how well does ota work on a tivo Premiere?

Discussion in 'TiVo Premiere DVRs' started by tootal2, Sep 11, 2011.

  1. tootal2

    tootal2 Active Member

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    Does the Premiere ota work better then the tivo hd ota? The Premiere should have newer and better ota tuners then the tivo hd. i thimk
     
  2. scandia101

    scandia101 Just the facts ma'am

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    I believe they use the same hardware and how well they work depends on where your OTA signals come from, and your antenna's ability to pull them in.
     
  3. L David Matheny

    L David Matheny Active Member

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    The TiVo HD and the Premiere use the same tuner chips, but something (the demodulator, I think) is greatly improved. On distant stations (about 70 miles in my case) reception is similar, but on a couple of local stations with severe multipath, the Premiere often has orders of magnitude fewer uncorrected errors. Those two stations are almost always watchable (and sometimes perfect) on the Premiere, but they are often unwatchable on the TiVo HD. I have posted about this several times. I'm OTA only.
     
  4. tazmandman

    tazmandman New Member

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    I just recently upgraded to a Premiere from an HD and it was the same as far as OTA channels/quality coming in.

    I upgraded my OTA Antenna and got more channels with less interference, so from my experience I haven't seen any difference.
     
  5. jfh3

    jfh3 Active Member

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    Hard to answer the question - so much of OTA reception depends on the distance you are from the towers and the type of antenna you have.

    For me, an Original Series 3 and a Premiere XL tuned the same stations stronger/quicker than a TiVo HD (same location, antenna, etc), but when I got a better antenna for my location reception was improved on all. I would avoid a THD as a primary OTA box if that is an option, but it can work fine.

    For other reasons, I am going to an all Premiere network, including one OTA only box.
     
  6. tootal2

    tootal2 Active Member

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    Oct 14, 2005
    tivo premiere is 19.95 a month? think i will stay with my tivo s2 and tivo hd.
    What happen to 12.95 a month tivo?
     
  7. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    Any idea how the original S3 tuners compare to the HD and Premiere?
     
  8. L David Matheny

    L David Matheny Active Member

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    I have no experience with the original TiVo Series3, but it is also included in the table in this FAQ. Apparently it uses the same demodulator ICs as the TiVo HD, so I wouldn't expect it to handle multipath any better, and it uses Philips tuners, which I'm guessing TiVo dropped for a reason (when they switched to Microtune).
     
  9. VideoGrabber

    VideoGrabber New Member

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    I can't answer that for the current firmware in the Premieres (I was hoping to find a positive answer to that here). But I can say definitely that last summer, the tuners in the Premieres (or decoders, or the firmware controlling them) were substantially worse than the S3.

    I went nuts adjusting my antenna, trying to get 2 problem channels here to lock in without glitching on my then-new Premiere, with no luck. Having swapped in the Premiere to replace my S3 that was slated to move to another room. I just happened to switch the antenna coax back over to my S3, and voila, perfect reception. Going back and forth between the two units with an identical signal showed a 5-6 dB S/N differential, and lots more Errors (correctable and not) on the Premiere. So my results were hardly surprising. I wrote about them here at the time.

    Returned that unit to BB, and when I called into TiVo to cancel my Service on that box, got conned by a CSR promising me that the problems were known and had been corrected, and I could see for myself if I let him ship me a new Premiere. Seemed unlikely, but I went along. Got the new unit, wasted a lot of time testing and profiling it, and exactly the same (lack of) performance.

    [IGNORABLE RANT: Unfortunately, I got stuck with that 2nd $200 Premiere, because I had a heart attack and couldn't ship it back before the RMA expired. And TiVo has repeatedly declined adding PLS on it for any reasonable price, so I could use it on cable, or at least dump it on eBay and get something out of it. So it's still sitting in the box a year later, unused, since they aren't worth anything anymore. Luckily though, that $200 loss was the knat's @ss on a $53k hospital bill. ;) And I'm still around to b!tch about it.]

    Of course, if you have loads of signal strength, and no multipath problems, the tuners in the Premieres are just fine. Many have no problem with them at all. Some have noted that the signal strength readout on the Premieres is lower, but that's a relative indicator, and basically irrelevant. Whether the same signal shows 95% on one unit or 80% on the other makes no difference in the reception quality.

    And for cable use, which is apparently where TiVo thinks everyone is going, it's a non-issue.
     
  10. BetaMark

    BetaMark New Member

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    Haven't had any OTA issues with our Premiere XL. Then again, we're pretty much line-of-sight with the antenna array at Mt. Wilson. :D
     
  11. steve614

    steve614 what ru lookin at?

