Series 3 - Please Help

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by persona1138, Aug 14, 2007.

  1. persona1138

    persona1138 New Member

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    Aug 14, 2007
    New York City

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    Hey all - I'm brand new to these forums; hopefully I won't repeat any issues listed on TiVo Community. Alright, here's the gist...
    I have a Series 3 HD TiVo. Worked great from early January through mid July, with no problems whatsoever. (It was never moved from its shelf, where it's sitting all alone - nothing stacked on top, plenty of ventilation, and not near any subwoofers or anything that would cause interference.) All of a sudden, it started freezing ONLY during recorded programs. Live TV plays just fine, it's just playback of recorded shows. (Menus also "stutter" and respond slowly, from time to time.) The picture freezes, plays for half a second, freezes again, and repeats for about a minute, when it suddenly "snaps out of it" and plays for another five minutes, when it freezes again. It's unwatchable, to say the least.
    Called up TiVo in July, and of course I restarted, resetted, and cleared and deleted everything... removed the power cable - nothing worked. So, they sent me a new one (after charging my credit card), and I sent mine back (and was reimbursed for the charge). Brand new TiVo - no worries, right?
    Wrong. It had the SAME issue. Not a similar issue, but the SAME freezing problem, and ONLY on recorded programs.
    So, I've tried contacting them multiple times, with no answers (in fact, they just have me repeat the same steps as before, to no avail.) I find it hard to believe that two Series 3 boxes would have the same problem, but there you go.
    In terms of my setup, I'm using two Scientific Atlanta CableCards, courtesy of Time Warner Cable in Manhattan, the TiVo is connected via HDMI to my HDTV (video settings are at 1080i fixed), network is connected via ethernet, and the power cable is hooked up to one of those giant Monster Cable surge protectors (so no worries about electrical surges that would damage the TiVo.)
    The only thing I can think of, which I've suggested to TiVo, is that this is a CableCard compatibility issue. Again, Live TV is perfectly fine, and I'm getting all my channels loud and clear, but still... I used the same CableCards in the old Series 3 as I do now in the new one, and I have the same issue. I've seen mention on the forums of "S model" and "M model" CableCards... If the CableCards ARE the issue, which model should I use? Is there a firmware update for the CableCards? Am I on the right track at all?
    Does anyone else have this issue and/or suggestions of how to fix it? TiVo doesn't seem to think it's the CableCards - in fact, their latest suggestion was to cover the front of the TiVo, in case there's IR intereference. (Which seems silly to me, because if it was receiving a "pause" command from another remote, wouldn't the pause menu pop up on screen?) At any rate, I tried covering the IR port on my Series 3, and it didn't work. I even tried disconnecting ALL other nearby appliances, EXCEPT for the HDTV and Series 3, and it STILL has the freezing issue. And, TiVo doesn't want to send me a new box because they can't believe that two Series 3's would have the same issue, but they also aren't making any suggestions that actually work.
    Again, my TiVo is well-ventilated, surge-protected, never moved from its shelf, and nothing is stacked on top of it... I've kept up with all the service updates, and I have NOT modified it at all with external eSATA drives, etc. What could the issue be?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading this super-long post, but I thought I'd be thorough in my description of the issue. Take care, and I look forward to hearing from you~
     
  2. mvnuenen

    mvnuenen ~0.0~

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    Jun 1, 2007
    Durham, NC
    Just for the heck of it, try switching from 1080i fixed to native. It smells as an issue between your tv and the tivo boxes. Hope others with a similar experience can chip in. Good luck to you
     
  3. persona1138

    persona1138 New Member

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    Aug 14, 2007
    New York City
    Tried it, no dice. Also tried 720p fixed and all the other resolutions, all of which have the freezing problem. I have a Samsung LNS-4095D 1080p HDTV - Can't imagine that it would be an incompatibility issue there, but it was worth a try.
    Thanks for the suggestion, though - Pray for me, man ;) (Especially for my wife... She's the big TV guru, and we both work in the broadcast industry, so you can imagine how completely frustrated we both are.)
     
  4. twassel

    twassel New Member

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    Feb 20, 2006
    It doesn't sound like a cablecard problem to me. You could play back recorded shows without a cablecard at all. It sounds like a bad hard drive--twice, which is weird. But that's just my opinion.
     
  5. mvnuenen

    mvnuenen ~0.0~

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    Jun 1, 2007
    Durham, NC

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    Just trying to help you, could it be HDCP issues? Have you looked into the display forums? Perhaps it is a setting in your tellie.

    http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1894924,00.asp

    If you're savvy with computers, you can replace Tivo's hard drive yourself. I believe in one of the sticky's you'll find instructions how to make an image of your current HD, swap the drive, and reload the image on your new drive. Nevertheless, for me that would be the last resort.
     
