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Old 08-03-2007, 08:26 AM   #1
Chimpware
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Tivo HD Pixelation Troubleshooting

Just wanted to start a thread with various troubleshooting measures that have been tested;

1. Manually rebooted - No Difference.
2. Upgraded connection cable between wall outlet to Tivo to RG6 from RG59 - No Difference.
3. Cooled system down from 48 C to 43 C using external fan - No Difference.
4. Changed from Component to HDMI Connection - No Difference, but resolution switching is more smooth on my Sony VBR2.

Additional planned testing:
1. Remove all other connections to my cable line including modem.
2. Power conditioning maybe.

Any other thoughts on what I could try?

EDITED ON 9/6/07: It appears that the issues experience by many users who had SA SCards has been resolved with the 8.17c update. I have downloaded the update and my wife tested (I am traveling and cannot test myself) and during 15 ninutes of viewing she saw no pixelation. Others have tested also and have seen drastic improvement.

EDITED ON 11/28/07:FIOS Pixelation Fix Update
FIOS Pixelation Fix

Last edited by Chimpware : 11-28-2007 at 10:28 AM. Reason: Include Fios Pixelation Fix Update
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Old 08-03-2007, 08:40 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimpware
Any other thoughts on what I could try?
Read the posing guidelines and stop creating duplicate threads on the same topic, for starters.

I've asked Mike Lang (one of the moderators) if we could have a sticky thread to contain all of the discussion on this topic to one place. This will help to keep clutter down in the forum, and allow people having this problem to have one place to go to see what the latest news is with respect to the problem getting fixed.

For those unfamiliar with the problem, this "pixelation" problem occurs on all digital channels, although the amount and frequency seem to vary. Some reports tied the problem seems to be tied to folks with 2 Scientific Atlantia S- cards, although it seems that the problem is happening to some folks without SA cards. Tivo has issued one software update already that reportedly cleared up the problem for some folks, but not all of them. A better description of the problem, complete with pictures, is available here at MegaZone's site.
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Last edited by GoHokies! : 08-06-2007 at 06:15 AM. Reason: Stopped bitching, did something useful.
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Old 08-03-2007, 08:51 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoHokies!
Read the posing guidelines and stop creating duplicate threads on the same topic, for starters.
Well that's helpful you should apply for a job at Tivo Tech Support.

I started 3 threads;

1. To warn potential purchasers about issues with Tivo HD before they spend their money.
2. To discuss my experience with Tivo Tech. Support.
3. This thread to discuss trouble shooting the pixelation issue.

Do the threads get hijacked and people start other discussions? Possibly, but these are 3 separate topics.
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Old 08-03-2007, 09:00 AM   #4
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I am seeing pixelation on my Tivo HD in both HD channels and also on the occasional menu screen.

I am using Component Video 1080i.

As much as I hated my motorola box, I rarely if ever noticed HD artifacts. In 3 hours of playing with the HD Tivo I am already annoyed by them.

The only thing in Tivo's favor right now is that my cable cards are not completely activated so I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that maybe the box is off running some process in the background to try to authorize them. But if this continues, the box is going back. I did get the software update with no apparent change.
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Old 08-03-2007, 09:04 AM   #5
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hate to kill your hopes but it is not the CCs. I have had the problem since I received my unit. The update did fix the the 2nd slot issue. However I have persistent pixelation every 5 minutes or so. I even once in a while get it on a menu screen as well. It is definitely an issue with the Tivo, whether it is Hardware or Software is another issue.
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Old 08-03-2007, 09:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimpware
Do the threads get hijacked and people start other discussions? Possibly, but these are 3 separate topics.
Yes, like you hijacked the Cable Card self install thread to bitch about your issues too.

They all center about the same topic. Stop polluting the forums with threads about the same thing, especially in the light of the fact that you're not the only one creating threads about the topic.
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Old 08-03-2007, 09:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoHokies!
Yes, like you hijacked the Cable Card self install thread to bitch about your issues too.

