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Tivo HD Pixelation Troubleshooting

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

  1. Sep 3, 2008 #841 of 1597
    JasonMowry

    JasonMowry New Member

    18
    0
    Nov 3, 2005
    Southeastern PA
    I am a longtime TiVo enthusiast who enjoyed the TiVo series 1 and 2 units, before suffering protracted issues with the TiVo HD unit. This is my first time posting a description of my TiVo HD problems on this forum. I've read through a great deal of the 800+ (!!!) posts relating similar problems to my experience, but unfortunately none of the solutions that have worked for others have solved it for me. I'm hoping that someone could still see something new I've missed or have further insight into the problem.

    Shortly after I started using my new TiVo HD unit, I discovered that programs recorded from certain channels would regularly be distorted to the point they were unwatchable. The breakup in picture would come regularly, multiple times per minute, and would look as if digital static had garbled the entire image, hence the term "pixelation" has been used to describe this type of distortion. During these incidents, the sound would cut out almost simultaneously as well. I found that all the channels that suffered from the issue used a carrier frequency in the 400-500 MHz range. I worked with multiple Verizon technicians to try and identify and fix the cause of the distortions, but the only help they could provide was to verify the signal strength reaching the TiVo unit. I believe I have isolated the TiVo unit itself as the only possible source of the issue by demonstrating the following:

    • A Verizon (Motorola) set-top box simultaneously receiving the same signal can successfully tune the given channel when the TiVo unit can not.
    • A small set of Verizon digital cable channels remain unencrypted and can be received by a digital TV without requiring a cablecard. Some of these channels suffered the pixelation issue, and I was able to successfully tune the given channel with my TV when the TiVo unit could not (either with or without the cablecard.)
    • The problem regularly happens on just one of the two tuners, and this is consistent even after I reverse the order of the two cablecards.
    • By using manual recordings of different time lengths, I can set the TiVo unit to record the same channel simultaneously on both tuners, and only one of the two recordings will suffer the pixelation problem. (This approach has been my workaround for quite some time now.)
    I have tried to work with TiVo technical support for months on this issue but their effort has been lackluster and unsuccessful. Through the course of the investigation I was able to replace my TiVo unit twice, and all three units have displayed this problem, though which tuner is worse than the other is not always the same. I have tried to attenuate the signal strength reaching the TiVo unit, but no matter how fine an adjustment I make this only manages the degree of the problem and never solves it entirely (for either of the last two TiVo units). I also do not need Verizon's router since I don't normally use any set-top boxes, so I have disconnected that to remove any potential MoCA interference. How is it that I am reproducing the problem so readily at my home on multiple TiVo units and yet this problem does not appear to be widespread? (Or is it, does everyone else just give up?) I am a software engineer, and while I'm used to methodically solving technical issues like this, I'm not used to such a patterned problem not having a logical solution.

    I appreciate any help that members on this forum can provide.
     
  2. Sep 4, 2008 #842 of 1597
    hkancyr

    hkancyr New Member

    67
    0
    Jan 20, 2002
    CT
    Attenuators did not work for my problem. Probably getting another TiVoHD from TiVo.
    Man this is fun.
     
  3. Sep 4, 2008 #843 of 1597
    Philipp5

    Philipp5 New Member

    19
    0
    Mar 5, 2008
    I had this problem for a month especially on HD channels and had about 5 different Verizon Fios cable guys here visiting to try to fix it. We tried swapping out cables, replacing the main cable box, and different attenuators.
    The solution is the attenuators, but you have to measure the signal on the Tivo HD itself. The snr needs to be at around 32 to 34.

    Verizon says that the Tivo was designed to work with Comcast type cable signal that are very low and not the high quality full strength signal coming from the fiber optic Verizon.
     
  4. Sep 5, 2008 #844 of 1597
    JasonMowry

    JasonMowry New Member

    18
    0
    Nov 3, 2005
    Southeastern PA
    Unfortunately, I've already tried to hone the signal attenuation. I have a number of different attenuators, and the best combination I have come up with still produces the pixelation problem regularly on one of the tuners. Any more or less signal and both tuners start to exhibit worse problems. Furthermore, since the problem was mainly with lower frequency carrier signals, I tried a slope compensator which attenuates more for lower frequencies than higher ones. Even with that in the mix, no combination of different attenuators can improve the reception beyond where I have it now. Depending on the combination of attenuators, I was able to adjust in 1.5-2.5db increments - if finding the sweet spot requires finer tuning than that then I would say there is something really wrong with the TiVo.
     
