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Old 04-07-2011, 11:14 AM   #1
smbaker
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Amazon VOD pixelation on Premiere

My first foray into Amazon VOD on my Premiere was to rent 'Morning Glory' in HD. I was surprised to find a few dozen instances of weird mpeg pixelation. They ranged from just a few pixelated blocks to a couple of instances of half the picture inverted/pixelated/shifted for as long as 2-3 seconds. There were what looked like minor split-second frame skips too. The problems were uniform throughout the viewing.

The whole movie appeared to be fully downloaded before I started viewing. I'm not sure whether the problem was Amazon's, or something amiss with the Premiere, but it was somewhat disappointing that I couldn't watch a $5 VOD without having mpeg glitches strewn throughout it.

Anyone else experience such a problem? Are problems with Amazon VOD on the Premiere common? If so, I'll avoid it in the future.
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Old 04-07-2011, 11:57 AM   #2
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Contact Amazon to get a credit. This is not the norm. I rarely rent movies on Amazon, but I do rent a bunch of TV shows at 1080i and 1080P24 resolutions to watch on my Premieres. Typically they will playback without any issues, although I have seen on rare occassion a glitch or two like you mentioned.
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Old 04-17-2011, 10:23 AM   #3
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It's probably Amazon's fault. I've downloaded a bunch of HD tv shows and some had pixelation issues -- even when I re-downloaded them.
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Old 04-20-2011, 01:04 PM   #4
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I'm havin this issue as well... Tivo tech told me this am they are aware of the problem an claim the next service update will resolve the issue...

I contacted Amazon an was given a credit for my problems, decent of em to do so

Last edited by Dr_Diablo : 09-12-2011 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 04-20-2011, 05:50 PM   #5
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I've definitely seen in on amazon videos I have watched, but never enough to really bother me much. I do wish they weren't protected. I'd love to download them to my computer and play through the affected scenes with mplayer to see if a different player shows the same problem. If tivo is claiming a service update will fix it, then it is probably a tivo problem, not an amazon problem.
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:08 AM   #6
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It always seems once an issue is resolved, another crops up worse then the last...

You'd think these folks would adapt to their environment, writing code that does as intended without opening awhole new canno worms

Makes you wonder why we pay a monthly fee for crappy service?

Far as the video quality from Amazon, it's been fairly good with some pixelation once in awhile...

They have stopped the letterbox format which I was really not happy with during that period

Last edited by Dr_Diablo : 09-12-2011 at 01:41 AM.
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Old 07-25-2011, 12:50 AM   #7
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I've had the same problem with a couple of HD videos from Amazon. The last one I purchased kept breaking up so much that I couldn't keep watching and turned it off.

I rewound the video to the areas where the pixelations occurred and noticed the image breaks up in same places every time so either it's a problem with the way the videos download to the Premiere HD or a problem with the Amazon source video itself. Not sure since I haven't re-downloaded the videos to see if it occurs again in the same spots.

Very frustrating.
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Old 09-11-2011, 11:11 PM   #8
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Yes, I've been seeing this on almost every HD video I purchase from Amazon. It's very frustrating. I rented "Exporting Raymond" last week and it frequently had horrible pixelation problems. It was almost unbearable to watch by the end. I contacted Amazon about it and they gave me a credit.

I thought maybe it had something to do with playing the file while it was still downloading, so two days I ago I rented "Enchanted" and waited until it had completely downloaded before watching it. It still had some pixellation moments (though fewer). The image even froze once while the audio kept going. I pulled up the same moment the next day and the exact same problem was still there.

I appreciate that Amazon has been considerate, but I'd prefer to not have these problems at all.
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Old 09-14-2011, 11:49 PM   #9
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I suspect the problem is that the DOWNLOAD is still really just a 'live'-ish stream that is being recorded. So any interruptions in the data-stream are not corrected. Most of the videos I buy on Amazon download and playback fine, but close to half have a least one noticeable glitch.
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Old 01-01-2012, 08:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by bsmith1051 View Post
I suspect the problem is that the DOWNLOAD is still really just a 'live'-ish stream that is being recorded. So any interruptions in the data-stream are not corrected. Most of the videos I buy on Amazon download and playback fine, but close to half have a least one noticeable glitch.
I've watched two HD rentals on Amazon Instant on my Premiere and Premiere Elite and both had some level of pixelation. Is anyone else still experiencing these issues?
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:45 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by sbiller View Post
I've watched two HD rentals on Amazon Instant on my Premiere and Premiere Elite and both had some level of pixelation. Is anyone else still experiencing these issues?
Since downloading from Amazon there have been dropouts on 90% of the content
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Old 01-02-2012, 06:15 AM   #12
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I've watched two HD rentals on Amazon Instant on my Premiere and Premiere Elite and both had some level of pixelation. Is anyone else still experiencing these issues?
Amazon refunded my money for the most recent video downloaded. I'm hoping the next service update resolves the issue.
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:49 AM   #13
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We just watched Pirates of Carribean in HD and had no problems, just waited about 20 minutes before starting and it was fine.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:22 AM   #14
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Is anyone else still experiencing these issues?
Yep. Rented A Muppet Christmas Carol recently and it had noticeable pixelation.
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:57 AM   #15
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Folks, this may not be a news flash, but....