They all center about the same topic. Stop polluting the forums with threads about the same thing, especially in the light of the fact that you're not the only one creating threads about the topic.
Uh they are not the same topic...

You can stop trolling now.
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Old 08-03-2007, 09:37 AM   #8
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Back on track...

This isn't a CC issue. I have 6 CC's in my house now (4 on 2 S3's, and 2 on the Tivo HD).

The S3's are fine.

I plugged the TivoHD into the same cable, and I get pixellation (on both CC's, for what it's worth). I played with adding and removing splitter (-7db, -4db, etc.) to see what happened. It definitely changed the picture pixellation. So I'm thinking the TivoHD has a more sensitive tuner than the S3?

I also seem to remember these same issues plaguing the S3 for a little bit. And that they released a couple of upgrades focused on the pixelation?

Anyway, in addition to the channel pixellation, I see periodic menu pixelation, which is very new. I'm on component on my TivoHD, and HDMI on my S3. I'll probably switch to HDMI on the TivoHD to see if it makes any difference.

I'm hoping a software update for the TivoHD fixes much of this, just like it did (I think?) for the S3.
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Old 08-03-2007, 09:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thepcdoc
hate to kill your hopes but it is not the CCs. I have had the problem since I received my unit. The update did fix the the 2nd slot issue. However I have persistent pixelation every 5 minutes or so. I even once in a while get it on a menu screen as well. It is definitely an issue with the Tivo, whether it is Hardware or Software is another issue.
I haven't seen any problem like that with mine. I don't have any cablecards. The only problem I notice with mine is the audio dropping out when scrolling through the guide. Otherwise it seems just as responsive as my Series3 boxes so far. I should have over 60 recorded hours of HD on the TiVoHD tonight. I'll see if that makes any difference.
I downloaded 7 Amazon unbox shows too. It worked the same as my Sereis 3 boxes.
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Old 08-03-2007, 09:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimpware
Uh they are not the same topic...

You can stop trolling now.
well Truly it has all been related to pixellation issues and cable cards. the customer service stuff was just an annoying side trip and not new news here at all. So really you are starting to get the glow of yet another thread vs good solid new information threads.

which is not exactly right since you are trying to consolidate the good info and best practices in your posts but that consolidation gets lost when it goes into multiple threads.

from the first page it just looks like a bunch of threads on the same stuff, as others are making these same kind of threads as well. This happened with the S3 launch as well and a lot of good info got lost in many smaller threads vs one thread consolidated. The recent SDV issues is a good example of this with the new sticky SDV thread helping to keep all the SDV info in one place now versus scrolling off to page 2 or 3 of the thread listings under multiple mini threads
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Old 08-03-2007, 10:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AbMagFab
Back on track...

This isn't a CC issue. I have 6 CC's in my house now (4 on 2 S3's, and 2 on the Tivo HD).

The S3's are fine.

I plugged the TivoHD into the same cable, and I get pixellation (on both CC's, for what it's worth). I played with adding and removing splitter (-7db, -4db, etc.) to see what happened. It definitely changed the picture pixellation. So I'm thinking the TivoHD has a more sensitive tuner than the S3?

I also seem to remember these same issues plaguing the S3 for a little bit. And that they released a couple of upgrades focused on the pixelation?

Anyway, in addition to the channel pixellation, I see periodic menu pixelation, which is very new. I'm on component on my TivoHD, and HDMI on my S3. I'll probably switch to HDMI on the TivoHD to see if it makes any difference.

I'm hoping a software update for the TivoHD fixes much of this, just like it did (I think?) for the S3.
Which do you like better the S3 or the HD? If you are not getting any pixelation I just might exchange my unit up to an S3 to remove the pixelation crap. It is driving me up the wall.
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Old 08-03-2007, 10:13 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thepcdoc
Which do you like better the S3 or the HD? If you are not getting any pixelation I just might exchange my unit up to an S3 to remove the pixelation crap. It is driving me up the wall.
They are pretty much identical. I don't care about the front display (although it's pretty), and the THX certification, which is nice, I'm not sure has any real effect on the sound quality (as it's just a certification).

