Series3 HD issues: frozen screens and sound dropouts

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by kyboyatheart, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. Aug 6, 2009 #1 of 13

    kyboyatheart Guest

    Jan 6, 2008


    I've searched the forums in an effort to find a thread that describes my exact situation, but I think I need to post a new one. So, here goes:

    To preface this thread, my setup is as follows:
    Analog cable input to my Series3 HD
    Red, white, yellow cables from my Series3 HD to my TV. (My TV isn't an HD TV.)
    My Series3 HD is now at software version 11.0d-01-2-652.

    If you're wondering WHY I have a Series3 HD but NO HD TV, well... I got the Series3 HD as preparation for the switch to an HD TV along with digital cable with HD channels, but my condo, when it soon thereafter switched to a digital/HD provider, chose one that uses DirecTV! It was made clear to me by the provider that the digital DirecTV signal they provided would not work with my TiVo. It's only by luck that they continued to offer basic, analog cable for those who did not want to switch to--and pay for--the digital/HD stuff. So, here I am, stuck with a Series3 HD that has never done anything but record/playback analog cable programming. Had I seen what was coming, I would have bought a Series2, but hindsight is always 20/20.

    Okay, so I have owned the Series3 HD for about one and a half years. Although the vast majority of the time it has functioned quite well, it has never functioned flawlessly, and, with time, it seems to be getting worse.

    Shortly after purchasing it, I began experiencing--and still experience at least once a week--the Frozen Screen of Death. I'll turn on the TV, and the picture that displays will simply be frozen in place. There will be no audio, either. The only thing that fixes it is a system reset, and I'm getting tired of doing that.

    Secondly, it happens every so often that, in trying to fast forward or rewind, the picture "jumps" in time erratically. For example, trying to fast forward through commercials that begin 10 minutes into a program and end 13 minutes in, the screen won't go smoothly forward through those 3 minutes. Rather it will jump to minute 12, back to minute 11, move through a portion of the program through minutes 11 and 12, and then jump to minute 14, after which I then have to rewind it back to minute 13! I've sometimes had to watch the commercials because the fast forwarding / rewinding won't get me to the desired place in the program!

    Thirdly, approximately two months ago, I began experiencing random, intermittent sound dropouts both on live TV and recorded playback. I haven't noticed that it's channel-specific, either.

    Lastly, and this just started happening about one week ago, shows that I have set up to record on a regular basis sometimes now don't record fully (if at all). More than once in the past week, I've gone to watch something I recorded, and the duration was less than expected. At least twice, the duration was zero! None of these partial recordings occurred during a thunderstorm or anything that would have caused a power fluctuation, either.

    Looking at other posts in these many forums, I somehow think that, perhaps from the get-go, I've had a mild lemon of a Series3 HD. Perhaps the hard drive was never quite right? Perhaps the software upgrades have too many bugs in them? Then again, perhaps my setup was never meant to be one in which a Series3 HD should be placed?

    I'm considering switching to my condo's provider and getting their DirecTV DVR. This would mean, though, that I'd have to get rid of my TiVo--and one and a half years would seem wasted.

    I would appreciate any and all comments on 1) the problems I've described above, their possible/probable causes and any solutions, and 2) whether or not dropping my TiVo altogether really might be the best overall solution.


    KyBoyAtHeart (<-- Yes, I'm originally from Kentucky, and I miss it.)
  2. Aug 7, 2009 #2 of 13

    DanInSD New Member

    Jul 8, 2003
    I'd like to follow this thread as well. On both of my TiVoHDs I am getting sound dropouts. I've experienced partial recordings, but less often.

    I am on the same version of the software. The sound dropouts sometimes happen many times per minute and it's getting very annoying.
  3. Aug 7, 2009 #3 of 13

    lessd Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Check your cable signal strength, if it too hot things can happen. A splitter can drop the signal by 2X as a test.
  4. Aug 7, 2009 #4 of 13

    dlfl Cranky old novice

    Jul 6, 2006
    Dayton OH
    May not be the same problem, but take a look at this thread.

    This problem is also summarized in the THD Overview ... Sticky Thread above.

    The reason I point this out is it is a known problem that affects only TiVo HD units used only for analog signals.
  5. Aug 8, 2009 #5 of 13

    kyboyatheart Guest

    Jan 6, 2008


    Thank you for the replies so far.

    lessd, I don't understand how the cable signal strength could in and of itself cause so many problems. Could you please elaborate?

    dlfl, the threads you suggested don't quite fit my problem. Most of all, I don't get any gray or black screens--just frozen ones.

    I've updated my initial message to take into account problems (with fast forwarding and rewinding) that I forgot to include.

