Poor Picture Quality

Discussion in 'TiVo Bolt DVR/Streamer' started by dztvtechie, Sep 1, 2017.

  1. Sep 1, 2017 #1 of 17

    dztvtechie New Member

    Nov 18, 2008


    Hi TiVo Community. I'm hoping I can get some feedback about the over all picture quality of the TiVo Bolt. I've read a few older posts on this, but even with some of the suggestions that have worked for others, I've been unsuccessful at finding a resolution.

    I've had my white TiVo Bolt for a few months now. I use Spectrum for my cable service and also use many of the included streaming apps including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Go and my own personal Plex server.

    I previously owned a TiVo HD series 3. I was always happy with the picture quality, but was running into to guide download issues and took TiVo up on their offer in April to transfer my Lifetime service to a new Bolt for $99.

    Over all, I've been very unhappy with the quality of the picture being output. Aside from an over all softness, most dark colors (blacks, blurs, reds) appear almost like they are softly pixelated and just very blotchy and messy.

    I've tried to rule out all the factors. Multiple HDMI cables, multiple TVs. On the cable side, I've tried attenuating my signal down a few dB (I was at 37dB and got it down to a more acceptable 35db). I tried transferring a show recoreded on the TiVo to my computer and the file looked noticeably better playing back through there. On the streaming side, I compared the same content on the TiVo to my Roku plugged into the same TV with the same picture settings.

    I also tried the suggestion about setting the frame rate to what ever the native content is as opposed to up converting to a common format. While I noticed a slight improvement, it was nothing significant. I don't have any 4K TVs so mine was just forcing everything to 1080p60 until I made the switch.

    I even went as far as to have TiVo send me a replacement unit and found no difference in the quality. At this point, I'm just wondering if this is the best the Bolt can do. It's certainly usable, but pales in comparison to my previous TiVo and other streaming set top boxes I've tried. I've considered the possibility of even looking for a used Roamio online and then trying to get rid of my Bolt. I'm curious if any of you have had similar issues and have any insight on the matter.

  2. Sep 1, 2017 #2 of 17

    fcfc2 Well-Known Member

    Feb 19, 2015
    Well, it seems like you have done quite of good trouble shooting already. First thought would be to try 1080i as a lot of systems use that for their HD channels, when they aren't sneaking in 720P that is.
    Next thought is that I have found with my Bolt, that the tuners will produce a good picture, but they are much less tollerant of handling variations in signal strength, and I have seen several other posts reporting similar complaints. You didn't mention signal strength, but the symptoms you describe are not too dissimilar from poor quality or weak signals or a lot of noise on the line. Might want to give all your coax connections a little tweek with a small wrench.
    You could also call in Spectrum, and they might find something with the line, but if they try one of their boxes, you would likely see similar quality to your old model Tivo....and then expect to be charged if they determine it's your stuff. That's all I have for now.
  3. Sep 1, 2017 #3 of 17

    rjrsouthwest Active Member

    Feb 19, 2016
    I have my bolt connected to a new Vizio P series 4k TV and have comcast and the HD channels look extremely good up-scaled to 2160 by the bolt, even the 480i shows look good. The streaming from the bolt's Netflix and You Tube apps 4k shows and videos are spectacular and just as good as streaming from my tablet or built in apps in the TV. I found that there was a definite improvement when I switched from the Roamio to the Bolt in all sources. I think it is something with the TV itself or the cable source. The only thing that the bolt cannot do that the TV and cast apps is HDR and Dolby Vision sources that are available and defaults to standard 4k.
  4. Sep 5, 2017 #4 of 17

    jwort93 Member

    Dec 18, 2015
    Your experience and troubleshooting pretty much mirrors mine: Soft Picture Quality even with video passthrough enabled Unfortunately, I never found anything that improved the picture quality up to the quality that it looks like when you take the recordings off of the TiVo and play through a different device.
  5. Sep 5, 2017 #5 of 17

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

    May 28, 2005
    New Mexico...