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    I have a Tivo HD and a Premiere sharing the same antenna.
    I do not notice any difference in reception or PQ.

    I did notice that the Premiere reports a lower signal level than the TivoHD.
    AFAIK, no one has been able to explain why this is.
    I suspect it's a hardware thing.
     
  12. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like the CSR lied to you. Although they may not have been aware that they were doing so, you bought on their assurance that the problem had been corrected, when in fact it had not been. They owe you a refund and you should give them hell until you get it.
     
  13. VideoGrabber

    VideoGrabber New Member

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    Thanks. Normally that would have been my reaction as well, from any company other than TiVo. But I've been with them from day one (what, 12 years and 6 TiVos now?), and talked to many of them over the years. And while someone there may not always know all the facts, they've always been helpful, considerate, and honest. I'd find deliberate deception to be very surprising.

    However, I'm not exactly a rube, and the CSR was knowledgeable, articulate, and genuinely seemed to want to help. I'm not conned that easily, but his claims were very specific. Heck, I don't know... maybe he got a retention bonus or something for everyone he talked out of canceling service and sold them another Premiere.

    And as far as me giving them hell demanding a refund, they already agreed to do so, and provided an RMA at the time. I just didn't happen to be in a position to take advantage of it, which is no fault of TiVo's. Afterwards, I just said, "oh well", and hoped that someday I could add PLS to it and sell it, or be able to use it if I returned to cable.

    The key being PLS (which I have on both my S3 and my wife's.) Unfortunately, PLS has done nothing but go up since then, and Premiere hardware prices have dropped to dirt cheap. I just didn't get lucky on that. When they had the Premiere + Lifetime offer last week for $449 for anybody (not a current customer reward), I did call to see if they could add PLS to my non-activated Premiere (that I bought direct from them for $200), for the $250 difference. "Sorry, no can do. $399 is the best we can offer, and only because you're a current owner eligible for MSD. Or you can just buy another Premiere for $449." Ah, no thanks.

    Thinking I'd give the Premiere OTA tuners another try for a month, to see if a year of updates had changed things any, I then asked about activating it with monthly, which I thought I qualified for a $9.99 monthly rate (based on MSD and when I bought it). But was told no, $14.99 was the best they could do with MSD, because they "no longer consider when a unit was purchased". Didn't sound right to me, but since I hadn't done my homework (and still haven't), I didn't argue with him. :(
     
  14. VideoGrabber

    VideoGrabber New Member

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    In general, you won't. As long as your signal level is adequate, i.e., above a certain threshold level, they will seem identical. It's just when things drop lower to marginal that the differences become visible.

    Yes, that's something that most find somewhat confusing. First off, the signal strength isn't an absolute measurement by any means. It's just a relative number, and frankly doesn't mean much, other than possibly to be useful for aiming an antenna. You can get just as good a digital picture with a 50% SS as 98% SS. You can compare numbers between 2 Premiere units (with the same software versions), but not between different models (Premiere and S3). Unfortunately, SS is the only measure easily visible.

    What can be compared (on a buried diagnostic screen) is the SNR (signal to noise ratio). That's actually an absolute measurement (though not guaranteed to be calibrated and super accurate, it probably tracks within 1 dB). You generally find that cable signals are around 35 dB, strong antenna signals ~30+ dB, and good antenna signals anywhere from 20-30 dB. As it drops below 20 dB (or below 25 dB for those with multipath, which I apparently have), things become more problematic, and lock can be lost.

    My Premiere could receive all of my channels just fine, with the exception of 2, that happened to be borderline, but I never knew it on my S3. My stations are 30-50 miles away, which is worse than what most folks deal with. On those two, SNR was consistently 5-6 dB lower on the Premiere than the S3, and breakups and glitches reflected that reality. I.e., it couldn't pull the signal out of the noise. Like everyone else, I assumed that a newer TiVo with newer hardware would be better than the multi-year older models, and not worse. So as I said, I was pretty surprised. :eek: Actually, shocked would have been more accurate. :)

    It might be, but I thought (and hoped) not. The tuners and decoders used are microprocessor-controlled, and have a number of (firmware) parameters that control their operation. When the S3 came out, TiVo spent some time tweaking these parameters to get the best results. Unfortunately, that hardware changed on the Premieres, so the same parameters no longer applied. And TiVo didn't take the time initially to tweak them, before releasing the new boxes. Maybe they still haven't, since OTA is not any kind of priority, AFAICT, but they certainly could do so. And there would be a radical difference, for those of us on the borderline.

