Comcast vs. MDR537H - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-20-2013, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi All:

I recently moved my DVD recorder from a house that had DISH dvr service to a house that has Comcast. The problem with Comcast (DCH3416) is that the S-VIDEO / COMPOSITE / RF connections show a stretched SD and a letterboxed HD. With DISH I could record both SD and HD stations without any distortion and actually did most recording off HD channels using S-Video. I have the menu set properly and my HDTV works perfectly with 4:3 override set to "off" but 4:3 override seems to still be "on" with the cable connections running from the box to my DVD recorder. Comcast is absolutely worthless in helping me solve this problem.



Does Comcast have a better dvr or is there a way to fix this nonsense?



Thanks for any responses.
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post #2 of 17 Old 08-20-2013, 02:07 PM
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Your Comcast box must be one of the many that won't send a 16:9 WS signal thru its analog outputs (composite or S-Video).

 

So, you'll need either another box or a converter that maintains 16:9 WS from the box's Component RGB or HDMI output, as described in this section of the Aspect help file.

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post #3 of 17 Old 08-21-2013, 12:10 AM
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Like Wajo said, take your box back to Comcast and get them to replace it with another one that does not have that problem. If that is not possible, then your best bet is a composite to component video converter.

Luke

Evil is charming and beautiful. It makes you doubt yourself. It asks for one small compromise after another until it whittles you down, and it functions best when no one believes in it.-JOA
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post #4 of 17 Old 08-21-2013, 10:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Wajo and Church AV Guy for responding.

Comcast support is ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS -- they won't even admit that this problem exists.
Does anyone know the model # of a Comcast dvr that does not have this problem?
I borrowed a component to s-video converter yesterday and it does indeed fix the problem.
BUT the pic quality is degraded somewhat and I don't want to go that route.
I'm going back to the Comcast store today to ask for a different dvr.
If no luck then I'll switch to DISH.

Thanks for any help,
bigchump
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post #5 of 17 Old 08-21-2013, 10:48 AM
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If you can make sure your different box is NOT made by Motorola, you might have a chance at success, being as you won't be able to test it in the store..

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post #6 of 17 Old 08-21-2013, 11:02 AM
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bigchump, you may get additionall suggestions if you tell us the brand and model of your TV, and let us know exactly how the ComCast box and your Magnavox are connected to it.

It might be the ComCast box is defective, or it might not. Some cable boxes are designed so their HDMI connection overrides their analog composite/s-video/component connections. IOW, if you have the TV connected to ComCast via HDMI and the HDMI set to 1080, the analog outputs to your 537 could be all mangled up because the box stupidly assumes you would never use both HDMI and analog at the same time. Try disconnecting the ComCast HDMI from the TV, and see if the signal thru the 537 corrects itself. If so, ComCast is using that annoying type of box, and there's no easy way to work around the issue short of renting a second box for the 537 or putting together a complicated HDMI splitter + HDMI>s-video hookup.

DVD recorders occasionally "forget" key settings when unplugged and moved to a new location: you might want to verify your 537 tv display menu is set to 16:9.

If the 537 is connected to your TV via HDMI, try cycling the HDMI button on the Mag remote. The highest 1080 upscale setting can be problematic, creating odd framing distortions (this happens with BluRay players as well). Try using the 720 setting, or s-video output to TV, instead. Does the distortion go away?

With some TVs, each input has its own bank of settings, so you might want to dig around the TV input menus to make sure they don't have conflicting HDMI upscale or aspect ratio adjustments running counter to your 537 settings.

There's a small chance your 537 just went completely wonky during the move and needs a total reset: wajo gives instructions on how to do that here. Its a long shot, but a hardware reset might fix your distortion issue.

