Suddenlink HD cable box outputs 1080p resolution-how can this be? And, is there such a thing as a quiet DVR box? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-26-2013, 08:29 AM - Thread Starter
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I had to replace my original Motorola HD cable box due it cratering over the last couple weeks, and Suddenlink has supplied me with a Pace HD DVR box which is outputting 1080p video, which I didn't think Suddenlink Cable carried. I confirmed this by pressing the "Info" button on my TV. The picture is darn good though. So, I have a couple questions I hope someone can comment on.

First, would I be correct in assuming that the DVR box is merely upconverting 1080i and other resolutions to 1080p? Or, has Suddenlink begun somehow sending 1080p over the cable? Secondly, assuming they are up converting, is that a good or a bad thing in terms of picture quality? Should I try to set it to 1080i for best picture? Thanks for any experience or observations.

The other issue is noise(the original Motorola HD box was not a DVR, and didn't make any noise at all). This box is located in the master bedroom, which is a very quiet room, and I have difficulty going to sleep if there is noise in the room. Actually, Suddenlink has supplied me with a series of replacement boxes. The first one was a Pace HD DVR unit, which was brought and installed by a tech, and had a bad fan in it and sort of groaned and surged. So I went to their retail location and got the Pace box I mentioned above regarding output resolution(different model from the one the tech brought). It is pretty quiet and I don't hear any fan noise, but I could hear the hard drive ticking at night, even if I turn the box off. Then I went back and got yet a different and larger Pace HD DVR model from them, but on that unit the fan runs all the time and sometimes quite virorously, even if you turn the unit off. The only HD DVR unit the retail location has in stock and that I have not tried is the Motorola HD DVR they still have some of. Does anybody have any experience with that unit? Yes, I know I am high maintenance, but appreciate any info very much.

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post #2 of 8 Old 10-26-2013, 11:36 AM
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Newer Cable Boxes added the capability to also output at a setting of 1080p. This resolution setting is intended for On-Demand access via the MPEG4 encoded IPTV functionality that may or may not be currently used in your cable system. [Most do NOT.]

To eliminate channel change wait times as the HDTV changes from one resolution setting to another, some people prefer to enable one and ONLY one output setting, matching the highest resolution setting in their HDTV. However if you select say 1080i, then you will NEVER benefit from the FASTER REFRESH RATE of 720p signals. And if you select ONLY 720p, you will NEVER benefit from the significantly higher rez on 1080i channels. For the BEST resolution with both types of HD channels, on my Cisco DVR (TWC-SD) I enable BOTH 1080i and 720p....which forces 480i SD channels to be upconverted to 720p....which is "good enough" since I almost never watch SD channels. Ideally, you could enable ALL Resolution settings to allow the presumably "better" algorithms in modern HDTV's operate on the unmodified MPEG2 data streams.

If you suspect that you have 1080p signals available to you, enable either ALL or at least three settings: 1080p, 1080i and 720p and use your HDTV's "INFO" (or equivalent) button to verify the resolution of the input signals.

The big UNKNOWN question is whether the deinterface and upconversion algorithm in the Cable STB is better (or probably worse) that the (hopefully) very sophisticated motion adaptive algorithm in your HDTV. You'll just have to try it youself and see which you prefer, using 1080p ONLY and compare it to when all three resolutions mentioned above are selected.
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post #3 of 8 Old 10-26-2013, 12:07 PM
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For some reason the Cable Headends are constantly "talking" to Cable Boxes....and the Power button only kills the output video....NOT the STB. Consequently the Hard Drive in DVR's is constantly clicking. I've heard some reports that tuning to an ON-DEMAND channel at bedtime kills the noise. You can also try disconnecting the Cable Coax from the DVR at night....if this works, you can add an A/B Switch. When you switch the CATV signal back on, unless there is a new version available, the DVR shouldn't need a reboot...it "should" just start working again.... And of course you could connect the DVR to a power strip and simply turn it off at night (unless you have a recording you want to do that night).

If this doesn't work....add some sound insulation AROUND the DVR, such as stacks of paper back books on the sides and something placed on TOP of the FRONT of the box...but NOT covering up the cooling vents....many DVR's get Very Hot.... I don't know the specifics of what is around your DVR, but I'm envisioning one or two 2x4's ON-EDGE that extend well beyond the sides of the DVR, with paperback books stacked underneath it, spines to the front.....or perhaps a some more pieces of 2x4's cut to fit. You might also want to add a 2x4 at 90-degress to stabilize the structure....just make sure that air flow through the top and bottom of the DVR isn't obstructed.
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post #4 of 8 Old 10-26-2013, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holl_ands View Post

Newer Cable Boxes added the capability to also output at a setting of 1080p. This resolution setting is intended for On-Demand access via the MPEG4 encoded IPTV functionality that may or may not be currently used in your cable system. [Most do NOT.]

