Tivo Requests FCC Waiver: New Devices!

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by BigJimOutlaw, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. Feb 8, 2013 #21 of 169
    Philmatic

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    It seems silly to have OTA and non OTA hardware, they need to just figure out how to have 2/2 QAM/OTA, 4/4 QAM/OTA or 6/6 QAM/OTA tuner sets and be able to dynamically allocate any combination of tuners up to the total number of tuners that box supports.

    I agree that Analog needs to go... removal of NTSC and MPEG 2 encoders should free up quite a bit of room on a redesigned motherboard, not to mention costs.
     
  2. Feb 8, 2013 #22 of 169
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    The current box has the MPEG-2 encoders built into the Broadcom chipset. They're not separate chips. However the Brodadcom chipset used in the current Premiere platform only supports encoding 2 streams at once, which is why they disabled analog for the 4 tuner box in the first place.

    With this new generation they may be looking at a chipset that doesn't do encoding at all, or they could be looking at one that does encoding but then to use those capabilities for built in Stream capabilities rather then to record analog video.

    Either way with such a small percentage of cable companies still using analog it makes sense. Plus if it makes room for a 4/4 QAM/ATSC configuration that will make a lot of people happy.
     
  3. Feb 8, 2013 #23 of 169
    BigJimOutlaw

    BigJimOutlaw Well-Known Member

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    I'm wondering if they should even bother with a 2-tuner model of anything going forward. They just had a sale on 4-tuner boxes for $200. If they're going to (rightly) drop analog, maybe they should reuse the resources for OTA tuners.

    I don't know what the tuner threshold of the Broadcom BCM7425 is, but that chip is being used in the Hopper with Sling and the 6-tuner Tivo/Pace XG1.

    If Tivo were to be aggressive for the next-gen, we do know that the beefier BCM7435 could potentially support 8 tuners (making 4/4 or 6/2 or 6/0 possible) and has QUAD transcode streaming. If we go by Tivo's typical 2-year development cycle, the earliest this theoretical BCM7435 box would likely come out would be early next year. But... Tivo doesn't have a history of being too aggressive on their hardware, so it might be hoping for too much.
     
  4. Feb 8, 2013 #24 of 169
    innocentfreak

    innocentfreak Well-Known Member

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    I assumed it was, but you are probably right. I forgot about the expedited request last time.
     
  5. Feb 8, 2013 #25 of 169
    Philmatic

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    I wish they'd move to an architecture that puts MPEG 4 encoders between the Tuner and the Hard Drive. That way they can save space by encoding the incoming MPEG 2 streams to MPEG 4 at a much lower bitrate and remove the need for the stream at all.

    Transcoding existing recordings and live tv to MPEG 4 every time seems to be a waste, do it once when it comes in and be done with it.
     
  6. Feb 8, 2013 #26 of 169
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    Are there any Broadcom chips that support just 6 tuners? If so maybe they'll use that and do a 3/3 setup for cable and OTA and a 6/0 setup for cable only. They don't really need quad encoding capabilities. A dual encode H.264 chip would be plenty to offer built in Stream functionality.

    Most shows aren't encoded at all. They are simply recorded as-is from the data stream coming from your cable company. If your cable company starts to use MPEG-4 then TiVo will work just fine, just as it does now with MPEG-2. (there are a few places that are already starting to do this)

    The only time an encoder comes into play is if the stream is analog or if you're streaming to a portable device like an iPad. This whole thread is about how TiVo is petitioning the FCC to allow them to produce boxes that don't do analog so that part is moot. So the only place an encoder would be needed is for streaming to a portable device. It makes much more sense for them to encode data on the fly for that purpose then it does to encode everything, reducing quality, just for the off chance that the user might want to stream to a portable device.
     
  7. Feb 8, 2013 #27 of 169
    Philmatic

    Philmatic Member

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    I know, but what I'm suggesting would bring the benefits of MPEG 4 to everyone regardless of when their Cable Company decides to introduce it. It would also bring back the quality selector, retro anyone?

    [​IMG]

    Encoding everything to MPEG 4 also brings the benefit of using much much MUCH less space on the hard drive. You can use 1/3rd the bit rate and still offer similar quality, that would translate to a tripling of the HD Hours stat (300 HD hours would be 900).
     
