My Bolt experience, and why I went back to my Premiere

Discussion in 'TiVo Bolt DVR/Streamer' started by Doug G, Oct 17, 2018.

  1. Doug G

    Doug G Member

    93
    3
    Mar 3, 2005
    MA
    A couple weeks ago I bought a Bolt to replace a 4 year old Premiere that had a dying HDD. Decided I didn't want to go thru the hassle of replacing the drive myself, and since the sale price from BB was about the same cost as a turn-key drive from Weaknees, I decided to give the Bolt a try.

    I have a relatively modest AV setup: Sony XBR-55X930E as my "daily driver" and a JVC DLA-RS1x for movies and special events. Both are fed via Reon HQV scaler/processor thru a VideoEQ Pro CMS. All devices are calibrated. All sources output native and the Reon does all the scaling to 1080p.

    These are just my observations and experiences - nothing more, nothing less.

    Things I liked:

    - The new interface (not sure if its "Mira" or "Hydra") wasn't as bad as I'd heard.
    - Unit was snappy to respond while moving around menus
    - Finally available in black (no way I was ever putting a white component in my rack!)

    Yup, that's pretty much it for the good.

    Now the bad:

    - The entire case is made from a translucent material that makes using an IR repeater with a Philips Pronto (which absolutely saturates the room with signal) virtually unusable. Since it picks up IR signals through the case, as well as via the repeater emitter, these often interfere with one another making IR reliability an issue. (The emitted signal has a very slight delay.) I need the IR repeater since my projection screen entirely covers my equipment rack when lowered.
    - The "jump" to end of buffer functionality doesn't really do that. It goes to ~30s prior to the end of the buffer (i.e. "live") which is not what I want nor how my Premiere works. Apparently this is an issue in Roamio versions as well. Very annoying, don't see any reason this needed to be "fixed".

    And finally, the ugly:

    - Incorrect black levels/gamma. I can't tell if the video range is just wrong, or if the gamma isn't set right (or possibly uses some non-linearity near black to "enhance" shadows) but the picture is comparatively washed out. No pop. Very flat. I have the proper black range set, but just for kicks I went to enhanced range (0-255) and it didn't help, just made things obviously worse.
    - Blown highlights - possibly related to above, very reduced detail in highlight areas.
    - DNR smearing. All content suffers from a DNR-like smearing which kills all detail and makes the picture simply look "fake". I hooked up another (working) Premiere to another HDMI input and did some A/B comparisons. The difference was immediately apparent even on a 55" screen (so I didn't even bother with the projector.) Things like minor facial wrinkles, freckles, subtle countours - all completely smeared over on the Bolt output.
    - Ringing. Probably to compensate for the "smoothing" (LOL) above, the sharpness/EE was increased to a high level in an attempt to restore a sense of detail which created obvious ringing around high contrast areas. The reality is this actually make the picture look worse, not better.

    For me PQ is the single most important aspect of any video component. Its the "final product" which is consumed, after all. I guess it was silly to think a low-cost all-in-one SoC platform could deliver the same video performance as one which was THX certified in some models.

    In the end I wiped and returned the unit. Then I bought a 2TB WD Purple HDD and used the available tools to copy/expand my older drive (which thankfully was in good enough shape to do this) and am happily using my old Premiere again. Sure, the menus are slower, but in almost every other way its vastly superior. (I don't stream recorded content to my phone/tablet at home, I'm "old school" and actually like to sit down and watch on a real screen.)

    Caveat Emptor.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
    Idol and kpeters59 like this.
  2. Willy92

    Willy92 Member

    73
    23
    Oct 12, 2018
    Los Angeles
    I'm no picture expert, but, I agree on the smoothing. Noticed it right away on my Samsung 50" Plasma. No biggie for us, but, thanks for the info, but I ain't going back to the premier. My wife was sick of its slow response.
     
  3. scandia101

    scandia101 Just the facts ma'am

    11,107
    154
    Oct 20, 2007
    MN, greater...
    I'm fine with all that. It's just tv. I'd be fine with a 12" grainy b&w crt tv.
     

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