    Or maybe, as you suspect, the hardware is just crap, and this is a casualty of cost-cutting measures. I can't identify the reasons, only the results.
     
  15. VideoGrabber

    VideoGrabber New Member

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    I just went back and re-read this, and had to smile a bit. By definition, lying requires a knowledge that what you are saying is untrue. If he believed it was true, even if he was wrong, that's not lying.

    That part is absolutely true. If I had not been affirmatively told that the problem had absolutely been corrected, there is no way I would have agreed to having a second Premiere shipped out to me. Which resulted in a lot of time wasted while I did testing, and confirmed that nothing had been fixed.

    Receiving a 2nd unit, unboxing, setting up, running tests, disconnecting, reboxing, and shipping back at my expense is something I never would have done on a 'maybe', for a unit I already knew I didn't want (at its current level of functionality), because it flat-out didn't work for me.
     
  16. VideoGrabber

    VideoGrabber New Member

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    I agree there must have been some reason. However, it is just as possible they did it because the Philips cost more, and even if the Microtune were worse, cost factors could win out.

    I'm not saying this is the case, simply that your implication that they dropped Philips for Microtune because the Microtune were better, has no foundation.
     
  17. VideoGrabber

    VideoGrabber New Member

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    For those looking for insight on the OP's question, I would say that unless something I am unaware of has changed, that the TPs are not a good choice for those relying on antenna reception in a marginal situation.

    If all your stations are close (within 20 miles), or high power, and you have no signal reflection problems, then the TP will be just fine, and you'll wonder why anyone is even discussing the issue. However, if your stations are 30 miles out or more, or you have multipath problems, the TP will not perform well, and will be easily bested by the older S3. If everyone was moving to cable, this would also be a non-issue. But with more folks cutting the cable, and moving to OTA, it's becoming a serious consideration.

    And BTW, that's what I did. When I found that the TP simply didn't work for me with 2 of my local stations (glitching, freezes, and dropouts), I went out and bought a used S3 with PLS off eBay for my wife. And both our S3's have been working just fine, with no complaints, and no changes other than swapping an S3 for a TP. (Actually 2 different TPs that were tried.)

    [And also BTW, I wasted a lot of time on my first TP, thinking that something must be wrong with my antenna, or signal chain. So hours were spent, checking connections, every link in the chain, re-aiming the antenna, evaluating the results, etc. I just couldn't get the darn thing to lock in. Then I happened to reconnect the S3, and bang, everything was fine again.

    That's when it dawned on me, and I spent even more hours testing to determine the differences and characteristics which resulted in the problems. So what I'm relating to you here in a few moments is something I spent weeks farting around with, over a 2 month period, testing two separate TiVo Premieres. Including signal checks with an RF spectrum analyzer.]
     
  18. L David Matheny

    L David Matheny Active Member

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    I'm OTA only. I've never used an original S3, but my Premiere (with WD20EVDS 2TB drive) works as well for stations about 70 miles away as my TiVo HD (both fed from a C.M. 4228 antenna and a C.M. 7777 preamp). And the Premiere has fewer uncorrected errors (sometimes by a factor of 100 or more) than the TiVo HD on a couple of local stations which I believe have severe multipath. I have posted about this before. I believe your account of your experiences, but I wanted to restate the other side of the OTA issue. I suppose the differences could conceivably be explained by the different tuner chips in the original S3 and the TiVo HD, but I do find that hard to believe.
     
  19. VideoGrabber

    VideoGrabber New Member

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    Thanks, David. I believe your account as well. I'm not sure what the differences are attributable to either.

    I am glad to hear that your Premiere is working so well for you, and wonder how long it has been doing so?
     
  20. L David Matheny

    L David Matheny Active Member

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    I bought my Premiere in Nov. 2010, started using it before Christmas, and activated it in Jan. 2011. My original and most detailed report of that is here. My speculation about the interrupt structure of the Broadcom processor may have been misguided, but my other comments stand. And I forgot that I wondered at that time if the reception differences I noticed might be attributable to differences in hard drive cache sizes. I guess that's still the best explanation I can come up with.

    EDIT: I meant to say that the early reception differences I noticed, where the Premiere seemed to have higher error counts while still using the 320GB drive, might be attributable to differences in hard drive cache sizes. The dramatic improvement on the two local stations (compared to the TiVo HD) surely must be due to the improved demodulator chips.
     

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