Can we talk about Tivo Picture Qaulity

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by BBHughes, Mar 1, 2018.

  1. Mar 1, 2018 #1 of 85
    BBHughes

    BBHughes Member

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    I'm starting this thread to try to get the attention of Tivo_Ted and anyone else at Tivo that can help with this. I feel like Tivo owners are probably likely to be AV enthusiasts that care greatly about things such as Picture quality.

    First with Hydra there are still issues with the Native video output, it simply just does not work consistently, this worked under the old UI, it should be a simple fix to make it work the same. An even bigger annoyance to me though is that when selecting the 1080p 24/30 pass through output for apps like Netflix and others, it will make the 1080i OTA or cable channels output at 1080p 30. These should stay at 1080i 60, or output at 1080p 60 if you have the 1080p mode selected. This is how it works under the old UI. There is a noticeable drop off in quality when it changes the output to 1080p 30, everything looks like it has some weird edge enhancement turned on. Even the menus look bad and the system information screen will actually report 480p mode.

    Second issue, even when things are working correctly and the Tivo is sending the correct resolution, it is downgrading the picture quality slightly compared to other sources. This affects both Hydra and the old interface and probably every model since the Roamio that I can tell from my testing. I've seen this personally on the Roamio, Roamio OTA, Tivo Mini Gen2 and Mini Vox. They all behave the same which makes me believe it has to be a software issue. The picture quality downgrade is not huge, but it is definitely noticeable if you have a big enough TV that is properly calibrated. It is not as noticeable on my 65" Plasma TV but the difference in quality is much greater when I compare devices on my 120" projection screen. The easiest way to see it is comparing a high quality source like Netflix between the Tivo and another device and playing the same video and switching back and forth. At the same resolution, the Tivo, no matter what model looks worse each time in that comparison. There is slightly less detail overall and things look very flat like the video is slightly blurred and dark areas seem to have more noise, the color doesnt' seem to pop quite as much as well. I've even went as far as pulling an OTA HD recording off of my Tivo with KMTTG and then playing back the very same recording via Kodi on my Fire TV. The Fire TV hands down looks better. The quality difference is probably not enough of a difference for most people to notice or complain but if you care about video quality and getting the most of our your HDTV or UHD TV you will want this fixed. You might think you are getting the best image possible now but you are not. There have been posts about this in the past but it doesn't look like it went anywhere. Here are just a few threads.

    Soft Picture Quality even with video passthrough enabled

    Very soft picture quality on TiVo Bolt

    Picture Quality not that great with Tivo Bolt

    Anyone else seeing the same thing and want this fixed? I have a feeling I'll be moving back to DirecTV eventually if its not eventually addressed, especially when I make the jump to upgrade my TV's and projector to 4K.
     
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  2. Mar 1, 2018 #2 of 85
    JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

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  3. Mar 1, 2018 #3 of 85
    BBHughes

    BBHughes Member

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    I've found the downgrade in quality that the Tivo is displaying for OTA stations to be much harder to spot than a 1080P video from Netflix or Amazon simply because most OTA stations are squeezing their bitrate these days with all the sub channels anyway. But I was able to test that by pulling a recording with KMTTG and playing it back with the FireTV and see it there as well. I think its definitely downgrading the picture slightly on any source unfortunately.
     
  4. Mar 1, 2018 #4 of 85
    JoeKustra

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    I understand. My "go to" test is to play the trailer from the movie "Fury" on Amazon. If it looks good (1080/p24) and has DD+, it passes. Outdoor clips make the best test since they are usually very "busy". A few years ago, when Colbert took over The Late Show, the picture was fantastic. My CBS feed had no sub-channels and it was sending at over 16Mbps. Those were the good old days.
     