    I wonder if your issues are related somehow to the greedy cable operator? I got smart and quit paying any of those terrible companies, so all I can report on is OTA and streaming over a very slow internet connection. I have used my original S3-648, an HD-652, and three different Bolts on four different HD televisions (a 36" Polaroid LCD, 42" Sony Plasma, 60" Mitsubishi DLP, and a new 68" Samsung 4K UHD LED), and I can say with absolute certainty that my Bolts have a very sharp picture on ALL of those TVs, and when I have done an A/B comparison on the same TV with one of the old Series 3 boxes (which I still have) and any Bolt, the old box dos NOT have a better PQ than the Bolt.

    In fact, those old S3 boxes still have some HD programs on them from when I was paying ridiculous prices for FiOS service in Dallas (stupidly expensive, but far better PQ than any other service I have ever seen), and when I copy one of those shows to a Bolt, the display is still as good or better than when played directly from the original S3.

    Streaming PQ ranges from outstanding at times when I get lucky on the speed, to just average sub-HD - but that is totally expected with my very slow and crappy DSL service in this rural area.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
  6. Sep 5, 2017 #6 of 17

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

    Dec 7, 2012
    Ashland, PA...
    Anyone want to check their bit rate? That way you might be able to blame the feed or the station. Record an hour of HD. Check the show with Info, scrolling to the bottom for size.

    bit rate = size (in GB) * 8192 / length (in minutes) / 60

    This gives you Mbps. OTA can achieve 18 Mbps, but seldom does. I check the station with Wiki and see how many sub-channels it has. My cable feed does not modify what my stations send it, and two years ago both my CBS and NBC channels added 2 sub-channels. It was visible. I get about 5Mbps on ABC, 8 on Fox and basic cable, and just over 12 on CBS and NBC. But things are subject to change. Everytime TiVo gives me one of those "your lineup has changed" messages, I wonder where I got screwed.

    BTW, my best bit rate is CNN at 14Mbps. Weird.
  7. Jan 9, 2018 #7 of 17

    Abner Member

    May 17, 2006
    Vero Beach FL
    I have gone through two Tivo Bolts+ and just today receive a new Tivo Bolt Vox.

    All three suffer from the same lousy soft off focus video. I’ve done all the same things everyone mentions to no avail. Same terrible video.

    The new Bolt VOX is also going back and no new TiVo’s for.

    I have a Roamio that has excellent video and a Tivo Premiere which had a hard disk failure and the Bolt was going to replace.

    Now I’m just going to order a replacement drive from Weak Knees and fix the Premiere.

    Hard to believe that even the old premier that is about 11 years old has a better image quality than the most modern Bolt!

    Tivo is now just making cheap hardware! Even my Amazon Fire and Apple TV, which are both MUCH cheaper than a Tivo, blow the Bolt away as far as video quality!

    I will not buy another Tivo until they come out with a new model and there are no complaints of poor image quality!
  8. Dominick_7

    Dominick_7 New Member

    May 12, 2008
    Have the same issue on the Bolt plus. Getting a replacement Vox new but dont have high expectations.. It looks better if i use a 1080p upscaler but it has a bluish tint.. been pretty frustrating especially coming from an X1 user. The picture on hem look wonderfully,
  9. rjrsouthwest

    rjrsouthwest Active Member

    Feb 19, 2016
    I cannot understand the image quality complaints, I have had a Bolt connected to my 4k Vizio P series for over a year and a half using the HDMI cable that came with the Bolt. The Bolt is set to Auto and outputs everything to the TV at 4k and the HD channels are very very good and the 480i channels look way better than they did with my Comcast box ever. The screen image from the Bolt is as good as when I stream the same content using a app directly to the TV. The Bolt looks way better than the Roamio did that was connected when I got the Bolt.
  10. mblloyd

    mblloyd Member

    Feb 11, 2007
    The odds of getting 3 bad Bolts is somewhat doubtful, IMO. Can you unplug one of your Premiers and using all of these same cables, put the Bolt in its place to see if it is a cable-to-Bolt problem? A bad splitter can also do this.
  11. aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

    Jan 31, 2002
    Are you sure it's not your cable system? Because mine looks the same as from a Premiere or ROamio. Even the Netflix test patterns look the same from the Bolt. When streaming the 1080P version to compare apples to apples. The UHD version of the Netflix Test pattern on the Bolt easily blows away the HD version on the Roamio or Premiere.
  12. Abner

    Abner Member

    May 17, 2006
    Vero Beach FL
    Yes, I have switched cables, hdmi ports and everything imaginable!

