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Can we talk about Tivo Picture Qaulity

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

  1. BBHughes

    BBHughes Member

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    That particular picture was taken from my DLP Projector, but I could have taken the same picture from any of my TV's and it would have looked about the same. My point was the Tivo does a horrible job of converting 1080i/60 to 1080p/30, it's not the TV doing it. It also never made that conversion before Hydra. Before Hydra if you had any 1080P settings enabled it would convert 1080i/60 to 1080p/60 not 1080p/30. And because of this bug you cannot get native output in all situations without toggling the 1080p/24 passthrough checkbox on or off depending on what you are watching. Also its not true that all TV's display the same field rate depending on what is input. My DLP projector actually changes the speed of the colorwheel and dlp chip depending on if its receiving 24, 25,30 or 60 fps. You can actually hear it spinning up or down when switching and the color goes funny for a second or so until it completely syncs the speed. My Plasma can also display 24p at 48hz while other plasmas can use 72hz for 24p content. At the end of the day I just want to see the picture get to the TV with as little alteration as possible without having to go into the settings and change them every time and that just doesn't seem to be happening right now. I think we've also got enough people that have replied now that also see the overall softness the Tivo is producing even when its working normally and not making that conversion to admit that's also an issue.
     
  2. Diana Collins

    Diana Collins Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    I said "panel" - meaning a flat panel display. Some DLP systems are different, particularly one old enough to have a color wheel (although, the issues with color wheels are far worse). We have a DLP set as well (although it is a Samsung with 3 LEDs instead of a wheel) and it changes the display field rate. This is not an option for plasma, LCD or OLED panels.
     
  3. BBHughes

    BBHughes Member

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    We'll just have to agree to disagree lol. Like I said my plasma can also change refresh rates for 24p content, it actually switches it to 48hz from 60hz for that and a lot of plasma's do 72hz instead to lessen the flickering that 48hz can cause when viewing 24p content. You might be right though for LCD and OLED displays those probably do have one fixed refresh rate. Also, while DLP technology is long gone for rear projection TV's, it is alive and well for front projection and almost all of them still use color wheels. My projector is only two years old, and new models are being released all the time that work the same way, the newest ones from this year even do 4k and hdr, and yes they have color wheels.
     
  4. BBHughes

    BBHughes Member

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    I made one more comparison, this time on a completely different LCD TV and using a mini v2 vs the mini vox and projector I used for the first pic. It exhibits the same picture degradation switching a 1080i OTA signal to 1080p30. And that’s what you get it you select the 1080p pass through in the display settings which is the only way to get 1080p for OTT apps on the mini v2.

    Notice that you can actually see the thin blue stripe outlining the big stripe on the original 1080i version much clearer than what that looks like on the 1080p30 converted version. If viewing on a phone you might have to zoom in a bit to see the line isn’t smooth but very jagged looking.

    [​IMG]

    The tivo should not be doing this. If such degradation is too little for some people to notice or be bothered by, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening and they shouldn’t fix it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
  5. Diana Collins

    Diana Collins Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    That is a well known problem in Broadcom video processors. They invert the interlaced field sequence so what should be:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

    Plays back as:

    2 1 4 3 6 5 8 7 0 9

    This would effect any Broadcom processor that supports more than 4 streams. This applies to TiVo, but also to DirecTV and Arris (at minimum).
     
  6. BBHughes

    BBHughes Member

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    Yeah that might very well explain what’s causing this particular issue in the pictures I posted. I actually linked to a post about that issue earlier and it was seemingly resolved at the time of the original post but perhaps it has came back again when it’s doing the conversion to 1080p30. It does it right though if you can get it to output 1080p60 by disabling the 24/25/30 1080p passthrough that’s why I think they should just go back to doing that way all the time for 1080i like it did pre-hydra. So maybe that one is explainable and hopefully fixable, but I still think even when working normally the picture is definitely softer compared to other devices with the same content. No explanation for that one yet but it’s definitely there if you look hard enough.
     
  7. Diana Collins

    Diana Collins Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    I'm not disputing what you are seeing and reporting, just questioning that it has anything to do with MPEG decoding. That is all digital data and so can't make it "soft" - that would mean they are altering the data at the pixel level. It is far more likely to be happening way later in the process, most likely at the HDMI interface where the data is remodulated onto the carrier wave. The problem is that if I'm right, there is little that can be done to fix it since it is beyond the reach of any code, it would be in the HDMI interface hardware.

    Of course, there is a reason why progressive scan content is preferred...interlacing introduces subtle registration and motion tracking issues. So a portion of the effect is to be expected when displaying interlaced content.
     
  8. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    The softness he's referring to, as well as the horizontal line noise that I and others have seen, doesn't have anything to do with interlacing/de-interlacing; those issues were present on every video signal that my Roamio output, including native progressive scan.