  5. Mar 1, 2018 #5 of 85
    thompsr2

    thompsr2 Member

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    I've noticed the difference in picture quality that you speak of. I've discussed it in other threads as well and since it is hard to notice, most people think I'm crazy. Regardless of content, playing that same content (Netflix, Amazon, a recorded show from kmttg) on a different device (ps4, Roku, shield, etc) yields a sharper, clearer picture. I've always thought that the picture coming from any of my TiVo boxes had an ever so slight haze that softened the picture just enough to be noticeable. The higher the resolution of the display that you're using, the easier it is to notice what I'm trying to describe.
     
  6. Mar 2, 2018 #6 of 85
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    I noticed this same issue of *slightly* inferior HD picture quality on my Roamio OTA, watching on a 55" TV. I don't think it has anything to do with firmware or software that TiVo can update; my guess is that it's something inherent to the video decoder chips that TiVo uses.

    It's hard to describe what I saw...it was like there was a faint sort of noise in the video, full of very short horizontal lines as opposed to individual pixel noise. If I compared a local OTA HD channel through the TiVo versus through the TV's internal tuner, the TiVo just didn't look *quite* as crisp and clean. But the difference was pretty subtle and it took me a good while after getting the TiVo before I noticed it.
     
  7. Mar 2, 2018 #7 of 85
    BBHughes

    BBHughes Member

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    Wow, yes the horizontal line noise! That's exactly what I see but it hard to describe, and you can see it in darker areas more I think. I really think it would have to be a software issue because I see the same thing personally with the Roamio, Mini V2 and the new Mini Vox. I've also seen some complaints about picture quality from some Bolt owners as well. All those use different Broadcom chips as far as I know.
     
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  8. Mar 2, 2018 #8 of 85
    Diana Collins

    Diana Collins Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    There are two different process streams in play here...

    1) Recordings from OTA or cable: These are recorded exactly as received, bit for bit. Tivos have not had any encoders in them since the first Tivo HD. Any PQ issues there are from the source, not the DVR.

    2) OTT streaming content: When comparing, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Rokus and most other streamers only output in 60fps at either 1080p or 720p. TiVos will output at native resolution and frame rate (i.e. most films are displayed at 1080p24, TV content at 1080p60 if your TV supoorts it, 1080p30 otherwise). Because of that, I wouldn't be surprised if they haven't paid much attention to pull-down processing. So, make sure your TiVo is sending through the signal as it is received.

    IMHO, Rokus have terrible black levels, way higher than the standard black in any common colorspace. We prefer to watch film original content on the TiVo just to see it at 24fps, which is sharper than when the frame rate is converted by the TiVo, and for the better blacks (particularly on Netflix). In addition, the apps themselves (which are supplied by the providers, not TiVo, and are poorly supported by the providers) are far more likely to make a difference than the hardware.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
  9. Mar 2, 2018 #9 of 85
    Diana Collins

    Diana Collins Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    MPEG decoding is a solved problem...I would bet that the microcode is nearly identical across the chips used by TiVo, Roku, Arris and everyone else. If you are seeing noise in the output it is more likely to be defective components than something in the design.
     
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  10. BBHughes

    BBHughes Member

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    I would agree with you that it should be a simple issue and there should be no problems in theory. But I can see it with my own eyes across several different models of Tivo's compared to all manner of devices including Amazon Fire TV's 1 & 2, Roku, Xbox One, and PS4. Both on apps like Netflix and playing OTA recordings, in which the OTA recordings were compared by playing them through kodi or plex on those other devices after extracting with KMTGG.

    Check out this thread from 2015 where the Roamio and Mini were found to be inverting information on the screen for 1080i output and Tivo Margaret got involved to get it fixed. This could very well be a similar issue that was never resolved.

    Do all Roamio and Mini have defective 1080i HDMI output?

    Even on that thread after the OP found the problem he reported to now be resolved he had this to say:

    "I had some extra time today to capture longer video sequences from the Mini and S3. I would now say that they are 90% equivalent. The S3 still has the edge overall. Even without the bug, the Roamio and Mini look slightly softer on fine details in some scenes. If anyone is interested, I can post some pics but you probably won't even notice it unless you're using a very large projection screen."

