TiVo HD video issues continue despite software update

As I previously reported the new TiVo HD has suffered from some video issues, primarily macroblocking on digital channels. TiVo released an update, 8.1.7b1-01-2-652, on August 1st to correct some of the video issues. However, as you can see from the images below, there are still some issues in this release. TiVo is aware of the issues, and they continue to work on updates to correct them.

Based on user discussion on TiVoCommunity.com (see my previous post for direct links to some of the threads), it seems that the problems occur primarily with Scientific Atlanta CableCARDs, especially S-Cards. Users with Motorola cards and M-Cards don’t seem to suffer the issues with the same frequency, though it seems that they may not be immune.

These images illustrate some of the macroblocking on digital channels with CableCARD. All six of these were captured tonight from my local digital Fox channel, which was being received as a 720p signal, within a single 10 minute window. These were captured under software revision 8.1.7b1-01-2-652, the current software. I have Charter Digital Cable using Scientific Atlanta S-Cards. There were a few other, minor, glitches during this time that I didn’t bother to photograph. Note that these glitches happened as bursts – just a second, less than a second really. Most of the time the image is OK, then there will be burst of macroblocking, and back to normal.

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If you’re experiencing these issues, do note that TiVo is aware of them and is working on additional updates to correct them. You should still contact customer support as more data points may help find a solution. Keep in mind that you have a 30-day window to return the unit, so try to be patient. If the problem isn’t fixed near the end of your return window, you can still return it before the 30-days is up.

If you haven’t picked up the TiVo HD yet, you should consider these issues first – especially if you live in an area that uses Scientific Atlanta CableCARDs. If you don’t want to risk experiencing the issue and you can’t live with it until TiVo issues a patch, you may want to hold off on picking up a TiVo HD until the final fix has been issued.

I do think this is a great product and it will be a success, once these teething issues are resolved.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • Hank

    Hi Megazone-

    I’ve always enjoyed your informative comments on the Tivo community forum– And just found the link to your site from Gizmodo…

    Turns out we’re neighbors- I’m a bit west of you in Spencer, MA…. Anyway, I have the Tivo HD, two SA single stream cards, and the occasional macro blocking— Without sites like your’s, I’m sure I would have given up on the Tivo, and gone back to D*’s rotten DVR… But now I know Tivo is working on the issue, I have faith Tivo will fix it soon!

    Thanks for the great info, and site.


  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    Thank you.

    I do trust TiVo to work out these issues in time. I’m concerned about users who don’t know about the online forums, who pick up a TiVo HD and take it home, experience the problem, and are left with a bad impression of TiVo. Or, worse, who spend hours or days trying to get it working, swapping cable cards, having multiple cable company visits, etc. Some people have already done that and then stumbled onto TiVoCommunity after the fact to discover it is a known issue.

    The TiVo HD will be the first TiVo for many people, being an affordable high-def unit. I’d had for their first impression to be a bad one, it could turn them off to TiVo for good. And bad word of mouth spreads faster than good word of mouth.

  • Hank


    If it weren’t for the forums, that’s exactly what I would have been doing– I’m ALWAYS apt to blame Charter before anything else due to so many horrific experiences… I hope Tivo can nip this in the bud quickly.

  • Globular

    Thanks megazone. I replied on TiVocommunity with my exact symptoms, but I just wanted to check in here. I’m in Groton, MA; Charter with two SA cards.

    I opened a case, but they want me to replace the unit. Should I hold on? If you have any contacts who need more detailed info, let me know.

    Thanks again,

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    It is possible that you have a different issue, but if you’re seeing the same macroblocking as everyone else, replacing the unit isn’t going to help – it is endemic.

  • Globular

    I’m convinced of that too. Are your artifacts being recorded also? In the buffer, or in recorded shows?

    Any idea how feverishly they are working it?

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    Remember, everything on the TiVo is always recorded – even ‘Live TV’ is buffered on the drive. If I rewind the macroblocking is almost always in the same place.

    I get the impression this is a very high priority for TiVo to fix.

