Thread to discuss 8.3 causing pixelation/audio drop

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by hddude55, May 21, 2007.

  1. Jul 3, 2007 #161 of 287
    erikrh

    erikrh New Member

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    Mar 7, 2007

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    Add me to the list of users with this problem.

    I purchased my S3 in March 07 when I did a complete home theater upgrade. I wanted HD and had read bad reviews on the new Directv non-Tivo HD receiver, so I changed to Comcast. (I should mention that I never had a single picture/audio issue with Directv, but I didn't want to lose Tivo.) Everything went great with the S3 until about a few weeks ago. Why would my signal strength decline suddenly at the same time as so many other people across multiple networks?

    The answer, I don't really care. All I know is that my wife is bitching at me every night that I should have never changed our service. I want a reliable product/service that I don't have to worry about; spend hours reading about, then taking action, then waiting around for a tech guy, etc.; and most importantly don't have to listen to my wife compain about.

    In my opinion, the ball is in Tivo's court, not mine. I already did my part by paying $600, then spending hours waiting around for someone to get the product working. I am trying to stick it out and see if the Comcast/Tivo partnership bears any fruit. However, I'm only giving it to the end of the year, then I'm going back to satellite.

    Does this make me "lazy"? No. It makes me a person with a life, a business to run, and a family to take care of.
     
  2. Jul 3, 2007 #162 of 287
    bareyb

    bareyb Under Maintenance

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    Dec 1, 2000
    Silicon Valley
    I feel your pain erich. All I can say is that when these babies work, they work great. When they don't it's depressing as hell. I had all the same problems as you and in the end, damn if it doesn't SEEM like all my problems were due to a lousy simple little Ground Breaker. Once removed my TiVo has been all but perfect for going on 3 weeks now. It's like being in heaven compared to the hell I was going through. I was probably just as disappointed as you are, and ready to make the move back to DirecTV or ANYONE but Comcast.

    I'd say your best plan of attack is to make sure the Cable guys go over your whole system. I have seen many reports here that problems miraculously disappear with even a minor repair to the cables going to the S3's. One bad connector or un-needed Ground Breaker could literally transform things for you. Make sure they send out a "real" technician and not a subcontractor.

    I've been seeing an increasing number of reports around here that people with our problems are finding solutions. It does appear that the S3 CAN work almost flawlessly, but it requires a somewhat pristine signal. Signal quality is more than just signal level so try to get a technician who will take the time to really go over all the wires in your house. There should be the minimum amount of "splits" needed to get to your TV's and that's it. Replace a four-way splitter with a two-way etc. Any extra stuff like amps and ground breakers should be removed. Any patch cables that are the "push-on" variety or are "home-made" should be replaced immediately with a proper jumper cable from the Cable company that uses compression fittings. Anything at all that is suspect should be replaced.

    I guess what I'm saying is, don't give up yet. I had the "problem" as bad as anyone could have and now it's just plain gone. My S3 is on par with my old non HD DirecTivo for reliability now. It just works consistently and I'm am rarely reminded any more that I have a "new" DVR. I hope it stays this way and I have no idea if it will, but I just wanted to encourage you to hang in there. The slightest change can transform the S3. I hope you get the fix because these machines are really nice when they are working. Good luck and we will all keep our collective fingers crossed for you.
     
  3. Jul 3, 2007 #163 of 287
    richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    Jan 4, 2003
    +1 :up: :up:
     
  4. Jul 4, 2007 #164 of 287
    Mike Malter

    Mike Malter Computer Mutt

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    Dec 25, 2000
    San Rafael, CA
    I am experiencing an increase of lots of audio and video problems. It is pretty wierd, all of a sudden the audio drops and the screen goes crazy with bands of pixels showing random colors and images. And then all of a sudden it stops. It is really wierd and recent.
     
  5. Jul 4, 2007 #165 of 287
    matt8268

    matt8268 New Member

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    Nov 27, 2006

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    My problem APPEARS to be fixed. Since installing the VSMA-601C line amp, I have not had a single glitch on any newly recorded program, and it's been about a month now. It will be months before I can confidently say the problem is totally gone, I'm not recording as much stuff now that we're in summer rerun season, but so far the evidence is very encouraging. By the way, I never measured any signals or called any cable tech support...I just installed the amp. (Added a 1 foot coax from the wall to the amp, and then used existing coax from the amp to the Tivo...also a third coax goes into the amp and plugs into an AC outlet).
     