Finally, it may boil down to just a difference in the way cable and satellite work their boxes. You may have been getting a full anamorphic 16:9 signal over s-video from your DiSH box, but very VERY few cable boxes offer that feature. The overwhelming majority lock their s-video and composite outputs to 4:3 letterbox. This can result in rotten framing options on some channels, and needing to zoom the letterboxed frame to fill your screen. If this is the problem you're having, it is quite common with cable. To avoid it, you'd need to go back to DiSH or tolerate the image degradation from a component or HDMI converter.

Good luck to you!smile.gif
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post #7 of 17 Old 08-21-2013, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks CitiBear:
Unfortunately the distortion comes from the cable box.
I've read on the Internet that all Motorola boxes have this problem.?
I am in Portland OR. and maybe in other areas this doesn't happen but I don't know....
I verified this by using s-video directly from the box to the tv with HDMI disconnected.
I also verified it by borrowing a component to s-video converter which fixed the problem but with minor picture distortion.
Changing any menu settings in the cable box has no effect on composite / s-video outs. It only changes HDMI and component.
It appears that some idiot at Motorola decided that people with 16:9 tv would prefer a stretched SD without an option to change that.
I have two Maggys (one old and one new) and two TV's (LG led 3D and Insignia lcd) both 55".
Both my Maggys are ok and fooling around with their menus doesn't help (both use HDMI out).
In fact, my older Maggy (2007) has burned over 1200 dvd's without even one failure or problem.
Yes, both my DISH boxes output full 16:9 SD on s-video / composite.
Some expert on Motorola may know of a workaround but I have a second different (HD no dvr) box that does the same thing.
I went to the Comcast "store" again this morning and asked to talk to a tech but got a complete MORON instead.
I guess he was the head moron in-charge 'cause he told me "no Comcast cable box outputs 16:9 SD".
The truth is Comcast users in other areas that don't use the Motorola boxes also don't have this problem as far as I know...

So I'm switching to DISH tomorrow unless someone can tell me of a Comcast box I can order or buy that works with DVD recorders.

Thanks for any responses in advance,
bigchump (bigchump for ever getting involved with Comcast)
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post #8 of 17 Old 08-21-2013, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigchump View Post

Thanks CitiBear:
So I'm switching to DISH tomorrow unless someone can tell me of a Comcast box I can order or buy that works with DVD recorders.

No cable company or cable box maker sells one retail. Closest is TiVo.

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post #9 of 17 Old 08-21-2013, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
I borrowed a component to s-video converter yesterday and it does indeed fix the problem.
BUT the pic quality is degraded somewhat and I don't want to go that route.

In my reply I should have mentioned that I have one or two of these kind of boxes, and unless you are prepared to spend a small fortune, the small dedicated converters usually give a mediocre picture at best. I have never had this issue with my DirecTV DVRs, and I assume that you didn't with Dish, so that seems to be the best overall option.

Oddly, the cable boxes you are trying to avoid are the ones that are attempting to "protect you" from outputting pictures with a bad aspect ratio. frown.gif They are killing us with kindness. Wouldn't it be nice if they just gave us the option?

Luke

Evil is charming and beautiful. It makes you doubt yourself. It asks for one small compromise after another until it whittles you down, and it functions best when no one believes in it.-JOA
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post #10 of 17 Old 08-22-2013, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Church AV Guy View Post

In my reply I should have mentioned that I have one or two of these kind of boxes, and unless you are prepared to spend a small fortune, the small dedicated converters usually give a mediocre picture at best. I have never had this issue with my DirecTV DVRs, and I assume that you didn't with Dish, so that seems to be the best overall option.

Oddly, the cable boxes you are trying to avoid are the ones that are attempting to "protect you" from outputting pictures with a bad aspect ratio. frown.gif They are killing us with kindness. Wouldn't it be nice if they just gave us the option?

Thanks Church!

Today I'm switching to DISH and that should end the problem.
I feel so sorry for all those folks who buy dvd recorders and think the problem is with it.
One poor guy returned his Maggy because it didn't have a "high-definition" input.

