that I'm mid-80's, spikes of low 80s and mid-90s... but I keep "losing" and "acquiring" signals very very briefly.

    My Series3 is at 8.3.1-01-2-648. Is there any way I can upgrade it?

    My cards are Motorola S-cards according to the diagnostics screen.

    Any info is appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Justin

    Edit: I'm on FIOS, and tried it going directly from the wall, with splitters, etc.
     
  3. Sep 9, 2007 #243 of 1597
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    Discussion of Series 3 macroblocking issues can be found on this thread.

    The recent upgrade for TiVo HD's was to address SA cable card issues. That hasn't been a problem for the original S3's. S3 firmware was upgraded from 8.1x to 8.3.1 about five months ago. (There was no v8.2) There were reports of macroblocking problems back then but they've pretty much cleared up.

    If you're having macroblocking problems with your S3 there’s a good chance it’s a local signal issue. You should probably contact your local cableco. But again you can read more about it in the other thread.
     
  4. Sep 9, 2007 #244 of 1597
    bensler

    bensler New Member

    15
    0
    Sep 9, 2007
    Richsadam or anyone else out there:

    I have a series 3 TIVO. I had comcast come again today and they put in an amplifier for me. I have a couple of questions:
    1. Does anyone think it would be beneficial for me to go out and buy a "better" amplifier? He brought the signal up to +2.3 (not sure what that means, but he said it was good).
    2. Is this a cable card issue? Maybe I just need to switch out the cards - never mind, that it will be my 5th set of cards that i will be going to try out.
    3. Is TIVO doing anything to help us? I called and at first they said it was a software issue, but has since retracted and said that I was misinformed and that they are not working on any software updates for series 3 - just the one that recently came out for the TIVO HD.

    Any comments are very much appreciated!!! I am desperate to get some resolution. Fall tv is on its way and I get quite annoyed when a show I was planning on watching is drowned out with pixelation
    Thanks!!!
     
  5. Sep 10, 2007 #245 of 1597
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    There are a number of things that can contribute to macroblocking, audio dropouts, etc. with the "Original S3's". It could well be that there is something wrong with TiVo, but generally it turns out to be a local issue such as signal strength (a signal that is too strong can be as bad as one that's too weak), cable cards, etc.

    Here are my thoughts about your questions and others will hopefully chime in:

    1. Probably not. A better “investment” would be to get as clean a signal as possible to TiVo. Running a single, good quality coax cable directly from the wall to TiVo in the shortest way practical is your best bet. Modification of the incoming signal with amps, splitters, running coax through surge protectors, etc. can cause all sorts of issues. If the naked signal coming out of your wall needs amplifying, something is wrong ahead of that and Comcast should address it. TiVo doesn’t need an amplified signal to work properly…it needs a good, clean, “normal” signal.

    2. Could be, maybe not. Without further testing it’s impossible to tell. Are they SA (Scientific Atlanta) cards? If so, Motorola cards may improve things. Some claim to have gone through eight or more cards before they found ones that worked. Comcast may need to "re-hit" the cards you have. Rebooting TiVo (unplug it, wait 15 seconds and plug it back in) afterwards may clear things up. Running guided setup again might also resolve it.

    3. If this were an en-mass issue TiVo would be addressing it as they did with the THD’s. It’s only reported sporadically so I wouldn’t expect anything to happen in the near future. TiVo CSR's are generally nice, but often misinformed and do the best they can. Others have posted saying that they have spoken to TiVo CSR’s who have claimed an update for S3’s is “on the way.” At the very least a new software update will be pushed out when MRV and TTG are implemented in November.

    That’s not to say that problems don’t happen…they in fact do of course. These issues have popped up on threads for about a year now…ever since S3’s were introduced. There was a flurry of them when software v8.3.1 was introduced (see this thread), however as mentioned, most of those folks (including us) have seen things improve. Now it’s usually a local problem but the fact is that some TiVo’s fail and have to be replaced.

    My advice would be to document exactly what it is you are seeing when using TiVo - when it started, problems on all channels, HD only, only certain channels, time of day, etc. - as well as what work Comcast has done and what they are telling you. Make sure that you have all of the details down. Get back on the phone with TiVo, have them open a case and keep after it. TiVo has been known to handle a three-way call with cableco's to try and resolve the issue.

    FWIW, we've gone several rounds with Comcast before they finally rolled a truck manned by someone that knew what they were doing. Don’t give up!
     
  6. Sep 12, 2007 #246 of 1597
    Unix_Beard

    Unix_Beard New Member

    566
    0
    Dec 22, 2003
    Yes, I have 8.1.7c2 and the pixellation is worse than ever before. Its on certain channels. Some channels look fine. Some are completely unwatchable.

