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Tivo HD Pixelation Troubleshooting

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

  1. Aug 10, 2007 #101 of 1599

    jmpage2 Active Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    You are a long time Tivo lover and so it seems that you are willing to live with a less than perfect experience because you like Tivo.

    I get that.

    However, try looking at it from another point of view. Tivo is trying to woo people who already have a cable company DVR to turn in that DVR and get a cable card equipped Tivo HD to replace it.

    This group of people who Tivo hopes will buy large numbers of their boxes need to see the value in Tivo. These people don't know how long it will take Tivo to fix these problems (apparently the S3 owners have been living with pixelation issues for almost a year now) and I doubt many of them will trade a "marginal" cable company DVR experience for a Tivo experience that isn't any better.

    I think that many people who have been fans of Tivo for a long time simply refuse to accept this reality, instead insisting that those of us who were "ok" with our cable company DVRs are the delusional ones.

    I can tell you this much;

    1. Our Tivo HD is incredibly slow to change channels.

    2. Our Tivo HD has dirt slow menus.

    3. Our Tivo HD has pixelation on channels with 100% signal strength.

    4. Our Tivo HD has locked up completely once already requiring a hard reboot.

    For all the great things that Tivo does (and yes, I used to have Tivo) these things are deal breakers for me and probably other folks as well. Additionally, while the cable company DVR had some issues of its own (the occassional show didn't record which is a big problem too) it didn't have ANY of the above problems.
  2. Aug 10, 2007 #102 of 1599

    Bighouse 200 Club Member

    Sep 3, 2004
    Guerneville, CA
    You ramble...allow me to help:
    "My posts are succinct."
  3. Aug 10, 2007 #103 of 1599

    calaban9 New Member

    Aug 10, 2007
    I plan on doing a little more testing tonight, (I just discovered this thread) but i think i saw the pixelation occuring more frequently if the other tuner was recording HD.... if that's the case it may be a cpu / io thing and could possibly be fixed with a software update. Anybody else want see if the see rates of pixelation changing depending on types of signals being recorded?
  4. Aug 10, 2007 #104 of 1599

    djmuoio New Member

    Aug 10, 2007
    I'm posting to add another "yep I see macroblocking too" to the tally. Here is my info and observations thus far.

    We got the Tivo HD a couple of days ago. I spent the first evening getting it set up and forcing an update the get the latest software. I then spent about an hour watching tv and playing with it. This first evening was _without_ any cable cards so I was limited to analog channels.

    During that evening I did not experience any macroblocking or odd behavior. I felt that the responsiveness of the unit was very good and the menus were pretty fast to display.

    The next day I picked up two cable cards from the Comcast cable store. Both were single stream Motorola cards. That evening I spent about 1/2 on the phone with Comcast tech support to get the cards activated (paired). I had considerable problems getting slot 2 to work, but the tech suggested that I leave it in for a while and see if it starts working before swapping out.

    After resetting up the unit and rebooting, the second card started working. I then started watching some of the HD and digitial channels. At this point I really noticed the unit was slower than before. Menus took longer to come up and it took longer to change channels. It now displays a blank screen with a large blocky white area at the bottom during the channel change.

    I am also experiencing the macroblocking issue. So far it seems to occur in the HD channels AND in the menus. For me this pixelation occurs in the lower 3rd of the screen. I also get audio dropouts.

    I am pretty confident that signal strength is not an issue because this Tivo unit replaces a Comcast Motorola DVR and we never had issues with the Comcast box.

    I am displaying on a 16:9 plasma and have the TV format set as such. I am running the 720p hybrid mode, and the setting that preserves the aspect ratio.

    We'll keep using it for now and see how it goes. Right now it happens often enough that is beyond the mildly annoying stage.
  5. Aug 10, 2007 #105 of 1599

    flyacl New Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Cincinnati, OH
    To add to my previous post, I called Tivo yesterday to report my pixelation problem. 24 minutes of waiting to speak to someone. Once I did get through they immediately said it was "A knows issue they are currently working on". When I asked about some sort of time line she did not have one.