  8. Feb 8, 2013 #28 of 169
    BigJimOutlaw

    BigJimOutlaw Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering about them doing 3/3 as well. That'd make the cheaper 2-stream transcoder chip fit nicely. And a 3/3 and 6/0 setup is just plain cleaner than manufacturing 3 or more models with varying 2/2, 4/0, and 6/0 tuner setups.
     
  9. Feb 8, 2013 #29 of 169
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    Never going to happen. Disk space is cheap, transcoding is not. Plus there are too many usability concerns when it comes to allowing the user to select a quality when you have the possibility of 3 different levels of incoming video. (i.e. SD, 720p and 1080i) If this waiver is granted then that quality selection screen is going to be gone for good from all future TiVo models.
     
  10. Feb 8, 2013 #30 of 169
    innocentfreak

    innocentfreak Well-Known Member

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    While it might not make sense from an economy of scale, maybe they use the beefier chip for the 4 hopefully 6 tuner model and then can use a lesser model in the base model.
     
  11. Feb 8, 2013 #31 of 169
    mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

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    OK, I guess it was actually in the 90s when I started with cable (not counting at college), but as I've said before, we got ALL of our cable, INCLUDING at least some premium channels (HBO) with NO BOXES.

    I think that was glorious, and definitely miss the "just split the cable with a $2 splitter from Fry's"… But when they FINALLY turned off all of the analog (for quite a while, it was basically broadcast stations + discovery + cspan as the only ones I cared about that were still in analog)… I went and got my Premiere 4 within a day or two, because being down to "only" 2 tuners was a big step down! (I had my non-Tivo XS32, and a S1 to use mostly as "backup/more tuners needed" recordings as well as my TivoHD.)
     
  12. Feb 8, 2013 #32 of 169
    mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

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    Disk space is sort of cheap(*), but how are they going to redesign the Tivo filesystem to allow > 2 TB drives? If they did this, they could "get more recording space" without having to actually use bigger drives. BTW, I too think it'll never happen, but heck, I record a lot of stuff onto my non-HD XS32 (mostly to watch faster than realtime), so I'd be perfectly fine with the *option* of reencoding things to NTSC-like quality. (It would still look better if there are no glitches, just like when I was using composite cables to watch my TivoHD.. heck now I'm usually going through component through my XS32 as the switcher.)

    (*) 3 TB drives around $130 at Fry's. I'm eyeing one to use as (more) external storage for my Tivos.
     
  13. Feb 9, 2013 #33 of 169
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    I don't know enough about their file system to know for sure how hard that would be. But it's still more likely then transcoding everything to H.264. From a usability standpoint it's so much easier to record everything in it's original broadcast format.
     
  14. Feb 9, 2013 #34 of 169
    Bigg

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    If you re-encode, you're going to lose quality. Other than FIOS, pretty much all cable providers re-encode, so you don't want to re-encode AGAIN.
     
  15. Feb 10, 2013 #35 of 169
    rainwater

    rainwater Active Member

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    True. And TiVo would never do this as there is no point in transcoding 24/7 (which would require some additional hardware expense) when they can just store the recordings in their original digital format.
     
  16. Feb 10, 2013 #36 of 169
    P42

    P42 Active Member

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    Encoding would also increase the 24/7 power consumption. If the goal is more recording space, then supporting 3TB or 4TB drives (which apparently requires an MFS change, or also an updated BIOS), or support two drives like the pre-SATA units did.

    I'm glad to see continued support for OTA, which indicates to me Tivo has not abandoned the stand alone market, as much attention as they are giving the cable-co partnerships.
     
  17. Feb 10, 2013 #37 of 169
    BigJimOutlaw

    BigJimOutlaw Well-Known Member

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    One general observation I find interesting about this waiver request is how Tivo is testing the FCC's boundaries a little more this time around.

    In the 2011 analog waiver, Tivo specifically named the Elite and its 4 digital tuners and requested waivers for that device alone. They also made a commitment to continue producing DVRs that did support analog. Support for the waiver was unanimous among all commenters, with the NCTA (Big Cable's lobby) being the only pill in the group supporting it conditionally by demanding the creation of pre-sale education materials and such. Another commenter said not only should the waiver be approved but it should be waived permanently for everybody.