  6. persona1138

    persona1138 New Member

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    Aug 14, 2007
    New York City
    Yeah, that sounds right to me. I didn't think it would be the CableCards, but that incompatibility "theory" was the first thing that popped in my mind since, a) I used the same two CableCards in both TiVo's, and b) it's hard to believe I got two "bad" boxes.
    But yeah, the hard drive may just be crapped out. I'm with 'ya, man - I think I got two lemons.
    Now, the problem is getting TiVo to believe me, because they've said repeatedly that having two Series 3's with the same problem is incredibly rare.
    Also, last note (and something I forgot to mention in my first post)... After trying to watch a recorded program that freezes, I've stopped watching, gone to bed for the night (in a fit of complete frustration), and tried to watch it the next day, and the program (in the places that initially "froze") plays back just fine. (Of course, the freezing issue pops up either later in the episode, or in other recorded programs.)
    So, oddly, the freezing isn't due to a problem with the file as it's recorded on the TiVo - I think it recorded just fine - it seems to be a playback issue.
    Again, thanks for your help, man. TiVo's supposed to call me back tonight, and I'll bring up everyone's theories then. If anyone else has any ideas, please don't hesitate to leave a note.
    The whole situation sucks, especially since our Series 2 has worked for years, and been moved through three different apartments, with no issues whatsoever. I'm a big TiVo fan, but my Series 3 just doesn't want to work.
     
  7. persona1138

    persona1138 New Member

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    Aug 14, 2007
    New York City
    Thanks for the HDCP note... That's possible.
    I'll try using component video (since I can still get 1080i) and see how that works out.
     
  8. dianebrat

    dianebrat wait.. I did what? TCF Club

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    I was JUST going to post suggesting the same, in reviewing the thread it had all the signs of an HDCP issue and that would only be possible with HDMI, but would not show in component.

    Diane
     
  9. persona1138

    persona1138 New Member

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    Aug 14, 2007
    New York City
    Diane - Sorry, didn't mean to steal your thunder ;)
    I'll definitely give it a try tonight when I get home, and let you guys know if it works or not. And then (if it works) when TiVo calls me tonight, I can tell them "Take that, suckas!"
    (Disclaimer - TiVo Support has always been very helpful, they just can't seem to pinpoint this issue - no offense to them. Plus, I don't have enough street cred to use "suckas!" in any kind of sentence.)
     
  10. persona1138

    persona1138 New Member

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    Aug 14, 2007
    New York City
    Good news, everyone! 2 hours of using component video and no problems!!
    Looks like it was an HDCP issue with HDMI. Menus and playback are snappier, and no freezes. I'll keep on the lookout for any issues, but it's looking good.
    Thanks to everyone who helped me out!!
     
  11. mvnuenen

    mvnuenen ~0.0~

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    Jun 1, 2007
    Durham, NC
    Glad it helped. For the fun of it, test it with a different HDMI cable. One of the $15 ones should do. In the world of HDMI, cables are either good or bad (there is no such thing as a "better" HDMI cable). Also make sure they fit snugly.
     
  12. persona1138

    persona1138 New Member

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    Aug 14, 2007
    New York City
    Okay, so I'm not out of the woods yet.
    I'm now using component video on my Series 3, stereo audio out (both directly to the HDTV), video output settings are at "Native"... And I'm still getting the issue. HOWEVER, menus are MUCH snappier (they load faster, the backgrounds in the TiVo menus don't "stutter" anywhere near as much, and it goes from "Now Playing" to my recorded program A LOT quicker), and the "freezing" during recorded program is less frequent and lasts for a shorter period of time.
    ...But it's still happening. I went for a few hours with no problems, but then it came back. During those first few hours, I was watching pre-recorded standard-def television - my freezing seemed to pop up last night during HD recordings. (However, my wife tells me that some of her standard-def recordings that she watched this morning also had our freezing problem.)
    TiVo also suggested trying another HDMI cable (I was using the one that came with my TiVo, originally) - Haven't gotten around to trying that yet, but since the issue is also occurring over component, it doesn't look like the HDMI cable is the issue.
    Again, the issue is MUCH less frequent, and it "unfreezes" itself infinitely faster than it used to. (Freezes and stutters would go on for up to 10 minutes in the past... now it freezes and stutters for 3-5 seconds, and then continues playing on its merry way.) But I really wish I could find out what the problem is, here.
    TiVo tells me that this issue seems to be popping up with more and more frequency... Apparently I'm not the only one.
    Anyway, that's the update... And the game is still afoot.
     