Aside from the pixelation, I can't imagine anyone buying a S3 any more. Unless the price drops to $400 again for the S3.

Also, I have to believe a software update will fix this, as a I seem to remember similar issues with the S3 at launch.

However, if I could get a S3 at a similar price, and trade the TivoHD for it, I would do it (only because the S3 is a year more proven, and a couple of software updates deeper).
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Old 08-03-2007, 10:15 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by aaronwt
I downloaded 7 Amazon unbox shows too. It worked the same as my Sereis 3 boxes.
Not totally true - the TivoHD has a different menu in "Find Programs" where you can directly browse Amazon Unbox, where the S3 requires you to go through Universal Swivel Search, or do it from a PC.
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Old 08-03-2007, 10:22 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AbMagFab
Also, I have to believe a software update will fix this, as a I seem to remember similar issues with the S3 at launch.

However, if I could get a S3 at a similar price, and trade the TivoHD for it, I would do it (only because the S3 is a year more proven, and a couple of software updates deeper).
yes the S3 went through the same thing and updates fixed things up. Oddly though there is a mixed bag here of the S3 has more mature drivers but the TiVo HD has some of the more recent menus, such as the TiVocast giving a direct link to downloading UNBOX.

I think that by the end of the year this will all be moot though as the two converge on code base and the TiVoHd gets driver updates.

The one remaining differnce may be ability to get a lifetime transfer on the S3
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Old 08-03-2007, 05:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AbMagFab
Not totally true - the TivoHD has a different menu in "Find Programs" where you can directly browse Amazon Unbox, where the S3 requires you to go through Universal Swivel Search, or do it from a PC.
The menus on the S3 and TiVo HD are identical. If you don't have Download TV & Movies in Find Programs on your S3, something is wrong - that used to be called 'TiVoCast' and that's where the Amazon Unbox menu is.

And they both have Swivel Search as well.
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Old 08-05-2007, 01:50 PM   #16
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OK, just got a call back from Dave at Tivo Tech. Support, supposedly the level that acts as go between for customers and engineering, as my issue regarding pixelation was escalated to engineering.

Here is whats I was told:

1. 8.17b was meant to fix slot 2 issues as well as a large portion of people's issues related to pixelation. When I told him this was not the case from what I have been reading on the TivoCommunity forum, he said he also is having the same issue on his personal Tivo HD, but views it as more of an annoyance than a big issue. I told him that in my opinion what is the point of having an HD device that has poor picture quality, when you could have an SD device with no pixelation, or a cable supplied box that works correctly? To this he agreed.

2. He claimed they are working on a further update aimed at repairing this issue. When I asked what the ETA was he said he did not have one, but expected it to be in the next month or 2. When I told him most of us were working on a 30 day return window, he said he would pass that along, but was not hopeful.

So it looks like from what I was told today many of us will be returning our Tivo HD units in the next few week.
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Old 08-05-2007, 01:57 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimpware
OK, just got a call back from Dave at Tivo Tech. Support, supposedly the level that acts as go between for customers and engineering, as my issue regarding pixelation was escalated to engineering.

Here is whats I was told:

1. 8.17b was meant to fix slot 2 issues as well as a large portion of people's issues related to pixelation. When I told him this was not the case from what I have been reading on the TivoCommunity forum, he said he also is having the same issue on his personal Tivo HD, but views it as more of an annoyance than a big issue. I told him that in my opinion what is the point of having an HD device that has poor picture quality, when you could have an SD device with no pixelation, or a cable supplied box that works correctly? To this he agreed.

2. He claimed they are working on a further update aimed at repairing this issue. When I asked what the ETA was he said he did not have one, but expected it to be in the next month or 2. When I told him most of us were working on a 30 day return window, he said he would pass that along, but was not hopeful.