To eliminate channel change wait times as the HDTV changes from one resolution setting to another, some people prefer to enable one and ONLY one output setting, matching the highest resolution setting in their HDTV. However if you select say 1080i, then you will NEVER benefit from the FASTER REFRESH RATE of 720p signals. And if you select ONLY 720p, you will NEVER benefit from the significantly higher rez on 1080i channels. For the BEST resolution with both types of HD channels, on my Cisco DVR (TWC-SD) I enable BOTH 1080i and 720p....which forces 480i SD channels to be upconverted to 720p....which is "good enough" since I almost never watch SD channels. Ideally, you could enable ALL Resolution settings to allow the presumably "better" algorithms in modern HDTV's operate on the unmodified MPEG2 data streams.

If you suspect that you have 1080p signals available to you, enable either ALL or at least three settings: 1080p, 1080i and 720p and use your HDTV's "INFO" (or equivalent) button to verify the resolution of the input signals.

The big UNKNOWN question is whether the deinterface and upconversion algorithm in the Cable STB is better (or probably worse) that the (hopefully) very sophisticated motion adaptive algorithm in your HDTV. You'll just have to try it youself and see which you prefer, using 1080p ONLY and compare it to when all three resolutions mentioned above are selected.

Thanks for the great info! After further investigation, it does appear to be as you suggested, i.e., the cable box is up converting everything to 1080p. The indicator lights on the front display of the box are indicating the resolution of whatever channel to which I have it tuned.

I did do some toggling between 1080i and 1080p output, and I couldn't really perceive any difference into the 42" Panny plasma I am currently using. On the other hand, I also toggled between the 1080 resolutions and 720p and both 1080 resolutions appeared significantly sharper than 720p to my eyes. I have just ordered a 60" Panny plasma for this bedroom, so it may be that with the larger panel any differences between resolution settings may be more apparent.

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post #5 of 8 Old 10-26-2013, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holl_ands View Post

For some reason the Cable Headends are constantly "talking" to Cable Boxes....and the Power button only kills the output video....NOT the STB. Consequently the Hard Drive in DVR's is constantly clicking. First try disconnecting the Cable Coax from the DVR at night....if this works, you can add an A/B Switch.

If this doesn't work....add some sound insulation AROUND the DVR, such as stacks of paper back books on the sides and something placed on TOP of the FRONT of the box...but NOT covering up the cooling vents....many DVR's get Very Hot.... I don't know the specifics of what is around your DVR, but I'm envisioning one or two 2x4's ON-EDGE that extend well beyond the sides of the DVR, with paperback books stacked underneath it, spines to the front.

Thanks for the tips. This particular DVR box that I settled on does not make the fan noise of the others that bothered me. This one is pretty much inaudible from my bed, with the exception that I can barely hear some slight ticking from the hard drive, which I think I am going to be able to live with.

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post #6 of 8 Old 11-04-2013, 04:27 PM
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Yes - newer set-top boxes are increasingly offering 1080p output in addition to 1080i, 720p, 576i/p and/or 480i/p.

As others have stated this has benefits for a number of reasons.

You can de-interlace 1080i to 1080p and scale 720p to 1080p in the box, and output a constant 1080p without compromising the quality of either 1080i or 720p content (whereas if you could only output at a fixed 1080i or 720p the other content would be compromised, or you would end up with re-sync flicker if output 1080i and 720p dynamically)

VOD and Catch-up/On-Demand stuff that is downloaded can be downloaded in 1080p and output at full quality, as can 1080p IPTV stuff.

Digital Text services can be rendered at 1080p without any interlace artefacts, as can subtitles/closed captions.

In the UK 1080/50p output is now, I believe, mandated as an option on our HD OTA boxes that meet Freeview HD licensing rules.
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post #7 of 8 Old 11-08-2013, 12:21 AM
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In the United States (which is where Suddenlink is located), over-the-air (OTA) HD transmissions are either 720p or 1080i; as far as I am aware, OTA broadcasts cannot use 1080p because that would require more than the allocated bandwidth. So signals from any TV station will not be 1080p.

 

The same limitations would not apply for shows that are not OTA, but from what I can find on the web, it appears that even the premium channels are either 720p or 1080i. For example, this is a list of HD channels in the United States: Wikipedia

 

If you set the DVR to output 1080p, all signals the DVR receives are upconverted to 1080p unless it is the rare case where the signal the box receives is already 1080p.

 

If the TV this is connected to is the Toshiba 50HP66, its native resolution is 1366x768, which is the same native resolution my bedroom 32-in LCD/LED TV has, which is a bit better than 720p (1280x720) but not as good as 1080p (1920x1080).

 

I my case, I finally settled on setting the DVR to output 1080p to the TV, and set the aspect ratio on the TV to "just scan" (it will display 4:3 and 16:9 images without overscan when set to "aspect ratio: just scan"). For a long time I had it set to 720p (since the TV is advertised as 720p), but the difference between 720 advertised and 768 native lines was just enough that I thought I could see some slight improvement by feeding the TV at 1080p; that way the DVR can send all 1080 lines for the 1080i channels to the TV and the TV can down-convert to its native resolution, rather than feeding the TV at 720p and throwing away a bit of the finer detail, and on the 720p channels it probably wouldn't make a significant difference, at least I didn't notice. When I first got the HD DVR and the HD TV (got both the same day), I tried letting the DVR send the channel's native resolution, but there was a pause in switching channels as the TV adjusted to the different resolution, and on some HD channels when 4:3 commercials were intermixed with 16:9 content the TV would often think it was dealing with the wrong aspect ratio and distorting the image.