  • Joe (Chimpware)

    Excellent overview of the issue. I have posted on TivoCommunity multiple times about the issue (probably a bit too much at this point), but am really disappointed in the Tivo HD. I am returning to Tivo after a 2 year hiatus using an 8300 HD (after switching from DirecTivo when I moved everything in the house to HD). When the Tivo HD came out I was extremely excited to get in the Tivo family. With the original problem I had with Slot 2 (which was fixed, but a painful experience for me as Tivo had me spend the day troubleshooting the cards only to push an update that fixed the issue)adn now pixelation on every channel, my return to Tivo has been a sad and disappointing experience.

    Great site, keep up the excellent work, good to know we have someone willing to spend their time championing the community.

  • Ray M

    Hi- MY Series 3 does this from time to time. I thought the 750gb harddrive was getting full. Usually what I do is go to each of the digital tuners and switch the channel. In the worst cases I reboot the Tivo. Most of the time when this happens it’s not too bad. Occasionally on entire show gets recorded and there are drop outs every couple minutes. Lately though it hasn’t in a while.


  • Joe3

    MY Series 3 has this problem big time. I have Motorola cards. In the diagnostic menu digital channels not locking, 72-97 in 5 sec. Cable guy says signal from wall mesures 98 total.


  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    Note that this particular problem is only with the new TiVo HD, and it is apparently unrelated to any issues on the original S3. I understand some users have seen macroblocking on the original S3, but this issue on the TiVo HD is much more widespread and happens even when the S3 is fine. For example, my original S3 and TiVo HD are fed from the same splitter – and the S3 has no macroblocking, while it is regular on the TiVo HD. I can swap the cables around, etc, and it remains the same.

  • cramer

    BTW, this happens on everything. My Tivo HD isn’t connected to cable at all. Yet I see this glitch on OTA content, Tivo Cast videos, and even Unbox stuff. The data isn’t damaged — the glitch doesn’t show up at the same place. So, it’s either a hardware problem — not likely as the design was heavily tested — or some sort of software/timing goof.

  • http://hdtivo.wordpress.com/ HDTiVo

    Its good you mention the S3 and the differences vs. the HD. I have the issue on the S3 (2 SA cards) and its often associated with an audio drop out (sequentially audio drop out followed by macro blocking.) This I believe has been discussed much for the S3 at TCF, etal.

    One thing I’d note is TiVo has never fixed this on the S3. I hope they can fix it on the HD.

    Another thing is I did all of one little experiment of recording the same thing on an S3 and CableDVR, and in that particular case the problems occured on both in the same places – though they appeared a bit differently – and I felt the S3 recovered/handled the glitch faster/better than the cableDVR.

    So how much are these glitches transmission problems vs. some bug on the TiVo unit? It sounds like the HD’s problem is more likely be a bug on the unit which is more likely fixable.

  • Joe3

    There is one possibility that may be over looked in our loathing of Cable Companies and our sense of betrayal by Tivo.

    In the space between the Cable Company and TiVo there is a third party. I point to the problem possibility that the Cable Card Manufactures and Cable Labs themselves who may be the guilty party with design and/or manufacturing flaws in the Cards themselves

  • Cody

    I am having this same issue with my new tivo HD. I am on my second box after 6 cable cards and 3 visits from cox. After a couple of calls to tivo they said that it might be the box. I returned it to Circuit City and am having the same problems with pixels randomly scattering on all types of channels. I have Cox cable in Phoenix, AZ with two Scientific Atlanta cable cards. This has been a nightmare, and I could only imagine the frustration one would have who is not tech savvy or new to tivo. Hopefully they can fix this soon. Thanks for providing this post or I would have probably given up and returned to my SA8300HD

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    Glad it helped. Hang in there, I know TiVo is working on it.

