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Old 11-20-2012, 10:02 AM   #1
coldtoes
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Macroblocking that's worse on transfers?

I've recently been experiencing occasional macroblocking and stuttering on my HD XL that I thought was probably the hard drive going bad (it's 3 years old and we recently had to replace the fan). But I realized that the problem is significantly worse on transfers, which take place over wifi, either from Amazon or from an SD TiVo where the source video doesn't show any macroblocking. On transfers, nearly every frame has some macroblocking. Many cablecard recordings have no macroblocking at all; others may have a handful of instances. These are relatively recent occurrences.

I know there are a million threads on macroblocking and I have tried to read as much as possible, but any thoughts on what's the likely cause of this problem when it's significantly worse on transfers but happens to a lesser extent on native recordings as well? Thanks.

(P.S. Not to influence your responses, but if the hard drive turns out to be bad, I have gotten Mr. Coldtoes to agree that I can buy a Premier XL 4 to replace this box, which can then get a new hard drive and replace the SD TiVo. Not that I'm rooting for a bad drive or anything. Nope.)
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:36 AM   #2
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It could also be a power supply issue. Transferring is an intensive operation for an HD unit, so it would not surprise me that this additional load is the first sign of a problem.
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:01 PM   #3
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Thanks Jacob! I answered a few of those questions already but I will address them all specifically here.

The HD TiVo is using a TiVo Wireless N adapter, AN0100. The SD (source for the transfers, no macroblocking) uses wired ethernet.

The router is a Netgear WNDR3700. We live in the city so the appearance of a new source of interference is always a possibility.

I can't remember if I've rebooted everything (duh, first rule!) so I will try that.

The transfers only got terrible in the last few weeks. Some are worse than others but I don't think I've had any really good once since the problem began. I can't remember whether I was experiencing the much less frequent problems with non-transferred recordings before that, but it's all relatively recent. This TiVo has been in service since January 2009 and was mostly perfect until now.

We're using CableCARD.

The one other thing that could be a factor is that the fan did start to go bad recently and we replaced it with a fan from a 240 SD that uses the same model. We can't remember whether the macroblocking started before or after the bad fan - could anything internal have gotten partially dislodged that might cause these symptoms? We checked all the external connections to make sure they were tight.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:01 PM   #4
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I can't get the DVR close to the router or to wired ethernet, but I can try the computer transfer. Are you suggesting that I first transfer a non-macroblocked recording from the SD to the PC, and then to the HD, or that I transfer an already macroblocked recording from the HD to the PC to see if it's still macroblocked? (Although I suspect the latter won't work - replaying segments of the recording seems to show identical macroblocking in the same spots, which I would think indicates a problem with the recording rather than the playback).
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coldtoes View Post
I've recently been experiencing occasional macroblocking and stuttering on my HD XL that I thought was probably the hard drive going bad (it's 3 years old and we recently had to replace the fan). But I realized that the problem is significantly worse on transfers, which take place over wifi, either from Amazon or from an SD TiVo where the source video doesn't show any macroblocking. On transfers, nearly every frame has some macroblocking. Many cablecard recordings have no macroblocking at all; others may have a handful of instances. These are relatively recent occurrences.

I know there are a million threads on macroblocking and I have tried to read as much as possible, but any thoughts on what's the likely cause of this problem when it's significantly worse on transfers but happens to a lesser extent on native recordings as well? Thanks.

(P.S. Not to influence your responses, but if the hard drive turns out to be bad, I have gotten Mr. Coldtoes to agree that I can buy a Premier XL 4 to replace this box, which can then get a new hard drive and replace the SD TiVo. Not that I'm rooting for a bad drive or anything. Nope.)
Doesn't the Elite/XL 4 come with a 2TB drive?

Isn't that the largest it can use?

(of course if you want to buy a drive just like it and "Xerox" the factory drive to it and then put the factory drive on the shelf for safe-keeping, that would make sense, since the only image for a Series 4 drive is a Series 4 drive from the same model.)

And second the motion on it possibly being the power supply starting to show signs of "capacitor plague".

Fortunately that's a $10 fix.
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coldtoes View Post
But I realized that the problem is significantly worse on transfers, which take place over wifi, either from Amazon or from an SD TiVo where the source video doesn't show any macroblocking. On transfers, nearly every frame has some macroblocking. Many cablecard recordings have no macroblocking at all; others may have a handful of instances. These are relatively recent occurrences.
I can see how you might be seeing the macroblocking from the SD Tivo. Do you have it set to record at "best" quality?
Is your Premiere set to output video at native quality (assuming that is possible)?
Do you have your HDTV configured to upconvert the input it receives?
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Old 12-11-2012, 08:34 AM   #7
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Sorry - we went away for Thanksgiving and I forgot to update this issue afterwards.

@jacob (whose comments seem to have disappeared. Maybe he didn't work for TiVo and got banned for having Tivo in his name?) - Rebooting everything cleared up the problem with the transfers. We are still seeing occasional macroblocking on native recordings but it is significantly less frequent.

@unitron - I think you thought I was saying I was going to put two drives in the XL4. What I meant was that is the drive on this box is going bad, I would buy an XL4 to replace it and transfer over all my programs, then replace the bad drive and put that TiVo where the SD TiVo is now, so I'd have two HD boxes instead of one. But it looks like it was a software problem instead of a hardware one, since the reboot fixed it. Although I guess there could be an issue in one of the two operating system partitions and then the problem will recur next time I reboot.

@steve614 - this isn't a configuration problem, because it's been working fine for 3 years and then suddenly started misbehaving without any change in settings on either box. (Also, FWIW it's not a Premiere, it's a first generation HD XL Series 3. Drive is only 1TB - so tiny! This, and Comcast On Demand, is why I'm angling for a new one, of course.)

Thanks everyone for your advice. Hopefully the remaining macroblocking will prove to be just occasional Cable signal issues and the problem is now solved.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:19 AM   #8
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Although I guess there could be an issue in one of the two operating system partitions and then the problem will recur next time I reboot.
No. The TiVo does not swap operating partitions every time you reboot. It only swaps them when a software upgrade occurs, or sometimes a GSOD. Otherwise, the TiVo always boots the kernel and root partitions specified in the bootpage parameters stored in the first sector of the primary hard drive.
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