37 Replies Latest reply: Feb 2, 2014 10:27 AM by boothkd RSS

Pixelation Issues on HR34

nathanduvall

We have an HR34-700 model and for the last week or so, we've been experiencing MAJOR pixelation issues, just with live recordings, and seemingly limited to NBC. For example, with America's Got Talent this week, we were able to catch maybe 30 minutes total of the 2 hour show. The rest of the time is would just constantly glitch out and we'd have to fast forward through it. The really odd thing is that it seems like only the "live" portions were the segments that pixelated out on the recording. The pre-recorded segments of the show seemed to playback fine without issue.

 

I called up DirectTV last night, and of course, their phone reps had no knowledge of the issue. The only option they gave me was to wait on hold while they submitted some long form to the engineers and hope they would see it and acknowledge it. They even admitted there probably wasn't much hope doing this, so I didn't even bother wasting my time (or the reps). I was just hoping by posting it here that someone at least familiar with the situation (hopefully an engineer) would stumble on it and provide some insight. If it's an issue with the HR34, maybe I can convince DTV to send me a different model. But from what I'm seeing, doesn't appear even that would fix this issue.

 

I've seen another thread somewhat similar to my issue (here, here and here). One user even posted a video with the exact same issue I'm seeing. So DTV can't really argue that it's not a problem at this point. I love DTV, we're long time customers, but just want to get this fixed. Most of the shows we watch are recorded from local channels, primarily NBC.

 

Thanks for any response/advice!

  • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
    litzdog911

    You'll find several posts here about this issue with a few NBC stations around the country.  Where are you located?  It's an issue with the station's feed to DirecTV, and supposedly DirecTV is working with the affected stations to solve it.  It only affects the Genie HD DVRs because they use a different (newer) Broadcam video decoding chipset.   Your best action is to call both the local NBC station and DirecTV to keep up the pressure.  It's unfortunate that all of the DirecTV support reps don't know about this yet. 

    • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
      nathanduvall

      Thanks litzdog911. I'm located in Greenville, SC. I'm not even sure where to start with contacting the local NBC station. The person you'd call wouldn't have any clue what to even do with the call. Obviously if most DTV reps don't even know, definitely wouldn't be on the local station's radar. Hmm...

      • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
        litzdog911

        Call or email your local Greenville NBC station and request the "Station Engineer".   They're more likely to know about the issue than a random DirecTV support rep.   And your station has a vested interest in fixing this problem to protect their advertising revenue.  It SHOULD be on their radar.

      • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
        douglasd5

        DirecTV receives the local NBC affiliate in Greenville, SC (WYFF) using the station's over the air signal. The OTA signal is broadcast with MPEG 2 encoding. DirecTV converts the MPEG 2 they receive from the station to MPEG 4 (h.264). This converted signal is what is sent to all DirecTV HD receivers. It seems this problem is only with some HR-34s and not all. I know of a DirecTV subscriber in Simpsonville, SC who has an HR-34 and does not have the problem. I have an HR-24/500 and have had no problems with WYFF on DirecTV. Since DirecTV converts the station's digital signal to another format, DirecTV must troubleshoot and correct this incompatibility. Since this only seems to affect some HR-34 receivers this will not be an easy task. These small incompatibilities can be difficult to pinpoint and correct.  It is very strange that it would only be one network's affiliate because I can't think of anything that would be unique about a local NBC station compared to other local network affiliates. NBC and CBS both transmit in 1080i. Fox and ABC transmit in 720p. If it was a 1080 issue it should show up on CBS affiliates. If the problem was in DirecTV's conversion to MPEG 4 it would show up on all receivers, not just the HR-34. So the only conclusion at this point is there is a strange compatibility issue with DirecTV's conversion process and some HR-34 receivers. DirecTV uses multiple manufactures of the same model receiver. The HR-24/200 is made by Samsung. The HR-24/500 is made by Humax. According to info I've seen, a receiver with a "700" suffix is made by Pace Micro Technology and the HR-34/700 has been identified as one of the "problem" HR-34s. So it would be good to compare the manufacturer of the HR-34s with the problem to see if there is a correlation. The "info" menu on your receiver should give the model suffix.

         

        If this is a compatibility issue with DirecTV's encoding (conversion) process and certain HR-34 receivers, the only viable solution will be to modify the encoding to eliminate the incompatibility. DirecTV many need to consult their encoder manufacturer for a fix and that could take some time.  Replacing all the incompatible receivers would seem too complicated and costly.