So it looks like from what I was told today many of us will be returning our Tivo HD units in the next few week.
Is anybody getting this pixelation problem when not using CC ? I have set up two of these 652 TiVos (for friends) and checked the free HD channels and have observed no problems of pixelation or anything else. We are on Comcast Hartford CT.
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Old 08-05-2007, 02:33 PM   #18
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They better get this fixed, and fast. I can see the headlines all over Engadget, Gizmodo, Slashdot, etc. "Slew of new TiVo HD units returned due to poor picture quality."

I'm sorry, I'm a HUGE TiVo fan, but this product release is turning into a disaster! Unless someone from TiVo responds here quickly with assurances that all of us experiencing the problems will be taken care of, and soon, I can't imagine what the backlash will be. I'm very upset at having to act as a beta tester for a inferior product!!

I need an official response telling me the issue will be fixed ASAP.
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Old 08-05-2007, 02:41 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lessd
Is anybody getting this pixelation problem when not using CC ? I have set up two of these 652 TiVos (for friends) and checked the free HD channels and have observed no problems of pixelation or anything else. We are on Comcast Hartford CT.
I get the pixelation without cablecards. I am using QAM not OTA. I also see pixelation even in the menu screens. My signal strength consistently reads high 90's or 100.

If you're not seeing the pixelation, you're not watching carefully enough for a long enough time. The interval between events is several minutes and the pixelation only lasts for a few frames. It usually goes away when I hit instant replay. Sometimes it doesn't go away but that just may be bad MPEG from somewhere upstream.
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Old 08-05-2007, 03:58 PM   #20
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I've seen it in the menus and on some HD programming. In my case, it has been several minutes between pixelations (the shortest time frame I observed was about 5 minutes on one of the Discovery shark shows last night). I've not watched anything recorded yet to see if it's there.

I am using two Motorola s-cards with Comcast for my TivoHD.
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Old 08-05-2007, 06:12 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimpware
OK, just got a call back from Dave at Tivo Tech. Support, supposedly the level that acts as go between for customers and engineering, as my issue regarding pixelation was escalated to engineering.

Here is whats I was told:

1. 8.17b was meant to fix slot 2 issues as well as a large portion of people's issues related to pixelation. When I told him this was not the case from what I have been reading on the TivoCommunity forum, he said he also is having the same issue on his personal Tivo HD, but views it as more of an annoyance than a big issue. I told him that in my opinion what is the point of having an HD device that has poor picture quality, when you could have an SD device with no pixelation, or a cable supplied box that works correctly? To this he agreed.

2. He claimed they are working on a further update aimed at repairing this issue. When I asked what the ETA was he said he did not have one, but expected it to be in the next month or 2. When I told him most of us were working on a 30 day return window, he said he would pass that along, but was not hopeful.

So it looks like from what I was told today many of us will be returning our Tivo HD units in the next few week.

Wow, what a disaster this launch is turning into... I will be returning two Tivo HD's within the return window if this isn't fixed by then. It is a HUGE issue to me, I have it happening twice a minute sometimes, and always 12+ times in any 10 minute window. It is infuriating while watching, and is not the kind of picture quality I want from this kind of expensive device. Clock's ticking, TiVo... I'm a huge TiVo fan, but I'll be damned if I'm going to pay $300 for the 3-year subscription and $260-300 each of my 2 units for a far inferior unit quality-wise to a rentable cable box other than the software menus.
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Old 08-05-2007, 07:19 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by lessd
Is anybody getting this pixelation problem when not using CC ? I have set up two of these 652 TiVos (for friends) and checked the free HD channels and have observed no problems of pixelation or anything else. We are on Comcast Hartford CT.
Yes, I've seen this on a THD w/o CCs on both the a and b s/w revisions.
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Old 08-05-2007, 07:25 PM   #23
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Wow, what a disaster this launch is turning into... I will be returning two Tivo HD's within the return window if this isn't fixed by then.
Disaster? I think that's a little dramatic.

If everyone who has this problem calls in and gets a case number, we'll all be better off.

I have two new THD boxes - I have no doubt that Tivo will fix this problem, so much so that I'm using a LGC to put lifetime on one box and upgrading its' hard drive.