    Well I'm the guy with the large projection screen that has had lasik and I can see that softer picture lol.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
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  11. JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

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    My new Roku Ultra now does 1080/p24 and looks as good as my TiVo. Or my TiVo looks as good as my Roku. :)

    I only have a 1080p Sony which does 24fps without special stuff.
     
  12. jwort93

    jwort93 Member

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    Thanks for bringing this up again, @BBHughes I loved my TiVo, but the horizontal line noise that @NashGuy mentioned is exactly what I was experiencing with all of my TiVo units (2 different TiVo Bolts, and a TiVo Mini). I don't doubt that some people can't notice it, or that it doesn't bother them, but the fact that I experienced it with all 3 of my TiVo units, with multiple different TVs from different brands even, both when they were plugged directly into a TV or run through a receiver, and no matter if the TiVo box was upscaling the signal itself to 4k, or outputting resolution direct, makes me 100% confident that this is an inherent flaw in either the TiVo software or the hardware they are using. Exporting OTA recordings from the TiVo and playing them back through a different device, showed that this noise was not present on the recording itself, and confirmed in my mind that it was an issue with the TiVo box.

    I never really noticed it much whenever I had a 1080p TV, but as soon as I upgraded to 4k TVs, I noticed it right away, and it ended up bothering me so much that I left the TiVo platform altogether. For a short while, I decided to rent a box straight from Spectrum, and that had vastly improved picture quality (IMO) over my TiVo units, none of the horizontal line noise was present whatsoever, but I just hated the experience of the box, so I ended up leaving cable altogether for streaming services, and purchasing shows via iTunes. If TiVo could figure out what is causing this noise to be present on their boxes, and fix it, I would absolutely switch back, as I still miss the experience TiVo provided, but I couldn't justify the terrible (IMO) picture quality they they resulted in.

    @TiVo_Ted Has anyone else reported this issue, or have you noticed it yourself? I really wish I could come back, but until this is fixed, I'm afraid I just can't justify it.
     
  13. stuart628

    stuart628 Active Member

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    Man I thought it was just me, When setting up the tivo on my projector (Sony HW40es projected onto a 100" elite screen) it was noticeably softer then the spectrum box I just took down! I have a mini I am using and thought maybe bringing the mini vox down would help. But yes Picture is very soft. only noticed on projector screen, its not terrible, but it is pretty soft... I have 720p,and 1080p passthrough checked as my resolutions.
     
  14. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Just an option to consider: I'm on the beta version of DirecTV Now on an Apple TV 4K (they'll give you a unit free if you prepay 3 months of service @ $35/mo) and I'm pretty darn impressed with the HD picture quality. I'd say that, on average, it rivals that of DirecTV satellite. I've even seen folks who currently have both DTV satellite and DTV Now post on forums that they believe the latter looks a little better! Now, the regular app does not yet have cloud DVR although it is available in the beta app, which has a pretty slick UI, complete with lots of free on-demand too. They're getting the bugs ironed out and it's shaping up to be a really nice option for linear pay TV. The new version of the app is supposed to exit beta some time this spring.
     
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  15. jwort93

    jwort93 Member

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    Haha, I'm in the same beta. I too am extremely impressed by the stream quality in the beta app. Using the developer mode with my Apple TV 4K, the streams seem to be about 8-10mbps, and native 1080i tv channels are now being streamed at 1080i instead of downscaled to 720p, like they had been. Having never actually used normal DirecTV, I can without a doubt say it looks sooo much better than the Spectrum service I had before, but I have a feeling it does edge out the satellite service too. I only wish for two things with DTV Now: that they can get the stream latency down to less time for live events, they are usually about 30 seconds to a minute behind a regular cable/satellite feed. The other is that they can hopefully get 5.1 audio for all the channels. I've seen them testing it occasionally with some channels in the beta, so I'm hoping that rolls out to the rest of the channels soon.
     