I have 3 Tivos. 2 Tivo HDs, and 1 Tivo Premiere Elite

I use the Amazon service to download HD movies on all 3.

I never, ever, get pixelation on the Tivo HDs.

I always, always get pixelation on the Tivo Premiere Elite.

The Elite otherwise is performing very well, but Amazon HD downloads are absolutely horrible.

All 3 units are on the same, physical, network segment, in the same home.

All 3 otherwise have no video issues at this time.

Though I can't explain why, this seems patently clear that it's an issue with the Premiere, and not Amazon. The only thing I have not done to troubleshoot this is to download the same movie to both the Elite and one of the HDs, as I'm not willing to throw good money after bad.

This problem occurred as recently as last night. The movie Larry Crowne.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:34 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by wmhjr View Post
Folks, this may not be a news flash, but....

I have 3 Tivos. 2 Tivo HDs, and 1 Tivo Premiere Elite

I use the Amazon service to download HD movies on all 3.

I never, ever, get pixelation on the Tivo HDs.

I always, always get pixelation on the Tivo Premiere Elite.

The Elite otherwise is performing very well, but Amazon HD downloads are absolutely horrible.

All 3 units are on the same, physical, network segment, in the same home.

All 3 otherwise have no video issues at this time.

Though I can't explain why, this seems patently clear that it's an issue with the Premiere, and not Amazon. The only thing I have not done to troubleshoot this is to download the same movie to both the Elite and one of the HDs, as I'm not willing to throw good money after bad.

This problem occurred as recently as last night. The movie Larry Crowne.
Interesting observation. My issues were on a base Premiere and on my Elite with two different movies. It does sound very suspicious that its an issue with the way the Premiere platform is interpreting the downloaded file from Amazon. I never really had pixelation issues on my TiVo HD or Series 3.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:46 AM   #17
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I've also experienced the issues on the Premiere. I would put it one of two categories. Caetgory 1: Sometimes it is totally AWFUL to the point where the episode is unwatchable and Amazon refunds my money (this happened with one of the Dr. Who Premieres). Category 2: 2 or 3 brief moments of brief pixelization in TV episodes.

It's interesting, I don't remember having these issues on the Series3 either.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:52 AM   #18
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I've also experienced the issues on the Premiere. I would put it one of two categories. Caetgory 1: Sometimes it is totally AWFUL to the point where the episode is unwatchable and Amazon refunds my money (this happened with one of the Dr. Who Premieres). Category 2: 2 or 3 brief moments of brief pixelization in TV episodes.

It's interesting, I don't remember having these issues on the Series3 either.
I tweeted to @tivodesign about this. My problems were in your Category 2. Quite annoying but the two HD movies were still watchable. Amazon refunded my money for the movie I complained about. Maybe you can ask TiVo about it at CES! Hopefully all of these problems will go away once TiVO implements true streaming with Amazon.
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:16 PM   #19
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I suspect the problem is that the DOWNLOAD is still really just a 'live'-ish stream that is being recorded. So any interruptions in the data-stream are not corrected. Most of the videos I buy on Amazon download and playback fine, but close to half have a least one noticeable glitch.
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Hopefully all of these problems will go away once TiVO implements true streaming with Amazon.
IMHO occasional brief pixelization or other glitches may be excusable in a streaming environment because that's more-or-less real-time. But the difference between streaming and downloading is that downloading isn't real-time, and thus should benefit from whatever handshaking and error detection and correction techniques are needed to ensure a perfect transfer. Computer file downloads are expected to be perfect these days, and movie downloads should be perfect too. I agree with bsmith1051 that they may be using the term "download" rather loosely.
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Old 01-03-2012, 12:43 PM   #20
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Let me say it again with more emphasis.