    I understand that the "pixellation" will also be on recordings and understand the difference between live TV and recordings. The problems I'm experiencing are on live TV and exclusively on HD channels. The "pixellation" seems to occur around moving objects are on areas of extreme color contrast.
     
  7. Sep 12, 2007 #247 of 1597
    bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    7,902
    0
    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    What is the make/model of your TV? And what is your cable provider?

    I wonder if what you are seeing could be due to overcompression? On what channels are you seeing this pixelization, and what sort of bitrates is your provider using on those channels?

    Average Bitrate = (Recording Size * 8000) / (Number of Minutes * 60)

    You can find the size of a recording by selecting it and hitting Info. You may have to page down since the recording size is at the bottom.

    Some displays have image enhancement settings on by default that can make compression artifacts far more obvious. For example, the DNIe feature on many Samsung displays will have that effect.
     
  8. Sep 12, 2007 #248 of 1597
    lhntx

    lhntx New Member

    18
    0
    Sep 11, 2007
    Houston (my...
    I have two series 3's. Both have 2 cable cards from Comcast (was Time-Warner until a month or so ago). One is hooked to a 1080i TV and the other to a standard TV. Both are having the pixel problems on some HD channels (the local NBC affiliate is the the worst) and are unwatchable most times. Sometimes only after a few minutes and some times after a half hour or so. Comcast has been out 3+ times in as many months and say that their signal is fine. TIVO says that it's a cable signal problem. Comcast says that it's a TIVO problem and that TIVO has admitted to them that they know it. Comcast even left me one of their DVR's to switch over and test - I did and their DVR worked fine whereas the Tivo was unwatchable. The cable signal drops below 94 or so when the problem occurs. Comcast says that an occasional dip is perfectly normal. Comcast says to tell the installer to reinstall lines, the installers refuse because "tivo has addmitted to them" that ther problem is on that end. Tivo says that it's not their problem. So I'm stuck in the middle with two series 3's that I can't watch HD channels on. I've been reading the strings about a new fix that came in last week, but I don't see any difference. Lots of techie answers about too strong a signal or amplifying, splitting etc. Any answers for us normal people that know very little about electricity, ohms, dbs, etc.????
     
  9. Sep 12, 2007 #249 of 1597
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    Sorry to hear about your very frustrating experiences. :( Comcast is right about the signals…they won’t always be perfect. But you clearly have a problem. Comparison of a Comcast DVR and TiVo is mostly apples and oranges as they employ different processing methods – hardware Vs cable cards. Comcast DVR's (probably Motorola?) use proprietary/dedicated hardware whereas TiVo has to have the capability of working with cable cards on many different systems and are more sensitive to signal issues. A little research will reveal that Comcast Motorola DVR’s are notoriously problem ridden…I’d take TiVo hands down any day.

    In addition, that fact that you're experiencing these problems with both of your S3's would lean toward the possibility that the problem is local. You didn’t mention how long you’ve had your S3’s but if it’s been a while and you’re suddenly seeing problems with both of them; I’d conclude that it’s a cableco issue and not TiVo as nothing’s changed with TiVo since last April/May when the software was updated. That's not to say that TiVo software might not be contributing, but clearly thousands of S3's are in fact working with Comcast service (which is what we have)...probably a number of them in your neighborhood.

    Comcast is quick to say that it's not their problem if they can make their own boxes work but that doesn't mean that the signal, the cable cards or other factors aren't at the root of the issue. We suddenly experienced similar problems after having great service for months. It took four complaints and truck rolls before they sent someone out that knew what he was doing. Turned out it was something at the "head end" in our area that had been recently modified. In twenty minutes all was right again...so don't let them steamroll you.

    As mentioned above, my advice would be to document exactly what it is you are seeing when using TiVo - when it started, problems on all channels, HD only, only certain channels, time of day, etc. - as well as what work Comcast has done and what they are telling you. Make sure that you have all of the details down. Get back on the phone with TiVo, have them open a case and keep after it. TiVo has been known to handle a three-way call with cableco's to try and resolve the issue and that's what I'd push for...the squeaky wheel and all of that.

    BTW, the "fix" you're referring to was a software update for the new TiVo HD model only...nothing to do with the TiVo S3's.

    Best of luck!
     
  10. Sep 12, 2007 #250 of 1597
    lhntx

    lhntx New Member

    18
    0
    Sep 11, 2007
    Houston (my...
    Thanks for the reply. I've had one s3 since 11/06 and the other for about 6 months or so. The problem started around May/June and occurs at all times of the day and mostly on the local big 3 affiliates, but sometimes on the premium channels. THe last Comcast guy that came out argued and argued with me and refused to do anything saying that the supervisors had talked to Tivo and that Tivo said that the problem was on their end. I love my Tivo, but it is very frustrating. I've had to change all of my season passes to regular channels (instead of HD) since the HD channels are so unreliable.
     
