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Old 01-16-2013, 12:59 PM   #1
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4 tuner OTA/Analog/Digital TiVo needed

With the upcoming mini, I would really like to see a 4 tuner TiVo unit with the above capabilities. It sounds like the only way to fully utilize the mini (where it borrows tuners) is to have a 4 tuner unit. Unfortunately, there is not one available for the OTA users out there.


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Old 01-16-2013, 01:11 PM   #2
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Before everybody jumps in and explains why this will never happen, I will say that I would love and buy a 4-tuner OTA solution.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:22 PM   #3
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I'm not really sure why TiVo couldn't make an external tuner box for OTA. Plug it in via USB and add two or more OTA tuners. You could add this to a 4 tuner cable-only box or even add it to a 2 tuner cable-OTA box. TiVo has already shown that they can work with asymmetrical tuners with the Series 2 DT (one analog cable/antenna RF and one cable/satellite box on AV in.)

If they made such a device, they wouldn't even need to sell a standalone OTA DVR any more. They could just make 2 and 4 and 6 tuner cable models and offer the external OTA receiver for any/all of them. Doesn't DirecTV offer an OTA tuner add-on for their DVRs? And doesn't it even work with the TiVo THR-22?
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:48 PM   #4
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TiVo doesn't want to deal with asymmetrical tuners anymore. They disabled analog in the 4 tuner units not because it can't do analog but because the chipset they use can only encode 2 analog stations at a time and they didn't want the analog/digital to be asymmetrical. The S2DT was the only TiVo to ever have asymmetrical tuners. Even the original S3, which required two CableCARDs for dual tuner functionality, would completely disable the second tuner if you set it up with one CableCARD. Even though most cable operators have at least some stations that can be tuned without a CableCARD. (mine has a ton)

As for a 4 tuner OTA unit... the market just isn't big enough.

What they need to do is create a whole new platform that uses a chipset capable of recording 4 analog streams and has the ability to support 4 tuners for both cable and OTA. Basically something like the original Premiere but with a hardware upgrade to support 4 tuners for all inputs. Unfortunately, from what I hear, technology in the ATSC tuner market hasn't progressed much in the last decade or so. While cable tuners can not be acquired that have 4 or 6 tuners built into a single chip ATSC tuners are still sold one at a time, meaning they would need 4 physical ATSC tuner chips in the box to make this happen. That's expensive, and complicated, for a feature only a small fraction of their users even need.

Personally I'm hoping that the 6 tuner unit, rumored to hit late this year, will at least support analog cable. If it does I'll dump my Elite and Premiere and buy one of those instead. The only reason I need two units now is because I still have a handful of channels that are analog only and can't be recorded on my Elite.

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Old 01-18-2013, 05:34 PM   #5
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What channels do you have that are analog only?

Why would TiVo support analog reception on a 6 tuner box? Six analog encoders would cost as much as 6 ATSC tuner chips, which have analog/NTSC built-in anyway. The whole point of dropping analog was to make the box cheaper.

My point is that the TiVo is cheap because they dropped all the ATSC/NTSC/ analog stuff. Add that stuff via an external box that the few people who want it can pay the additional cost for. At cost, a 4 tuner ATSC tuner box would be around $75-$150. Make it a one-time $299 box and let any TiVo Premiere user plug it in.
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:57 PM   #6
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This post was kind of nostalgic for me because before cable I really only got 4 channels, if I had a 4 tuner OTA TiVo then, I could record all the channels, all the time.

Still an interesting idea.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:50 PM   #7
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What channels do you have that are analog only?
We have about 40 or 50 stations that are analog only. I only watch a few.

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Why would TiVo support analog reception on a 6 tuner box? Six analog encoders would cost as much as 6 ATSC tuner chips, which have analog/NTSC built-in anyway. The whole point of dropping analog was to make the box cheaper.
They didn't drop analog to make the box cheaper. The 4 tuner box uses the same chipset as the 2 tuner box. They reused the same platform and just swapped the two ATSC tuners for two more cable tuners. The problem is the chipset only supports encoding 2 analog streams so they simply disabled analog completely to avoid the asymmetrical scheduling.

The 6 tuner box will require a completely new design, since the current platform only supports 4 tuners max. So I was hoping that whatever chipset they use supports encoding 6 analog stations as well. The tuners themselves will be fine since cable tuners support both analog and digital. The only thing that's required is a chipset capable of encoding all those analog signals to MPEG-2. That being said it's likely a pipe dream. I don't think there are any broadcom chipsets that support encoding that many streams. So it'll likely be a digital only device.

Also don't expect the 6 tuner unit to be cheap. I fully expect that it will be very expensive. It might also only be sold as a bundle with a couple of Mini's making it even more expensive.

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Old 01-19-2013, 02:53 AM   #8
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Another reason we need cooperative scheduling across multiple boxes. Likely another pipedream. But wouldn't it be great to have one guide that shows all the channels available across all your TiVo boxes? Analog channels from your regular Premiere, digital channels from your Elite, OTA channels from another Premiere, all in the guide on all the boxes? And when you set up a season pass, it sets it up to record on whatever box has the right tuner hardware and doesn't have a conflict? Then it is all presented in a single now playing list, which appears the same on every box? And to top it all off, you can give different passes to different owners, and they can have a custom list with just their shows in it? Or let one user mark when they have viewed the show, so the other user knows it is okay to delete it?

Yeah, ultimate pipedream.
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Old 01-19-2013, 03:15 AM   #9
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That would be cool, but it would be a nightmare from a programming perspective. With the possibility of any one TiVo in the "hive" going offline at any moment there just wouldn't be a good way to handle the scheduling. Simple cooperative scheduling where one TiVo tried to schedule a conflicting recording on another TiVo on the network if it could would probably work OK, but full blown cooperative scheduling where multiple TiVos acted as one just has too many points of failure to ever happen.

