S3 TivoToGo etc. observations and problems with PC HD --> S3

Discussion in 'TiVo Home Media Features & TiVoToGo' started by rn701, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. rn701

    rn701 New Member

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    May 18, 2007

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    I was delighted to get a message in my Tivo inbox that Tivo To Go with multi-room etc. was now available. I spent the last couple of days playing around with it, and here's what I think.

    I'm thinking PC generated HD files -> S3 doesn't work yet.

    There are several interesting threads on this, but I have spent the last couple of days trying different things to create a simple slideshow from some photos and nothing I've tried works very well.

    Regarding the new features overall, I was able to copy files from the S3 to my PC and play them in Windows Media Player without much drama. Works great. The Tivo S3 and the Tivo Desktop software recognized each other on the network right away, and I had no issues with firewalls, open ports, etc. I use a static IP address for the Tivo, and use Microsoft Windows Live OneCare for firewall/virus stuff, and a home business network with Windows 2003 Server as the router/DNS server.

    The ability to copy movies and shows and stuff to my PC isn't of much use to me, though. I suppose it will be nice if I want to save something to DVD for some reason, or if I had an obsessive/compulsive need to watch video on my iPod or something (which I don't own). It would be useful, though, to make YouTube clips of dumb politicians and stupid local newscast bloopers or something. Which was something I was actually looking forward to with this much anticipated update.

    I have Tivo Desktop Plus version 2.5.1. The VideoWave shovelware in Roxio MyDVD 9 was able to open the transferred SD Tivo files as advertised, but it had a line of noise across the top that does not show up in Windows Media Player. At least you'd be able to save something to a DVD for SD or make a video clip in a variety of formats, none of which I have tried yet but I assume would work to some extent.

    It was unable to open an HD file copied from the Tivo. It might be nice to make clips from HD shows. But alas. Maybe the Tivo Desktop Plus software will convert them to an iPod or something. Don't know, because I don't have a need to do that, and I'm not sure why anyone would need to copy an HD movie/show to their iPOD, but whatever. And maybe the DVD burner part of MyDVD would save it to a BluRay or HD DVD, but I don't know because I don't have one.

    The multi-room features and ability to copy from one Tivo to another are I guess interesting to some folks, but pretty much useless for me. I'm not sure I understand the point. If I have to buy another Tivo for the bedroom, wouldn't I just record the stuff I might want to watch v. waiting an hour for it to copy from the living room Tivo? Or better yet just turn off the TV and the Tivo and read a book?

    Transferring videos from the PC to the S3 works fine using Tivo Desktop Plus (or the free version for MPG files and Tivo files previously copied from the S3). Except, PC generated 1080i HD files in any format other than MPEG-2 get downsampled, and the Tivo S3 gives you a warning for MPEG-2 files that they may not be compatible (and in fact one file crashed my Tivo causing it to reboot). This is not mentioned anywhere obvious in promotional stuff.

    Also, the free version of Tivo Desktop says it supports a variety of formats for playback (WMV, Quicktime, Divx, MPEG-4, etc.) on the "publish video" page, but it doesn't mention that you have to have Plus version before it will recognize any of these. And as mentioned, they all get transcoded to MPEG-2 on the fly and downsampled to what I think is 720P. No 1080i HD for you! The downsampled video was pretty bad, too, at least in terms of looking at hi-res photos on a fancy HD LCD TV.

    MPEG-4 didn't work at all for me. All I got was audio and a green screen, but I think that's probably because I don't have a compatible MPEG-4 codec installed (although I do have Quicktime, but whatever). Maybe Tivo Desktop Plus should have warned me about it or mentioned that you need one and how/where to get it or something?

    As for copying PC generated 1080i MPEG-2 files from the PC to the S3, good luck! Here's a recap of what I have tried so far. If anyone has been able to do it, maybe you could share your recipes here?

    I have tried the VideoWave software that comes with Roxio MyDVD 9, Pinnacle Studio 11 Plus, Adobe Premier Elements 4, and a bunch of open source junk to try to generate a simple slideshow file.

    Premier Elements 4 crashed and lost my project once, then gave a "disk full" error when I was able to get far enough along to actually try writing the file even though I had 165GB free for a ~100MB test file. The software is generally unusable besides also being unintuitive and slow. The snippet of a file it was able to write had huge gaps of audio dropouts, pixelization, jitter, flicker and all kinds of other goofiness. It's a nice, slick, polished concept, but poor execution. Don't waste your time. (On the other hand, I love Photoshop and Lightroom.)

    Pinnacle Studio 11 Plus is a little better as a video file maker, but it too is a little unintuitive and slow. The MPEG-2 file it output had similar problems as the Premier Elements file. Not quite as bad, but still unusable. And I don't recall the exact estimate, but I think it would take an hour or two to render a 15 minute slideshow. It has some nice features for making movies that would probably work great for standard DVDs and whatnot, and it has a pretty slick and polished interface that is a little more intuitive and faster to work with than Premier Elements.

    Amazingly, the VideoWave shovelware included with Roxio MyDVD came closest to being usable in terms of ease of use, user-friendly features, decent performance, quality of the file output, and playing nice with the Tivo S3. Alas, the Tivo S3 does not like the MPEG-2 files generated by it. They almost work, but there's a subtle, weird flicker/pulse that I can't seem to get rid of (although it plays fine in Windows Media Player). If you are recording action like a cat playing the piano or your kid playing with the dog at a backyard picnic, it might not be noticeable, but with still photos made into a slideshow, it's pretty much unacceptable.

    I won't even go into what an incredible waste of time it was fooling around with "free" open source software for all of this. Not only are they are still catching up with the HD features of the S3/HD which in their defense only came out about a week ago, they also have no concept of regular end users (or even busy geeks like me) who might accidentally try to use their stuff.

    So there you go. My take is these new features for the S3 are OK for SD video, but not quite ready for prime time when it comes to HD. Which is kind of odd when you consider that folks like me paid a premium of up to $600 to get a DVR with HD support that was rolled out a year or so before having the home media features already present in the S2 available.

    I'm guessing that the key to all of this will be a) some future release of the Tivo Desktop software that can serve up a MPEG-2 1080i file that the Tivo S3/HD can play, or b) some kind of upgrade to the Tivo S3/HD software that will make it play nice with PC generated MPEG-2 files (and/or support other protocols like MPEG-4?), or some combination of both.

    Until then, I suggest you not waste your time and money messing around with trying to get HD files to play on your Tivo S3/HD from your PC like I did. But you can still have fun making DVDs and YouTube clips from your SD Tivo files, and sharing your SD (and maybe 720P?) home videos on your Tivo, and, I guess, sharing stuff recorded on one Tivo with another.
     
  2. wmcbrine

    wmcbrine Well-Known Mumbler

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    LOL. I had pyTivo working in about a minute. Of course I'm using a real OS. :D

    I find pyTivo (at least on Linux) infinitely less painful than Tivo Desktop (on Windows).
     
  3. bonnie_raitt

    bonnie_raitt Member

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    Sep 14, 2001
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    Give us a break
     
  4. wmcbrine

    wmcbrine Well-Known Mumbler

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    No, you give me a break. I don't think rn701's comments are justified in any way. And I genuinely hate Tivo Desktop.
     
  5. rn701

    rn701 New Member

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    May 18, 2007

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    Cool. Does it serve up 1080i MPEG-2 files that will play on the S3?
     
  6. ScottE

    ScottE New Member

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    Oct 15, 2001
    San Diego,...
    I don't know if anyone has tried 1080i yet, but it serves up 720p with AC3 5.1 audio just fine. Search the other threads for more details.
     

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