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Old 09-15-2006, 10:05 PM   #1
jeffrypennock
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S3 bug when recording SOME SD?

I'm having a weird issue when I set up recordings on SOME BUT NOT ALL standard definition channels (regardless of wether it's one episode out of the guide or when I set up a season pass after searching by title); the weird issue is that I have no recording quality options for shows on those channels...it leaves off recording quality just like it does on the HD channels, except these are SD channels. I've set up recordings for other SD channels where I DO get recording quality options, like I should.
The channels that I'm having this problem with are: Bravo, Sundance, HBOzone, Fox Soccer Channel and the MLS Direct Kick channels (606-609 here in Houston).

Is anyone else noticing this with these channels? Other channels? People using TWC Houston? People not using TWC Houston?

Got any idea how I should fix this? (I called TiVo customer support; they said they'd never heard about this but the S3 IS only 2 days old...their ideas for resolving this didn't sound so great, thus I'm here.)
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Old 09-15-2006, 10:07 PM   #2
bubba1972
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Are those channels broadcast in both analog and digital? If digital Tivo may just record the stream without the option for variable compression.
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Old 09-15-2006, 10:09 PM   #3
bkdtv
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Remember, digital channels are recorded exactly as they are broadcast, at 100% original quality, so there are no quality settings.

You will only have picture quality settings for analog channels, because those are the only channels that aren't recorded bit-for-bit identical to the original broadcast.
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Old 09-15-2006, 10:26 PM   #4
jeffrypennock
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bubba1972
Are those channels broadcast in both analog and digital? If digital Tivo may just record the stream without the option for variable compression.
Well, Bravo DEFINITELY isn't a digital stream because it's part of the analog package for which no STB is required. It's ch 69 w/ or w/o a cableCARD, STB, or anything like that. So, I don't think that's the reason.

The other channels are part of some digital or subscription package w/ channel #'s >100 and require an STB or CC to get. The responses prompted me to go check other digital, SD programs and I actually don't get recording options on any of my digital channels. This mystifies the tech support people at TiVo. They said the only channels that I shouldn't get recording quality options for are HD channels.

Even if they're wrong, this still doesn't explain why I don't have these options for Bravo but do for Comedy Central and FX (for example).

Anyone else seeing this? (This question is directed exclusively at other people who have an S3 up and running. I really do appreciate the good intentions of everyone who ordered it from TiVo.com and still haven't gotten theirs yet, but you can't really speak with much certainty on whether this is typical behavior if you've never actually used one, even if you have read lots-and-lots about it here.)
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Old 09-15-2006, 10:34 PM   #5
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Do you have digital simulcasting in your area (where digital channels are overlayed on top of analog one)? This would be done with channels from 1 to 99. If they've just started implementing that in your area then some channels might be digital and some might be analog.

I'm not sure how you can tell if a channel is digital or not with the S3. Most cable boxes have a diagnostic menu which can tell you though.
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Old 09-15-2006, 10:35 PM   #6
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jeffrey,

Approximately 75% of Comcast systems are simulcasting digital versions of some analog channels. These digital channels are remapped to the same number as the analog channel, essentially replacing it if you have a digital box. It sounds like that is what you are seeing.

Hence, without CableCards on the Series3, channel 69 would be an analog channel. With CableCards, you get the digital version of 69. Note many cable companies are still in the process of upgrading their systems to support remapping of digital channels to their analog numbers on CableCard devices. Some systems don't yet have this updated software installed at the head-end, and customers on those systems will still get the analog feed (rather than the digital replacement feed) on the Series3 until the local office has updated their software. Most Comcast systems should have this upgrade by year's end.

Last edited by bkdtv : 09-16-2006 at 05:15 AM.
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Old 09-15-2006, 11:19 PM   #7
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I bet that's it, then. Makes sense too, because there was lots of rumors, etc., in the TWC Houston market about them doing lots of work and "moving" channels to digital, which many of us feared to mean SDV. But that project is almost complete and I still get every channel using CC, so this must have been what they meant when they told us that. Particularly since they affirmed that you'd always be able to get every channel w/ CC, when pressed on the issue (I'm speaking of the Houston market).

While I appreciate recording things natively for HD, that's too bad that we lost options for recording quality for SD, I bet my drive'll fill up way faster than anticipated, due to this.

Thanks for the sharp thinking on this. This SHOULDN'T have been beyond the people at TiVo tech support. (They told me something might be wrong w/ my box and that I should try wiping everything out first, redownloading the program info, and if that didn't "fix" it, then I'd have to exchange my box.)
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Old 09-16-2006, 04:39 AM   #8
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YOU want channels to be Digital, believe me it is better.
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Old 09-16-2006, 08:02 AM   #9
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If you don't have a recording quailty option, you are recording a digital channel. Simple as that. (Covered in the Viewer's guide).

(You didn't say, but I'd bet you are using cable cards. When the cable company has things mapped properly, you will generally see the digital equivilents of the analog channels (where available) mapped to the same channel number as analog.