  6. Jul 4, 2007 #166 of 287
    bareyb

    bareyb Under Maintenance

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    Awesome! :up:
     
  7. Jul 5, 2007 #167 of 287
    El-Cid

    El-Cid New Member

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    Jul 5, 2007
    Houston TX
    Hello all, just read through the thread.

    Got an HD Tivo Series 3 with 8.3 at the moment.

    I have had pixelization and audio cutout starting over a month ago, sporadic and have gotten worse, and usually just on some channels. Sometimes not so sporadic - for a while I could safely watch the opening sketch on Conan OBrien, but before the first guest spot was over, we would have pixelization. Nowadays I can hardly get a solid straight minute.

    It seems that the problem might coincide with the 8.3 rollout, I purchased mine back in December and had some pixelization then, but that was fixed when the cable company came out. I have also seen some mention of hard drive problems.

    Ill also mention that whenever there are problems on Tivo, I can switch over to the cable box and there are none whatsoever.

    Im glad to see Matt report back that his problems were solved. Im sad to read some folks' dismissive attitude and chalking it up to ID10T errors. Lets imagine how much better things would be for both sides if we could work on our people skills.

    So, perhaps I have a weak signal which only the Tivo is sensitive to, perhaps its a problem with the cable cards (I imagine splitting further within the unit so that both can process the signal might exacerbate the problem), maybe its a hard drive thang, might could be that the NSA - in cohorts with NBC Universal Media and the Priory of Scion (Comcast) - are jamming the signal to my favorite programs because I dont watch enough commercials.

    Tomorrow Ill start by fiddling with the connection, connecting Tivo straight to the wall, then call on Comcast, next call Tivo, followed by obtaining an amplifier.

    Id promise to update with whats going on, but knowing myself, if the problem goes away, so will I.

    I love Tivo, but their seeming lack of response (noted by folks here, and by the fact that pixelization is hardly mentioned on the Tivo support site, and then not about Series 3 at all) just doesnt give me a great taste. I always point out to friends that their dvr is not tivo, that there is no substitute nor alternative for the real thing, but times they are changing. Now there are new alternatives, and because they are my friends, I have expressed that I am experiencing issues with the Tivo. Honesty and responsiveness would help me feel better about defending them more, but for now, I am not positive of when or if this pixelization problem is going to be fixed.
     
  8. Jul 5, 2007 #168 of 287
    TromboneKenny

    TromboneKenny Focused, yet blurry

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    Mar 28, 2003
    Champaign, IL
    Another thing that I don't think has been mentioned on this thread is temperature. For years, before my S3, I'd have seasonal cable signal problems. These only occur on the HD channels, but there would be a few that just pixelate/audio drop at different times of year with no change to my inside wiring or setup. I'd call my cable company, they'd come out and confirm the signal drop was too low at the cable tap outside my house, and a few days later it would be fixed.

    It happened to me this spring/summer with ESPNHD and UHD. When the tech came out, I asked and he said temperature fluctuations affect the cable signal. Since we got 8.3 around the same time it started getting warm here in Illinois, could it really be a signal issue?

    TBK, who wishes those coax signal meters were cheaper
     
  9. Jul 5, 2007 #169 of 287
    richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    All good info. :up: Please keep us posted your progress and what, if anything you/they can pinpoint, solved the problem.

    Thanks! :)
     
  10. Jul 5, 2007 #170 of 287
    richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    That's a very interesting point...hadn't thought about it. Folks from all over the country complained about the same time...including from the Northeast where it probably hadn't started heating up back in late April, early May. But you never know.

    It does indeed appear to be a marginal signal issue that TiVo is very sensitive to, especially since the 8.3 upgrade. Hopefully everyone can get things rectified one way or another. It appears that there is no "silver bullet" fix for everyone, so each posting with a resolution may help the next person.

    Well done. :up:
     
  11. Jul 7, 2007 #171 of 287
    reber

    reber New Member

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    Jan 13, 2007
    For what it's worth-
    Over the last 3 weeks, I have been seeing pixelation, and more annoyingly, audio drop outs on HBO-HD channels. These problems are isolated to HBO-HD channels.
    I am on Comcast, and nothing has changed with my set-up (I am not sure of when the upgrade to 8.3 was)
     
  12. Jul 7, 2007 #172 of 287
    AdmiralTivo

    AdmiralTivo You talkin' to me?