The pixelation issues in my experience do not occur with my Tivo HDs. Matter of fact, I can't say I've ever seen any marked pixelation with either of them, and I've had them for quite a long time - pretty much since the release of the Tivo HD.

The pixelation issues pretty much ALWAYS occur with my Premiere Elite. They range from relatively bad to incredibly bad. Like ridiculously bad. On the same, GB hardwired ethernet network. On the same network segment, same subnet, etc. Absolutely nothing different about their connection to Tivo/Amazon.

Swapping locations (moving an HD to where the Elite is and putting the elite where the HD is) makes absolutely no difference. The issues follow the Elite.

The Elite has zero pixelation issues with any live, streaming content, broadcast, etc. None. It also has no issues with content copied from one of the Tivo HDs - nor do they have issues with content copied from the Elite.

Happens when there is zero other use on the entire network (in my home, obviously). I'm on FiOS.

This to me totally discounts any possible explanation that it's due to "streaming signal loss", etc but is rather a symptom of something specific to the Elite. I'd love to hear a technical explanation as to how it's Amazon, or a "streaming issue" yet the Tivo HDs never experience this. I just don't see any possible alternative other than a Premiere Bug.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:15 PM   #21
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Let me say it again with more emphasis.

The pixelation issues in my experience do not occur with my Tivo HDs. Matter of fact, I can't say I've ever seen any marked pixelation with either of them, and I've had them for quite a long time - pretty much since the release of the Tivo HD.

The pixelation issues pretty much ALWAYS occur with my Premiere Elite. They range from relatively bad to incredibly bad. Like ridiculously bad. On the same, GB hardwired ethernet network. On the same network segment, same subnet, etc. Absolutely nothing different about their connection to Tivo/Amazon.

Swapping locations (moving an HD to where the Elite is and putting the elite where the HD is) makes absolutely no difference. The issues follow the Elite.

The Elite has zero pixelation issues with any live, streaming content, broadcast, etc. None. It also has no issues with content copied from one of the Tivo HDs - nor do they have issues with content copied from the Elite.

Happens when there is zero other use on the entire network (in my home, obviously). I'm on FiOS.

This to me totally discounts any possible explanation that it's due to "streaming signal loss", etc but is rather a symptom of something specific to the Elite. I'd love to hear a technical explanation as to how it's Amazon, or a "streaming issue" yet the Tivo HDs never experience this. I just don't see any possible alternative other than a Premiere Bug.
WMHJR,

I completely agree with you. The problems appear to be isolated to the Premiere platform. I don't think its just the Elite though. Any Series 4 box will exhibit the poor video decoding quality.

My theory is the videos have been encoded to optimize the playback on the Series 3 platform and there is some sort of incompatibility with the decoding being done on the newer platform.

~Sam
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:31 PM   #22
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This problem occurred as recently as last night. The movie Larry Crowne.
For what it is worth, I rented Larry Crowne HD via Amazon on a TiVo Premiere (not an Elite) on New Years Eve and agree that the quality was awful.

Numerous pixelation issues and the audio dropped in/out. I would say, on average, it happened every minute or two.

In my experience, it has been the HD encoded titles on Amazon and not the SD ones that give my TiVo Premiere problems.

I rent a number of their "daily deals" in SD to watch on my Premiere. Like others have said, I've never experienced a single problem with movies in SD.
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:13 PM   #23
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Is there anyone out there with a Premiere AND an HD box who find a different result? Or asked another way, how about those with Premiere and HD units who find similar results? Hmmm.... I think i'm going to post a poll to see if we can get more objective results.
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:11 PM   #24
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I just contacted Tivo support, who seemed to have "never seen or heard of this issue before" (Deja Vu with Tivo - seems like every time there's an issue they've never heard of it from anybody else). Got a case number and a (very weak) promise that it would be escalated to level 2 technicians and would be resolved within 7-14 days. I'm to call back if it's not fixed. Same old response. Oh well.
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:14 PM   #25
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I just contacted Tivo support, who seemed to have "never seen or heard of this issue before" (Deja Vu with Tivo - seems like every time there's an issue they've never heard of it from anybody else). Got a case number and a (very weak) promise that it would be escalated to level 2 technicians and would be resolved within 7-14 days. I'm to call back if it's not fixed. Same old response. Oh well.
I also posted on the TiVo Forums but its unclear whether TiVO employees even read those forums.

http://forums.tivo.com/pe/action/for...ostID=10511852
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Old 01-03-2012, 06:04 PM   #26
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In fairness to Amazon and TiVo, I reported the problem to Amazon. It seems like their problem to me and I explained that they might have a reproducible test case. Amazon was kind enough to offer a full refund of the purchase price in addition to stating that they will look into the problem.

