Bolt reliability?

Discussion in 'TiVo Bolt DVR/Streamer' started by spatula, Jul 30, 2019.

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  1. spatula

    spatula Member

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    Mar 31, 2014
    San Mateo,...
    To compress this story as much as possible, back in March I got my parents a TiVo Bolt Vox to use to get OTA channels and streaming services. It worked for about 2 months before it had a sudden and catastrophic tuner sensitivity failure. After much troubleshooting and getting insistent with Support, they were sent a refurb replacement for their Bolt.

    The replacement worked for 6 weeks, and three days ago it started exhibiting the same behavior-- only the strongest signals come in, and everything else suddenly and catastrophically failed. Other TVs and tuners in the same house still "see" all the channels they saw before at the same signal strength as before, and only the TiVo's behavior has changed. I'm sure replacing it again would fix the problem again, temporarily. No, there hasn't been a repack. Yes, they've scanned for channels again anyway.

    I can't keep going through the setup song and dance remotely for my parents every couple months, so I'm curious if anyone else has experienced repeated reliability problems with the Bolt series, specifically with the Bolt Vox 500 GB. Cursory searching seems to indicate they have some heat-related problems.

    Has anyone else gone through multiple replacements with TiVo, and if so, did you ever get one that worked consistently and continually?
     
  2. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    Knock wood, 2-1/4 years on a Bolt 500GB box (recently replaced with an internal 3TB hard drive) without any issue.

    Note: my Bolt box never has run hot and always has seemed to be on the lower or mid side of reported temperatures; to keep things cooler, I've also had it on bottle cap risers and, most recently, removed the cablecard hatch door and put the box on a dual-fan cooling pad (running on low, to avoid any sound) blowing up onto the box. The cooling pad and the removal of the cablecard hatch door have lowered the ODT by around 15 degrees--the ODT is 48 degrees right now, in a 72F-degree room. You might try this, especially if you have a spare laptop fan cooling pad or other fan around (I originally used a cheap-o laptop fan cooling pad that I had picked up earlier from Fry's Electronics).
     
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  3. spatula

    spatula Member

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    Mar 31, 2014
    San Mateo,...
    Thanks, that's a good idea. They really do seem to run quite hot, and I recall reading a thread not long ago about how they ran even hotter or ran the fan more after an update that went out not terribly long ago.
     
  4. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    From my testing, even just removing the cablecard hatch door lowered the ODT for me by 3-4 degrees.

    A TiVo staffer has noted here that the Bolt box can run very much hotter without any issue. At the same time, users have reported that issues have gone away when the box was cooled down. Who knows? But it can't hurt . . . . ;)

    Often recommended: an AC Infinity fan/dual fan or cooling pad, available at Amazon.com. Not expensive at all, and they seem quality with a long life.
     
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  5. Aug 1, 2019 #5 of 15
    hairyblue

    hairyblue A good Man

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    Mobile, AL
    I just got my new Bolt in and it was DOA. They are sending me a new power brick/supply. I have 2 other Tivo premiers that are still running after over 10 years.

    But the Mini I bought a couple of years ago had a lot of problems too and had to be replaced.

    We'll see....and hope.
     
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  6. Aug 1, 2019 #6 of 15
    spatula

    spatula Member

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    San Mateo,...
    My Roamio is over 5 years old and has never had so much as a hiccup. That's part of why I was so surprised and dismayed at how badly my parents' Bolts have performed.
     
  7. Aug 1, 2019 #7 of 15
    dianebrat

    dianebrat wait.. I did what? TCF Club

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    boston'ish
    so far I have the following Bolt's in the family.
    3x 500GB Bolt ranging from 4-1 year old, no issues.
    1x 3TB Bolt 3 years old, went dead at the 1.5y mark was replaced without issues since.
    2x Roamios updated to 3TB never had an issue with either.
     
