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Tivo HD Pixelation Troubleshooting

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

  1. richsadams

    richsadams New Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    What hmm52 said. :up:
  2. mentra

    mentra New Member

    Jan 14, 2008
    After four incidents with Tivo support, I moved the 380 programs recorded on the series 3 with the expander to my computer, divorced the expander from the series 3, and no more pixilation!! The expander was a 500MB and about 18 months old.
  3. richsadams

    richsadams New Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    Ugh…sorry to hear about your "loss". Seems about par for WD's 500GB Expander though. At least you were able to save some recordings! :up:
  4. Brighton Line

    Brighton Line New Member

    Mar 15, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    Same with me, pixilation, stuttering with the 500mb 15 month expander. Went out got a TB internal drive drive and replaced expander and original internal drive and have been happy ever since.

    Bedroom still running a 500mb 16 month expander without issue (knock on wood) but I will do the same WHEN (not if) it goes.
  5. harry99

    harry99 dls956

    Aug 19, 2010
    I have successfully upgraded both Tivo HDs with Hitachi 1TB drives - the instructions in the forum are great - the second upgrade only took 25 minutes! It will be awhile before I run out of space. Have had some unexpected reboots on my Premiere (bought before I knew the Expander was causing my problems on the HD). Now that I have two good Tivo HDs, each with 157 HD hours - I plan to return the Premiere and use the HDs and my old Series 2 for the foreseeable future.

    Thanks for the help - only thing I would suggest to anyone who has freezing/pixellation problems is to try removing the DVR expander earlier if you can move the recordings easily - could save a lot of time and $.
  6. richsadams

    richsadams New Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    Glad to hear things worked out okay. Enjoy!
  7. SierraBob

    SierraBob New Member

    Oct 27, 2010
    I have a Series 3 that has gradually developed a freezing problem. I ran the full disk diagnostic and it passed. Based on what I have read here, the next step seems to be to replace the internal HDD but I wanted to see if there are other suggestions to try first. I have a 652-0001-8056. It has an external 500G WD HDD. Both tested out good for what that is worth.
    The symptom started on ESPN with stuttering / pixelization and freezing up while live. If you go up one channel and then back it starts to work again just fine. Then the same symptoms started to spread to other channels. Comcast came out and fixed some cables and tested signal strength but that did not help. I got a Comcast DVR from them to test and that one seems to work without errors so far. I cannot hook both up to the cable as the same time.
    Thoughts? Thanks in advance
  8. tcfcameron

    tcfcameron (4) 2TB TiVo HDs

    Aug 4, 2010

    SCSIRAID New Member

    Feb 2, 2003
    Vero Beach, FL
    The external 500G DVR Expanders are notorious for causing macroblocking and freezing issues. About the only way to be sure is to divorce the external drive and see if the problem goes away.

    Before you do that, you should check out DVR diags when you see macroblocking 'live' and see if your RS Uncorrected count is increasing significantly. That could be indicative of a signal issue.
  10. richsadams

    richsadams New Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    What SCSIRAID said and have a look at this post and see if anything helps:


    You could also try running a couple of TiVo's built-in diagnostic and repair programs called "Kickstarts". Here's a link and a recommend order in which to try each one...

  11. arowaninpgh

    arowaninpgh New Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Can anyone help?
    At this point, TiVo help is blaming Comcast and Comcast is blaming TiVo.

    I have a TiVO HD (several years old) that is having severe pixelation problems. One or two channels I cannot tune at all and 28 other channels are pixelating so bad that they are unwatchable (stuttering, freezing, pixelating every two seconds)....and other channels are pixelating that never did it before. It has been going on for several months and seems to be getting worse (it started with only 8 channel problems). For several years this TiVO worked fine. My other TiVos (with other set ups) are working perfectly.

    My set up:
    TiVO HD with two SA cable cards connected with an HDMI cable to TV - no external drives -hard drive is expanded (weaknees) for 47 HD hours.
    The TiVO is not acting up in any other way- some channels are perfect - records what it is supposed to - jumps menus on demand - and no rebooting on its own- no pixelating in menus.

