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Tivo HD Pixelation Troubleshooting

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

  1. Mar 13, 2008 #641 of 1598
    hmm52

    hmm52 Member

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    Feb 25, 2008
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    If you have some free time, read my post on page 21. In my experience of it, the S3 is not very tolerant of imperfect signals compared to other QAM cablecard devices.
     
  2. Mar 14, 2008 #642 of 1598
    h00ligan

    h00ligan New Member

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    Nov 29, 2007
    thanks for the info - unfortunately i receive absolutely *zero* ota hd channels in my location, heh - it's ridiculous. I'm right behind a mountain. I initially - pre tivo - was going to setup ota hd and a media center pc - ended up with tivo due to ota issue. Literally not ONE station comes in here.. it's dreadful.
     
  3. Mar 14, 2008 #643 of 1598
    rcr2

    rcr2 It's you, not me.

    104
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    Feb 3, 2007
    Monmouth...
    After finally getting KS57 and KS58 to work, my problems have only gotten worse.

    Given the similarity to the last time I had this kind of problem, I'm throwing in the towel and calling it a hard drive failure. Last time, I sent my unit back to TiVo for the replacement unit, but that is such a pain - re-pairing cable cards, waiting for the box, the refund process...

    So, I just ordered a 750GB WD Cavier SATA from Tigerdirect for $150. Plus two USB to SATA cables. I'm going the WinMFS route. Wish me luck. Should have the drive by Tuesday.
     
  4. Mar 14, 2008 #644 of 1598
    hmm52

    hmm52 Member

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    Feb 25, 2008
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    That's too bad. My sister & brother in law live in the Blue Ridge mountains, SW Virginia close to Winston Salem, NC. Similar situation, large farm in a valley. For years they used a "lifeline cable" for distant placement of antenna & got OK reception for VHF analog; now using satellite receiver. Reception can also be difficult in dense urban areas (high rises). Easiest in suburbs. With a 2'X4' UHF only ant. at ground level, I reliably get all but one of the digital broadcasts which are 10 -38 miles away; each within 33 degrees of the other. A few VHF analogs come in OK also though the antenna is not designed for VHF (not positioned well for that either). I may need a different antenna in future as some broadcasters are moving their (digital) channels back to the VHF spectrum with reassignments next year.

    Last night I started doing something that I should have done long ago - read the posts in this thread sequentially from beginning. Only up through August so far; earlier software version. Some summer posts mentioned pixelation with OTA tuning. Except during recent storm, I've not seen it in 6 weeks with the S3. So far it has worked very well for me as an OTA receiver/recorder. Some prefer to get their local HD this way because of its uncompressed signal. I haven't seen a difference either with FIOS or Comcast.

    If interested in outdoor antenna, first site to check is www.antennaweb.org. Enter location on map; get product type recommendations & channels you can expect to receive. Info on major manufacturers' sites is thorough as well.

    I requested an exhange unit from TiVo last night (55 minute call with an obviously new hire). [1] My S3's chronic daily problems are with high MHz located channels when using tuner 0. [2] Episodically there is pixelation, mostly on low MHz local HDs, that hits both S3 cable tuners, and to a lesser extent the Toshiba cablecard Tv , at the same time (brief episodes recently). It sort of seems like two different issues; the first one having some chance of remedy in an exchange. With just a replacement, I have no expectation of relief from the second issue. Antenna remains as primary feed for locals until TiVo finds a solution. Hopefully before their next generation DVR is introduced. I'll keep reminding them of the deficiency in the meantime.

    Unlike the characteristics posted last summer, the pixelation I've observed has been full screen, constant or nearly so, and has not appeared in menus.
    I haven't seen my S3 rebooting itself in quite awhile now. Maybe it has simply become more discreet.
     
  5. Mar 14, 2008 #645 of 1598
    pwocarroll

    pwocarroll New Member

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    Apr 1, 2005
    Just read the entirety of this amazing thread, since I'm also having pixelation problems -- but mine are quite discrete, and I thought it MIGHT be worth adding to this growing body of pixelation buzz:

    1) I have Comcast as service provider.

