Tivo Bolt - Crappy Tuners Keep Failing! Anyone else?

Discussion in 'TiVo Bolt DVR/Streamer' started by tivobw, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. tivobw

    tivobw Member

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    Oct 26, 2002
    Redmond, WA
    To summarize, I bought a new Bolt about 2 years ago. Worked great for a year, then we noticed artifacting/pixelization on some channels. Had Comcast come out, test the line. All good. When their X1 cable box was hooked up to same line, it's crystal clear. Swap in the Tivo Bolt and the picture looks like crap.

    Called Tivo, they agreed to send me a refurbished (sigh...) Tivo Bolt 500GB for $54. Set it up, worked great for.. about a year. Then 2 weeks it started to show the same issues. Finally it degraded to the point where no channels would tune in AT ALL.

    So.. I called Tivo, complained, they offered the same $54 refurb deal. Just got the refurb and finished hooking it up (BTW, the Cable Card paired fine the first time with the stock HD, but after installing my WD Red 4TB using mfsr, it wouldn't pair until I ran C&DE (clear and delete everything) - is that expected?). So, it works fine NOW.

    My concern is that in about a year I'm gonna have the same thing happen. I've had 2 Bolts crap out, each about a year apart, with tuner issues. Is anyone else having this problem? Am I just very unlucky? Has Tivo quality control gone down the toilet? Meanwhile we have a Tivo HD that is about 10 years old and still has rock-solid tuners (but, it needs to have the motherboard chips heated up with a hair dryer to power it back up; that is another story...).

    Love the Tivo software, but really am not liking the lower quality hardware I've been seeing lately. What do others think?
     
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  2. pgoelz

    pgoelz Active Member

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    May 1, 2005
    What does the signal strength indication show on the tuner that is tuned to a pixelating channel? SETTINGS >> HELP >> ACCOUNT & SYSTEM INFO >> DIAGNOSTICS. With one splitter in the line, mine is about 90% on all channels with a SNR or 36-37dB. RS Uncorrected and RS Corrected (error correction) are both at zero. I do not know what the high and low signal strength limits are for error free operation but 90% seems to be pretty typical.

    An easy test would be to insert splitter in the incoming cable (to attenuate the signal) and see if the picture degrades noticeably. If it does, either the incoming signal is too weak to begin with or the Bolt sensitivity is low. The Bolt should be able to work just fine with a couple splitters in the circuit. On the flip side, if the picture IMPROVES, your signal might be too strong.

    It is also very possible that there is noise or interference on your incoming signal. This could be caused by something else in the house connected to the cable, a bad connector (especially right at the Tivo) or it could be coming in from somewhere else. If they use their test equipment they SHOULD be able to see it, but who knows.

    It is just a sample size of one and I've only had it for a year but I have had zero pixelation issues on my one year old Bolt. I seriously doubt that the tuners are "degrading". With one exception, there really isn't anything in them that could reasonably be expected to degrade. The only exception to that I can think of would be lightning damage. A transient from a lightning strike could damage the input to the tuner and reduce its sensitivity. That could explain why you go a year or so before issues show up.

    Paul
     
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  3. tivobw

    tivobw Member

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    19
    Oct 26, 2002
    Redmond, WA
    Hi Paul, thanks for the reply. So both Tivo Bolts have had the same thing happen: After about a year I notice some of the channels don't tune. It will start on the lower HD channels, then some of the higher HD channels (such as HBO - I am on Comcast). For this second Tivo Bolt which I just swapped out, it got to the point where all 4 tuners essentially stopped working. I could only tune HBO and a few other higher HD channel numbers, and those would be very degraded and lots of pixellation/artifacting.

    I tried checking signal strength and saw it very low, with lots of errors. I talked to Tivo customer service, they had me run the tests and confirmed the tuners were broken. No one can explain why it has happened for a 2nd time.