By the way, what is that expensive option?
I'd like to pass that info on to those who can afford it, mainly the people giving Maggys bad reviews 'cause of this Motorola nonsense.
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post #11 of 17 Old 08-22-2013, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigchump View Post

By the way, what is that expensive option? I'd like to pass that info on to those who can afford it, mainly the people giving Maggys bad reviews 'cause of this Motorola nonsense.

Its a bit of a contradiction, bigchump: the recorder market is VERY different today than it was six years ago. Today, the majority of people buying the Magnavox DVD/HDD recorders are doing so because they have been led to believe it is a "bargain TiVO with no subscription fees." They are inevitably disappointed to discover it doesn't record in high def and it doesn't record easily (if at all) from most cable services without a decoder box. The box requirement defeats the whole purpose of the PVR, and letterboxes everything, so people get pissed and wrongly rage against the Magnavox. The unit has its flaws, to be sure: all DVD recorders do. But it is the cable and satellite providers that thwart these machines with their crafty proprietary blocking methods.

HDMI or component to s-video adapters can work around the letterbox issue, but as you've seen for yourself the PQ of "affordable" adapters is not good at all. The premium quality adapters mentioned by ChurchAVGuy cost more than the Magnavox 537 itself, which again defeats the "bargain" compromise most Magnavox (or EZ48v) buyers were hoping for. And the premium adapters do not solve the problem of the decoder box: you're still stuck with a recorder that cannot change channels for multiple timer events. No one in their right mind is going to spend $300 for a HD Fury HDMI>component converter plus $300 (or more) for an Altoona-class component>s-video converter plus $250 for a Magnavox DVD/HDD. Such a system is limited to standard-def recordings and limited to a single timer event on a single channel.

For less than that cost, about $600, one can buy a TiVO with upfront lifetime subscription fee. It accepts CableCard to directly connect to cable systems, records in full HDTV, has dual tuners with multiple timers, has the gold-standard program guide, and can send recorded videos to a PC for permanent hard drive storage or burning DVD or BluRays. For much less, you buy a CableCard-compatible PVR interface for your computer and record directly to PC. Those with satellite service can use a simpler, cheaper PC PVR and connect it to the sat decoder with an HD Fury.

Standalone DVD recorders are not practical anymore unless you have excellent off-air reception or you're willing to tolerate decoders with letterboxed output and no ability to change channels automatically for different timer programs. Don't get me wrong: a lot of us stubborn folk still love our old DVD recorders and do indeed put up with all the nonsense they entail. But casual users in the market for a new video recorder for their new HDTV are not interested in such compromises: they want high def, they want dual tuners, they want cheap, and they don't burn discs. The vast majority are perfectly content with leasing a cable or satellite PVR, many opt for TiVO, and a small minority of gearheads set up a PC-based PVR. The rest buy a Magnavox, and spend the rest of their lives simultaneously whining about it and passionately defending it.

To each his own.
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post #12 of 17 Old 08-22-2013, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

For less than that cost, about $600, one can buy a TiVO with upfront lifetime subscription fee. It accepts CableCard to directly connect to cable systems, records in full HDTV, has dual tuners with multiple timers, has the gold-standard program guide, and can send recorded videos to a PC for permanent hard drive storage or burning DVD or BluRays.
Looks like dual tuners are a thing of the past with the new Roamio models. The base model price has been bumped up $100 so now a new Roamio + lifetime will run you $700 -- but for that $100 bump you now get 4 tuners.

So a $700 4-tuner TiVo HD-DVR is cheaper than 4 x Magnavox SD-DVDR -- aside from all the other advantages.

- kelson h

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post #13 of 17 Old 08-22-2013, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
I borrowed a component to s-video converter
Quote:
unless you are prepared to spend a small fortune, the small dedicated converters usually give a mediocre picture at best.
Quote:
By the way, what is that expensive option?
I'd like to pass that info on to those who can afford it, mainly the people giving Maggys bad reviews 'cause of this Motorola nonsense.

