or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › HDTV › HDTV Recorders › SA 8000HD & 8300HD w/ Passport software (TWC)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

SA 8000HD & 8300HD w/ Passport software (TWC) - Page 9

post #241 of 7483
My 8000HD is actually my fourth TWC HD cable box, and on my setup (Sony VPH-1252Q front projector) the picture is definitely softer than my previous Pioneer box.
post #242 of 7483
Quote:


Originally posted by archiguy
As much as I love this DVR, there's no question it's softening the HD picture (and SD too). That's a shame. There's definite proof of it too.... ATSC HD standard bitrate of 19.2 mb/s takes up about 9 gb/hour of "space". Using the onboard diagnostic screen showing disk size, it's clear (after lots of testing) that an hour of HD recording on the SA8000 only takes about 6 gb/hour on the average, sometimes as little as 5. That means that at least a third of the data is being dropped out, resulting in a softer picture. It appears that the box is only recording HD at around 12 mb/s.

I'd never thought of doing this experiment--thanks!

I notice that they've greatly improved the display of disk space in the diag screens between .151 and .159--this is the first I'd looked at it. I don't actually have any other use for it.

In two samples, I got very different results. (This isn't going to go very quickly, since I'm not willing to delete things without watching them, though I guess I could record stuff that I don't want to watch and delete them immediately ). Ghost Ship, recorded from HBO HD, came in at 6.8 GB for 95 minutes. That comes out to 9.77 Mbps--not very good. However, an episode of Smallville, recorded from HDNet today, came out at 7.6 GB for 60 minutes, making it 17.29 Mbps, about as good as you're going to practically get from broadcast TV, particularly on cable where all the ATSC padding chaff should be discarded (or never inserted on a cable/DBS only channel. That 19.39 Mbps is a maximum payload for a 6 MHz air channel modulated in 8 VSB. As I understand it, the broadcasters rarely push it to the limit).

The stuff that looks best to me still looks very, very good, which is why I don't think that this box is robbing me of PQ--I recorded a restoration of My Fair Lady on HDNet Movies that was so sharp and vivid it looked like it was about jump off the screen. I was about to delete it to make space and took a glance at it first; it took my breath away, so I took the time to watch it.

If your system is packing 3 channels per 6 MHz slot and stat-muxing, you could be getting reduced bit rates from some channels because of that. My system has only done that in one slot and only recently--they put Fox HD in with two other channels (PBS and NBC) for some reason, unnecessarily, since there's another slot with only a single channel in it (Showtime is all by its lonesome).

I'm going to continue to take this measurement for a while. I can't wait to see what kind of bit rate I'll get for CSI:CSI this evening.
post #243 of 7483
Your results is matching the suspected lower bitrate used by HBO-HD and the known full bitrate used by HDnet!
post #244 of 7483
Quote:


Other posters in this thread reported that softer picture quality was corrected by software updates at the head-end.

Reached my tentative conclusion about setups (meaning everything in the chain) being at fault in some cases because I've seen a number of posts from those saying the 8000HD's HD output is fine on their systems. So don't think it's valid to make blanket statements about the overall design of the unit--for HD quality, at least. Many might not post about units that perform okay, while I'd expect to see posts from those with problems.

Told the Time Warner HD installer I'd set up my 8000HD myself, and when I made a similar direct cable swap images looked okay here. I've been making HD comparisons with another (2nd) cable company's signal and their converter, though, since I know my old 3100HD has image 'fog' that spoils contrast and fine details. From the 8000HD's astounding no-simultaneous-1080i/480i design (without hassles), though, looks like I'll have to keep---and pay extra for--my 3100HD just to have a decent, stretchable, S-video output via remote control. -- John
post #245 of 7483
Thread Starter 
Quote:


Originally posted by michaeltscott
That comes out to 9.77 Mbps--not very good. However, an episode of Smallville, recorded from HDNet today, came out at 7.6 GB for 60 minutes, making it 17.29 Mbps, about as good as you're going to practically get from broadcast TV, particularly on cable...

I've read in other threads here at this site that the cable companies likely do *not* "touch" the signal, but pass them on as-is. If that's true, HBO is to blame for the low bitrate, not TW. Of course, is the box doing something to the signal to "degrade" it ?? Only way to test that would be to have results from various HD set-tops record the same program.
post #246 of 7483
I also feel that it's highly unlikely that this device has the capability to do any sort of realtime bit-rate reduction on HD video at all, much less to be able to do it to two streams simultaneously. That'd be a seriously impressive trick for such an inexpensive piece of equipment.