         

        Additional thought: what is the firmware version on the HR-34? Could this be a firmware issue that could be fixed with a firmware update? It seems this doesn't affect all HR-34/700 receivers.

        • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
          nathanduvall

          douglasd5 Thanks so much for a very informative reply - much appreciated! You obviously know what you're talking about. I'm just confused what to do at this point. We were watching NBC all night last night (go Peyton!) and never experienced the issue. However, if we would have recorded it, I wonder if the problem would've shown up. To this point, it's only appeared while recording & watching AGT - the only live show we currently watch on NBC. That's the odd bit, what would the difference be between watching it live vs. watching a recording? Wouldn't they be encoded the same way?

           

          I am hoping it's something that can be fixed with a firmware upgrade. *fingers crossed*

          • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
            douglasd5

            The difference between live and recorded is the internal hard drive in the receiver. It's possible this is simply a case of a defective hard drive.  In addition to a recorded program, if you pause and/or back up the DVR, you will be playing from the hard drive rather than the watching the live signal. Would be interested to know if you see any problems under those conditions.

             

            I've read a number of message boards about HR-34 problems and I have found no clear pattern other than the HR-34s seem to have more problems than previous receivers but there have not been any previous DirecTV receivers with 5 tuners either. Pixelation can result from a weak satellite signal from an antenna that is not properly adjusted. There are most likely coaxial splitters outside your house and if the connections aren't water tight, you can have problems due to moisture in the connectors. Also if unused connections on the splitters are not terminated (capped), that can cause problems.

             

            Is this really an NBC only problem? There seems to be some evidence but then again I've seen other posts like the reply below with similar problems on non-NBC stations. I've double-checked with a colleague who has an HR-34/700 and he is not having any problems with WYFF live or recorded. So it's possible there isn't an inherent flaw in the system.

             

            Have you run the diagnostics on the receiver?

            • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
              ssaylor

              Tucson checking in on this problem with NBC pixelation. I have a HR-34 and have been battling this problem since June. I even paid DTV $50 for a service call in July. They came out, replaced the HR-24, cabling & some components in the dish. Same problem.

               

              I've been a real nice guy waiting for this issue to be resolved but, no more Mr. Nice guy. I called this evening to request a HR-44 since I've seen several posts that may solve the problem and, clearly, they are no closer to resolving this issue than they were in June. The CSA told me they can not request specific models. I asked to speak with a Supervisor and she basically told me the same thing so I asked for a callback from her Manager. Here's what i'm going to tell this individual.

               

              First of all, I want my $50 back for that bogus service call. Next, if they can't put one of those HR-44s on the truck for me, I'm going to demand a $150 credit for the three months of ****** NBC service (I figure $50/month is fair compensation) - in addition to the $50 service credit. That will cover the price of a HR-44, commonly available new on eBay for $200. If they balk at this, I'm back to Comcast/Xfinity.

               

              Absolutely HORRIBLE customer service on this so far. I'll report back on the outcome after I speak with a Manager.

        • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
          herdingcats

          That was very informative. I am new to DirectV and have the HR34/700. We have noticed freezing and pixelation several times during the 2 months we have had the service. The first was on the local (Seattle) Fox HD channel during a recording of So you Think You Can Dance. We chalked it up to the meteor shower. Then just a couple of nights ago we received pixelation on the recording of the same show. We have also received lock up Lifetime HD Project Runway. Hopefully this is a software issue. makes you nervous to record a show not knowing if it will be OK.

  • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
    litzdog911

    See also

    Pixelation on local HD channels on HR34-700

     

    The OP is reporting that the problem is getting better.

  • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
    nelsonda2k12

    I, too, am getting pixilation on my Genie HR34-700 on ABC in Minneapolis.  Extremely frustrating.


    • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
      ssaylor

      Just NBC?

      • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
        nelsonda2k12

        I have noticed it mostly on ABC (ch 5) in Minneapolis.  It happens quite often and I notice it on a recorded session (don't watch live TV too much any longer).


        • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
          ssaylor

          Yeah, that's the problem. Quick to blame the Genie. THe DTV Tech was out the other day and he said changing the box would not help. He has the same problem on his HR24 so this is a transmission problem. He left without making any changes. We're watching for live occurrences which will be documented.    

          • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
            douglasd5

            The posts seem to indicate this problem is much more prevalent with the HR34. Similar problems may occur with any receiver periodically. Don't forget you are receiving a signal coming from a satellite 22,200 miles from earth. So all are subject to weather/signal fades which may be momentary. The most common cause of pixelation is a weak signal. The HR 34 takes the incoming signal and splits it 5 ways. By definition, every time you split an RF signal you reduce the signal strength by half. The HR34 must have amplifiers to compensate so the signal reaching each tuner isn't 1/5th of the original, but it does call into question the "fade margin" of the HR34 compared to other receivers with fewer tuners. The "fade margin" is the amount of signal you can lose before the receiver fails to decode the signal. The question is, when the signal fades does the HR34 with 5 tuners pixelate before say an HR24 with 2 tuners would with the same signal level? This is speculation on my part but is entirely possible.

             

            The other possibility is the hard drive. The hard drive is now caching 5 channels instead of 2. This requires more bandwidth and is the hard drive in the affected units unable to keep up? It would be interesting to know if you recorded 5 channels simultaneously (which the unit is always doing anyway), would the pixelation on one recording correspond in time to pixelation on other recordings. Directv uses variable bit rate encoding so when there is more action in the video it requires more bandwidth. So what's happening on one of the other tuners could conceivably impact another channel being recorded if the bandwidth capacity is exceeded. The device design should have accounted for all this but is the designed bandwidth marginal? This brings into question the hard drive and its ability to reliably record 5 video streams simultaneously. Do they use hard drives from different manufacturers and some are marginally sufficient? This seems possible since this problem is not exhibited by all HR34s. It would be interesting to know if you attached an external drive to the SATA port would that affect the problem in any way. Anyone want to give that a try? I don't have an HR34.

            • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
              peds48

              douglasd5 wrote:

              The HR 34 takes the incoming signal and splits it 5 ways. By definition, every time you split an RF signal you reduce the signal strength by half.

              Nice try but by all counts incorrect.  the Genie does NOT split the signal 5 times.  it just "grabs" 5 tuners out of the 8 available in a SWM system

  • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
    jdinternetonly

    Called Directv today to report same problem (pixilation and frame repeat every 30 to 45 seconds of recorded show).  They tried to diagnose the problem from Mississippi (I live in Maryland) and asked me to help diagnose their problem.  Ran the simple diagnostics and all passed.  I found the process to use the advanced diagnostics and ran them myself and all of them passed - even the long disk drive test.

     

    I have had a H34/700 since the initial Directv installation in Spring 2013.  Have seen this same issue once or twice per month on different channels.  The technician said it's not a Directv problem - she didn't seem qualified to diagnose the problem.

     

    The only other trend that I can remember is a Directv receiver temperature issue.  I'm going to use a fan and forced cooling on my cabinet and see if this helps the problem.

     

    Some have said that the H44 receiver fixes the problem.  Is this a fact?  I'm sure that I'll have to threaten Directv to get the H34 replaced with the H44 receiver.

     

    Does anyone else have a solution?  Other than getting rid of Directv?

    • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
      boothkd

      I have had the same problem.  When I called support I was given the following instructions:

      1. First, remove the access card from the front panel.
      2. Press the red reset button.
      3. Allow to reboot.
      4. When asked, reinsert the access card.

      I was told that this will correct the problem with previously recorded programs that exhibit this symptom as well as preventing the problem from recurring.  I have not tried it yet because at the moment I have not "distorted" recordings, and when I do try it I want to have a recording that I can verify actually was "corrected" by executing this procedure.  Might be something someone else out there can try?

      • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
        ssaylor

        I just tried resetting with the card out. It has NO AFFECT on programs that are already recorded. My recording of the Nightly News from Friday still plays the same pixelation during the opening theme song. I'm ready for a HR44. Service is coming tomorrow.

        • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
          boothkd

          I also tried this and still see the issue with subsequent recordings, so no luck with this solution.

          • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
            texasbrit

            There's a known problem with some NBC local channels and the Hr34 (no other DVRs are affected). We're still waiting for a fix from DirecTV..

            • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
              boothkd

              To be clear, the problem I am seeing on my HR34 is:

              1. Recorded programs, on playback, are distorted ("pixelated").
              2. The distortion usually happens several times during the recording.
              3. The duration of each instance of distortion is usually < 2 minutes.
              4. The distortion is not restricted to recordings from one channel.  I have seen this happen on recordings of programs on NBC and CBS.
              5. I do not remember seeing it happen on non-broadcast networks but I am not sure of that.

               

              I have:

               

              1. Tried restarting the receiver.
              2. Tried plain reset by pressing the red button.
              3. Tried power down.
              4. Tried advanced diagnostics, short test.
              5. Tried advanced diagnostics, long test.
              6. Tried reset by pressing the red button with the access card out.