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Old 01-19-2013, 03:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
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TiVo doesn't want to deal with asymmetrical tuners anymore. They disabled analog in the 4 tuner units not because it can't do analog but because the chipset they use can only encode 2 analog stations at a time and they didn't want the analog/digital to be asymmetrical. The S2DT was the only TiVo to ever have asymmetrical tuners. Even the original S3, which required two CableCARDs for dual tuner functionality, would completely disable the second tuner if you set it up with one CableCARD. Even though most cable operators have at least some stations that can be tuned without a CableCARD. (mine has a ton)

As for a 4 tuner OTA unit... the market just isn't big enough.

What they need to do is create a whole new platform that uses a chipset capable of recording 4 analog streams and has the ability to support 4 tuners for both cable and OTA. Basically something like the original Premiere but with a hardware upgrade to support 4 tuners for all inputs. Unfortunately, from what I hear, technology in the ATSC tuner market hasn't progressed much in the last decade or so. While cable tuners can not be acquired that have 4 or 6 tuners built into a single chip ATSC tuners are still sold one at a time, meaning they would need 4 physical ATSC tuner chips in the box to make this happen. That's expensive, and complicated, for a feature only a small fraction of their users even need.

Personally I'm hoping that the 6 tuner unit, rumored to hit late this year, will at least support analog cable. If it does I'll dump my Elite and Premiere and buy one of those instead. The only reason I need two units now is because I still have a handful of channels that are analog only and can't be recorded on my Elite.

Dan

Do you mean the 649's tuners were visibly different from each other, or electronically different from each other?

And elsewhere you say "We have about 40 or 50 stations that are analog only. I only watch a few."

Do you mean analog cable or low power OTA?
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Old 01-19-2013, 03:30 AM   #11
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Do you mean the 649's tuners were visibly different from each other, or electronically different from each other?
The 649 S2DT could record from one analog NTSC tuner and also from a cable or satellite box connected via AV jacks. This meant that the guide data from each of the two sources was not the same. You would essentially have cable channels 2-99 on one input, and an IR-controlled box on the other. So you would have a guide that combined the two. You would end up with duplicate channels or an analog version on one input and a digital version on the other, but the TiVo was smart enough to deal with the anomalies in most cases.

No other TiVo has ever been set up to do this.
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:03 AM   #12
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The 649 S2DT could record from one analog NTSC tuner and also from a cable or satellite box connected via AV jacks. This meant that the guide data from each of the two sources was not the same. You would essentially have cable channels 2-99 on one input, and an IR-controlled box on the other. So you would have a guide that combined the two. You would end up with duplicate channels or an analog version on one input and a digital version on the other, but the TiVo was smart enough to deal with the anomalies in most cases.

No other TiVo has ever been set up to do this.
The single tuner S2s could do that except for the 2 shows at a time part.

Same "mixed" guide data.

I suspect that recording whatever came in over the RCA jacks didn't really tie up a tuner, regardless of whether in an ST or DT unit, but actually bypassed it completely, since there was no need for heterodyning to an intermediate frequency and demodulating to baseband.

The 649s were unique in being the only NTSC-only machines that didn't tune OTA analog UHF.

(they didn't officially tune OTA analog VHF, either, or have guide data for them, but since analog cable channels 2-13 are on the same frequencies and use the same modulation scheme...)
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:11 AM   #13
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Do you mean the 649's tuners were visibly different from each other, or electronically different from each other?

And elsewhere you say "We have about 40 or 50 stations that are analog only. I only watch a few."

Do you mean analog cable or low power OTA?
The S2DT had the unique ability to record two things from it's internal NTSC tuners or one from an external cable box connected via composite cables. Because of this it required special async scheduling logic that knew which channels were available via the NTSC tuners and which ones required the box so that it could properly detect conflicts.

We actually have 40-50 stations in our cable lineup that are analog only. Not even simulcast. Which means that there are some stations I can not use my Elite to record. Some of them have HD or digital equivalents but others, like Comedy Central, FX, A&E are analog only. What's really weird is that there are a few scattered channels below 99 that are simulcast. I can tune them both on my old S2 and on my Elite. I'm not sure why those few channels are simulcast but the others are not.

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Old 01-19-2013, 04:25 AM   #14
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... I'm not sure why those few channels are simulcast but the others are not.

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Old 01-19-2013, 04:33 AM   #15
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I asked the UMatter2Chater people over on AVS once and they said there was some sort of special challenge in my area preventing them from adding more HD channels or simulcasting the SD ones even though we switched to SDV over 2 years ago. What's even weirder is they recently added back an analog version of HBO which is scrambled with old school analog scrambling techniques. There hasn't been an analog HBO in this market for 10 years. It's almost like we're moving backwards rather then forwards.

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Old 01-19-2013, 05:18 AM   #16
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I asked the UMatter2Chater people over on AVS once and they said there was some sort of special challenge in my area preventing them from adding more HD channels or simulcasting the SD ones even though we switched to SDV over 2 years ago. What's even weirder is they recently added back an analog version of HBO which is scrambled with old school analog scrambling techniques. There hasn't been an analog HBO in this market for 10 years. It's almost like we're moving backwards rather then forwards.

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Old 01-19-2013, 01:01 PM   #17
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others, like Comedy Central, FX, A&E are analog only.
That really sucks. Our cable system here has all of those as digital SD and HD. The only channels not sent in HD are things like MTV2 and CSPAN. I think there might be one or two HBO sub-channels that are SD-only. However, everything is digital on our system.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:18 PM   #18
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Charter is suppose to be upgrading most systems to have 100+ HD channels, but apparently ours is crappy and can't be upgraded yet.

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