There are a lot of factors here in the stored size of video. As I said before, 19.39 Mbps is the payload for 8 VSB, including the entire MPEG-2 TS, not just the program encapsulated by it. What's being processed by this box is a different transport stream, containing an arbitrary combination of programs as determined by your cable company. What's going to be stored by this DVR is only the bits from a stream for the program that you asked it to record.

A single MPEG-2 stream is not constantly at any one rate, so all we can calculate from these file sizes is a rough average rate. About 20% of a broadcast television program is ad space, and there are very few high-definition ads these days. I would guess that the ads, upconverted and pillar-boxed, are going to be significantly lower bit-rate data than the actual programs, and will lower the average bit-rate somewhat, making it difficult to estimate what the bit-rate of the actual program was.

So, let's say that the actual bit-rate of the ads is 5 Mbps--12 minutes worth of ads per hour = .44 GB. We have a program that took 5.3 GB on disk for 60 minutes, which looks like 12 Mbps. Subtract that .44 GB and it becomes 4.86 GB for 48 minutes = 13.82 Mbps--better; much better than that 9.77 Mbps (no ads) that HBO was using for Ghost Ship. If we lower our estimate of the average bit-rate of the ads, the bit-rate of the program gets better.

This'd also jibe with my high bit-rate measurement for HDNet, since, though it has commericials, they're all for HDNet programming, which is all in HD--all of the ads are HD, not bringing the average bitrate of the program down.
post #247 of 7483
Haven't tried it yet, but see a few posts from those claiming that watching slightly time-delayed video looks better than real-time video (a PAUSE, PLAY sequence, I guess). Anyone care to tacke what's going on there? -- John
post #248 of 7483
Okay--I've performed some more experiments (I'm taking some time off, so I had the opportunity ). I both sacrificed a couple of old movies that I'd recorded on a whim that had been on my drive for a while (The Rainmaker and The Crying Game) and recorded a couple of things I had no interest in just to delete and measure them (Sunrise Earth, American Family). Here are the resulting data points, including the two from my post above:
  • Smallville (HDNet)
    7.6 GB / 60 mins = 17.29 Mbps
  • Ghost Ship (HBO)
    6.8 GB / 95 mins = 9.77 Mbps
  • CSI:CSI (CBS)
    5.3 GB / 60 mins = 12.06 Mbps (or 4.86/48 mins = 13.82 Mbps)
  • Without A Trace (CBS)
    5.1 GB / 60 mins = 11.60 Mbps (or 4.66/48 mins = 13.25 Mbps)
  • Sunrise Earth (Discovery HD)
    7.5 GB / 60 mins = 17.06 Mbps
  • ER (NBC)
    6.4 GB / 60 mins = 14.56 Mbps (or 5.96 GB/48 min = 16.95 Mbps)
  • The Rainmaker (HBO)
    8.6 GB / 135 mins = 8.69 Mbps
  • The Crying Game (Showtime)
    8.6 GB / 120 mins = 9.78 Mbps
  • The Agency (HDNet)
    7.8 GB / 60 mins = 17.75 Mbps
  • American Family (PBS)
    4.8 GB / 60 mins = 11.45 Mbps
(In parenthesis, for the network programming, I included a calculation using my theoretical fudge factor from my post above, 12 minutes of ads at 5 Mbps taking up .44 GB/hour).

I found the average bit-rate for ER to be surprisingly high and the average for American Family to be surprisingly low. PBS on my system is 720p, which should come in somewhat lower than 1080i (half a 1080x1920 frame is 12.5% more pixels than a whole 720x1280 frame), so maybe it's not that low. As I stated above, NBC, PBS and Fox are now sharing a 6 MHz slot on my system, but I recorded American Family in the morning, when there was no HD programming on either of the other two channels.

Note that otherwise this runs about as I expected. For the most part, the channels whose programming everyone raves about the PQ of have pretty high bit-rates, according to these file sizes. The bit-rates for the movies on HBO and Showtime were depressing--I'm tempted to cancel those services. (If I wasn't addicted to some of their series, it'd be easier ).

I'm convinced that the box stores what's on the cable and does not reduce the bit-rate. Whatever's softening your picture, I don't think that it's that.
post #249 of 7483
Thread Starter 
Shame on Showtime and HBO.... Nice to see Discovery isn't skimping nor is NBC. CBS is so-so...