  11. Sep 14, 2007 #251 of 1597
    Pearhead

    Pearhead New Member

    37
    0
    Nov 26, 2005
    Held off buying a THD for awhile to see how the software updates proved themselves. I picked one up last week and had the SA CC (m-card) put in on Wed.

    So far zero blocking with 8.1.7c2 on a Sony WE42655 with component cables. :up:
     
  12. Sep 14, 2007 #252 of 1597
    Unix_Beard

    Unix_Beard New Member

    566
    0
    Dec 22, 2003
    Its a Sony Grand Wega III, LCD RP.

    I eliminated a cable splitter and the blocking appears to have disappeared. (This may be misleading since the blocking happens mostly at night so I'll wait and see.) Its odd because I had the exact same setup before minus the TivoHD and never had problems. Cable 1 going to my cable box/Tivo and Cable 2 going directly into my TV which had a CableCard installed for the HD content. Never had any issues with the splitter.
     
  13. Sep 15, 2007 #253 of 1597
    jmace57

    jmace57 Large Member

    1,129
    0
    Nov 30, 2002
    Bellaire, TX
    You must be in Houston like me...exactly the issues I have been having for months.

    The sad thing is, that we are using our dual tuners to record one HD version and one SD version of important shows. We can't trust it not to pixellate. <sigh>

    Jim
     
  14. Sep 15, 2007 #254 of 1597
    johnnylundy

    johnnylundy New Member

    77
    0
    Feb 2, 2005
    I just ordered my TiVo HD. It will be delivered sometime next week. I waited as long as I could, but I need a working DVR for the new season and this Moto 3416 is a piece of junk.

    Is pretty much everyone with the HD and Motorola CableCARDs now up and running OK?

    I was planning to request an M-Card from Comcast. Any reason to be insistent on that, or do the single cards work OK in slot 2 now?

    Cheers, Johnny
     
  15. Sep 15, 2007 #255 of 1597
    Unix_Beard

    Unix_Beard New Member

    566
    0
    Dec 22, 2003
    Well, I was wrong. The blocking or pixellation is back. Its really bad today for college football, of course.

    I turn on ABCHD on the TivoHD and its horribly pixellated. I go to the next room and look at the same channel through a built in HD tuner and absolutely crystal clear.

    It is DEFINITELY the TivoHD. Now what? This sucks.
     
  16. Sep 15, 2007 #256 of 1597
    mazman

    mazman Member

    158
    0
    Nov 13, 2002
    Alamo, CA
    What type of Cablecard is in your TiVo?
     
  17. Sep 17, 2007 #257 of 1597
    jgerry

    jgerry save vinyl

    2,250
    0
    Aug 29, 2001
    Atlanta,...
    My new TivoHD doesn't even have cablecards yet, waiting on Comcast to come out for that. So I'm running it with OTA HD via antenna + QAM. Software version is current.

    I'm getting the pixelization issue on OTA HD recordings. It's definitely in the recording as going back and replaying the affected section produces the same pixelization each time. The problem is sporadic. I'd say it's occurring about 15-20 times an hour, and each time I lose between 1-5 seconds of programming. The longer dropouts are very frustrating. I also lose audio most of the time as well as video.

    I've checked the signal levels. Both are between 89 - 99. S/N ratio floats around 29-30.

    What's a reasonable S/N ratio for OTA HD? I haven't seen that mentioned yet in this thread.
     
  18. Sep 17, 2007 #258 of 1597
    bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    7,902
    0
    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    Sounds like multipath. My signal levels are stable, within +/- 1. I can't check SNR right now.

    What antenna are you using?
     
  19. Sep 17, 2007 #259 of 1597
    jgerry

    jgerry save vinyl

    2,250
    0
    Aug 29, 2001
    Atlanta,...
    I have a super cheap antenna from Radio Shack. I think I literally paid $6 for it.

    [​IMG]

    One of the tall extensions is broken off too. But I've never had any issues using it connected directly to my TV. I also live inside the city limits where the signals are strong.

    I guess it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a better antenna and try that. What's a good choice, preferably something I can pick up at Radio Shack or Best Buy? I do like the idea of using OTA for network HD recording since I feel like those look far better than what Comcast re-compresses and sends me over cable.
     
  20. Sep 18, 2007 #260 of 1597
    blhirsch

    blhirsch Tivo-riffic!

    290
    0
    Mar 1, 2003
    Well, I'm having similar issues. ESPNHD is completely unwatchable. It's fine on the other TV with the Verizon DVR.

    I'm not sure what my next step is because it seems clear that the problem is Tivo and not Verizon. I'm remiss to stay on hold with them and open a trouble ticket when I'm not sure there's anything they can do.

    FTR, it's a TivoHD with two moto s-cards on Verizon FiosTV. c2 software.

    There may be other channels that are having this problem, I have yet to determine the extent of it.
     

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