In this case, Amazon encoded HD content appears to be compatible with Series 3 but not Series 4 TiVos. Your test is by no means scientific but I've seen significant problems with two HD titles (Date Night and Larry Crowne) on my TiVo Premiere in the last year that I have rented from Amazon. I just checked and I've rented 5 HD titles in that timeframe (the other 3 had little or no issues). I've never noticed any of these types of issues with SD titles.

It might behoove Amazon to see if they can reproduce and fix the issue on their end. Like you, I doubt TiVo will do much to resolve the issue.

One other side note, the TiVo devices are very picky about how external videos are encoded. When I download my own home videos to the device, I can get similar problems to occur during playback depending on how I encode the video.
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Old 01-03-2012, 06:15 PM   #27
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I'm guessing that the release of new software to the Premiere's this quarter (i.e., the major upgrade) will correct this problem because Amazon will become a streaming-only service like Hulu Plus.
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Old 01-03-2012, 06:16 PM   #28
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It seems like their problem to me and I explained that they might have a reproducible test case.

Your test is by no means scientific

One other side note, the TiVo devices are very picky about how external videos are encoded. When I download my own home videos to the device, I can get similar problems to occur during playback depending on how I encode the video.
I guess I'm confused by the above. I'm not sure how we can say it seems like Amazons problem when:

1) It doesn't seem to happen on ANY other devices, including non-Tivo devices I have.

2) You yourself mention that even your own home videos can get similar problems.

This to me also points to the Premiere being at root cause.

I also don't know what you would consider scientific. There are a bunch of other things, but removing every possible variable is in fact scientific. There is only one further thing I could possibly have done. Download the exact same content to both one of the HDs and the Elite at the same approximate time and validate that (as usual) the Elite has the issue and the HD does not.

Could you elaborate on exactly why you feel this is an Amazon issue, and what exactly you would do for a better test? I have eliminated network subnets, physical network segment, CAT5E cables, RG6 patch cables, switch, switch ports, RG6 cable runs, HDMI handshake, HDMI cables, and displays from the equation. Fact. As a byproduct, I have also eliminated SNR and signal strength as the issue (because of the previous changes). Ever heard of Occams Razor?
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Old 01-03-2012, 06:18 PM   #29
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I'm guessing that the release of new software to the Premiere's this quarter (i.e., the major upgrade) will correct this problem because Amazon will become a streaming-only service like Hulu Plus.
I sure hope not. Frankly, one of the big advantages of Amazon HD for me previously with my HDs was that I didn't have to worry about the buffering and other issues associated for example with Netflix streaming. I stopped using it because it was so hit or miss and just wasn't worth the trouble. Amazon HD downloads have been rock solid for me with the HDs. Netflix never was. Because of this I've really never played with Hulu.
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Old 01-04-2012, 02:37 PM   #30
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Could you elaborate on exactly why you feel this is an Amazon issue, and what exactly you would do for a better test?
I'm eliminating all other wild possibilities (as Occam's Razor would suggest).

Fact: The video is encoded, encrypted and generated by Amazon for download to a TiVo. Amazon collects all money in this transaction.

There are two possible solutions to the problem:

Solution #1: Amazon re-encodes the video so it is compatible with TiVo Series 4 devices (which have different software than the Series 3). This is a software change on their system that must undergo testing to make sure the video is compatible across all devices (TiVo and other) under which the video might get distributed.

Solution #2: TiVo upgrades their software so that it can playback the video that Amazon is passing it. Obviously, the Series 3 plays it fine and I am betting that other devices that support Amazon Video work too (e.g. smart TVs).

The reality is that one entity (Amazon) collects the $4.99 fee for the HD rental in this case. It is in their best interest to fix that problem. TiVo provides the software interface and the playback hardware but not the actual video.

TiVo does have some motivation to fix the problem but (based on my experience transferring home movies to the TiVo) I believe the problem could ALSO be fixed on Amazon's end.

As a general rule, if you can fix problems on the server side, it is preferable to fixing it on the 1000s of clients.
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