    The first time I suspected it was a problem with our signal, so called Comcast out. They tested the line and saw it was a little weak, so they added an amplifier to the line (this plugs into the power and helps boost the signal). After they did that the Tivo Bolt still showed the same problems, as the issue wasn't that the signal was weak, but that the tuners were failing on the Tivo. To verify this they hooked up their signal monitoring equipment and it showed solid signal on all the channels I was having trouble tuning to on the Tivo. They then swapped in one of their units, an Xfinity X1 cable box, and every channel came in crystal clear with no problems. We also tried another cablecard in the Tivo, just in case that was it. Once it was paired it had the same problem as the last one. So we knew it was the Tivo Bolt's tuners that crapped out.

    For this most recent Tivo Bolt that just failed (I boxed up the Tivo and am getting ready to send it back to Tivo; good luck!!) I didn't bother calling Comcast out as I did all the steps myself (used Tivo to check signal strength, it showed weak signal because the tuners were failing). I swapped out that Tivo with another Tivo Bolt (we have 2 of them) and the newer Tivo Bolt worked fine on the same line, with strong signal on all the channels that the 1st Tivo was not able to display. Also swapped in the Xfinity X1 (I have one of those, since Comcast gives it to me for free) and it shows every channel clear as a bell.

    So it sure seems like something keeps happening to the Bolt's tuners. I live in the Seattle metropolitan area, which isn't known for a lot of lightning storms. I'm just wondering what has caused this to happen 2 years in a row, with 2 different Tivos. Another data point: Both the first Tivo Bolt *and* this second one were brand-new Tivo Bolt purchases. I bought both of them at Best Buy! Hmm, maybe I should get my next Bolt somewhere else. :rolleyes:
     
  4. sfhub

    sfhub Well-Known Member

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    Jan 6, 2007
    So what is the signal level on the Bolts that work? Greater than 90%?

    Perhaps Bolts not only don't like signals that are too strong, prolonged strong signals might cause the AGC (automatic gain control) circuity to fail. Admittedly that is far-fetched, but I am just grasping at straws guessing because it is hard to explain 2 failed tuners, when there doesn't appear to be widespread issues with the tuners failing reported by others.
     
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  5. pgoelz

    pgoelz Active Member

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    May 1, 2005
    Interesting that they let you have an X1 on your account along with the Bolt / cable card. Our Comcast system will not allow an X1 to be on the same account as a cable card. That seemed puzzling until I remembered that the Bolt uses internet to command VOD where a conventional set top box communicates on the cable. We have had three instances where we suddenly could not get VOD because something happened on our account and Comcast thought we had a Comcast set top box. My guess is that this setting is global and can not be set per STB.

    I guess I would have to agree that something is damaging your tuners. Is there any chance that this happens after you disconnect and reconnect the cable? I'm wondering if there is a grounding issue and the cable shield is at an elevated potential relative ground. Another long shot (but one that happened to me) is that there is a bad connector somewhere where the shield is not solidly connected. I had one like that when I bought the Bolt and it drove me nuts for a while. The Bolt seemed to work but had a terrible time pairing the cable card. When I finally got it paired, it would sporadically lose random channels and others would pixelate like you are reporting. I only figured it out when I noticed it got better / worse when I moved the cable. Perhaps this is your issue? Not all of your symptoms point in that direction but some do. Put the Bolt on a direct feed from the incoming cable with a different piece of coax and see if things improve?

    Paul
     
  6. tivobw

    tivobw Member

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    Oct 26, 2002
    Redmond, WA
    Hi sfhub, I checked the signal on the working bolt. All 4 tuners showed a signal of 87%. Hmm!
     
  7. tivobw

    tivobw Member

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    19
    Oct 26, 2002
    Redmond, WA
    Hi Paul. Nope, doesn't seem to have anything to do with cable disconnection/reconnection. Tivo Bolt will work fine for about a year then we'll start to see the issue. If I hook up the ``good'' Bolt to the same cable line then it looks fine. Swap it out with the gimpy Bolt and it shows the artifacting, video dropouts, low signal strength, etc.