    What I have tried so far:
    soft and hard reboots
    replaced every cable (coaxial, HDMI)
    removed HDMI cable and tried composite and component
    Ran kickstarts 54,57, and 58 - all passed
    Attenuators and splitters

    TiVo help insists that the signal is to "hot". Signal strength on every channel is 100 with SNF 38 (RS correction 0). But when I added attenuators and got it down to 80-85 with SNF 30-35...it was no improvement.....and I started to see many different numbers in RS correction.

    Oh, and one TiVO help said that if I just bought a new Premiere I would not have these problems. But the next TiVO help said that a Premiere would have the same problems -- since it is a cable issue.

    Comcast service tech asked me if I have a TiVO before he set foot in the door. He told me that is seems to be a known issue in my area and that Comcast is "working on the problem" ---it is some problem with the TiVos in my area -- not a Comcast issue....but they were trying to help.

    Three weeks later and I cannot get a Comcast supervisor to call me back -- and the problem is getting worse.

    While the tech was here, he checked the signal and said it was "fine". He checked the cable cards and said they were fine. I never thought it was a cable card issue because the channels problems happen the same on both cards.

    I know TiVos go bad with time. That is just life. But I am not willing to spend $468 for a Premier with lifetime service and have the same problems.

    I have also read that cable cards go bad - I would demand new ones- but Comcast insists mine are fine and that it is my TiVo that is causing the problems.

    And here is one more symptom...recently Comcast is my area add another tier of HD channels. So in some cases I have the same stations on three different numbers (1 digital, and 2 HD). For example, Disney is channel 34 (digital),715 (HD) and 880 (HD). Dinsey happens to be one of my problem channels and the pixelation is the same on all three channels. Does this make sense to anyone?

    How can I tell if my harddrive is going bad?
    How can I tell if it is a tuner going bad?
    How can I tell if it is a cable card issue?
    How can I tell if it is a cable issue?

    Does any one have any suggestions?
  12. richsadams

    richsadams New Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    How frustrating! First, can you clarify exactly which TiVo model you have? Is it one of the original TiVo Series3's or the next gen TiVo HD? I ask because you indicated that you have two cable cards. The Series3 required to cable cards (single or multi-stream), but the TiVo HD only requires one multi-stream (but can also use two single-stream cards).

    TiVo Series3

    TiVo HD

    Also, what models are your other TiVo's? I ask because if they are hi-def (Original Series3 or TiVo HD) and are not experiencing any problems my take would be a failing hard drive. Although a strong signal can cause the issues you're seeing your other TiVo's s/b experiencing the same problem(s) if they are also hi-def.

    Plus if the problem is getting worse it also points to eminent hard drive failure. TiVo's diagnostic and repair programs (AKA "Kickstarts") are only capable of so much. If the issues are too severe they won't be able to repair them and there's really no way for you to know if they were effective other than if the problem goes away. KS54 is a standard Linux SMART test is is not infallible. Many folks have reported their drives "passing" SMART however when they run a more robust diagnostic like Western Digital's Lifeguard the drive's don't pass.

    There's really no way of knowing if the drive is failing without pulling it and running a proper diagnostic. The downside of that is that if you were to run a full diagnostic (read/write/read all zeros) it would wipe all of your hard drive's data.

    So my take based on your description is that it's probably a failing hard drive. Hard drive failure is the most common problem with TiVo (by far). However it's possible that it's a cable card issue. If you have a TiVo HD and you have two of the old single stream (SS) cable cards I would ask Comcast to replace them with one newer multi-stream (MS) cable card to eliminate that possibility. (Might save you rental costs as well). I still don't think that's the problem because one failing cable card (or tuner for that matter) would only affect some of your recordings.

    FWIW cableco's are infamous for pushing off a problem on TiVo even though it is often something wrong with their system. Although they are required by law to support cable card setups, they really have little interest becuase TiVo basically costs them revenue that they could have by renting you one of their DVR's. A lot of cableco's do a good job these days as TiVo's are far more prevalent, but there is often resistance and it's an easy out for the folks that are more interested in getting to the next job and going home than learning something. In other words, some cableco's need to be pushed pretty hard to resolve issues so don't take "no", or worse, "we don't know" for an answer.

    Hope that helps a little. Post some more info and we'll go from there.
  13. arowaninpgh

    arowaninpgh New Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thank you so, so much for your response. This site is a fantastic thing....especially for people that love their TiVo's, but have no one else to go to.