  • JimboDunky

    I’ve used TiVo since 2000. I bought a DirecTV Philips DSR6000 for $99 and have used it all the way up until 2 days ago, with 1 hard drive swap with weaknees.com. I NEVER had any issues with that box, and I bought it when it first came out. I played the waiting game with HD, and when Comcast recently bought out Adelphia in my area, and they offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse, I ran out and got the TiVo HD box. My cable installer came yesterday and was here for 5 hours, with a virtual deck of CableCARDs, all were SA PKM600′s. Only 1 worked. Then he left, and I go to watch ESPNHD and I get damn legos across my screen every 10-15 seconds. So now I’m supposed to hope that my TiVo gets an update because TiVo is working on it? I’m supposed to waste 5 hours on a Saturday watching the Comcast cable guy play blackjack with my TiVo HD, only to see it take 1 CableCARD out of 22 of them? TiVo is at fault here, they have brought a product to market which relies on CC’s to watch digital content. What kind of CC testing took place ahead of the TiVo HD release? After some choice reading of everyone’s horror stories about all of this, obviously not a whole heck of a lot of testing went into CC compatibility. Walked over to my neighbors house and took a look at his Comcast DVR with HD channels and no pixelization, host ID screens, nothing. He’s never had any issues with his DVR. I don’t have the kind of time to hope and wait that an issue is fixed, when it should have been addressed before releasing this thing. If TiVo can rewind the 5 hours I wasted yesterday, I’d keep the box. Glad I didn’t cancel DirecTV. Next Saturday will consist of me returning this thing and exchanging it for a DTV HD DVR. At least I know I’ll get something that works right out of the box.

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    The pixelation has nothing to do with CableCARD compatibility. And the TiVo HD is fully compatible and passed Cable Labs certification. I haven’t seen anyone else reporting that bad a time getting cards to work. There are bad cards out there, and that affects all CableCARD devices, not just TiVo. But it is unlikely to have 21 out of 22 bad cards. How did the installer determine it wasn’t ‘taking’ the card? This sounds more like improper installation than a CableCARD problem. It is possible you have a defective unit, but this is absolutely NOT an endemic problem with the TiVo HD. It simply does not have this kind of compatibility issue with CableCARDs in general.

    Most CableCARD installs go fine with no issues in the install at all. When there are issues with an install it is almost always a bad card or an error by the cable MSO – entering the Host ID wrong, etc. Multiple IDs need to be entered correctly – an error in any one of them will cause pairing to fail.

    The only real issue with the TiVo HD right now is pixelation – which not everyone sees. It is mainly on digital channels and mainly seems to hit SA cards, but not exclusively. Also, if you just got the unit, it isn’t clear if you had already received the 8.1.7b1 update, which corrects many pixelation issues which were in 8.1.7a1.

    I wish TiVo had caught all of these things before release too, but that doesn’t always happen.

    Just to use a couple of examples – the DirecTV HD DVR was notorious for having serious bugs when it released. It was slammed, loudly and repeatedly, by reviewers for all of the issues – more serious issues than the TiVo HD has, such as crashing, failing to record, etc. It is still generally panned by reviewers for lingering issues, though the most serious problems have been fixed.

    Scientific Atlanta cable DVRs such as the 8000HD and 8300HD are known for having serious bugs including overheating and crashing, failing to record, deleting all recordings with no warning, etc. And Motorola cable DVRs have had their share of bugs including recording errors.

    So picking another option isn’t a guarantee that you won’t have any issues.

  • JimboDunky

    In the time after I posted my rant about my TiVo HD, I’ve read quite a few posts about owners of the S3, that have all been putting up with this ‘macroblocking’ issue for almost a year. I’m astounded that people would just clam up and put up with it, and just keep hoping that one day, it will just disappear.

    I hooked up my TiVo HD the day before the installer came, and restarted the unit once I saw that an update was pending. So I had the b1 by the time he came. So we’re all running a beta version of the TiVo Linux OS on TiVo HD, so we’re all beta testers now? Last I checked, being a beta tester was a free deal.

    My installer brought 22 CC’s because he’d heard about all of the other issues customers were having with their TiVo’s and CC’s. He started off by telling me we’d be lucky if we found 2 CC’s that worked with the unit before he even started playing cards with it. I ended up with 1.

    Regardless of the fact of whether its a CC issue or not, you don’t go and release a consumer product based on the fact that it passed Cable Labs testing, FCC testing, etc. You test it in real world situations. This issue is so blatantly obvious, that there is no possible way it was missed. With so many posts and so many complaints that I’ve read today, it’s obvious to me that there is no possible way that TiVo could have NOT known about this issue before releasing this product to the masses, especially in light of the fact that the pricier S3 units still have the same issue after almost a year. That being said, TiVo has left quite a bad taste in my mouth over all of this. Especially since I bought into the whole TiVo experience years ago. When I got my first TiVo unit in 2000, TiVo stock was selling at about $80 a share. Today, it’s languishing around 6 bucks. Wonder why.