I don't think you have a problem.
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Old 09-16-2006, 09:05 AM   #10
jeffrypennock
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TechDreamer
YOU want channels to be Digital, believe me it is better.
No I don't. The video quality of the digital-non-HD channels is much worse than the analog channels and the digital-HD channels are much crummier than the free and clear HD channels.
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Old 09-16-2006, 09:09 AM   #11
jeffrypennock
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfh3
I don't think you have a problem.
I now think you're right. I don't think this is a bug at all. I find it humorous that TiVo was ready to exchange my box.
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Old 09-16-2006, 09:20 AM   #12
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The video quality of the digital-non-HD channels is much worse than the analog channels
It seems to me that recording setting could only degrade the picture more; setting "best quality" doesn't matter if the digital source is junk. Being able to transcode the digital channels to save space would be a neat feature, but then I never was unhappy with my DirecTiVo's time capacity from just saving the broadcast stream.
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Old 09-16-2006, 09:37 AM   #13
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Check the signal strength. The S3 will only give you a signal strength for those channels that are digital. You can check to see all your digital channels using this feature.

Diagnostics will also tell you whether the channel each tuner is tuned to is digital.
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Old 09-16-2006, 10:56 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoanokeHokie
The video quality of the digital-non-HD channels is much worse than the analog channels
It seems to me that recording setting could only degrade the picture more; setting "best quality" doesn't matter if the digital source is junk. Being able to transcode the digital channels to save space would be a neat feature, but then I never was unhappy with my DirecTiVo's time capacity from just saving the broadcast stream.
THAT IS EXACTLY RIGHT!!! If your cable company is doing that channel mapping routine and providing you with a digital feed over your supposed analogue channel, if you recorded it with the various recording quality options, the best you'd get is worse than the straight up digital recording.

If you want access back to the actual underlying analogue that is still there for those without settops, ask your cable provder where they are. In my case, when Rogers remapped my digital channels over the analogue (ie: channels 1 through 70), I could still tune in the analogue signal on channels 801 to 870. The were still there, you just have to know where to look. Now, whether TiVo will have guide data for those alternate "ghost" analogue channels is another question.

It's also strange that you are getting worse quality. I guess it depends on how your cableco chooses to compress. In my case the digital versions of the analogue stations that have been so remapped are just fine. I can't tell any real difference between the digital versions and the analogue versions.

And, FYI, recording the digital version of the SD channel will take up MUCH less space on your hard drive then recording the analogue version of that channel even on the lower quality settings.

It seems your only REAL propblem is that your cable provider choose to downgrade the signal somewhat on the digital version.

Not much you can do about that (unless you can get guide data for the ghost stations) and it certainly is not the S3's fault.

...Dale
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Old 09-16-2006, 11:23 AM   #15
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obviously junk in can yield nothing better than junk out, at any recording quality. My complaint about the quality of my SD digital channels was only in response to somebody saying that I WANTED those channels to be digitally streamed, not because I believed that I could improve the marginal quality of the digital channels with recording quality options...in fact, the reason I lamented the absence of recording quality options was because the quality exceeded what I required for some shows on digital channels and felt this was a lost opportunity to bank drive space for the huge HD recordings.
However, I guess not much is lost if I'm understanding what I'm reading here. Is it true that a digital channel recorded in its native quality (equivalent to best quality if I had recording quality options) is STILL a smaller file than if that same hour show had been recorded on an analog channel at the lowest recording quality?

(Please excuse the typos and spelling errors...typed on my phone, can't use spell check app.)
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Old 09-19-2006, 11:35 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffrypennock
While I appreciate recording things natively for HD, that's too bad that we lost options for recording quality for SD, I bet my drive'll fill up way faster than anticipated, due to this.
Actually, unless you like to record at Basic, it very well may use less space the way it is. The professional encoders used by cable companies, etc, at the head end tend to compress things a LOT more than the real-time encoder in the TiVo can, for the same picture quality. They can do multi-pass, non-realtime encoding which can provide much better compression. So a digital SD channel can use less space than a locally encoded analog SD channel, depending on the quality level.
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Old 09-20-2006, 12:02 AM   #17
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There are HD channels. These are all digital.

There are analog channels - your regular TV can pick these up. Typ under 100.

Then there is digital SD channels. These have channels higher than 100 typically. These are precompressed by the cable head end (or sent precompressed via satellite to your cable head end) to your STB and then converted by the STB to its video output (NTSC/analog for people with regular TVs). You TiVo will record this exact bit stream as it is sent. This is how DirecTV works and how the DirecTiVo works.

---

For the digital SD channels typically higher end encoders are used so you will get a better quality for a given bit rate than your TiVo will. Of course your provider can overcompress the heck out of these stations to cram more of them into a given bandwidth (see DirecTV for many examples).

On DirecTV SD channels (I don't have a S3 yet) I can get a rated 188hrs with 200GB of drives. Basically the SD Digital channels take up the space of Basic recording quality on the regular SA TiVos, but the quality is much better than Basic. Of course with the over-compression I really get significantly more than 188 hours.

But you don't have control of quality and if the channel is compressed locally then it may look really bad and using the analog version will look better. The only choice with the SD only stations is to complain (preferably in writing) to the company.
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