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  16. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Yeah. Well, actually, the 1080i channels are being streamed at 1080p (since retail streaming devices cannot natively handle interlaced video very well). And keep in mind that the bitrate you're seeing of 8-10 Mbps is in HEVC h.265 (not AVC h.264 like traditional cable and satellite systems use, or MPEG-2 like OTA TV uses) -- at least I *think* that's the codec that AT&T is using for all the streams to Apple TV.


    Hmm, I wouldn't hold your breath on the latency (although that doesn't really bother me). As for 5.1 surround sound, yeah, I'd say it's coming for all channels that offer it since they've sporadically tested it in the beta. This new cloud-based OTT platform -- which is first powering the DTVN beta but will eventually power all AT&T TV services -- will support 4K HDR this year, so I have to think that 5.1 is a no-brainer. Heck, I imagine it will eventually support Dolby Atmos audio too, given that DTV satellite already does.
     
  17. BBHughes

    BBHughes Member

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    You guys are killing me with the Directv now talk. I may just have to jump on board if the quality is that good. If just wish my cable provider didn’t have the low data caps that they do. At 400GB per month, streaming lots of HD eats that up quickly.

    I did manage to capture a screenshot of the first problem I reported of how the Tivo is incorrectly making the change from 1080i 60fps to 1080p 30fps and is butchering the picture quality in the process. If I uncheck the 1080p 24/25fps pass-through and leave 1080p 60fps checked text looks like the picture on the left. With the 24/25fps checked it actually outputs 1080i channels at 1080p 30fps and it looks like on the right. Notice how that text is noticeably more blurry. And I want to leave that setting checked to get the smoothest playback with Netflix and other apps.

    [​IMG]
    Note: picture taken using Mini Vox with video playing, not paused.

    I wish I could capture a comparison of the second issue but that is way more subtle, but definitely there and I’m glad other people are confirming what I see so hopefully Tivo will take note and fix it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  18. bjstick

    bjstick New Member

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    I have the exact same issue. I came from a Windows Media Center setup using the HD4000 GPU and I immediately noticed it. Just look at the menus in apps like Netflix, Plex, HBO Go, and Amazon... they are all fuzzy. Like others have said, this is more noticable on my LG OLED 65" than my 8 year old Sony 46". I've begrudgingly accepted it for the time being but I'm hoping it can be fixed.
     
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  19. Diana Collins

    Diana Collins Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    True...I forgot that the 4K capable series of Rokus do 24fps.
     
  20. Diana Collins

    Diana Collins Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    The thing to keep in mind is that no matter what the input, the image on your TV is always the same resolution and field rate. If you have a 1080p TV, the display resolution is always 1080x1920. Likewise for a 4K it is double that in each dimension. Field rate is always what the set supports (one of 30, 60, 120 or 240 fields per second, depending on TV and settings). Anything else that comes in has to be converted to that resolution and field rate. All the various settings in your TiVo does is determine who does the conversion: the TiVo or the TV. Not surprisingly, different devices do the conversions better and some are worse. In my experience, I find TiVo's are somewhere in the middle of the pack - about equal to Rokus overall, although TiVo is better at somethings and the Roku better at others.

    In the case of the example images given, the input is 1080i/60, which can only be converted to 1080p/30 since that is all the frames there are. Going to 1080p/60 means simple displaying each frame in two successive fields. If your TV's panel resolution is 1080p/60 (the standard for most "full-HD" TVs, although many now support higher field rates and frame interpolation) then what your images show is that the TiVo is doing a BETTER job of converting 1080p/30 to 1080p/60 than the TV. What you are seeing is ALWAYS 1080p/60...it is just a matter of what the TV gets, and how it converts it for display.

    If you have a higher end TV it may well do better conversions than TiVo, and you should pass through everything. In some cases, the TiVo will be better. YMMV.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
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