    Comcast inked a partnership deal with TiVo back in 2005 to exclusively use TiVo branded DVRs. So whatever happened to that? I think the ink had dried by now.

    When you put a product out like TiVo has in this case, and expect the average consumer to just deal with it, you end up insulting your average consumer. Do that to a loyal customer like myself and you end up wanting to tell the world (and my northeast district manager golf buddy who is employed by a nationwide consumer electronics retailer) to avoid TiVo HD like the plague. It only takes 1 domino to bring down 10,000.

    My honeymoon with TiVo is over; all good things really do come to an end.

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    The macroblocking issue on the original S3 is extremely rare. Yes, some users have some issues with it, but the vast majority do not. It hasn’t been easy to fix because it isn’t readily reproduced and it affects such a small percentage of users. Of course you’re more likely to see only those with issues posting, most people with an S3 with no issues (like myself) don’t regularly post “Everything is fine.” The issue on the TiVo HD is independent of the issue on the original S3.

    The current software on the HD is not ‘beta’ software, the ‘b1′ doesn’t have anything to do with beta. It is just a revision numbering scheme – it is a minor revision from ‘a’ so it is ‘b’. Another minor revision would be ‘c’. TiVo has long used this numbering scheme.

    The macroblocking issue was likely known before release, in some form. The update rolled out a week after release, so it was likely being worked on before then. There was probably a delay with units in the channel already having ‘a1′. It looks like b1 fixed the major issues, but that’s revealed that there are other macroblocking issues that those fixes missed. I agree that TiVo probably should’ve held the launch back until they were sure the issue was resolved. It looks like they may have thought the b1 release would be ‘the’ fix and shipped based on that, and it isn’t.

    But, in any case, it is frustrating to have these issues with a new product – especially one that is supposed to be HD, aka high quality. Which is why I’ve recommended people not buy the TiVo HD until this is fixed, if they have any concerns. And if someone has purchased one and is having the macroblocking issues (which does seem to be a minority of users, but apparently a significant minority) to keep in mind the 30-day return window. I wouldn’t run out and return it right away, especially if you paid to have CableCARDs paired – since you’d be throwing away that money. Give it time to be fixed. It is a great box overall, and when TiVo fixes this I would recommend it without reservation. If TiVo can’t fix it before the 30-day window is up, return it, no question – I would.

    This reminds me of the 7.3 software release, which brought KidZone to the market. It was very buggy and very problematic, and it took a couple of patches to get it back to being decent. And really another major release until issues like performance were updated. It is generally felt that the release was rushed out to meet retail commitments to launch KidZone that summer, especially as part of the RadioShack retail agreement.

    I also think TiVo could make the situation better by extending the 30-day return window, if they don’t have it fixed within 30-days of release, and by offering a month or two of free service to anyone experiencing problems with the unit. And by communicating more often with the user community as to the progress of work. Like nature abhors a vacuum, the user base abhors silence and it generally leads to speculation and causes bad feelings to fester.

    I need to stress this – there is no evidence of any major CableCARD compatibility issue in any of the TiVo forums – TiVoCommunity, USEnet, Yahoo, etc. I have no idea what your installer was talking about, and, frankly, I’ve seen so much bullshit from cable reps that I don’t put much weight on their claims. Cable companies are quick to blame anyone else when they have issues with CableCARD, never their own cards, plant, or procedures. I’ve had CableCARD installed a few times now, and while my installers have been nice guys, I’ve known far more about them they they do – they give me the cards and I walk *them* through the installs. I have a horror story about getting the cards for my HD – 4 appointments *blown off* (No show, no call, no explanation) and countless calls to Charter – that I couldn’t post at the time since I was under NDA on the HD. I should post that now that I can.

    So I’m not surprised when there are installation problems, and it is usually the cable company. Check out the CableCARD installation threads in the Series3 forum at TiVoCommunity.com – there is a dedicated thread for each cable provider, so you’d want the main Comcast thread. You’ll see that people are generally not having trouble with the install, and the TiVo HD isn’t an issue. The problems that arise are almost always due to the cable company and/or installer. There are no known issues with the TiVo HD, or original S3, with general compatibility.