If your local PBS is anything like ours, and correct me if I'm wrong on this, they "multicast" (5) channels in their stream (we have (2) and they send four SD and one HD). That explains why *ours* has a relatively low bitrate.
post #250 of 7483
Yes--our PBS does multicast one 720p channel and their normal SD channel.
post #251 of 7483
Thread Starter 
Just two ?? Lucky for you.... WPTO has 14.2, 14.3, 14.4, 14.5, and 14.6 in addition to their SD channel. WPTD does the same with (5) digital (one HD) and (1) analog channel.

One of them, I don't recall which, only turns on their HD channel after 6pm each evening. The other only turns theirs on on Sat and Sun after 6pm, I think (not sure of the exact time).
post #252 of 7483
Well, they can't mutlicast an analog channel in the MPEG-2 TS stream of their DTV channel. KPBS San Diego has 15.1, their HD channel, and 15.2, a digital version of their analog channel.

Before I stop this experiment, I should probably collect a little ABC, just for the sake of completeness. I don't watch much of anything there--only NYPD Blue, Boston Legal and ocassionally Lost (which I don't actually like, but it's strategically scheduled in two relatively empty spots, and it has a compelling tease of a plot). All they have on tonight is sitcoms, though they're all apparently HD.
post #253 of 7483
Quote:


Originally posted by michaeltscott
I'm convinced that the box stores what's on the cable and does not reduce the bit-rate. Whatever's softening your picture, I don't think that it's that.

Mike, you've done a great job here of analyzing these different programs and it jives with my far more sketchy observations of digital footprint on the drive.

However, once you remove the objective data from the equation, you're still left with the subjective observations that indicate a softening of the picture. As I A-B-C compare HD programming between my OTA/E* receiver, my SA3250 and the SA8000, it's pretty "clear" that the DVR's picture is softer, yet the colors are more vibrant. Everyone I've done this with has agreed. It's perplexing.
post #254 of 7483
Quote:


Originally posted by michaeltscott
If your system is packing 3 channels per 6 MHz slot and stat-muxing, you could be getting reduced bit rates from some channels because of that. My system has only done that in one slot and only recently--they put Fox HD in with two other channels (PBS and NBC) for some reason, unnecessarily, since there's another slot with only a single channel in it (Showtime is all by its lonesome).

How do you know this? Is this information about which and how many channels are contained within a 6 MHz slot also available from the "hidden" diagnostic area?
post #255 of 7483
I'm fairly sure that you can figure it out there, if not straightforwardly. There is a page where you can tune by display channel and frequency. If you tune an HD channel, I think that you can use it to poke around and see what else is on that frequency. I'm not sure; I haven't tried it before. For my system, someone else did it and posted a spreadsheet of TWC San Diego channelization on a local forum. Evidently people also found that the local Cox system does a lot of packing 3 HD channels per slot.

Since there are a significant number of people, who, like myself, did not experience a decrease in PQ on their televisions when switching from the Pioneer box to the SA8000HD, I truly suspect that there might be subtle incompatibilities in the analog video path. Your television may just be better mated with the previous box, electrically. But then, what do I know?
post #256 of 7483
Quote:


Originally posted by michaeltscott
I'm fairly sure that you can figure it out there, if not straightforwardly. There is a page where you can tune by display channel and frequency. If you tune an HD channel, I think that you can use it to poke around and see what else is on that frequency. I'm not sure; I haven't tried it before. For my system, someone else did it and posted a spreadsheet of TWC San Diego channelization on a local forum. Evidently people also found that the local Cox system does a lot of packing 3 HD channels per slot.

Since there are a significant number of people, who, like myself, did not experience a decrease in PQ on their televisions when switching from the Pioneer box to the SA8000HD, I truly suspect that there might be subtle incompatibilities in the analog video path. Your television may just be better mated with the previous box, electrically. But then, what do I know?

I think maybe it depends where you live too?
I live in NYC and a number of people in NYC have reported a softer picture on the 8000HD.
post #257 of 7483
Quote:


Originally posted by timewaster
I think maybe it depends where you live too?
I live in NYC and a number of people in NYC have reported a softer picture on the 8000HD.

Nope--there are people on my system who have noticed a softer picture as well, and other people who have not.

A couple more data points, from one analog and one digital SD channel:
  • JAG (USA or A&E--analog)
    2.3 GB / 60 mins = 5.23 Mbps
  • Ancient Arsenal (Disc Sci -- SD Digital)
    1.2 GB / 60 mins = 2.73 Mbps
  • Sportscenter (ESPN HD)
    7.5 GB / 58 mins = 17.65 Mbps
  • Law & Order (TNT HD)
    4.6 GB / 36 mins = 17.44 Mbps
  • The Wiseguy (HDNet)
    7.8 GB / 60 mins = 17.75 Mbps
  • Smallville (HDNet)
    7.7 GB / 60 mins = 17.52 Mbps
(Sportcenter and Law & Order were partial recordings--I'm starting to get impatient . Smallville was the second of two episodes which aired yesterday. I reported on the first previously).