    And just to be clear to anyone skimming through this thread, there are two PQ issues being discussed here:
    • the softness and noise issue (which, on at least some TiVos, seems to affect all HD (and SD?) video output from all sources, both broadcast and streaming)
    • poor 1080i60 to 1080p30 conversion (which is a particular problem in Hydra since it wrongly automatically converts 1080i60 to 1080p30, rather than retaining 1080i60 in native form, when the 1080p passthrough output option is checked)
    Maybe you're right that the HDMI interface has something to do with either or both issues, although I don't think I buy the idea that the TiVo's internal video decoder -- a Broadcom chip, yes? -- can't be the source of the problem. (Sorry if that's not what you were saying in your first para above.) Different decoders/graphics chips do have different capabilities and process video differently. See this article from a year ago in which Broadcom talks about a new video decoder SoC for cable STBs that, among other things, boasts this feature:

    HD and SD video quality enhancement with per-pixel motion adaptive de-interlacing and picture enhancement processing that removes noise and contouring

    The chip Broadcom is referencing there isn't used in the Roamio or Bolt but my point is that different video decoder SoCs do make a difference in the quality of the video stream they output. Perhaps if our TiVos had this newer Broadcom SoC rather than the older ones they use, we wouldn't be seeing these PQ issues.
     
  9. bjstick

    bjstick New Member

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    I'm surprised this isn't getting more attention. Does the new Mini VOX use the same video decoder as the Bolt / Bolt VOX?
     
    jwort93 likes this.
  10. mattyro7878

    mattyro7878 Active Member

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    I recently replaced a TCL Roku tv and that unit was horrible in shadows and blacks. I didnt realize how bad it was until I got the 55 Samsung 6290. Much better picture in every way and a decent user interface and a full web browser.
     
  11. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    Why would it get more attention? There are a lot of variables here, and most people don't care.
     
  12. powrcow

    powrcow Member

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    My cable provider has a very low bit rate on HD signals, so it's more of a question of which is making the picture worse.
     
  13. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    I would definitely say that lower bitrates are a much bigger contributor to poor picture quality than the TiVo-specific issues raised above.
     
  14. bjstick

    bjstick New Member

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    I disagree. The picture quality is very noticeable in application menus... it's just softer. Much more so on my UHD 65" OLED than my FHD 46" LED.
     
  15. Series3Sub

    Series3Sub Well-Known Member

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    It is probably superior/inferior processing of the output, considering the OP was able to get superior/proper PQ using the same stream via other devices. While there is a limit to how good the PQ will output depending on the era of chip and whatever else, I would not be surprised if this can be fixed by firmware update, especially with the improper frame rate conversion reported only after Hydra--if I've read that part properly. While it could be a hardware problem, most often it is how TiVo--or other companies providing boxes--make choices or compromises in their customization when dealing with the code, and for reasons many of us could ever imagine.

    It could easily have been the case that TiVo engineers/techs knew about the first problem, but with pressure to release the boxes by target date, may have decided that because it can't be seen that much unless blown up on very large displays or 100" from a projector, TiVo may have just sent it out anyway instead of fixing the problem and missing the release date. They may have figured they won't even do anything about it even after launch unless enough people complain or report it; then they can take the time and resources to deal with it then, if they are in the mood.

    I'm not saying that I know that as a fact, but far more often, especially in the digital domain, the software is where the real power and problems can be, and TiVo S5 isn't using last decades chips in its boxes. It takes time, which is MONEY, to deal with anything on the software level, so TiVo--considering the TiVo box as we know it is a declining business--has incentive to just NOT deal with these 2 problems and MOVE ON to pushing S6: a business decision. I also find TiVo Ted's absence on this thread to offer an explanation of some sort or at least "defend" TiVo S5 boxes and how we are all wrong, to be illuminating. Of course, this forum has TiVo apologists and especially one who ALWAYS does TiVo's "company line" defense of any notion that TiVo and its products are ever the "problem" but rather the ignorance of those reporting the problem is the problem, but, it seems, never TiVo. That adds a layer of distraction.

    I can't see the horizontal line or the "softness" because 55" is the largest display I have. Also, all my TiVo's (and other devices) are running through external processors of some kind--very advanced chips, so it might reduce the effect on a display as small as 55" to the point that my NOT great eyes can't see the problems.

    However, in the past, I thought many times that when I switched between my S3's and my S5's (in two rooms, both the S3's and S5's share the same display, so I can see differences pretty instantly) the S3's did seem a bit more "clear" or just slightly better "detail." I've noticed this many times, but I just thought it was just some effect in my brain and nothing real. However, now that I've come across this thread, I will take more notice of the difference in PQ between my S3's and S5's.

    Thank you to the OP and a really great thread by all (even apologists) to this thread. Very illuminating.