    Just FYI ~ Take care~
  6. Aug 10, 2007 #106 of 1599

    lavinah New Member

    Aug 6, 2007
    I think it's funny how much these 'pixelation' problems are making TiVo to be the worst product ever. Please.

    My HD TiVo is great. Yes, I have pixelation issues - less then I ever had with the Motorola HD DVR. Yes, the cable card installation was a PAIN IN THE A**... is that TiVo's fault, or Comcast's dipsh*t tech support?

    I don't know about anyone else, but my 3 different Motorola HD DVRs all exhibited the same recurring problems:

    Random freezeups, even with overly adequate ventilation (and added cooling)
    Slow menus with inconsistent responses
    randomly reordering my 'to be recorded' programs
    changing what's to be recorded, ie: the 92 episodes of top chef each week that i manually delete and adding them back in.
    oh... and pixelization.

    so, in exchange, i get TiVo. it gives me a BEVY of features that the Motorola HD DVR does not, but two problems.
    pixelization - which I had already.
    slow menus

    sounds like a good trade for me. further, i have confidence that TiVo will actually fix their problems... unlike Comcast that thinks their product is great and wonders why people mind having to unplug and hard reboot them every week.
  7. Aug 10, 2007 #107 of 1599

    chicodoggy New Member

    Jul 30, 2007
    Gilbert, AZ
    Having same pixilation problem but seems to be worse on 2nd tuner than 1st. Hope they fix it soon because my Cox rep here in AZ told me they would have TIVO software on their boxes by the end of the year! I just wonder if they will charge a Tivo subscription for that.
  8. Aug 10, 2007 #108 of 1599

    TiVoDoughBoy New Member

    Nov 7, 2004
    Fair enough. As I've said, I can completely understand your frustration. And I don't know about the "original" Series3, but if I had paid $800 for one of those puppies back when they first came to market and had even a minor pixelation problem for a year, I'd probably be more up in arms than I am about my TiVo HD.

    The new product makes it much more affordable and I personally would rather have it now with a few minor (to me) issues, with hopefully some fixes later in the fall than still be watching only "live" HD or recording only basic cable with my Series2. And call me crazy, but I never never liked cable boxes -- even back when I was a kid and bought my own first TV around the time "cable ready" was the hot thing to have, I went right for it. Frankly, the fall TV season will be starting up soon and I'd prefer to by TiVo'ing in HD rather than SD or whatever Comcast has to offer.
  9. Aug 11, 2007 #109 of 1599

    mike_camden New Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    I think it really depends on how severe it is. I agree with your statement that it seems like there are multiple things going on that may be causing this.

    I've watched about five hours of programming on my TivoHD since the cable cards were finally fixed on Thursday evening. Some of that has been recorded content and some has been live.

    A few observations:
    1. What I'm seeing isn't a big deal to me. I see a very slight pixelation issue maybe once every 7 - 10 minutes. It is very minor and usually happens in the same part of the screen (bottom). When I rewind, I often don't see these in the same place they were before, which makes me think that there is smething going on with the CPU or other components being overtaxed causing this anomaly, but I'm a hardware guy, not a software one, so I might be in left field.
    2. In the five hours I've watched, I've only seen one distracting pixelation event occur (during a Nat'l Geographic Channel program that I was watching live). When this happened I received a full screen pixelation, followed a couple of seconds later with another one and an audio drop. This was very similar to what I saw on occasion with my Comcast/Moto DVR, so I think that issue can be attributed to signal or somethign utside of the Tivo.
    3. I do see pixelation in the menus on occasion. I see this most frequenttly when I sem to be "taxing" the system (multiple tasks very quickly, being impatient because I'm used to the responsiveness of the Series 2).