  5. Sep 5, 2008 #845 of 1597
    ilh

    ilh New Member

    377
    0
    Dec 21, 2007
    I guess Verizon's own DVR is designed for Comcast's network. They installed an attenuator on mine during the initial installation. :rolleyes:
     
  6. Sep 5, 2008 #846 of 1597
    hkancyr

    hkancyr New Member

    67
    0
    Jan 20, 2002
    CT
    Got new(refurb) TiVoHD problem solved. HD channels solid as a rock.
     
  7. Sep 6, 2008 #847 of 1597
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    Great to hear! Thanks for reporting back. :up: Enjoy!
     
  8. Sep 6, 2008 #848 of 1597
    LDLDL

    LDLDL New Member

    88
    0
    Jan 12, 2002
    Brookhaven, PA
    GREAT!!!!!
    So there is hope for me!!!!
    Keep your fingers crossed, tech comes out this morning with new cards. I seriously doubt it will help. If not, TiVo will be replaced.
    Do you have to send it back, have them receive it before they will ship another one to you?
     
  9. Sep 6, 2008 #849 of 1597
    richsadams

    richsadams Active Member

    8,893
    2
    Jan 4, 2003
    TiVo will usually take your credit card info, charge your account, ship immediately and then credit your account as soon as they receive your old TiVo.

    Best of luck and let us know how it goes.
     
  10. Sep 6, 2008 #850 of 1597
    hkancyr

    hkancyr New Member

    67
    0
    Jan 20, 2002
    CT
    Yes I had one sent out and got it next day. Paid for it and refund will follow the old one being returned.
    I have such an improved signal now (since the techs came out a few times and futzed with the line) that I can remove the Comcast amplifier they put on a couple years ago.
    Yeah baby, silver linings all around.
     
  11. Sep 6, 2008 #851 of 1597
    V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

    392
    8
    May 28, 2005
    New Mexico...
    This excuse from Verizon is absolute drivel!!! First, SNR stands for Signal to Noise Ratio, so a lower number there does not mean a weaker signal, just that the noise in the signal is closer to the strength of the useful information! No matter what the actual signal strength is, you always want the highest possible SNR. Second, my own personal experience, documented in this and several other threads, proves just how bogus that excuse is. I have FiOS, my SNR on the S3 is usually 36 - 37 db, and my channel signal strengths are almost always pegged at 100. And I have NO problems.

    I did have problems at on time, but I carefully tested each and every channel, recording signal strength and error rates on both the S3 and my FiOS STB and proved that all of the bad channels had very high error rates and varying signal strength on ALL the channels being broadcast on 4 specific frequencies (you cannot use a "frequency range", as that is meaningless; each specific frequency contains numerous channels). Just for reference, each of those bad channels also showed about 32-34 db SNR, were all of the good ones were above 35 db. In most situations, the difference between 32 and 35 db SNR is meaningless, so that was not the problem, but it does show that the errors being detected were also causing an increase in the noise level on the signal. When I could show them their own diagnostics screen on the STB that proved the ongoing error rate even after we ran a new coax directly from the ONT to the STB (proving that it could not be my house wires), then they were forced to find and fix the signal problem at the CO. THAT was the correct solution, not trying to mask it with attenuators or other games. Good luck!
     
  12. Sep 6, 2008 #852 of 1597
    LDLDL

    LDLDL New Member

    88
    0
    Jan 12, 2002
    Brookhaven, PA
    Tech came out, in the rain, checked all the fittings outside and inside. I can honestly say that this one was good. He had that card working in the TiVo in five minutes!!!!! We realized that the problem is probably the TiVo and he had me sign papers and he was out of there.
    I'll pack up the TiVo on Monday. I expect that everything will be OK by the end of the week.
    Thanks to you all for the help...
    Will keep you updated!
    ----L
     
  13. Sep 7, 2008 #853 of 1597
    Gregor

    Gregor Active Member

    46,749
    15
    Feb 18, 2002
    Pixellation problems showed up again this weekend, on FOX and ABC. Added some more attenuation. If it keeps up I may well end up getting FIOS back out here...
     