 

(My "man cave" system is simple in comparison: it's a native 1080p TV and I just feed it 1080p signals from the Blu-ray players and 720p from my Roku N1000 (since that generation of Rokus tops out at 720p on Netflix content), but I have nothing from cable going to it.)

 

The best advice is still to try the DVR set fixed at 1080p and see how you like it, and set the box to automatically switch to whatever the channel resolution is (which on HD channels will be 720p or 1080i; for SD channels it will be 480).


My very humble setup:
Man Cave:Vizio E500i-A1 "Smart TV" (50-in 1080p 120Hz LED/LCD, has Netflix app.), Blu-ray players (Sony BDP-S3100, old LG BD390), Roku (the original model: N1000), PC (Windows 7), Comcast Internet (25Mbps/5Mbps).
Bedroom:LG 32LV3400-UA TV (32-in 768p 60Hz LED/LCD), HD DVR (Motorola RNG200N), Xfinity Comcast cable (Digital Starter Package), DVD/VHS player.
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post #8 of 8 Old 11-30-2013, 06:11 PM
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Mark12547 View Post

 

I my case, I finally settled on setting the DVR to output 1080p to the TV, and set the aspect ratio on the TV to "just scan" (it will display 4:3 and 16:9 images without overscan when set to "aspect ratio: just scan"). ...

 

A couple days ago I revisited the HD DVR settings and got a different set of settings that seem to also work for the HD DVR and my bedroom TV, this time leaving most of the deinterlacing and all the scaling to the TV, except for SD 480i, which I am having the DVR deinterlace and feed 480p to the TV and then the TV will rescale that 480p format to its native 768p format..

 

 

Through trial and error, I found that when the TV received a 480i signal through the HDMI cable, the TV forgot that I had set the "Ratio: just scan" (LG-speak for no overscan) and it also stretched the 4:3 image to fill the screen, horribly distorting it; and switching back to a HD channel would have overscan. (How many of us want to grab the DVR remote to change the channel or start playing different content, and then have to reach for the TV remote to adjust the "Ratio" (zoom/aspect ratio) on just about every channel change?)

 

However, when I had set the HD DVR as "HDMI/YPbPr mode" to "Native" (that DVR-speak for sending to the TV the same HD format the channel is broadcasting in), and then use the DVR's "Advanced HDMI" screen to deselect 480i as one of the HD Formats that my TV can receive (leaving 480p, 720p, 1080i & 1080p at various frame rates as formats the TV can receive), the TV then receives just the now-480p, 720p, or 1080i format, remembers I had configured the port to "Ratio: just scan" (no overscan, so I view the entire HD image) when on HD stations (or switching back to a HD station) and properly displays SD stations as 4:3 but it enables overscan until I switch back to a HD program. (In the case of SD, a bit of overscan is nice because a couple of the SD stations I normally watch have some garbage white and black segments on the top line, and overscan pushes that line out of view.)

 

I'm going to try it this way for a while. So far, leaving all rescaling to my 768p TV works at least as well as having the HD DVR rescale to 1080p and the TV rescale down to 768p, and I think the SD channels and 720p channels are just a bit crisper this way, probably because I had eliminated the DVR's intermediate rescaling step.

 

 

One thing I don't like is that when switching from SD to a HD format, or switching between HD formats, there is a delay of about 1 second or so before the TV is handling the new format, which wasn't there when the DVR was formatting all signals to the same HD format. But since I tend to record and watch later, rather than channel surf, the delay is usually just at the beginning of watching a show. (See: List of current high-definition channels) If the second of no image when changing to a different HD format gets too irritating, I can quickly change the HD DVR back to rescaling everything to 1080p.

 

I can't eliminate the SD channels from my viewing because at present there is some content that is available only on the "classic" TV networks (often broadcasted OTA as digital subchannels) like MeTV, Antenna TV, and THiS TV, and on other SD-only channels. So, when searching for a combination of settings that work for my bedroom TV, the 480i channels are the ones that complicate the issue. I am glad I now have a couple ways of working around the 480i complications: either rescale everything to a HD format such as 1080p or, now, I know I can also configure the DVR to eliminate 480i output on HDMI so 480i channels go out on the HDMI cable to the TV as 480p.


My very humble setup:
Man Cave:Vizio E500i-A1 "Smart TV" (50-in 1080p 120Hz LED/LCD, has Netflix app.), Blu-ray players (Sony BDP-S3100, old LG BD390), Roku (the original model: N1000), PC (Windows 7), Comcast Internet (25Mbps/5Mbps).
Bedroom:LG 32LV3400-UA TV (32-in 768p 60Hz LED/LCD), HD DVR (Motorola RNG200N), Xfinity Comcast cable (Digital Starter Package), DVD/VHS player.
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