    Also, I moved both Bolts upstairs to another cable line and saw the same behavior: Good Bolt still works fine, and gimpy Bolt has the same artifacting. So it's definitely something in the gimpy Bolt that is broken.

    So by moving the Bolt and also testing another Bolt on different lines, I think we've eliminated the cable line issue. I wish I could figure out what's going on here!
     
  8. tivobw

    tivobw Member

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    Oct 26, 2002
    Redmond, WA
    BTW I have my Tivo Bolt hooked up to a UPS so it doesn't get knocked offline during short power outages. It also has a nice built-in surge protector. Hmm.
     
  9. sfhub

    sfhub Well-Known Member

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    Jan 6, 2007
    At a loss to explain why you are so unlucky with tuners but it is relatively rare to see reports of bad tuners.
     
  10. tivobw

    tivobw Member

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    Oct 26, 2002
    Redmond, WA
    I'm starting to wonder if it is something in my cable setup. Before the first Bolt got fried, I had a lower signal but the Bolt could tune channels fine. Only once the first Bolt started crapping out did I call Comcast out to the house. At that point they verified the signal was low, patched some cable (an outside line had a tear in it) and installed an amplifier, but the Bolt still couldn't tune. Finally confirmed w/Tivo the tuners were bad and swapped it out.

    So then the 2nd one failed with the same issue, even though the signal is all good etc. Wondering what else could be the issue! Low signal kills tuners, higher signal kills tuners? I am using a UPS with surge protection so I don't think "dirty power" is the culprit. I'm baffled. We'll see how long the current Bolt lasts. If this one dies I may just buy the latest and greatest stock Tivo (Tivo Bolt+?) and see how that works.
     
  11. sfhub

    sfhub Well-Known Member

    2,883
    484
    Jan 6, 2007
    Yeah, it is hard to say. I don't think low signal would kill tuners because I'm sure there is a great range of signal strengths for various customers. High signals, I was just grasping at straws (bolts seem to not handle strong signals as well as other devices so maybe the AGC circuitry is not designed well), because for you to get two instances for units procured many months apart for a rare situation would have to be very unlucky (if it was a manufacturing issue) There could be some as yet unindentified issue specific to your install that triggers a problem in the hardware or you could just be very unlucky w/r/t bad tuners.
     
  12. jsessler

    jsessler New Member

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    Dec 2, 2002
    If you run into this again, have a look at my thread here. I discovered ( on a brand new unit) a problem with the center lead for the coax connector (internal to the unit) detaching from, or just resting on, the circuit board i.e. bad solder job. Had low signal strength and SNR depending on the channel frequency and lots of pixelation. If it's a weak connection to begin with, wouldn't surprise me to see this fail over time with thermal cycling.


    Did I get a bad Bolt+ - terrible signal strength and SNR
     
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  13. tivobw

    tivobw Member

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    19
    Oct 26, 2002
    Redmond, WA
    Thanks for the info! That thread confirms my suspicion of poor quality control on Bolt+. We have a Tivo HD (2-tuner) which has been rock solid for about 10 years, no video artifacting issues. It is having issues starting up though (have to heat up motherboard with dryer - hah!). So we keep it plugged into a UPS. We were going to replace it with a Bolt+, but since I'm on my 2nd refurb Bolt+ in 2 years (both original Bolt+ and refurb Bolt+ crapped out after 1 year with bad tuner issues), we're not sure what to do now.
     
  14. ej42137

    ej42137 Well-Known Member

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    Feb 15, 2014
    Los Angeles
    My second Bolt+ had this problem, or at least the same symptom. It cost me four hours on the phone with a nice kid in the Philippines to get his supervisor to approve a replacement. No further problems encountered so far.
     