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    Feb 25, 2005
    My story doesn't quite jibe with others' in terms of the timing, but here goes. I purchased an S3 about 1 1/2 months ago, and got it set up with CableCards with no issues whatsoever. It updated itself to 8.3 within a couple of days, still so far so good. A couple of weeks ago, however, I started to notice the audio drops and pixelation on certain channels....both HD and non-HD alike.

    At the same time, I noticed that my broadband internet speeds were decreasing dramatically. Worried about the S3 issue, I still decided to tackle the internet slowdown issues first because I just assumed they were unrelated. A couple of calls to tech support revealed that there was "an outage" in my area that the field techs had been working on for about a week. I also noticed cable trucks working down the street....the last call I made to tech support, the tech said "You definitely have an issue, but I can't schedule a service call until the outage is cleared. Call back in an hour if you're still having problems."

    As if by magic, after an hour I checked my ISP speeds....I was back up to 5 Mbps, which I hadn't seen in a couple of weeks. And since that day I haven't seen any audio drops or pixelation either.....coincidence? I don't think so, it seems to point to an overall line quality/signal quality issue that my area was experiencing.

    So for all of you seeing issues with your S3, check your internet speeds as well. The two may be related.
     
  13. Jul 7, 2007 #173 of 287
    richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    Checking broadband speed (if the connection is delivered by the cable company) is a very good suggestion and may indeed (but not necessarily) indicate a problem...a bit of a canary in a coal mine. :up:

    We use Speakeasy to check our broadband speed. Of course the cable companies will only ask you to ping a website but that isn't the most reliable test.

    In our area (which includes some townhouses) Comcast is constantly working at various homes as well as exchange boxes. Most of the techs I've talked to say they have more business than they can handle. Without disparaging their work it would be easy to see how signals could be compromised if only temporarily. It might also be easy for them to assume everything is fine until someone complains and in some cases, forces the issue. I doubt if they've had to deal with ensuring the type of pristine signal that TiVo S3's now appear to require.

    Thanks for the heads up. :)
     
  14. JFord

    JFord New Member

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    Nov 3, 2006
    I have a couple of observations I have made and some suggestions/requests to toss.

    1. For unrelated reasons I moved my TiVo to a different HDTV I have that had previously had my Comcast DVR. The symptoms were slightly different. Rather than pixelation and audio drop I get a black screen and audio drop. If during one of these black outs I press a TiVo button (30-second skip, for instance) the command is executed but the audio feedback from the TiVo is not heard. All of this leads me to believe that every TV will react to this problem slightly differently.

    2. It appears that most of my problems are now when the screen changes or a graphic is involved. One of the best (worst) examples of that is ESPN HD Sportscenter. They use a number of "exploding graphic" transitions and more often than not the TiVo drops out when those occur. I also noticed that flashback scenes such as in Without a Trace or CSI are extremely prone to the problem. I would be interested in hearing if any others are seeing the same problem.

    3. Based on those two items I wonder if the problem is the encoding. When a poor signal is received the data written to the disk is essentially invalid. The playback decoder then gets confused by what it finds on the disk and puts out strange HD signals to the TV which now has to decode garbage once again. I wish I knew.

    4. Have we done any surveys to determine how many people are having this problem and how bad it is? I would be interested in seeing a table with a row for each specific unit and columns for the location (city, state), cable system, most problematic channels, most problematic shows, and frequency of issue. Also, does it make sense to have everyone record a specific program and compare the results? Based on my schedule I can't volunteer to coordinate, but would contribute if anyone thinks it will help.
     
  15. richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    Good observations. First and foremost we also experienced the audio/video dropout issue and it turned out to be the video/audio connection. We were using component video (YCrCb, YPbPr and YprPb) and optical audio out. We switched to HDMI and optical audio (actually left the component connection as well). As soon as we switched I noticed the audio and video dropout issues that you're seeing on some shows, Numb3rs in particular. I ended up rebooting TiVo (when I added an eSATA drive) and the problem went away completely. When TiVo boots up it "reads" all of the connections and sets things accordingly. I think that when we added HDMI and didn't reboot there were signal issues. Try unplugging TiVo, make a "clean" connection...either HDMI or Component, etc., plug TiVo back in and see if the problem isn't resolved.