    2) In the past (yes, I think this is relevant), I had one TV on SD Tivo with digital comcast converter, and one on a second TV with SD Tivo with NO converter--i.e., analog signal form Comcast. On the latter set--and only on this analog signal-driven set--channel 4 (ABC) was filled with ghosts and interference. After much anguish with cable guys cutting and splicing and signal boosting-with-amplifiers to no avail, I got a second digital converter box for the second TV--and then channel 4 came in fine.

    3) Now I have a third set up in my home theater with high-def signal from Comcast, and HD TiVo. It's gorgeous--EXCEPT FOR CHANNEL 104, which is the high-def ABC channel. On this 104/ABC channel--but NOT on channel 4/ABC, its SD standard-def counterpart channel--I get pixelation, frozen picture and interruptions to audio literally every 5-15seeconds. Imagine my feelings when my favorite show (Lost) was unwatchable in high-def, and I am consigned to watching it via an SD signal on a tube TV, while my home theater goes dark. Arrrgghhh!

    4) Comcast cable guy coming out tomorrow, but I suspect my chances of him solving this problem are about the same as if I waved a chicken over my head while chanting voo-doo incantations.

    I do have a question for y'all though: GIVEN MY HISTORY of poor signal on channel four/ABC: Doesn't it seem more likely that I have a signal-strength problem from Comcast, than a hardware problem with HD TiVo?

    TiVo has agreed to replace my HD TiVo hw for $49, but I am not confident this would solve the problem -- and the experiment would, of course, involve much hassle.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks, Patrick
     
  6. Mar 14, 2008 #646 of 1598
    naybag

    naybag Member

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    Feb 22, 2005
    Washington, DC
    Hmmm. Since I still haven't found the attenuation sweet spot to fix my pixelation problems I may try a little voodoo! Do you think the pre-packaged boneless and skinless chicken breast from the Costco will suffice?
     
  7. Mar 14, 2008 #647 of 1598
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

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    Jan 4, 2003
    Given your history it sounds like a local issue. We had a multitude of PQ (and audio) problems with our local NBC affiliate while they were switching over to full time HD. What a nightmare. Nothing to do with our cableco (Comcast) or TiVo. They finally got it sorted and now everything is fine. You could get a replacement box but I'd bet you'll experience the same problem.

    You may have better luck working with Comcast and/or your local ABC affiliate. My $.02.
     
  8. Mar 14, 2008 #648 of 1598
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

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    Jan 4, 2003
    LMAO! :D
     
  9. Mar 16, 2008 #649 of 1598
    mag249

    mag249 New Member

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    May 1, 2004
    Chicago
    Rich,

    Probably not the right forum for this as I have stuttering video, not pixelating.

    Along with stuttering video, I have freezes, random reboots and sluggish (if not frozen) remote responses.

    This just started in the last two days so I cant blame it on a software upgrade or an electical storm!

    I tried the Tivo kickstart and neither did any good (nor showed any problems with the hard drive as it was up and running in 10 minutes, not 3 hours)

    When I unplug my coax, everything works smoothly again. As soon as I plug back in, I have issues.

    I have since removed HD channels from my listing and that seems to help.

    I have resigned myself to picking up a new hard drive, but did not want to spend the money if it turns out to be a signal strength or cable card issue.

    Thanks for any light you can shed!
     
  10. Mar 16, 2008 #650 of 1598
    mag249

    mag249 New Member

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    May 1, 2004
    Chicago
    I should also not that I have Comcast cards and I did have them rehit to no avail.....
     
  11. Mar 17, 2008 #651 of 1598
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,900
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    Jan 4, 2003
    It has the earmarks of a failing hard drive. It would appear that the HDD cannot correct I/O errors which causes the visible stuttering, etc. and reboots. Did you happen to look at the corrected and uncorrected errors on the diagnostics screens?

    One last thing to try would be to remove the cable cards, keep the coax connected and try re-running guided setup. You won't get the premium channels, but it is a way to tell if there is the possibility of cable card problems. If it clears up you might want to have your cable cards replaced. However that's not a guarantee that it won't happen again when new cards are installed because it still could be the HDD.