    As for the stock – the tech market crashed. Everything was over-inflated at the time. Lucent got close to $100 a share, then it almost hit $1. Lots of companies totally crashes and lost a lot of their stock value when the bubble popped. It happened throughout the industry. I wouldn’t use the stock value as a general measure of the company considering the entire tech market was over-inflated and the entire market collapsed.

    The Comcast software is deploying in the Boston area now. That has more to do with Comcast than TiVo. TiVo showed the software at CES in January, and has been on schedule. Comcast was behind the curve on their back-end roll-out of updated systems to handle OCAP (which is the basis for the software) and delayed the software development and deployment. Now they have it out in Boston and some other areas in the region, currently on a limited ‘friends and family’ basis, and are scheduled to open the availability to general customers later this year. Comcast controls the roll-out schedule on that. I know TiVo has been eager to get the software in the field to boost subscribers and revenue, and they’ve been waiting for Comcast to do the deployments.

  • Chris

    I picked up a Tivo HD a week or so after it came out, and got the cable cards about 1.5 weeks ago.

    I have the problem, and it’s quite annoying. And as another poster said, it’s not just the on the video in my case. It comes up in the menus and the “Watch Now” area from time to time as well.

    As a first-time Tivo user I have to admit it is kind of putting a sour taste in my mouth. While my Comcast DVR was an unstable mess, it didn’t give me artifacts.

    I hope they get this fixed soon.

  • Adam Smith

    I just had a cable card installed in my Tivo HD.
    As for the instalation, I couldnt ask for better. They came out with 2 cards. Both turned out to be m-cards so they only needed one. They were motorola cards and the first one he put in worked flawlessly. They were there 15 minutes at the most, and much of that time was spent in conversation.
    They said they had never installed one before…

    Turns out I have the macro-blocking issue as well, but I was having worse problems with my cable co DVR.
    The old DVR would drop audio and freeze for a second. It would happen sometimes very frequently.
    This one, although annoying, just does the macro-block thing occasionally but the audio never drops and the video doent freeze, if you blink you’d miss it.
    In fact, I have seen this happen in the tivo menus a few times so I dont think it has anything to do with the cablecard. I have confidence that it will be fixed. If it never gets fixed I still couldnt bear to go back to the cable companies DVR.

    I have had a Series 2 Tivo (This got me hooked) Then a Scientific Atlantica HD DVR from the Cable company (for about a week) Then DirecTV with a HD DirecTivo (no HD locals). Then the cable companies new Motorola HD DVR (several months) and now the Tivo HD.
    I have to say, the Series 2 worked the best of all the DVR’s I have had, it was rock solid and never gave us a single issue, but so far I am most satisfied with the Tivo HD I have now because of the feature set and picture quality.

    I am still a happy tivo customer, but I want to see this issue resolved ASAP.

  • http://www.shinydonkey.com/ JER

    I’ve had so many issues with my Cox service over the past year that I would normally be the first to blame the cable company.
    Plus, I’ve had a Tivo Series 2 for 4 or 5 years and have never had an issue. However, there is pretty strong evidence
    against Tivo in this case…

    1) My signal strength pre-Tivo is strong.
    2) My 2 Cox-issues Scientific Atlanta boxes have no issues (one HD, one just plain digital)
    3) My main pixelation is only in slot 2, regardless of which card is in there.

    I’ve actually been surprised at how much time Cox has wasted trying to help me debug this…

  • steve

    i think it would be wise for all those who are using sites like this to document their difficulties, and send it to tivo. as stated above, many issues are misdiagnosed, and until resolved, no party should shoulder the burden of blame until it is. i’ve bought the tivo HD, and am awaiting cc install tuesday. i suppose i’ll experience some or all of the problems others have experienced. however, its our support of this technology that helps it evolve. as per usual, all those folks who DON’T have any issues will not be complaining. i suppose tivo looks at percentages of complaints versus units sold. either way, tivo still took the initiative to roll out the tivo HD and i’m thankful and confident they’ll address and solve those remaining issues. also, i didn’t want to spend $800 for an S3, so this was a welcome surprise as a viable option to the cable dvr (which suck).