    All that being said, as widespread as this issue seems to be, I do agree with you that it could be a significant problem for Tivo if more people are seeing issues like you and some others instead of the minor ones I've experienced. This is a mass market device, which is geared towards the upper end of Joe Six Pack. It's not aimed at the Tivo faithful, who are brand loyal and willing to give them time to get it working, like the Series 3 was. The market this time expects to plug it in and have it work. Already a nightmare with the cable companies dropping the ball on many, many installations (which many people will blame Tivo for since that is what many of their cable company reps are telling them). To have this on top of that could be very problematic for Tivo as a company.
  10. Aug 11, 2007 #110 of 1599

    coreyt New Member

    Jul 30, 2007
    I now have pixelation as well. N Texas FIOS, 2 Moto Cable Cards. I am getting it in the menu's as well.

    Strangely it's not as often or as bad as other people are claiming. I get about a inch wide bar across 2/3 of the screen on shows maybe once or twice in a hour and sometimes the lower right corner of the menus there's a large 1 foot area that goes crazy for a second and straightens up. Not often but I have seen it.

    I've completely stressed the unit, setup downloads, told it to record 2 HD streams at once while at the same time zipping back and forth in a pre recorded HD stream and doing any number of things and both recorded streams never recorded pixelation in the times I was forcing it to do other things.

    This is using Component. I'm thinking of checking out if the problem exists on HDMI as well.
  11. Aug 11, 2007 #111 of 1599

    jmpage2 Active Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    It happens on HDMI as well.
  12. Aug 11, 2007 #112 of 1599

    randymac88 Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    My pixelation seems to be reasonable. Certainly not an acceptable level for a $300 product (the "Bentley" of DVRs), but it's watchable. However I have also noticed some Audio issues with the pixelation as well...not sure what others have seen, but from time to time I'm getting random pops here and there.
  13. Aug 11, 2007 #113 of 1599

    lrhorer Active Member

    Aug 31, 2003
    My planet of origin is not relevant to this discussion. My experience is. I am an engineer with over 30 years of troubleshooting experience in electronics in general and video in particular, and I am telling you what stands the best chance of getting to the bottom of these issues.

    True, but in neither case will inaccurate, misleading, and incomplete reports help get the problems resolved. Indeed, they at worst hinder the process. At best, they are a waste of everyone's time.

    If feeling better is your objective, I suggest you see a therapist. Don't waste my time or TiVo's engineering staff. If you want the problem fixed, then be accurate and thorough in you own troubleshooting and in describing the symptoms to those of us who may be of assistance, including any members of TiVo's engineering staff. (No, I can't be a great deal of assistance with this, other than to form an opinion of where a particular issue has its roots.)

    This forum is for whomever wants to read it, but it focuses on those who love TiVo, hate TiVo, or are interested in possibly purchasing a TiVo.

    There are very strict limits to what an official representative of a company can post. There are extremely strict limits to what an unofficial representative of a company can post.

    That said, TiVo's technical support system needs a huge amount of improvement.

    Have you ever seen Microsoft do this? IBM? Dell? Mitsubishi? Sony? DirecTV? Dish TV? Any even moderately large corporation?
  14. Aug 11, 2007 #114 of 1599

    lrhorer Active Member

    Aug 31, 2003
    That just depends. At work we are in the middle of two big software conversions. One is from a company called NetCracker, whose developers are mostly in Moscow. We rarely see a response from them the same day, because they are usually asleep when we find a problem, but we usually expect to get a response the next day. Bug fixes usually take between several days and several weeks.

    The other software suite is provided by Nortel, formerly the largest telephony and telecommunications equipment and software manufacturer in the world. Some of our reported bugs have taken literally years to fix.

    I am not waiting for a fix. It's hard to know whether others are experienceing the same problems as I, or not. Recent posts suggest perhaps not. I have been experienceing the problems I have since 1988, long before the TiVo was even conceived. I experience the same issues right now on a seven year old Series I attached to a Pace HD Terminal, and I experienced the same problem years ago with a Zenith Z-View converter and a year ago with a Scientific Atlanta 8300-HD DVR. Explain to me again why I should blame TiVo for this problem or demand they fix it?
  15. Aug 12, 2007 #115 of 1599

    jmpage2 Active Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    What's your point about how long software fixes take? I happen to work for one of Nortel's biggest competitors and I'm pretty familiar with how long it takes to fix software. Typically fixing the problem is one thing, testing and releasing to production is another thing entirely.