    I am willing to bet (a common expression), that TiVo can fix both problems, but probably don't want to, especially since it is all about Bolt and Hydra. I can't blame TiVo Ted for being "mum." He wants to keep his job, and I don't want to see him living in the park.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
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  16. TrueEddie

    TrueEddie Member

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    Great thread! I recently moved from a 70" 1080P TV to an 86" 4K TV and the softness has become quite visible. I kept questioning my eyes thinking I must be crazy. But last night I loaded up the Netflix app from the TV and compared it to the TiVO Netflix app, wow what a difference.

    This makes me sad because I've always used the TiVo as the center of my entertainment experience. I use it for broadcast OTA recordings, Netflix/Hulu/Amazon streaming and even use it with Plex. I considered TiVo to be the perfect box as it handled all of my needs. But this picture quality issue isn't just noticeable, but highly distracting.

    I feel like I don't know what to do. You might think I'm being dramatic, but stuff like this bothers me. I've been a TiVo user for almost 10 years, and I don't really want to switch to some other box. But I feel like based on the number of threads discussing this issue it's not going to be addressed any time soon. The improvement in quality when using other devices means I will have to do research and decide if it's worth switching.
     
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  17. BBHughes

    BBHughes Member

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    Glad to see there are others that feel the same way as I do. I had to wonder myself if I was just being too picky before starting this thread. But at the same time I'm also somewhat surprised there haven't been more complaints because there are enough people with high quality HDTVs and UHD TVs out there these days that if they really paid any attention they would see the difference too. I love the way my Tivo works otherwise but knowing I'm not quite getting the picture quality I should bugs the heck out of me. I've pretty much switched to only using the Tivo for live and recorded OTA at this point. And even for that I've started researching the alternatives but any alternatives would have other compromises. I think my ideal solution at this point would be for the Tivo to work more like the Tablo does but without modifying the original recording any way, just be a headless box that stores the recordings and has tuners for live TV that I can connect to with any streaming box running the Tivo app. I tried last night to capture some pictures of the overall softness that the Tivo outputs compared to other devices but so far that has eluded me, my cell phone camera just isn't up to snuff to capture that level of detail and some of the difference I see is in the level of noise I'm not sure would show up unless it was captured with a video instead of a still picture.
     
  18. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    The improper frame rate conversion problem in Hydra is almost certainly a software issue that TiVo could correct. As for the more fundamental issue of soft and noisy video processing, I couldn't say. I do know that it never seemed to get worse or better over the three years that I had a Roamio OTA as TiVo updated the software on that box. My assumption is that the problem lies at a very low level, if not in the hardware (SoC, HDMI port, etc.), then in the system firmware or the core of the TiVo OS. But I freely admit that I'm not a developer, so what do I know?

    Good points.

    I could see those issues on two different 55" TVs, a 1080p LCD and a UHD OLED. But in neither case was the TiVo signal being fed through external processors, just maybe passing through the HDMI ports on a non-upscaling AV receiver.

    I do want to point out again that, while I could see the issue, I believe that it's subtle enough that the vast majority of TiVo users would never notice. I have learned, from watching TV with friends and family of all ages over the years, that I'm way more critical of picture quality than most folks. Problems like compression artifacts, which mainly come from how the content distributor encodes their video rather than how the TiVo (or other device) plays it, are a much bigger issue to me than TiVo's slightly soft and noisy video processing.

    I can specifically recall once turning off a 1080p show streaming through the Amazon app built into my LG UHD TV and resuming watching it in the Amazon app in the Roamio because it looked better on the Roamio due to fewer compression artifacts! My assumption is that Amazon had (overly aggressively) encoded that video in HEVC h.265 to send to the TV app but had encoded it in the older AVC h.264 to send to the Roamio app.
     
  19. JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

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    Here's my problem. I agree with you. I have a small (40") 1080p Sony. My cable feed doesn't alter what it gets. Two years ago my CBS feed came from a station with no sub-channels. I was getting over 16Mbps. Then they added two sub-channels. The bit rate dropped to 12Mbps. A few months ago they added two more sub-channels. Now my bit rate is down to just over 10Mbps. So as much as I like a nice picture, I can't see how my TiVo is going to make things better since they are not the reason my quality has dropped. As for streaming, everything I like to watch has been 2ch stereo and most still have commercials. My cable feed has caps too. Who knows what the future will bring? I'll wait and watch.
     
  20. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Well, I've tried a few different things since moving on from a TiVo Roamio OTA, so I could probably help you out. Feel free to start a new thread ("Alternatives to TiVo for OTA TV" or some such) or send me a PM. Right now, I'm using an Apple TV 4K as my main viewing device and I have an HDHomeRun network OTA tuner which I use with MythTV (free open source DVR server software) on my Mac for recording and storing shows, which I can then play back on the Apple TV 4K. I also own a Tablo, so can answer questions about that. I've also tried Plex DVR. And then there are some other OTA DVR options for use with various Android TV streamers; I know about those options but haven't tried them myself.
     

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