  15. montivette

    montivette Member

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    Sep 7, 2006
    Minnesota
    I had similar experience twice. Similar in the sense that device stopped tuning most every OTA channel. Tuning OTA signal worked fine for about a year. Out of the blue tuner signal levels went much lower than they had been and could not tune all channels. TiVo support said it was not a TiVo hardware issue but an issue due to low signal even though I told them every other TV in my house and TiVo S3 could tune signal same signal source without issue. I had to call in multiple times before they reluctantly agreed to process exchange for $49 under continual care warranty (while making sure it was known sending a replacement was not going to make any difference in outcome). Well new box arrived and it could tune all OTA channels as where prior box could not. Then after a year the same thing happened. Booster near antenna did help overcome hardware failure but when playing recorded video TiVo will freeze/pause. Often it will then lock up and reboot. I am in process of exchange due to lockup issue rather than signal issue (as I did not want to deal with them refusing to exchange it and stating problem was incoming signal versus Bolt issue like they did previously). It still took three support calls before they agreed to exchange. Call one - they suggested remove power and all cables for three days and then plug it in and see if issue goes away? Call two - They suggested to remove from surge protector and plug into wall directly and use for 24 hours to see if problem goes away. Call three - they agree to exchange and support member said they normally would charge me around $149 for exchange but would give me a deal and only charge $79. After getting off the phone I was and still am rather confused about the "deal" he gave me. I have had the Bolt since first week they came out and had service the entire time. TiVo warranty page states the exchange fee is $49 for continual care warranty not $149 or $79.
     
  16. doconeill

    doconeill Unix Guru

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    Dec 13, 2002
    West of Boston
    I'm on my second Bolt+ - the replacement was a "refurb", and getting them to replace at all was an adventure. I'm on FiOS, so have a strong signal, but at times, seemingly when the unit gets warmer (like 70+ ODT), I get more corrected and uncorrected errors, even though the signal strength and S/N are good. I've got something like -16db or -20db worth of attenuators now on the line, and that makes it more tolerable, but it's still noticeable at times on the higher bandwidth channels (HBO, sports, etc.)

    Sadly, the replacement added in the double-press remote issue others have mentioned. It'd try and get it swapped again, but the first time resulted in several thousand dollars worth of incomplete transactions on my credit card due to their inept handling. :(

    I had then send me a new cable card to eliminate that, and it didn't make a difference.

    I may take a look at that solder joint but as it happens with supposedly good signals that seems unlikely.
     
  17. jsessler

    jsessler New Member

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    Dec 2, 2002
    Depending on the frequency, at least on my Bolt+, the signal strength looked acceptable on some, terrible on others. Once I repaired the solder joint, all channels/frequencies were essentially the same.

    I'm also on FiOS - over ten years now. Never had to add attenuators for my TiVos including my older Bolt+, but I did try them with this new Bolt+ before finding and correcting the solder joint, and the attenuator caused even higher uncorrected errors, and some channels that were OK were not pixelated.
     
  18. Matt McWilliams

    Matt McWilliams New Member

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    Nov 2, 2017
    Charleston SC
    I'm having a similar issue, my Bolt is almost a year old and I started losing HD channels about a month ago. I was convinced the issue was with my cable provider, they were nice enough to lend me a Tivo Premiere to show that it was in fact not their problem. I ran through channel by channel on both Tivo boxes, attached is the signal strength on each. Not only did all channels tune, but the signal strength on the Premier was significantly higher.
     

    Attached Files:

  19. doconeill

    doconeill Unix Guru

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    Dec 13, 2002
    West of Boston
    I finally got to pull apart the Bolt+ with a soldering iron in hand...unfortunately, the soldering joint of the RF input did not seem to be the issue, as it looked not only intact but quite good. I added a little solder just in case, but it doesn't seem to have made a difference. :(
     
  20. Matt McWilliams

    Matt McWilliams New Member

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    Nov 2, 2017
    Charleston SC
    I am convinced the tuner in mine is defective, after nearly 3 hours on the phone with Tivo support I get to pay $50 to return my defective unit and receive a refurbished one. Worst customer service experience I've had in a while.
     

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