From the reports I've read, this seems like software, not hardware, so I see no need to panic and jump ship.
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Old 08-05-2007, 07:57 PM   #24
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Disaster? I think that's a little dramatic.
I agree. Give TiVo a chance to truly fix the issue. I would imagine there are a lot of people working on it now.

I might recommend holding off a few weeks but panicking now?
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Old 08-05-2007, 07:59 PM   #25
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From the reports I've read, this seems like software, not hardware, so I see no need to panic and jump ship.
Unless you have read much more detailed information than has been posted here, your statement is unsupported.

Please link to the "reports" that make clear this is software.

IMO it could very well be hardware glitches that are causing this. And yes, at various points in my career I've been paid to write software and to design ASICs and to design systems.
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Old 08-05-2007, 08:03 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lessd
Is anybody getting this pixelation problem when not using CC ? I have set up two of these 652 TiVos (for friends) and checked the free HD channels and have observed no problems of pixelation or anything else. We are on Comcast Hartford CT.
Yes, I had the pixelation problem both before and after the software upgrade using direct cable connection (no cable cards).

Since then, cablecards have been installed, with the same pixelation problem.

Regarding whether this is a "disaster" or not, I do think its extremely important they address this in some way soon. If things haven't been fixed - or there hasn't been an announcement from Tivo that they are sure things will be fixed - it will be a tough call as to whether or not to return the box when 30 days is up. Its a distracting problem that none of the rental units have...
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:04 PM   #27
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Pixelization

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Gremlin
I get the pixelation without cablecards. I am using QAM not OTA. I also see pixelation even in the menu screens. My signal strength consistently reads high 90's or 100.
Then you have something else wrong. The menus are created internally to the TiVo and are not compressed and I do not believe they are encrypted. They do not pass through the Cable Cards or the Tuner, at all. Which TiVo output are you using?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Gremlin
If you're not seeing the pixelation, you're not watching carefully enough for a long enough time.
You don't know that. He may not be seeing any whatsoever. Typically speaking, I see pixelization at roughly the same rate on my Series III units as the Scientific Atlanta 8300 HD DVR I rented from the CATV company. It's very subjective, and very intermittent, however. I have about 150 HD movies on one of my Series III units, and some of the movies haven't a single pixelization in the entire movie. Zathura only had two that I recall, and they were very minor. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire have none at all. Top Gun, on the other hand has so many and such bad ones that it is virtually unwatchable. I'm waiting for it to come on again so I can replace the copy I have. On the other hand, when I had the 8300, it was no better. One episode of NCIS was so broken up I couldn't see what was going on, and it finally locked up the SA 8300 DVR.