    Odds are it's a hard drive failure based on historical posts from others having the same issues which cleared up after replacing their hard drive or their TiVo. Replacing a drive is quite easy either as a DIY job or by buying a pre-imaged drive from DVRUpgrade or Weaknees. All of the DIY info can be found at MFSlive.org or you can buy a bare drive and use Instant Cake to image it.

    Best of luck and let us know how it goes.
     
  12. Mar 17, 2008 #652 of 1598
    mag249

    mag249 New Member

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    May 1, 2004
    Chicago
    Thanks Rich,

    I echo the thoughts of others when I say we appreciate your efforts and knowledge as we deal with these issues.

    MAG
     
  13. Mar 17, 2008 #653 of 1598
    hmm52

    hmm52 Member

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    Feb 25, 2008
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    Rich,

    I have some questions for you.

    With the coming replacement unit or current S3, I will continue to archive a certain # of recordings, split with the Seagate eSATA drive in place. In reading through this thread, I've seen many references to hard drive failure. This suggests that the TiVo HDDs are not very robust. Would you recommend that I replace the drive, after 60 days of warranty or so, with 3rd party HDD to minimize chance of future disappointment? I realize that previous recordings will be lost.

    I also noticed many references to August & November as bad patches for pixelation. While there were TiVo software revisions around those times, it struck me as curious that those were the same periods I encountered pixelation issues with the Toshiba cablecard Tv. August - the first time after 8 solid months. November - the worst time to date. I had thought it was a Verizon only issue, most likely originating in my nearby central office; I was told so by VZ tech. Many posts by TiVo users across the country also referred to first time pixelation in August. Was much or all of this provoked by CableLab updates? You read in the AVS Forum. What do you think? I'll try to find something relevant in the Verizon forums.

    To me the most maddening thing about cable providers is the compartmentalization. I don't have any issue with the techs, either Verizon's or Comcast's. If they didn't have the necessary expertise, they didn't hesitate to bring in someone who did. I've never encountered a cable tech with a bad attitude. But with VZ anyway, only the "Big Boss" is given the required equipment to read in depth line errors past and ahead of the ONT. And even the Big Boss operates under an obvious directive to first turn your house inside out at least 3 times before making such test. Passing it on to next level, central office, is then & only then permitted. Who knows how many dances must be done to reach the home office level? By customer and employee. Maybe shareholder relations is the way to go. More venting than a question; unless you have an answer of course ...

    Thanks in advance
     
  14. Mar 17, 2008 #654 of 1598
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,900
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    Jan 4, 2003
    No, I wouldn't plan on replacing the HDD in a newer or older unit unless there's something wrong with it. TiVo uses the very same WD HDD's available to everyone, nothing "special". In general the people that find their way to this forum are having problems. With four million plus TiVo's in the wild, the percentage that will experience HDD failures are the same as with any computer (within the manufacturer's specs)...higher as they get older of course. The people experiencing issues here are pretty small by comparison but I can sympathize with the frustrations when it happens. I'm a Seagate guy myself, but I have the 1TB WD GP drive in my Series3 at the moment and it's been working flawlessly since about October or so.

    Problems seem to come in waves. Historically there always seem to be a flurry of reports right after an upgrade. I'm certain that has something to do with TiVo's software, but other times, as you point out, cableco's, local broadcasters, etc. have their issues too. With umpteen different providers using all manner of equipment to deliver what is supposed to be a "standard signal" I can't help but believe some of the issues are local and others are TiVo. That said, TiVo has been able to rectify things over time...never quickly enough for anyone having problems of course. I'm biased as for the most part we haven't experienced too many problems in the six or seven years of having TiVo, and when we have they've been resolved eventually.

    Verizon is the new kid on the block when it comes to cable and I'm sure they're experiencing their own growing pains. Add to that the fact that TiVo has to account for whatever their system is delivering via FIOS...signal strength too strong, different specs...etc. Plus cable card technology hasn't been around that long either. It's not pretty, but I have faith that it will be conquered by both companies. As you mention, if the share holders ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! ;)
     
  15. Mar 17, 2008 #655 of 1598
    hmm52

    hmm52 Member

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    Feb 25, 2008
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    Rich,

    You must have a higher level of tolerance than mine. Go diving in the coastal Pacfic? Abalone? - free diving only, I think. Kelp forests, rip currents, g.w. sharks, 55 degrees, rough surf, limited visibility...