I was referring to professional video equipment which, from my research, starts at $500 and can run into the thousands. Totally out of the scope of any discussion here.

Citibear explained it far better than I ever could. It makes no sense to spend more on a converter than you have on the whole rest of the video setup, including the television.

Luke

Evil is charming and beautiful. It makes you doubt yourself. It asks for one small compromise after another until it whittles you down, and it functions best when no one believes in it.-JOA
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post #14 of 17 Old 08-22-2013, 02:34 PM
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Searching for HDFURY(the good but expensive HDMI to component converter) Google yielded these interesting looking converters from Amazon. Don't think I've seen them posted before and wonder how the quality is.....
http://www.amazon.com/ViewHD-Universal-Composite-S-Video-Converter/dp/B00AQ4HF7G/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1377207100&sr=8-4&keywords=hdfury
http://www.amazon.com/HDfuryproTwo-Component-Converter-Support-Surround/dp/B009YP7Y56/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377207216&sr=8-1&keywords=hdfury

Wonder if they're much better than the Lenkeng converters I've tried......
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post #15 of 17 Old 08-24-2013, 02:58 AM
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I have the Comcast (DCH3416) HD-DVR and have no problems recording to my Panasonic DVD-Recorders.
The box feeds multiple sources all at the same time. HDMI direct to Sony CRT HD TV. RF out to HD TV in garage. S-Video to E30, Composite to an auxiliary DVDR.
All the box outputs work at the same time, SD & HD. No distortion to my recorders, SD or HD Letterbox.
I've had issues trying to record from a friend's U-Verse HD box to a Panny DVDR. Picture was stretched vertically, like a bad 4:3

Maybe the OP got a defective box. Maybe Comcast/Motorola made some changes.
I've had this 3416 for several years. The new boxes hold more, but seem cheaply made.
I thought about upgrading my box, but no way I'm giving up this box that gives me fantastic DVD burns.
Also, no copy protection issues to my Panasonics. Had an LG that wouldn't record anything from Cable, even SD.
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post #16 of 17 Old 08-24-2013, 04:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mikey man View Post

Maybe the OP got a defective box. Maybe Comcast/Motorola made some changes.
I've had this 3416 for several years. The new boxes hold more, but seem cheaply made.
I thought about upgrading my box, but no way I'm giving up this box that gives me fantastic DVD burns.
Also, no copy protection issues to my Panasonics. Had an LG that wouldn't record anything from Cable, even SD.

Mickey Man: I didn't have a defective Comcast box as this house had two different ones and both are NFG for recording SD or HD on my Maggy.

I say "had" 'cause I switched to DISH yesterday and the problem is GONE.

My new Hopper setup is the greatest thing I have ever seen -- even connects to my Wi-Fi router for on demand stuff and connecting directly to my PC's.
The only drawback is the new Hopper only has composite -- no s-video -- but I forgot about that after five minutes.
Both SD and HD composite are at 16:9 and you have the option of changing them to stretch-letterbox from the menu if that's what you want.
Their 722 box has s-video and they gave me that choice but I opted for the much better Hopper & Joey setup and am pleased as punch.
I only record off the HD channels and picture quality is great coming out of my Maggy.

I'm sure there are others but DISH is a good choice if you want 16:9 WS from composite.

Thanks to all for helping me out,
bigchump
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post #17 of 17 Old 08-24-2013, 01:33 PM
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I thought about upgrading my box, but no way I'm giving up this box that gives me fantastic DVD burns.
Also, no copy protection issues to my Panasonics. Had an LG that wouldn't record anything from Cable, even SD.
Quote:
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Mickey Man: I didn't have a defective Comcast box as this house had two different ones and both are NFG for recording SD or HD on my Maggy.

I say "had" 'cause I switched to DISH yesterday and the problem is GONE.

Wise decisions.
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