  • srsenate

    I have just completed my 2nd visit from cc for cable card issues and now

    I still have the pixelation issue on my tivo HD which has software ver 8.1.7b2-01-2-652,

    b2 being the latest ver. The cable cards are Scientific Atlanta.

    Been a Tivo fan for many years, but this problem is very frustrating

    With the 30 day return window nearing what is one to do? Will tivo ever have a fix for this problem ?…

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    There have been posts since this one with updates, this is the latest.

  • MikeB

    I have severe macro-blocking problems on my Tivo HD. In addition, I have audio drop-outs via the HDMI connection but not via audio connections to my audio receiver. This unit was released too soon. Tivo extended my trial period from 30 to 60 days but I think I am going to return the unit.

  • steve

    i had my tivo hd cc install 8/28, and everything went smoothly and he was done in 20 minutes. cards are smicro. there has been a small bit of pixelation, though only rarely, and only a small segment of the screen and lasting for less than a second.

  • srsenate

    just got off the phone with TIVO customer service and they inform me that engineering as of yet has no solution date for macro blocking problem associated with the TIVO HD and SA cable cards.
    They could not give me any estimated date when new software would be released.
    In addition when I inquired about a credit on my service I was told only one credit can be issued
    Per case number. As a long time TIVO user I am totally frustrated.

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    There have been updates since this post was made. b2 came out, of course. And then TiVoPony stated that they had a fix currently in testing and it would be a couple of weeks – and that was a week or so ago.

  • dembones

    I’ve got a Tivo S3 with 2 S-cards. My software version is 8.3.1-01-2-648. My cable company is TWC/Austin.

    I’ve been experiencing this problem continuously since February. It appears that I’ve blamed my cable company for these issues, and I wasted a lot of time going through their tech support instead of searching the Internet.

    The audio dropouts are far more upsetting to me than the small pixellations that accompany them. I can’t tell you how many punchlines I’ve missed. Nothing gets my blood boiling more than watching a show, and the Tivo audio drops out at precisely the most critical moment of dialogue.

    I’ve been using the optical digital audio connections, so one thing I will try is to switch to analog and see if that resolves the audio dropouts at least.

    Also, I found an old thread at Tivo Lover’s in which the problem was blamed on the “sewer”, which is the range of frequencies going back to the cable head-end. Even though the Tivo does not transmit on any frequency, they suspected on that thread that the Tivo might be susceptible to signals in that range. The reports of this problem dated back to 2005, and in later posts, commenters tried attaching different filters in an attempt to resolve the problem. Ultimately these proved ineffective and the thread died out. However, one thing I might try is to power off my cable modem for an hour and see if the dropouts may be related.

    One odd behavior that threw me off the scent was a completely different issue (was it?) in which extended basic cable channels, broadcast in analog on channels 2-77, cannot be received when the S-cards are installed. Out of 75 channels in that range, I receive 11, spread randomly throughout. My HDTV has a cablecard slot, so I had TWC install a cablecard there. The HDTV was not able to tune to the same channels 2-77 that weren’t working on my Tivo S3. This problem continues to this day, and no one has been able to resolve it.

    The first question I was always asked when reporting the 2-77 problem was whether I could receive the channels without cablecards installed. The answer was yes. For a time, I would work around the problem by ejecting the cablecard from my HDTV. Eventually, I returned it to TWC.

    The next question always had to do with signal strength and quality. I’ve had several visits from TWC techs to check this out. The signal at the curb is -6dbm. I finally gave in and started renting a Scientific Atlantic Explorer 3250HD from TWC several months ago to watch all the channels my Tivo cannot pick up. This box comes with a diagnostic screen that reports the signal strength at -9dbm. The -3dbm attenuation is exactly as expected when factoring in the cable length and number of splitters.

    As for signal quality, the bit errors reported by the 3250HD are well within tolerance, and are actually quite low compared to other TWC users in my area.

    We swapped out cablecards twice. Always with Scientific Atlanta cards (which is all TWC Austin uses).