    Pixelation in Tivo menus shouldn't have a thing to do with cable signal strength. I've also noticed some weird pixelation problems where things like actors heads go completely macroblocked for a second or there is a macroblock smear across the bottom 1/3 of the screen. Neither of which I've ever seen from my cable boxes on the same feed as the Tivo HD.
  16. Aug 12, 2007 #116 of 1599

    thepcdoc New Member

    Jul 31, 2007
    I am about to throw in the towel myself and return my box. I spent a lot of money having the cable company come out and replace cable cards when Tivo knew there was an issue with the second slot and didn't fess to it. I spent $300 on a box that performs worse then my Scientific Atlanta 8300HD. The Tivo zombies on this thread who keep saying the pixelation is not that bad any they can live with, have fun. Try to watch a foreign film with subtitles and you miss the dialog every minute or so. To invest a large sum of money into a HiDef setup only to make it look so crappy with this box is not worth it.


    1.) Cablevision
    2.) SA Cable Cards
    3.) HDMI
    4.) Pixelation / Macroblocking on Live and recorded shows (Too many, too frequent to count)
    5.) Pixelation on Menu Screens

    Basically a worthless and unusable device.
  17. Aug 12, 2007 #117 of 1599

    mitomac New Member

    Aug 11, 2007

    We've had the tivoHD for about a week now. Bad macroblocking on all channels (analog,digital, HD, premium) - every 15-30s. Initially I suspected the signal level as it was only 70%. TWC came out and rewired everything including the groud line. Signal is now 93-100% but the pixelation is still there. Unwatchable.

    I called tivo and the CSR was aware of the problem. They wanted to know if I was also experiencing macroblocking *without* the cards.

    So I did the following:

    NO SA cable cards -- tuned analog, no macroblocking
    1 SA card -- tuned digital, macroblocking
    1 SA card -- tuned analog, no macroblocking
    2 SA cards -- both tuned digital, macroblocking on both
    2 SA cards -- 1 tuned digital and 1 tuned analog, macroblocking on both
    2 SA cards -- both tuned analog, no macroblocking

    My conclusion is that there is a problem with tivohd and the cable cards. If one CC is tuning(decrypting) a digital chanel, macroblocking will occur on both tuners regardless of whether they are digital or analog and occasionally the menu.

    The money question though, is this a tivohd defect or a cc defect? Right now I'm stuck on what to do -- return the the box for a new one and have to pay TWC another $86 to repair the cards. Return the box, go back to TWC, and count my initial $86 dollar card install a complete loss. Argh.

    I want to believe in tivo and hate the cable monoplies as much as the next guy, but right now I am down $86 dollars for the CC install, out 6 hours of my time waiting on cable techs, and probaly an additonal 8 hours troubleshooting this problem and reading the forums. My time is more valuable than this.

  18. Aug 12, 2007 #118 of 1599

    LowFuel New Member

    Apr 12, 2002
    Just adding another datapoint.

    - Time Warner (San Diego area)
    - 2 Sci-Atlanta cable cards
    - Pixelation every 10 to 20 seconds, bottom half of the frame gets corrupt. Much worse/frequent on HD channels.
    - Also just had a problem where all digital channels now just show me a gray screen (will look for separate threads on this issue - powered off and re-seated cable cards, still happening).

    All in all I'd say I'm pretty disappointed. It's been about 3 years since I had a Tivo, and I was VERY excited to finally get one that would give me the functionality of an 8300HD, but with all the Tivo goodness.

    As it is, I can't settle for the current performance of the Tivo. I will try to give them 2 or 3 weeks to get things fixed, but I'll definitely be returning mine if things dont improve and fast.
    The 8300HD was plugged into the exact same cable and worked perfectly for almost a year.
  19. Aug 12, 2007 #119 of 1599

    jmpage2 Active Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    We need to add a poll to this thread to gather more data.

    Cable cards or no cable cards. SA or Moto cable cards. Etc.
  20. Aug 12, 2007 #120 of 1599

    LowFuel New Member

    Apr 12, 2002
    Agreed 100%!!

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