Tivo S2 .vs. S1 Video Quality

Discussion in 'TiVo Help Center' started by bdormer, Oct 9, 2005.

  1. Oct 9, 2005 #1 of 13

    bdormer New Member

    Oct 9, 2005


    Hi -

    Not so much a question as a memo for the record - I hope I can prevent some other poor soul from going thru the weeks of pain I've just been thru.

    I've had a 30 Hour Phillips Tivo for over 4 years. I've been VERY pleased with it. Best $200 I ever spent - hands down. Its hooked to a DAEWOO 27" TV. Ok, not the greatest set in the world, the 36" Sony is in another room - and the kids watch Spongebob on it all their waking hours - hence, dear old Dad (moi) gets the TV in the bedroom. I use High quality - can't tell the difference between High and Best. 14 hours of recording capacity (only complaint I have is that I ONLY have 14 hours). Networked would be "nice".

    A few weeks ago - after much prodding from friends with Tivos - I FINALLY broke down and got a 40 Hour Series 2 ($50 after rebate). Fiddled with it evey single night for hours at a time. Less than impressive - the video quality - to be kind - STINKS! It's fuzzy and dark. After some testing with VIDEO Essentials (pumped thru the SAT IN jacks) I can clearly see that the black levels are whacked.

    These days, All the good shows are DARK - CSI*, Battlestar Galactica - if the black level is whacked - these shows look like total crap!

    PLUS - I can cleary see artifacts at high and I think I'm even seeing artifacts at BEST. This shouldn't be. I figure maybe the box is messed up - and I really want more than 11 hours of record time (If I'm going to be stuck recording at Best).

    So, like a real idiot, the 40 goes back to the store and I grab an 80 ($150 after rebate). Same exact thing. Abysmal video. Ok - Maybe I'm crazy - let's hook the old boat anchor back up....

    Hook the Series 1 in - GEORGEOUS picture. Sharp - Clear. Shadow details are back. Focus is sharp as a tack! YAY! Ok - it's not me - it's not the cables - it's the Series 2 (both of 'em). Unacceptable.

    So now what to do? I would really like to network my Tivo. But- come to think of it - the Tivo-phone-home thing isn't really a problem. We don't notice it. Sharing pix and music is "nice" but hardly a necessity (that's what laptops with Wi-Fi are for).

    Decision time -

    The 80 hour is going back to the store - I'm going to take the money and buy a BIG drive upgrade from Weaknees and take the wife out for a nice dinner (and still have change). Maybe in a year I'll consider putting in a network interface - but for now Tivo can use the phone.

    Bottom line - if you get a Series 2 and the picture quality stinks - it's the box and not you. Take it back. If you can find an old Series 1 - BUY IT!

    I sincerely hope TIVO reads this and fixes the problem soon. They have a serious quality control problem with the current crop (crap?) of Series 2's.

    You can have my Series 1 - when you pry it from the hands of my cold, rotting corpse.

  2. Oct 9, 2005 #2 of 13

    ZikZak Neurostim Addict

    Aug 12, 2002
    Arecibo, PR
    Why not upgrade the S1 instead of buying a new S2?
  3. Oct 9, 2005 #3 of 13

    bdormer New Member

    Oct 9, 2005
    Um.... that's sort of the point. After all the crap with the S2's I ended up recognizing the quality of the S1. The old S1 is going to be getting a 145 hour drive.

    Typically, the new stuff is better than the old stuff. But not in this case.

  4. bdormer

    bdormer New Member

    Oct 9, 2005
    Some further information - the problem I experienced SEEMS to be related to the recent (Sept/Oct 2005) Tivo Series 2 boxes built by HUMAX. I'm finding posts that the HUMAX DVD/Tivos have the same problems.

    Prior to the end of 2004, AT&T seems to have been the manufacturer - then Tivo switched to HUMAX. So the ORIGINAL Series 2 seems to be OK - it's the HUMAX (and possibly, only the recent ones) boxes that seem to be in trouble. FYI the model number started with 540.

    Just a quick guess - but Tivo/HUMAX is probably trying to get their costs down (selling 40hr boxes for $50 bucks - something has to give). The Encoder / Decoder chips and the video amps are probably the most expesive parts - they are scrimping and it shows.

  5. mec1991

    mec1991 Cranky old coot

    Nov 5, 2004
    Back home...


    I've never seen the picture from a Humax, but I went through the Toshiba model with DVD player and two TiVo branded Series 2 before I said to hell with it, went to eBay and bought a Sony Series 1 with lifetime and have lived happily ever after. Well, aside from the "new" company attitude but that's another story.