    I have a crystal clear 65 inch Samsung Plasma and all my other stuff looks crystal clear except for the new Tivo Bolts. I really believe their quality is really inferior!!

    Don’t know what is going on at Tivo but it is certainly it my equipment and the Roamio and Premiere look perfect!

    No doubt all all the the fault is wo the the TiVos.
  13. Abner

    Abner Member

    May 17, 2006
    Vero Beach FL
    It is not a cable system issue! I compare quality with Amazon prime or Netflix on the Tivo compare to my Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV and the difference is very noticeable!

    I have a 65 in Samsung that is Crystal clear and can easily tell the difference between the new TiVo Bolts and everything else I own.

    Maybe on a smaller screen it’s not as noticeable, but it really bugs me in my Home Theater where besides the big screen I have about $15k in Surround Sound equipment.

    And I paid $1049 plus tax for the 3TB Bolt VOX and expect and excellent video from it!

    As I mentioned, hard to believe that a much cheaper Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV which costs much less blow it away in picture quality.

    Believe me, I’m pretty bummed out about it! I really wanted that 3TB and six tuner Bolt!

    Sad to also not know when I will be able to order another TiVo since I am so frustrated having had to test three Bolts and spend countless hours working with TiVo to try to resolve the problem.

    And we all know what it’s like to deal with TiVo :)
  14. aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

    Jan 31, 2002
    I used an 82" HDTV to test the video between a Bolt, Roamio, and Premiere. With the Netflix HD test patterns they looked basically the same on the 82" TV.

    When I tested on a 65" UHD set, they also looked basically the same when playing back the HD version of the test patterns. Only when I switched the Bolt to UHD output, and it played back the UHD encodes, was there a big difference between them. WIth the Bolt trouncing the Roamio and Premiere. But only because those can only play back the 1080P encodes. While the Bolt can play back the 2160P encodes.
  15. sfhub

    sfhub Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2007
    Given this stuff is all digital and your content presumably is HD, I can't believe the Bolt is so bad at scaling or deinterlacing that it is that noticeable.

    It is more likely Bolt has some broken HDMI negotiation with some TVs and you aren't getting the output you think you are getting or the Bolt thinks it is connected to a TV with different capabilities.

    There are some TVs that get a purple tinge because the color space that got negoitated was wrong. It wouldn't be hard to believe some other parameters could be off.

    IMO you should try a different TV just to isolate if that is the problem.
  16. bjstick

    bjstick New Member

    Jan 30, 2018
    I am experiencing a very similar situation to Abner. I purchased a TiVo Bolt VOX on Sunday and immediately noticed that the picture quality is softer/fuzzier than the picture I was receiving from my Windows Media Center 8.1 + Ceton InfiniTV 6ETH. The TV that I am connected to is an LG OLED B6 65". In doing some searches, I've found that this seems to be a pretty common problem and I'm curious if anyone has found a solution. I'd also like to ask if anyone who has had this problem has compared the video quality from a TiVo Mini VOX to the TiVo Bolt/VOX when connected to the same display. If the Mini doesn't have the same problem, I'll connect the Bolt VOX to a lower quality TV and keep a Mini VOX on our main TV.
  17. randymac88

    randymac88 Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Hard for me to compare apples to apples with my old roamio (it's been decommissioned), but i'll also say that compared to any shows i'm watching via an authenticated app on my AppleTV looks noticeably better than on my TiVo. i don't believe those OTT apps are pushing 1080p either...

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