              I have not tried advanced diagnostics third option.  If I remember correctly this essentially reformats the drive.  I did not want to do this because I have some recordings I wanted to keep, but I may be forced to do this.  I have called DirecTV one time so far.

  • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
    turnerbrewer

    I have experienced pixelation of recorded shows and freezing of Live TV  on my HR34-700 and Genie Mini's.

    The Pixelation has occured on the BBC channel numerous time.  The Freezing has occured on several channels.

    My system was installed in May 2013. I did not start to experience the problem until early August.

    I have talked with DTV technicians on the phone and every time they tell me that my Dish needs to be aligned.

    The dish is not the problem.  The signals are the same strength as the day the installer setup the dish.  The signals are in the high 90's.

    My inlaws have experienced the freezing issue on their HR24 for over a year now, but they have not called it in.


    • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
      ssaylor

      "My inlaws have experienced the freezing issue on their HR24 for over a year now, but they have not called it in."

       

      And there in lies the problem. If everyone would open a service call, DTV would be more likely to acknowledge the problem and put some resources on it.

       

      Your only recourse at this point is to strong-arm them into providing a HR-44. This is your only hope for resolving the pixelation & freeze frame issue.  

      • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
        cw89134

        ssaylor,

        "Your only recourse at this point is to strong-arm them into providing a HR-44. This is your only hope for resolving the pixelation & freeze frame issue."

         

        This is exactly the solution that worked for us. Over two weeks on the HR44 and no problems (Hope I didn't just jinx it ). We have the protection plan so there was no charge for the switch over to the HR44. Of course, we lost all our recordings and entries in the "To Do" list.

    • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
      texasbrit

      turnerbrewer -yours is a different issue, not linked to the HR34 issue we are discussing, which only happens on certain NBC and a couple of CBS locals.

      It demonstrates how difficult these problems are to diagnose, since there can be  a number of different issues with the same symptoms.

    • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
      litzdog911

      Start your own new thread.  Your problem is very likely different. 

  • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
    boothkd

    After continued problems I contacted DTV a couple of more times, the last time in December when we began seeing pixelation on live broadcasts.  This was a new symptom for us and did not happen on our HR24.  DTV at that point replaced my HR34 with another HR34, which was delivered promptly. However, the same issue occurs with the new device.

     

    i took the additional step of swapping our HR34 into the room where our HR24 was located an moved the HR24 into the HR34 location, leaving the connecting coaxial cables in place so that the only things that moved were the two DVRs (and the whole home wireless unit).  The problem followed the HR34 and continues.

     

    It does appear to only affect the broadcast networks.

    • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
      texasbrit

      Where are you located? Is this all the broadcast networks or just NBC?

      • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
        boothkd

        I am in South Carolina.  I've seen this happen on both CBS and NBC affiliates.

         

        I finally called again today and, after an hour with customer service, DirectTV is replacing the 34 with a 24.  I debated about pushing for the 44 but decided not to since I know the 24 is stable.  Not thrilled with the outcome here but I'm out of patience and time to deal with it.  I realize that technical issues are sometimes difficult to diagnose but after this many calls from a long time, otherwise satisfied customer I expected better.

        • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
          texasbrit

          As we have posted many times, there is a known issue with the HR34 with pixelation on several NBC and occasionally on some CBS locals. For some reason, this is not known (or accepted) by CSRs. We don't know why.

          Going from an HR34 to an HR24 is a major step down in functionality, you should not have to do this.

          • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
            boothkd

            Yes, it has been posted many times and I agree 1000% that I should not have to do this.  At the end of the day and having spoken to four CSRs over the course of three months, this was the best offer.  The alternative offer was to schedule a service call, which I declined because I have already invested far too much of my own time (conservatively 6-8 hours with and without DTV, 4 hours with) a ssisting with troubleshooting.  Texas, do you work for DTV, and if so, do you have another proposal?  I don't think (at least I hope) that you're not suggesting I bear responsibility for the problem or resolving it, right?

            • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
              texasbrit

              No, I don't work for DirecTV. The only suggestion I have is to think of a good reason why the Hr34 is faulty - say the thing keeps rebooting on its own maybe -  have a service call, and persuade the service guy to swap out the HR34 for an HR44 when he arrives, if he has one on his truck.

              I don't like distorting the truth but it seems you won't get anyone to act until you do.

              • Re: Pixelation Issues on HR34
                boothkd

                I think if I were willing to endure a service call and several more followups they might also do something, but you're right that it will take extreme measures to get them to replace it with the newer functional equivalent.  This problem is the sort of thing that auto manufacturers would be expected to recall for.