    I keep thinking my hard drive is on the blink.
  6. Aug 8, 2009 #6 of 13

    JSearfoss Member

    Nov 16, 2008
    Wellsboro, PA
    With the latest firmware I also get the frozen sceen once in a while. Maybe once every one to two weeks. It's not a gray or black screen but a frozen picture. I have gotten it on analog channels and digital channels so it dosen't just affect analog only. I have found though that if I change the channel on each tuner it usually will fix it without rebooting. Never had this problem with earlier firmwares. The sound dropouts could be a cable provider problem. When everything went digital I had sound dropouts on a few channels but it wasn't a tivo problem. Even TV's what were hooked directly to the cable had the dropouts to.
  7. aine

    aine Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    Signal strength is an issue even with a CableCARD? If so, how do I test the cable signal strength? And what sort of numbers are considered "too hot"?
  8. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    Partial recordings on analog channels can be caused by the "loss of analog tuner" issue mentioned under Known Issues in my signature. That issue will never affect digital channels.

    Partial recordings on digital channels are almost always caused by a failing internal or external drive.

    Do you have a My DVR Expander? If so, that's the first thing you should remove. Internal drive failures can occur, but they are far, far less common than My DVR Expander (500GB model) failures.

    If (a) you experience partial recordings on digital channels, (b) your signal strength is 80 or higher on those channels, and (c) you don't have a My DVR Expander, then I would recommend you upgrade/replace your existing drive with a new 1TB drive using the instructions in my signature.
  9. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    You can find the signal strength for the two currently tuned channels Messages & Settings -> System Information -> DVR Diagnostics.

    Ideally, you want a signal in the 80+ range with very little variation. If you see a wide variation in signal strength on a particularly channel, with a signal jumping between 40 and 80, then that suggests a "hot" signal issue and attenuation should be applied. The 11.0d software eliminated most scenarios where "hot" signals cause problems.
  10. Bubbette

    Bubbette New Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    We have a T-HD with Time Warner, South Carolina, Sony Wega HD TV with 2 cable cards and a TW tuning adapter. We have intermittant audio "failure" on HD channels as well - the last one was the entire recording of "Raising the Bar," on TNT-HD channel. We have had partial and entire recordings with no sound. It always happens on our favorite programs! We have had continuing signal strength problems (thus tiling of pixels) which Time Warner personnel have no idea how to fix - they have put on an amplifier several times to boost the signal and then removed it because the signal was too strong. Our complaint file is several inches thick with Time Warner, I believe!
  11. sasmps

    sasmps Dirtdober

    Jan 1, 2008
    The amps the cable co's typicall install have no impact (plus or minus) on the HD or digital band... they help the analoge channels but that is it.

    I would try an 8 db attenuator and see if the problems get better. If it doesent it is probably not signal strength.

    I have noticed this problem (just in the last month) on my S3 (but not my 2 HD's) since 11.0d was downloaded. (may be a new problem caused by the 11.0d fix).
  12. TeeVohFan

    TeeVohFan New Member

    Dec 21, 2003
    Just wanted to confirm that I've seen the same FF and RR behavior. On one recording if I FF'ed it would keep jumping back several minutes to the same spot. Similarly if I RR'ed it would jump several minutes in a similar way. One thing I noticed was that the 30 minute program was shown as 36 minutes long on the progress bar. I fooled with it a while and when FF'ing or RR'ing I can see the arrow the progress bar hop over certain spots. It seems to happen around commercials, but I can't be sure about that. I checked another recording made on another channel around the same time and no problem. But I checked a recording of the same program made the night before and it has the problem. So from the above and that it sounds (just a guess) like it's some kind of compatibility issue with certain kinds of data streams. The mixed resolution thing seems like a possibility (just another guess).

    Initially it took me a while to figure out what as going on because it was one of those one hour long episodes of the Sixth Sense that was squished into a half hour long episdoe of the Night Gallery so that series could by syndicated and those are choppy to begin with! :D

    P.S. I think the progress bar showing the program being longer than it is is the thing to look for if you want an indicator a recording will have the problem. Both of the problem records had that and none of the non-problem recordings did.
  13. Daghain

    Daghain Cable must die

    Feb 12, 2009
    I'm not having the FF/Rewind problems, but the sound dropoff is a problem off and on. It seems to be more one channel than the others (although that may be because I record a LOT of stuff on that channel) but I'm thinking it may be the analog cable I have and not the TiVo.

    Would an external antenna (to replace the basic cable) fix this, does anyone think? I'm looking to upgrade the TV to HD next year, but I might be willing to set up the antenna first if it would fix the sound dropoff problems.

    ETA: Just started getting the FF problems now too. Anyone have any solutions out there? This is really frustrating.

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