    Since my kit was purchased back in January, and I spent so long chasing the wrong issue, there’s no way to get a refund. I can’t even attach a price to the grief my wife’s given me, since she hated the Tivo from the start and can’t understand why I didn’t return it when I had the chance. So in total, $1100 and at least as many “I told you so’s” from my better half.

    For those who are just now joining the Tivo community, in answer to your question about whether Tivo was aware of this problem, I would say definitely yes. The thread above was started in April 2005 and includes references to many calls to Tivo customer support. Yes, Tivo shipped the product with this known issue. I can say from my tech industry experience, this is standard operating procedure. Cutting edge products are committed, and tenacious engineering problems are spackled over in order to make marketing commitments. It all comes out in the wash, normally, as the early adopters assist in shaking out these problems and ultimately we end up with reliable products. It’s an imperfect system, but it has given us remarkable technological leaps in my lifetime.

    I will choose patience, mainly because I don’t really have a choice. New Tivo-ers reading this may want to hold off a bit longer before jumping headlong to the bleeding edge.

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    A couple of points – the issue in this post is *only* on the TiVo HD and not on the Series3. It is related to the new HW and SW in the HD. The S3 may have an issue as well, but it isn’t this one.

    Also, the if the thread you mention at TiVoCommunity goes back to 2005, then it can’t have anything to do with the Series3 and must be related to problems with cable boxes and older units, since the Series3 didn’t ship until September of 2006. Anything from before that simply can’t be a report relating to the S3.

    If you have channels in the analog range that work within a CableCARD and then do not work with the card installed, it is certainly a card-related problem. Most likely an error in the channel mapping the card does. Or your MSO does ADS (Analog-Digital Simulcast) and those ‘analog’ channels are being mapped to corresponding digital channels with the card – and you have problems receiving the digital channels. With modern cable systems the same channel number may actually point to different frequencies on different devices on the same feed – fun, ain’t it? Since you said they failed on the TiVo *and* the TV, that points to your cable as the common factor.

  • Charles

    I have version 8.1.7c2-01-2-652 and haven’t seen artifacts yet even though I have had them in the past. I bought my Tivo HD from CC the day it came out (24th July) and had the tuning issues with my cable provider’s SA cable cards until the b software on 1st August. Anyone else get the c version out there can verify?

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    Yeah, I just posted about the 8.1.7c2 update. It was just released today and reportedly fixes most of the remaining issues.

  • Jonathan Marcus

    I am not having pixelation issues. However, quite often, entire channels do not work – they just appear grey. Also, my HD doesnt record some programs and then says in the History menu that there wasnt a signal. I have 2 SA CC’s with Time Warner service on my TiVO HD.

    Ive already had the CC’s replaced 1x. Any other suggestions? Is this related to the macro blocking issue?

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    Sounds like one, or both, of the tuners is losing authorization so it can’t tune/record. I think I read on another forum that TiVo knows about the issue and the new 9.1 release that should be out in a couple of weeks might have a fix for this.

  • Jonathan Marcus

    Makes sense. Thanks Mega!

  • steve

    my tivoHD is now losing channels (which appear grey), and this only happened after the new 9.1 s/w update. i was about to have my cable co (cablevision woodbury, ny) roll a truck, but later that night, all seemed ok, after i reinitialized the cards, so i cancelled. now i might have to reschedule, but before i do, i want to be sure its cable co related, and not the tivo. any news about this? my cc’s are two NDS ‘S’ cards. (earlier i posted they were smc, but thats the smart card that slides into the cc)

  • Jonathan Marcus

    How do you reinitialize a card yourself?

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    Sounds like a TiVo bug to me. Very similar to the ‘lost tuner’ issue reported in earlier software, mainly with SA cards. For some reason the box loses sync with a card, so it can’t tune digital channels on a tuner. Happens to one or both tuners. When this happens, see if you can tune any analog channels (actual analog – not digital simulcast, since those need the card). If analog works and digital doesn’t, the unit has lost use of a card. A reboot seems to fix it.

  • steve

    i’m also thinking its a tivo issue, since my son’s s3 also experienced the same thing. he’s also on the same cablevision of woodbury, ny system.

    Jonathon, i reinitialized the cards by removing both, and then reinserting card 1, and letting it bind again, then follow with card 2, just like a new install. since the cards have been paired or married to the sytem and my tivo, they don’t need to be reinstalled, just reset or reintialized.