    In my family, I am the "geek"....which is a sad state of affairs. What I mean is that, when they need help...for example, why their TV remote stopped working ("how about changing the battery?") they call me. ("Is your computer plugged in?")

    I also talked them all in to getting TiVos.....so now I am TiVo customer service for a bunch of stubborn people.

    So here is an update....Monday morning I lost my Comcast service for an hour and when it came back on.....all of my problem channels (I was up to 35) had been fixed. Like magic. And as of five minutes ago...they were all still working perfectly.

    I have been trying to fix the problem for over 3 months. It started out with just 3 channels, then 8, then 22....and then up to 35 channels that were unwatchable.

    Because it was getting worse and involved both tuners, I had myself convinced that it was my TiVO HD hard drive...hey, hard drives go bad....and that I would have to replace the drive or upgrade to a Premier. But before I spent any more money, I just wanted to make sure it really was my TiVo HD....and not a cable card or my cable service.

    All Comcast had to say was "we're working on it". I would not have wasted so much time (it had become a part time job), or calling TiVo help....and not to mention wasting your time.

    Instead they said "it is a known issue with TiVo HDs in your area. We're not sure if we can help you if it a TiVo problem. We'll have a supervisor call you." But no one ever called....in three weeks (I kept calling for updates). So I assumed I was on my own.

    So...fingers crossed that it is fixed.

    I just wanted to thank you for your response. And I wanted to post.....anyone in the Bethel Park, PA area with a TiVo HD with Comcast Xfinity service.....that has freezing screens, pixelation, or lost channels.....don't blame your TiVo......call Comcast....over and over. *sigh*

  14. nkmhockey

    nkmhockey New Member

    Dec 3, 2010
    To all those who were having problems in the Bethel Park or Pittsburgh, PA areas:

    I got my TiVo Premiere installed at the end of November and the pixilation problems were there from the start. Sadly, I did not notice the issue until the tech who installed the cablecard left. I made a list of the channels that were unwatchable due to pixilation and I made a separate list of channels that I am subscribed to, but only showed up as the black “Searching for Signal” screen on the TiVo. I submitted these lists via the 'Comcast Direct' forum at DSLReports.com

    That forum is privately handled by a Corporate Escalations Team at Comcast who are all very good at getting issues taken care of and providing top-notch customer service. I suspected the issue could be signal related, but even when I eliminated all splitters and took the cable drop straight into the TiVo, there was absolutely no improvement or change in the problematic channels, so I suspected it was an issue on Comcast’s end.

    I was contacted by Tony from the escalations team who dispatched a tech to my house yesterday. I checked the problem channels before the tech arrived, and to my surprise, all but 2 of them were 100% fixed. The tech arrived and ran some tests on the signal in the house to verify that everything was within specifications, it all checked out fine. The tech spoke about some problems in the area caused by a firmware upgrade to TiVo’s that was causing the pixilation problem only on certain frequencies. Apparently, Comcast was aware of the issue, but it took them a few weeks to isolate the problem and get it fixed.

    Channels that were completely missing:
    103 - Planet Green - 609,000 KHz
    129 - G4 - 609,000 KHz
    186 - The Sportsman Channel - 627,000 KHz
    716/881 - ABC Family HD - 477,000 KHz

    Channels that were viewable, but basically unwatchable due to pixilation:
    120 - National Geographic - 597,000 KHz
    127 - Outdoor Channel - 621,000 KHz
    134 - DIY - 603,000 KHz
    139 - MTV Jams - 615,000 KHz
    185 - C-SPAN3 - 597,000 KHz
    209 - Fox Business - 603,000 KHz
    229 - Qubo - 657,000 KHz
    233 - PBS Kids Sprout - 609,000 KHz
    255 - Hallmark Channel - 111,000 KHz
    715 - Disney Channel-HD - 477,000 KHz
    733 - HGTV-HD - 717,000 KHz
    737 - CNN-HD - 717,000 KHz
    738/826 - TBS-HD - 747,000 KHz

    As of today, the only 2 channels that are still not working are:
    716/881 – ABC Family HD – 477,000 KHz (no signal)
    715 – Disney HD – 477,000 KHz (pixilation)

    The tech made a note of those channels and said hopefully the issue would be fully resolved in the next few days. Tony from escalations followed up and made a note of the 2 remaining problem channels and said he would call again on Friday to verify that everything is working correctly.