  14. Sep 7, 2008 #854 of 1597
    hkancyr

    hkancyr New Member

    67
    0
    Jan 20, 2002
    CT
    Bad news the new TiVoHD is doing exactly the same thing as the old one now. I was amazed by the stability and then about 20 minutes later it started getting jerky then pixelization then freeze.
    I wonder if TiVo will trade this thing in for a real S3? They don't have this problem, do they?
    My CC isn't activated yet, but I have no doubt that activating will not help the situation. This problem looks too similar in all 3 TiVoHD's that I've had.
    The only thing I can recall doing in June was canceling a few pay channels that I rarely watched. That seems to be when the Macroblocking (pixelization), jerkiness, locking started. Hmmmmm.
     
  15. Sep 7, 2008 #855 of 1597
    LDLDL

    LDLDL New Member

    88
    0
    Jan 12, 2002
    Brookhaven, PA
    I feel so bad that you are going through this crap!
    I'll keep you updated on my progress.
    To be perfectly honest, the pixel problem isn't that bad on the one tuner. It's just that with HD, you want the best picture possible. That's what we paid and what we are paying for!!!!
     
  16. Sep 8, 2008 #856 of 1597
    JasonMowry

    JasonMowry New Member

    18
    0
    Nov 3, 2005
    Southeastern PA
    I'm on my 3rd TiVo HD unit after having returned 2 for the same pixelation problem, and I'm currently just living with the issue on the 3rd unit. I've seen the same story from a number of people on this board. How many people call TiVo tech support and press them for a solution? I've tried for months, and they never really seem to understand the issue nor will they ever acknowledge that this is wide-spread. Has anyone else had better luck?
     
  17. Sep 8, 2008 #857 of 1597
    Gregor

    Gregor Active Member

    46,749
    15
    Feb 18, 2002
    My S3s are exhibiting the same issues with pixellation. I'm on FIOS if that helps.
     
  18. Sep 8, 2008 #858 of 1597
    JasonMowry

    JasonMowry New Member

    18
    0
    Nov 3, 2005
    Southeastern PA
    V7Goose, or anyone else who has had success with Verizon Technicians, do you have any advice for getting them to do their job? I've had at least three separate technicians out to my house for the pixelation problems, and none of them seem to demonstrate an understanding of the issues involved. Would you be able to suggest any specific steps that the technician perform to diagnose and/or fix the issue? Any magic words that point them in the right direction? I'm waiting with baited breath for the FIOS channel realignment this week to see whether my problems miraculously get better or turn far worse....
     
  19. Sep 8, 2008 #859 of 1597
    jglonek

    jglonek New Member

    9
    0
    Sep 8, 2008
    You guys are making me excited, let me tell you.

    I got FIOS and a TiVo HD three weeks ago, noticed pixellation on random channels up until tonight (Animal Planet SD, Scifi SD). I've been watching random shows on other channels (Hole in the Wall on Sunday) and things were fine. Tonight during Terminator on Fox, though, terrible pixellation. And it's not just screen flickers, it's entire sound cutting in and out on my system and screen freezes. But it happens randomly on different channels. I just really noticed it tonight because it's the start of the Fall TV season and bam! terrible the first night.

    I know before I got FIOS I talked to a friend who said to make sure I get attenuators. Of course they didn't give me any, but things seemed fine so I didn't bother. I called up the repair line tonight and they said it's usually a long process to find the problem and that they never heard of an attenuator before. Great.

    So I ordered a set from a website about an hour ago, hoping it would solve the problems. Then i found this thread, where you guys are all fearing it's actually the TiVo's.

    So will the attenuator's not fix my issue? Is there a chance it will? Or should I be looking at ordering a new box from TiVo?
     
  20. Sep 8, 2008 #860 of 1597
    JasonMowry

    JasonMowry New Member

    18
    0
    Nov 3, 2005
    Southeastern PA
    My two cents (sorry, I seem to be posting a lot now) is that it is probably a combination of the TiVo units having below average tuners and the FIOS service having a much wider spectrum of signal problems than traditional cable providers. It also doesn't help that neither service seems to provide adequate technical support. Yes, attenuators seem to help many users but I believe my experiences demonstrate much more complex issues at hand here (see top of this page).
     

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