    The final word from the FCC on the matter was that the waivers are approved but, "this waiver extends only to that specific set-top box. ... Any device manufacturer that seeks to offer at retail a device similar to the Premiere Elite must petition for ... a waiver from the Commission based on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding its proposed retail offering."

    The FCC also approved the waivers on the condition of ample pre-sale materials as the NCTA lobbied for.

    The FCC also relied on Tivo's continued sale of analog-supported DVRs, stating "we rely on the fact that TiVo still intends to manufacture and sell set-top boxes that are compatible with analog cable service...".


    This waiver request pushes the boundaries a little further. First, despite the FCC wanting specific facts surrounding an offering to receive a waiver, this time Tivo has not named specific products. Instead they're using the 2 years of strength and experience with the Elite/XL4/P4 to request a relatively blanket waiver for "the next generation of TiVo's all-digital 'Premiere' line" without any particular details.

    Secondly, unlike their previous request, and despite the FCC's reliance on Tivo's continued sale of analog-supported DVRs, Tivo is no longer making any such guarantee this time around. Citing the rapid reduction in analog usage and availability, absent from their request this time is any language making a continued commitment to analog.

    We're probably virtually unanimous in supporting the waiver, but my point in discussing all this is, because Tivo is testing the FCC boundaries a little more with this request we may see some more product details over the next few months. Depending on how "the pill in the group" (NCTA) reacts, they may want more information or put conditions on it that twists Tivo's hand a little bit into giving up more details, such as showing sample education materials and product documentation as they did with the Elite. It'll be interesting to watch the different bodies and companies weigh in on this... at least it's interesting to a wonk like me that nerdishly wants product details. ;)
     
  18. Feb 10, 2013 #38 of 169
    innocentfreak

    innocentfreak Well-Known Member

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    Part of me hopes they are required to show more details, but the other part just wants it approved quickly. I also suspect it will be what we expect when it comes to new boxes since TiVo rarely if ever surprises us.

    As you said though it will be interesting to see how the NCTA reacts to a general request. Of course at the same time any analog stations left falls in part on the NCTA since some of their cable companies have not made the full transition.
     
  19. Feb 10, 2013 #39 of 169
    andrew1883

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    At the family's winter place in FL, last year only 2-25 were available directly off the coax. I got the Comcast HD box working on the LCD TV in the living room but it was a struggle getting anything to work in the bedroom, and even then important stations were missing (i.e. TCM -- and I do mean "i.e." not "e.g." ;)). So we just left it at 2-25 and hooked up a S2 TiVo on a splitter (2-25 was essentially the basic local stations plus a few other things).

    This season the situation was the same, with warnings from Comcast that analogue (well, analog) would be completely gone as of Jan 29/13. I have no idea if that actually happened; ironically this year the bedroom TV hasn't been on, it's easier to watch stuff on a smartphone in bed, the screen is small but without the danger of falling asleep with a notebook on your stomach, and both offer a more TiVo-like experience than Comcast 2-25 with no recorder. :)

    Before I leave I'll have to get a STB (DTA) hooked up and working on the bedroom TV, and reconnect the Comcast HD box in the living room. Comcast provides two HD boxes and two SD DTAs, I think that's their contract with the condo. I was able to trade in one of the HD boxes for a CableCard and installed it in the TiVo Premiere I brought this year, otherwise it would have cost $10/mo or so.

    I'll take it back with the CC intact (though it won't work in Canada); am I right the OTA tuner will still work if there's a non-connected CC installed? It would be great not to touch the CC and just bring the TiVo back next year and hook it up without messing around.

    [edit: I started writing this post to report another data point on lack of use for analogue and got a bit off-topic. I can start another thread to ask my questions if that's better. =aw]

    Thanks!
    =aw
     
  20. Feb 10, 2013 #40 of 169
    Arcady

    Arcady Stargate Fan

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    You can afford a spare house but not a spare TiVo?

    Anyway, I don't think the CableCard will have any effect if you rerun guided setup and change it to OTA-only.
     

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