    If cartel nations go ahead with plan to price oil in euros, not dollars, our DVR & cable company concerns will vanish into nothingness. I'm amazed they waited this long. That's tolerance!
     
  16. Mar 17, 2008 #656 of 1598
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,900
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    Jan 4, 2003
    Ha! No sir...bathtub temperature water for me...Fiji, Turks and Caicos, Belize...and sharks just big enough to pet...nothing that can call me dinner! ;)

    TiVo on the other hand can give me fits like anyone else. :mad: Over the years I think I've gotten to be at peace with the fact that they've always come through is all. Never as quickly as I want of course...but eventually. Whether that's a good or bad thing I don't know...but I guess that's my tolerance level. :)

    Now I have to go out and put some gas in my car. :mad: :mad: :mad: Thanks for reminding me. ;)
     
  17. Mar 17, 2008 #657 of 1598
    Cue-Ball

    Cue-Ball New Member

    1,708
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    Oct 8, 2002
    Kirkland, WA
    Is anyone seeing this issue with OTA signals? I bought my TivoHD specifically so I could go pure-OTA and dump Comcast. Ever since I installed it my picture has been gorgeous, but pixelates on multiple channels every so often (sometimes it's every minute or two during an entire program, usually it's once every 15 minutes or so. Not unwatchable, but damn annoying). I've checked and my signals strength is at least 65 for every channel. I had this issue the other night and checked the signal strength. I sat there watching the signal strength meter for several minutes with the show playing in the background. It was still pixelating, even with a strength hovering around 80!

    I read through a lot of the thread, but lots of it seemed to be old firmware and most people seem to be having issues with Cablecards and cable providers. Is anyone else running OTA signals only and seeing this issue?
     
  18. Mar 18, 2008 #658 of 1598
    rcr2

    rcr2 It's you, not me.

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    Feb 3, 2007
    Monmouth...
    I'm not sure about the incident rate being low.. I don't think all 4 million TiVo users would come online to these forums to solve problems they are having, and would instead try and call TiVo, etc instead.

    As it is, I have had two hard drive failures on two successive Series 3's. That seems to me a problem and bit suspicious than random and within an expected percentage.

    Now, that being said, I am in the middle of a WinMFS upgrade to see if I can save my Series 3 that has been stuttering, rebooting, and generally has become a useless paperweight.

    One thing I noticed on the WinMFS info is that it said the drive only had 1% free. Now, I'm in the middle of a 4 hour pure copy, so I can't go and look and the details again, but it occurred to me that perhaps, just perhaps, TiVo starts to have a problem when the drive gets towards its max.

    I don't have anything on 'save 'till delete'. Everything is 'delete when space is required.'

    But it would make sense to me that if the software does not keep enough space on the drive to perform it's operations - ESPECIALLY in regards to the large requirements for High Def capture - then it would begin to have writing/access problems.

    Perhaps TiVo needs to look at how it is managing space requirements and cut down on the available space and keep some dedicated to the system - say 50 gig - to handle cache and other functions.

    And, yes - I tried to delete shows manually to see if that would help, but the system was not responding at all by that point that it was impossible to do so.
     
  19. Mar 18, 2008 #659 of 1598
    SCSIRAID

    SCSIRAID Active Member

    2,328
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    Feb 2, 2003
    Vero Beach, FL
    With the 'recently deleted' folder the HDD is basically 'full' at all times. Also, the partition used for recording is totally separate from the OS partitions. MFS can show what paritions exist on the drive.
     
  20. Mar 18, 2008 #660 of 1598
    rcr2

    rcr2 It's you, not me.

    104
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    Feb 3, 2007
    Monmouth...
    Well, my new MFS'd 750GB drive is in, working, and no sturring to speak of on any channels, HD or otherwise.

    Plus, 98 hours HD capacity to boot.

    WinMFS. Just do it.
     

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