    I will be happy if the last 2 channels are fixed by the New Year. I just hope that this issue has been corrected permanently because my Premiere unit has not gotten the 14.7 update yet. Time will tell….

    I hope this information helps others who may have similar issues in other areas.
  15. arowaninpgh

    arowaninpgh New Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    thanks for the information. I live in Bethel Park and had problems with the exact same channels. For two days they were fixed and then I lost:
    716/881 – ABC Family HD – 477,000 KHz (no signal)
    715 – Disney HD – 477,000 KHz (pixilation).

    At that point I started to believe that it must be my hard drive. I had even started pricing for a replacement.

    One question.....besides those 715 and 716 are you having any slight pixelation on other channels? The channels are still watchable, but it is noticeable. And this is on channels that did not have pixelation before the fix. The best example I can give is channel 37 (the weather channel)....never had problems before and now there is pixelation about every two minutes.

    I'm just double checking to make sure it is not just me. Thanks!

    Merry holidays!
  16. nkmhockey

    nkmhockey New Member

    Dec 3, 2010
    I did not previously notice any issues with The Weather Channel, but yes, as of 12/24 I am having some major pixilation issues.

    I have not noticed issues on any other channels - everything seems perfect, no pixilation or tiling.

    This definitely shouldn't be a hardware problem. Comcast originally tried to blame the CableCard, but that would likely cause issues on all/most channels, not this limited set.

    I will check the frequency of TWC when I get home later to see if it is in the same 477,000 KHz range.
  17. hio3791

    hio3791 New Member

    Dec 4, 2009
    Got an update on this issue. About 3 weeks ago, Nick Jr started pixelating. DIYNetwork did too. I called Tivo support and we walked through the steps: replaced the coax cable, went over signal strength, SNR and RS Corrected/Uncorrected values. The service rep was puzzled by the signal strength and SNR values. He thought they were too high and recommended I called Comcast and request an attenuator to be installed. Comcast came out, installed an attenuator at my box and voila! No more pixelation. All of my channels come in perfectly clear and the family is happy again.

    It's been over 2 weeks since the attenuator was installed and everything appears fine.
  18. richsadams

    richsadams New Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    Good info. :up: We went through something similar a couple of years ago (before we switched to FiOS). Comcast went on a competitive mission to upgrade all of their services, particularly broadband speeds, to meet Verizon's new FiOS offering. It was a plus because we'd often hit 30Mbps+ broadband download speeds (although they were never stable) but the downside was the signal strength pegged every channel at 100% and that often resulted in macroblocking...the signal was too strong. Their own DVR's could apparently handle it, but TiVo's are more sensitive to that sort of thing. We never went the attenuation route as we switched to FiOS as soon as it was available, but it can be a problem. (It was actually a severe problem for some FiOS customers until Verizon realized that more is not necessarily better and got their own signals under control.)

    Comcast continues to cram more and more data into a finite pipe (more often than not adding more and more compression to their HD signals which results in poorer and poorer PQ) so they can offer competitive programming. The thought process I'm sure is that cranking up the signal strength will compensate for some of their activity. Unfortunately for TiVo owners that can cause more trouble than good.

    Glad to hear things are good again though!
  19. joediver

    joediver New Member

    Dec 1, 2010
    Similar problems with Comcast. What strength attenuator was installed? 3db, 6db, 10db?
  20. mike1273

    mike1273 New Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    I just returned to cable from two years with DirecTV. No problems with the service but my wife wanted TiVo again and Suddenlink now offers the HD programs that we enjoy.

    I took my TiVo HD out of the closet (two years active and two years in the closet) and got service.

    SS always 100 with no RS issues and 38 dB SNR. Pixeliation on several channels, loss of audio on some and the affected shannels growing by the day. Tried attenuators but no joy. Suddenlink checked system and saw no issues. I was ready to buy a Premiere but saw the Kickstart codes on this forum. I ran all of them and now, after four days, have had no issues with the TiVo.

    I hope that this may help some of you.

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