Qualitatively I would say all three devices tend to have a drop-out about every 30 - 45 minutes on average. Sometimes it's much worse, and sometimes it's considerably better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Gremlin
The interval between events is several minutes and the pixelation only lasts for a few frames. It usually goes away when I hit instant replay. Sometimes it doesn't go away but that just may be bad MPEG from somewhere upstream.
If it goes away upon replay, then the signal was fine all the way through the Cable Card. A replay comes from the hard drive, and the hard drive lies completely beyond the CC circuitry. If it is good on the hard drive, then your pixelization is neither from the cable company, the CableCard, nor the tuner. Either the TV or the TiVo has an internal problem, or you are losing bytes in the transmisssion cable. Are you using HDMI or component video? You might try re-seating or replacing the cable between the TiVo and the TV. I've never noticed any streams fail between the DVR and the TV, but then I haven't tried rewind every time I get a pixelization, either.
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:36 PM   #28
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When I told him this was not the case from what I have been reading on the TivoCommunity forum, he said he also is having the same issue on his personal Tivo HD, but views it as more of an annoyance than a big issue.
Well, I wouldn't agree with that. One cannot expect broadcast video to ever be 100% perfect, but at some level any persistent issue is going to become unnaceptable in whole or in part. Certainly if all my recordings were as bad as the recording of Top Gun which I mentioned in the previous message, I would be very upset. One or two very brief pixelization events an hour, however, is not enough to consider more than a minor annoyance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimpware
I told him that in my opinion what is the point of having an HD device that has poor picture quality, when you could have an SD device with no pixelation, or a cable supplied box that works correctly? To this he agreed.
Define "poor quality". Many of the SD channels on my cable feed are downright horrible. They are snowy, grainy, and frequently have venetian blind or herringbone beats. Indeed, even though many of the SD channels have really great movies on them, since I have moved to HD I usually can't bear to watch them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimpware
2. He claimed they are working on a further update aimed at repairing this issue. When I asked what the ETA was he said he did not have one, but expected it to be in the next month or 2.
Unfortunately, that is probably a lie. First of all, until the signal leaves the CableCard, there isn't really anything the TiVo can do to it - certainly not in software. The encrypted digital stream is sent without any modification directly from the receiver (which is a shielded monoloithic outboard device - not properly speaking part of the TiVo) directly to the CableCard where it is de-encrypted and then re-encrypted to be sent to the DVR. All this is rigidly controlled by Cable Labs specifications, and a Cable Labs certification warrantees this system meets specifications which will allow the CATV provider to deliver an acceptable signal to the device. If there is a systemic problem (other than a bad unit, of course) which prevents the source video from being reproduced in encrypted form at the receiver interface, and the receiver is certified by Cable Labs, then it is the CATV company's responsibility to fix the issue, not the device manufacturer (in this case TiVo). The CATV company must prove the device in question is not meeting Cable Labs specs. Otherwise, it's their problem, period. That is the law, per FCC regulations and CableLabs specifications, who also certifies the equipment used by the CATV company.

If the problem is beyond the point where the CableCard encrypts the data, or if the device is not meeting CableLabs specs, then it is the responsibility of the device manufacturer to fix things. If this is the case, then it is also possible a software fix could affect the situation. With the exception of a post just previous to this one, I have seen no firm evidence either the TiVoHD nor the Series II are the source of the problem.
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:50 PM   #29
lrhorer
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA
Posts: 6,867
Faulty Software

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Gremlin
Unless you have read much more detailed information than has been posted here, your statement is unsupported.

Please link to the "reports" that make clear this is software.

IMO it could very well be hardware glitches that are causing this. And yes, at various points in my career I've been paid to write software and to design ASICs and to design systems.
Well, first of all, there are several places along the way which could be the cause of pixelization. The CATV plant is the most likely, but at least one poster detailed issues which are clearly not caused by the CATV plant. There are only really two places in the stream where the TiVo might cause issues with it at the software level, and it's unlikely even at those junctures. What is highly likely is there are two or three (or more) different problems being encountered, here. It is also very likely all or at least most are hardware related - the slot 2 issues perhaps being an exception.

I have a real suggestion. The source codes for the 8.1 software have been posted. I suggest someone point to me (and TiVo) where they think this code is faulty.
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Old 08-05-2007, 10:04 PM   #30
Chimpware
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 334
Quote:
Originally Posted by lrhorer
Well, first of all, there are several places along the way which could be the cause of pixelization. The CATV plant is the most likely, but at least one poster detailed issues which are clearly not caused by the CATV plant. There are only really two places in the stream where the TiVo might cause issues with it at the software level, and it's unlikely even at those junctures. What is highly likely is there are two or three (or more) different problems being encountered, here. It is also very likely all or at least most are hardware related - the slot 2 issues perhaps being an exception.

I have a real suggestion. The source codes for the 8.1 software have been posted. I suggest someone point to me (and TiVo) where they think this code is faulty.
OK, top be honest I don't care where the problem lies, and it should not be mine to solve. The fact of the matter is that I as well as many others who have posted will be returning our Tivo HD units (2 in my case) if this issue is not remedied within the next 2 or 3 weeks.

Posting that someone should sort through their code to find the issues is assinine as well as many of your other ridiculous comments such as pointing out that analog SD video can be grainy and therefore it makes a pixelated HD pictures from a Tivo HD acceptable.

I have a better suggestion for you; if you have something constructive in terms of troubleshooting you can add that can help remedy the situation I as well as many others are having please let us know.
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