    It's normal not to hear the FF/RW audio cues when TiVo is running in Dolby 5.1 mode as they (TiVo's sound effects) are in a different format. If you're used to it on an S2 or and S1 it takes a little getting used to.

    So it sounds like your TiVo is behaving fairly normal and a couple of adjustments and a reboot should cure those details.

    Keep us posted! :up:
     
  16. rtmoore4

    rtmoore4 New Member

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    May 11, 2005
    I have this problem as well (as documented in the S3 lockup thread). I had no idea that a software upgrade could cause this kind of issue, as the problem really manifests itself as a cableco/signal issue. After weeks of troubleshooting, I finally narrowed it down to the TiVo. After a long support call with TiVo (and a small conference call with Comcast), I got an RMA unit sent out that has no problems, even using the same cablecards in the unit that went "bad". You can certainly add my voice to the chorus that 8.3 ruined an otherwise perfectly good unit that worked fine for almost six months.

    New completely functional unit software version - 8.0.1
    Old and busted unit software version - 8.3

    My problems also cropped up during the same time period people are reporting they got 8.3. I can't necessarily confirm I got 8.3 during the same time, of course, as I don't track the software version of my units. I rely on TiVo to manage that for me. In any case, it's awfully coincidental.

    I'm going to try and get the new box onto 8.3, just to see if it will die as well. That would certainly put the nail in the coffin.
     
  17. richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    Jan 4, 2003
    Good information. As you say, it doesn't seem we can positively connect the trouble directly to the recent FW upgrade...the "lockup issue" is new. Others were mostly reporting pixelization and audio problems, not so much freezing, etc. which is usually more of a data corruption/HDD issue.

    We can trace our audio/video problems back to the day we received the 8.3 upgrade (May 12th) but they dissipated over a period of about six weeks and everything has been fine since then.

    You'll no doubt receive an automatic upgrade to v8.3 on your new unit in the next 24 to 48 hours. It will download and then your TiVo will reboot at 2 a.m. There were reports of people trying to "force" the update earlier by repeatedly connecting and rebooting, but I don't recall anyone having any success. If your TiVo is connected via broadband (direct or wi-fi) it checks in with the Mother Ship every 15 minutes anyway and of course if you're on dial-up it will do it every 24 hours or so. You shouldn't have to wait too long.

    Best of luck. Hopefully this will take care of the issue, but let us know how it goes with your new TiVo. :up:
     
  18. rtmoore4

    rtmoore4 New Member

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    May 11, 2005
    Actually, I believe the two are closely linked. It's only when the pixelation and audio problems get super nasty that the TiVo refuses input and will occasionally reboot. It's like the CPU is trying to figure out how to deal with the bad signals and can't do anything else. For example, the freezing almost never happens on an SD channel, but only happens when you try to tune in an HD signal. Given the significant additional volume of data in an HD signal, it seems to make sense that this is mostly where the CPU would get overwhelmed and unable to process any further input. At least that is my best explanation for what I am seeing.

    As an aside, main box functionality should never be affected by input. This is a recipe for disaster. You have to either have input checking to prevent "bad things" from killing your box OR a separate processing path for incoming signals and unit functions. Input checking would essentially say, "if things get strange enough, give up and present a blank screen to the user."

    Hmmm, mine has been the opposite experience. My symptoms have gotten steadily worse over that period.

    Still no 8.3 on the new unit. The unit apparently doesn't think it is currently the active unit as the TiVo website still has my old DVR serial number listed for my account. I'm betting the new code won't get downloaded until the new unit considers itself to have "service".
     
  19. richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    Jan 4, 2003
    Yes, that sounds correct. In fact you may need to contact TiVo and have them update the serial number if you can't do it on line...but a least you can enjoy it now! ;)
     
  20. chipvideo

    chipvideo New Member

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    Sep 24, 2006
    Seattle
    Same thing here. I get a line from left to right on my tv every once in a while. I only watch hd programming btw. I have had my entire house rewired with studio quality RG6 4 months ago and had no problems at all until last week. Signal is good and wiring on all components good. Happening on both series3. One using component and the other using hdmi.

    One tivo is from last years launch and the other is a fathers day gift of this year.

    Both using two cablecards on comcast Seattle.
     

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