  8. Aug 1, 2019 #8 of 15
    snerd

    snerd Well-Known Member

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    This is simple physics -- raising the temperature of any electronic device *always* increases the failure rate. Any reasonable cooling of a Bolt can only help.
     
  9. Aug 2, 2019 #9 of 15
    porkenstein

    porkenstein Geek

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    Donna, Texas
    I have a bolt a little less than a year. Today all I had was snow on the screen. Thought I had an antenna problem but no. I rebooted it and I do have video for probably about a minute As it’s booting And then a snowy screen again. I’m not surprised as last night every once in while I was losing video and then will pop right back on. I have a two tuner premiere that has been running for years and works perfect and a Romeo same way. I even modified my bolt With a fan that blows out the top of the case but it didn’t help. Very disappointed in the new TiVo’s And won’t be buying any more
     
  10. jadziedzic

    jadziedzic Member

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    Apr 20, 2009
    Those are the same symptoms I experienced with a TiVo Bolt+ a few years back. After it cooled off things were fine for a few months, then the tuner died completely. You might try calling TiVo to see if they'll send you a replacement.
     
  11. porkenstein

    porkenstein Geek

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    Aug 11, 2002
    Donna, Texas
    I guess it wouldn’t hurt to call but I don’t have to get a feeling they’ll do anything. Yeah I am plugged it and let it cool for quite a while just to see but unfortunately it’s toast. The quality on the bolts seem pretty cheap compared to the Romeo in the previous recorders.
     
  12. BobCamp1

    BobCamp1 Well-Known Member

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    That is simply not true. That used to be the assumption, but data over the past few decades has disproved that, especially with electrical components. There are so many other factors involved in component reliability that temperature is in the noise (no pun intended).

    Interestingly enough, the new theory is that temperature and current fluctuations could play a role, so in theory everybody should disable the power savings in their Tivos.

    But my guess is that the quality of the parts used combined with bad electrical design is causing problems.
     
  13. snerd

    snerd Well-Known Member

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    NIST cites the Arrhenius model as "One of the earliest and most successful acceleration models predicts how time-to-fail varies with temperature", and the final line of this page states "This covers many of the non-mechanical (or non-material fatigue) failure modes that cause electronic equipment failure."

    I stand by my claim.
     
  14. BobCamp1

    BobCamp1 Well-Known Member

    1,785
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    Or, you could quote articles written in this century, like this one:
    Temperature and reliability in electronics systems - the missing link | Electronics Cooling

    "The fundamental difficulties related to the use of MIL-HDBK-217 have been previously discussed in many publications [2-5], and therefore only the main issues are pointed out here.

    The basis of the handbook is the assumption that many of the chip level failure mechanisms occurring under accelerated test conditions are diffusion-dominated physical or chemical processes, where the failure rate is represented by an exponential equation. Using this relationship assumes that failure mechanisms active under test conditions are also active during operation. This is substantially incorrect, since some failure mechanisms have a temperature threshold below which the mechanism is not active, while others are suppressed at elevated temperatures.

    In the temperature range -55 to 150 C, most of the reported failure mechanisms are not due to a high steady-state temperature. They either depend on temperature gradients, temperature cycle magnitude, or rate of change of temperature [5]."

    Reference 4 from this article is an article titled, “We still have a headache with Arrhenius”. The main problem is that we in the reliability community are pretty confident that high temperatures aren't the problem (unless you're talking about a hard drive, which has oil and glue in it). But we don't know what the problem is. In my 25 years of experience, the problem hasn't been one thing. It's been bad design, poorly assembled circuit boards (bad solder flow and wrong components), an unannounced change in a component, or occasionally a bad batch of components. Each product seems to have its own set of problems. And unfortunately these kinds of problems are difficult to track down, much less predict.

    All you can do is try to avoid products that others have said aren't reliable, and pester the manufacturer for a free or discounted replacement.
     
  15. snerd

    snerd Well-Known Member

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