    The old 20 20 hindsight tells me the company began a downward slide with the Series 2 when they decided to place useless (to me, anyway) features ahead of basic performance. They would rather sell to the "Look at me, I can transfer movies to my bathroom!" crowd instead of maintaining or even improving basic performance.

    Don't get it now. Didn't get it back then. Doubt I will ever get it, but if it makes you happy to transfer shows to your computer and back again while listening to MP3s on your television, knock yourselves out. I just want a better picture, that's all.

    As an aside to you know who, the Sony 715 creates a beautiful recording but that damn TVGOS is driving me insane; it may go back before my 30 day return period is up. If so, I hope the company is still around next year so I can eat crow and buy the new cable card model.

    Vent over...
  6. mick66

    mick66 Dirty Burger

    Oct 15, 2004
    The 'verse
    The way I understand the problem is that the 540 S2 Tivos have one chip doing the same job that the older S2s had two chips doing.

    My parents have a 540 on a 37" TV and the picture quality is obviously lower than I like, but my 540 on my 26" TV is fine unless I'm looking for picture quality issues, so I try not to do that. Nor do I worry about it because I see the picture and hear the audio, so I get just as much entertainment value out of it as the next guy.
  7. jjberger2134

    jjberger2134 Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    My "new" TiVo 540 unit (3 months) has a much lower picture quality than my older (3 years) Sony SVR-3000. Someone told me a few months ago, that the tuner that TiVo is currently using is inferior to the one that Sony used in 2002.
  8. bdormer

    bdormer New Member

    Oct 9, 2005
    I have a friend with TWO 540's and he doesn't have any complaints (even on a 54" screen) - but I haven't sat down and looked at it myself - so I can't really verify the picture quality. One of his S2's is like 2 y/o the other is from early 2005.

    I got the 120 Gig drive upgrade from weaKnees and just installed it (15 minutes - piece of cake) - my now upgraded S1 is currently Importing Guided Setup data. With 4x the storage I used to have - I'll be a happy camper for a long time.

    While the S2's have some nice features (which I enjoyed for all of about 10 days) - the basic functionality isn't any different from an S1 - save the TivoToGo stuff. It would have been "nice" to record some shows to DVD via my PC (or let my kids watch a show on their computers in their rooms occasionally) - that's not enough reason to live with a crummy picture.

    Picture quality will always win out in my book.

    I will probably try a "new" Tivo again at some point (a year or two) - but I will make sure I have the option to return the box if it doesn't work. Then again - our cable system (or I may switch to a dish) might provide me with a "Tivo-like" box and it will be a moot point.

    TIVO (and I hope they read this) better watch out or somebody is going to improve on their brilliant idea and put them right out of business. Being the first to market just isn't enough. Get ahead - STAY AHEAD!

  9. blindlemon

    blindlemon tivoheaven.co.uk

    May 12, 2002
    Malmesbury, UK
    If you get a network card (Turbonet/Cachecard) for your S1 then the world is your oyster :)

    Can't talk about it here though, as even though this functionality is built-in to the S2 models, it's a 'banned' subject when discussed in relation to an S1.... :confused: :thumbsdown:
  10. porieux

    porieux New Member

    Oct 15, 2005
    The video quality seems to improve somewhat when the 7.2 software update is installed vs. the absolutely abysmal quality out of the box with 5.x.

    The new feature which I think is valuable is being able to network more than one Tivo....
  11. dijon

    dijon New Member

    Apr 25, 2006
    agreed, my old sony svr-2000 is getting a drive transplant and getting re-installed. my brand new series 2 (with lifetime) is going on ebay if i'm allowed to do that. dark shows look horrendous.
  12. rkester

    rkester a rkester says what?

    Jan 10, 2005
    tulsa area,...
    I recently reactivated my S1 Sony and its picture quality on Medium and High blows away Best on my Humax DRT800. The quality on the Humax is so bad to me now that I have stopped using it most of the time. And am considering selling it.

    I miss the ethernet connection to get guide data, and the music streaming. But the picture is the most important part to me and when the S1 seriously out performs, it is going to get used more.

    My S1 is upgraded to a 120gb drive so its got tons of room. Just hate using the IR blaster to change channels (doesnt support my dtv hd receiver with the serial thingie).

    Anyone know if pic quality is improved on any of the newer S2s maybe the new DT unit?
  13. aus1ander

    aus1ander New Member

    Sep 17, 2004
    I dunno, I added a Humax T800 and, while I think the video quality of the S1 is clearly superior in side-to-side testing, its barely noticeable on digital satellite channels, but definitely noticeable on my analog cable channels. However, its not *terrible*. I ended up moving my S1 into a secondary role and use the S2 for all my main recordings.

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