  • Jess

    I seem to be having the same issue as steve. I have Comcast with 2 SCards and all was fine when we got the tivo about a month ago. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been losing channels (more than once daily) and a lot of our shows are either saying that they’ve recorded and we hit play and its just the tivo background with nothing recorded past 0:00, or they show that they’re recording in the now playing list and disappear when they’re finished. After looking in the recording history, programs with the disappearing problem are saying that they didn’t record because they lost video signal. The only solution I’ve found to get lost channels back is to restart the system. However, this is not fixing the recording issue. I’m getting quite tired of restarting 3 times a day and still not being able to record most of our shows. I’m a big tivo fan and have never had problems like this before, but I’m not sure if its tivo or Comcast to blame.

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    Jess, do you have the 9.2 software yet? If not, that’s the first thing I’d do – sign up for it at http://www.tivo.com/priority

  • ScottyE

    I am having problems and just found this site! I get macroblocking with EVERY recording done on Animal Planet which is presumably in high-def, since it’s the only channel that is giving us grief. When we just plain ol’ watch Animal Planet, no problem. I am signing up for 9.2 software STAT. Thanks tivoloverguy who set up this site!

  • ScottyE


    I went to this site and found out something about having to get cards installed by the cable company…. Not sure what this is about, but this thread came up after I searched under MACROBLOCKING.

    I wonder if this is the same problem Larry David had on CURB? Hm

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ megazone

    SocttyE – You’re welcome.

    What model of TiVo do you have – a Series3 or a TiVo HD? 9.2 is only for these units. Your comment about the cards is a little confusing, since if you have a S3 or HD, and are recording digital cable, I’d expect you to already have CableCARD installed for that to work. If you have an older S2 or S2DT then none of the issues in this post apply to you, they’re a completely different beast when it comes to this, so what follows may not apply.

    Animal Planet is usually not high-def – there is a special ‘Animal Planet HD’ channel that is. Though AP may be in the digital cable tier, as it often is. If it is just one channel it is usually the source – a problem with the cable itself. When the TiVo is haven’t trouble it usually impacts multiple channels.

    Do you have a standard cable box in the house? Can you tune Animal Planet on that and bypass any TiVo – right from the box to a TV? If you see blocking then it is the cable for sure. If it looks fine there, but at the same time looks bad through the TiVo, then you know it is the TiVo. (You want this to be at the same time since an intermittent issue could provide a false positive.) If you don’t have a way to tune AP without the TiVo, it is harder to troubleshoot. Though you could call the cable company and ask if they know of any issues on AP currently – it may be something they’re working on.

  • Tom

    Prior to purchasing a new HD Tivo, I had a series 2 unit and a Motorola Digital Cable Box from the local cable company. I was getting the dropouts in the video and had them come and look at it. The fix for this issue was to replace all the splitters that I had in my house with newer splitters rated up to 1000mhz and install a digital amplifier also rated up to 1000mhz that boosted the signal 15db. Corrected the problem through the digital cable box.
    Then I bought a new HD Tivo and had the cable company provide me with a couple of their cable cards. Paired them with the cable company but no picture. On phone with some pretty nice people at the Cable Company but they had little or no knowledge of Tivo or cable cards since few if any of the people in the area used them.

    Could not get a picture, gray screen only. Finally switched the Tivos and took the new HD Tivo downstairs to another cable outlet.
    Cablecard one popped on and had a picture. Cablecard two was defective and could do nothing to make it work. These are both Motorola cable cards (single stream).

    I looked at how many splitters were between the upstairs cable outlet (one) and how many splitter were between the amplifier and the downstairs outlet (three) and realized that the Tivo could not handle the signal strength at the upstairs outlet. If you look under the channels setting there is an option to look at the signal strength. Tivo signal strength on a scale of 100 was 100.
    I swapped the cables where they were attached to the splitters and had the picture upstairs right away. The second cable card was bad and after replacement, both tuners have a picture.

    IMHO you should look at the signal strength and what sort of splitters you have in your cable lines. The cable guy who put his decibel meter on my cable outlet upstairs behind the HD Tivo said the signal strength was +5 which he said is perfect.