  13. Dr_Diablo

    Dr_Diablo Dr_Diablo

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    Nov 23, 2003
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    I had the same locking up problems with my Series 2 Tivos, I tried keeping the content on the hard drive when the freeze up occured... That seemed to solve the probem... After a few weeks would delete that program, and the problem repeated...
    After swapping out the drive in question the problem was solved... It's just a thought
     
  14. persona1138

    persona1138 New Member

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    Aug 14, 2007
    New York City
    Diablo - I agree, it seems to be a hard drive issue. Still, two bad hard drives in a row (between my first Series 3 and then the replacement)... That's gotta be a record (or close to it). And the other weird issue is that programs don't freeze up in the same places when I play them. As I mentioned in a previous post in this thread, I'll try playing a program, it "stutters" for a bit, I go to bed for the night, try playing it the next day, and there's no problem. So, the video file as it's written on the hard drive is okay... I'm not sure if it IS the hard drive itself (which it may be), or frankly... I'm starting to think that TiVo just doesn't put enough RAM in their boxes to handle two CableCards and high-def playback (along with all the other features on the Series 3). I may be completely wrong there, and not everyone seems to be having my issue, so that doesn't seem likely, either.
    Nevertheless, TiVo tells me that this issue is getting more and more rampant among Series 3 customers. And like I said from the beginning, my first Series 3 worked perfectly from January through July, with absolutely no issues. Maybe an update around late June/July was the cause of these problems, maybe it was something else... I think I'm running out of options here.
    I'll bring up the hard drive idea to them tonight.
     
  15. mvnuenen

    mvnuenen ~0.0~

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    Jun 1, 2007
    Durham, NC
    Personally, I am not yet convinced it is a hard drive issue. To me it sounds like a pixelation problem combined with a possible HDMI/DHCP issue. Try a new HDMI cable and try -in this forum- proposed solutions to minimize pixelation. If you have a cable splitter, remove it. Use good coax cables from the wall output to your tivo.
    Add a signal amplifier if you suspect your signal is weak. If you have the cable run through a power surge protector, remove it. These last solutions helped me in the past. By the way, my problems were really channel dependent (meaning: only a few channels gave problems)
     
  16. dig_duggler

    dig_duggler Member

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    Sep 18, 2002
    Birmingham, AL
    If it were a DHCP issue you should not see this with the component cables. Sounds like the hard drive. However, if it was the hard drive, live tv should be exhibiting the behavior as well (depending what sectors are written to for live tv vs recording programs)... It is odd indeed.
     
  17. persona1138

    persona1138 New Member

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    Aug 14, 2007
    New York City
    No cable splitter, and I can't replace my apartment's coax cables (although they're brand-new), since they're built into the wall. There's a signal strength meter in the TiVo, to see the strength of each channel's reception, and it's all coming in at 100%. No separate cable box - again, I'm just using the CableCards, built directly into the Series 3. (The Series 3 is connected to one of those giant Monster Cable surge protectors.) And the freezing problem applies to all recorded programs, regardless of which channels they were on. Plus, programs don't freeze in the same places every time, and it happens only occassionally.
    And yeah, I hear 'ya on the component cables - the HDCP theory (I was really hoping that was the problem) shouldn't be an issue now that I'm using analog cables. Again, however, my freezing problems are less dramatic since I've gone to the component cables, and menus are "snappier." On the other hand, the problem isn't gone - it's just less severe. I shouldn't be getting the freezing issue at all, especially with an 800 dollar piece of equipment.
    Thanks for all the suggestions, guys - I'm trying out everything, and I'm sure I'll be on the phone with tech support again tonight.
     
  18. mvnuenen

    mvnuenen ~0.0~

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    Jun 1, 2007
    Durham, NC
    You don't run the cable through the Monster surge protector, right? I wonder if a reinstall of the firmware would help you. Ask Tivo tech support if that is possible. Good luck to you.
     
  19. persona1138

    persona1138 New Member

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    Aug 14, 2007
    New York City
    mvneunen,
    No, I haven't been running the cable through the surge protector - it just goes straight from the wall and into the TiVo. And when you say firmware update, you're referring to the TiVo itself and not the CableCards, right?

    Just as a recap to everyone who's just reading this thread, I've got a Series 3 TiVo that's stuttering (freeze, play, freeze, play... over and over again) on recorded programs only. Live TV is playing just fine. Restarts, resets, clearing and deleting everything, switching from HDMI to component video, switching video settings... nothing works. Here's the skinny:

    Series 3 TiVo directly connected to Samsung LNS-4095D 1080p HDTV via component video and stereo audio (I was originally using HDMI, the component cables seem to make the stuttering less severe, but it's still got the same problem... All cables are what come in the Series 3 box.)
    Two Scientific Atlanta CableCards (courtesy of Time Warner Cable in Manhattan) installed - cable running directly from the wall into the TiVo.
    Network connected via ethernet to the TiVo
    TiVo power cable connected to a Monster Cable surge protector
    All TV channels are being received, all video and audio, Live TV plays great with no hiccups - recorded shows (and when I was using HDMI, the TiVo menus) freeze up during playback
    Already tried turning off all other nearby appliances - interference is not the issue

    Hope that recap helps newcomers to this thread
    Thanks for all the suggestions that have been made so far - Despite the fact that I've still got the issue, it's been a big help and switching to component has definitely lessened the frequency and length of the freezing "hiccups" during playback, and TiVo menus are playing nice - Great suggestion from everyone, thank you!
     
  20. mvnuenen

    mvnuenen ~0.0~

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    Durham, NC
    Right. This is just a guess, but I think worthwhile to ask Tivo's support team.
     

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