I was surprised that L&O on TNT HD was at such a high bit-rate. It was an episode originally aired in HD, but I would not have sworn that they were airing it in HD on TNT. 2.3 GB for an hour of analog (JAG) translates to 13 hours on a 30 GB drive, somewhat more compact than my old TiVo's "Best Quality" compression, which would only get 9.5 hours in the same space. Either it's using a more advanced compression algorithm or we're stuck with a higher, loss-ier compression rate for analog, which makes sense from what I've seen. If most SD analog cable is like that Discovery Science program, you could pack well over 100 hours of it onto this thing.
post #258 of 7483
Some data from tonight's ABC lineup:
  • 8 Simple Rules (ABC)
    3.7 GB / 30 mins = 16.61 Mbps
  • Complete Savages (ABC)
    3.7 GB / 30 mins = 16.61 Mbps
Very healthy bit-rate, particularly considering that ABC's a 720p channel (720p having a 12% lower pixel rate than 1080i). I'm not too surprised, since some of the sharpest stuff that I watch is on ABC (NYPD Blue), despite being converted to 1080i for my television. Note that, if one were to apply my low-density ad fudge factor (12 minutes of ads at 5 Mbps occupying .44 GB/hour), this rate would exceed the 8 VSB payload (6.96 GB / 48 mins = 19.8 Mbps). Oh well--it was just a theory . This doesn't disprove it, per se. I'm beginning to suspect that some channels encode their content at a consistently high bit-rate, upconverted ads and all, which might explain TNT HD.

Of course, they could all be CBR, which would put CBS' general bitrate (from the programs measured so far) around 12 Mbps. Certainly not the worst on television and the crispy scenes in CSI still look very clear and sharply focused.
post #259 of 7483
I've had my SA8000HD for 2 weeks now and I'm pretty happy with it. The HD picture isn't as good as my old Pace 550 but I'll take the trade off for a DVR that works. The one thing that I really don't like is that the 8000HD converts 480i to 480p over component. My TV has an excellent deinterlacer and if I go into the advanced settings of the 8000HD and set the output format for only 480i, then it will output 480i and my SD picture is pretty good, but changing the setting everytime I switch from HD to SD and vice versa is annoying. I just don't understand why it doesn't output SD at 480i when you have any other output selected (480p, 720p, or 1080i).
post #260 of 7483
I collected some more bitrate data, summarized everything, and posted it to a new thread in the HDTV Programming Forum here.
post #261 of 7483
I posted this this to the Explorer_8000 mailing list and thought it would also be of interest here. I have an old regular SA8000 sitting next to a SA8000HD, both running Passport .159 software with TWC in So California.

Friday night there were four different programs i wanted to record at 8:00 pm so i set both DVRs to record two shows each. When 8:00 struck the red recording light on both DVRs came on at the exact same time. All seemed well.

At 8:20 or so i noticed that the red recording light on the regular SD SA8000 was no longer illuminated but the SA8000HD indicated that it was still recording. So i checked the List for the SD DVR and both programs showed up, but with start and stop times of 8:00 pm and were not recording. I tried to watch them but both programs only displayed a black screen, and when i returned to live TV one of the two tuners was now on a channel that i never ever watch so sometime during the first 20 minutes or so one tuner had changed channels all by itself. I just chocked this up as a rare instance where the DVR had a problem when both shows started and simply failed to record either show. The channel change bothered me though....

The strange part is that one of the 8:00 recordings the SA8000HD did the exact same thing - it started and stopped at 8:00 and when i tried to watch it i got the black screen like the two other shows on my SD DVR. So this is three different 8:00 pm programs on two different DVRs that all failed to record at the exact same time and showed the same start and stop times in the List. However the other program i recorded on this HD DVR showed up in my List normally, indicating it started at 8:00 and stopped at 9:00 like it was supposed to do. When i was playing this recording back all was well until the 15 minute mark where in the recording the channel had changed itself from Enterprise on UPN to something called Joan of Arcadia on CBS ! WTF?? I thought maybe i'd hit the Ch 2 key by mistake and got thrown to live TV but no, i was still watching the recording and it actually recorded the channel change from UPN to CBS. I played this segment a few times to see if i was seeing things or not, but it definitely changed channels during the recording. So the last 45 minutes of what started out as Enterprise was now Joan of Arcadia.

Unless this is the most incredible simultaneous dual DVR glitch coincidence ever, i'm hoping it was just a problem at the cable company's head end which would explain why both DVRs failed to initiate recordings of three different programs, and changed channels on one tuner on both DVRs at the very same time.

Aside from this, both DVRs have been working perfectly both before and after this glitch. Another guy in the next county who's on a completely different TWC system than i am responded that his Friday 8:00 pm recording also switched channels 15 minutes into it, which is exactly what happened on my one "good" recording at the exact same time. This has gotta be some sort of glitch or problem at the head-end, but i'm wondering why it affected another user on a completely different cable system at the exact same time.

Has this happened to anybody else at 8:PM on Friday night?
post #262 of 7483
Does anyone know if you can use the 2nd set of AV outputs (the VCR archive outputs) without actually turning on PIP on the 8000HD?

Basically what I'd like to do is send the 2nd set of outputs to my Samsung DLP as a separate input (currently I am using Component as the main output) to use Samsung's PIP. I'd like to be able to see whatever is on the 2nd tuner on the 8000HD without enabling the 8000HD's PIP. I find it is really slow to respond to remote commands and it's a 4:3 window, whereas my Samsung's PIP gives you a nice 16:9 window and more options to control the size, etc. Ideally if I hit "Swap" on the 8000HD (without PIP active) to switch to the other tuner, it would then swap the picture in my two Samsung windows.

This would allow me to use the two tuner the way I want. Currently I have a 2nd HD box (a 3250HD) connected via DVI (for higher quality HD) and S-Video to utilize the PIP features of my Samsung. I am thinking I want to return my 3250HD as the 8000HD's quality is improving but then I'd have to use the 8000HD's crappy PIP feature.
post #263 of 7483
Well I have an answer to my own question - it doesn't work. As soon as I open the 8000HD's PIP window, the VCR output outputs video to my Samsung. As soon as I close the 8000HD PIP window, I get a blank gray screen.

Oh well.
post #264 of 7483
Follow up to
Hall - 10-27-04 02:55 PM
Me - 10-27-04 08:52 PM

I verified the update to 159.
Commercial skipping timing does not work for me, I still 'miss', wife still annoyed.

I think I will be annoyed if this is true, unless the DVR recognizes the beginning of the commercial with some [trigger]. Because then it is all based on when you hit FF. So if you miss the beginning of the commercial, you will miss the end every time, with no exception.

No way to recover from a bad start, therefore no skill involved in the 'timing game' unless you want to be hovering during the show, and not during the FF sequence.

I never get to the FF button until I am somewhat into the commercial. I like commercials, and always scan the FF and often back up to see them. I am glad of the ability to skip the ones I am not interested in or tired of though.

v/r,
C-F
post #265 of 7483
Thread Starter 
Heh, I'm still seeing it work "right". I guess I'm just better than you....

Even though it's working this way, I still miss my 30-second skip button that I had with my Dish Network DVR. In 2-3 seconds, you could skip 2-4 minutes worth of commercials.
post #266 of 7483
After much trial and error and a zillion downloads to test, I have my 30-second and 3-minute skip buttons pretty accurate now with my MX-800 remote (MX-700 works identically without the RF capability). Not perfect, like a proper software solution would be, but close enough so that I seldom have to rewind/play to get to the exact moment the show comes back from commercial. Saves a lot of frustration.
post #267 of 7483
Quote:


Originally posted by archiguy
After much trial and error and a zillion downloads to test, I have my 30-second and 3-minute skip buttons pretty accurate now with my MX-800 remote (MX-700 works identically without the RF capability). Not perfect, like a proper software solution would be, but close enough so that I seldom have to rewind/play to get to the exact moment the show comes back from commercial. Saves a lot of frustration.

Awesome! Please post the details about the exact macro commands (including delays between commands) if you please. I have the MX-500. Thanks.
post #268 of 7483
I apologize if this is in a FAQ somewhere, but how doe you enable diagnostic mode on the sa800HD w/passport on TWC?

also... is there a sa8000HD FAQ around here somewhere?
post #269 of 7483
Quote:


Originally posted by comport
I apologize if this is in a FAQ somewhere, but how doe you enable diagnostic mode on the sa800HD w/passport on TWC?

also... is there a sa8000HD FAQ around here somewhere?

There is no such FAQ, but your question has been repeatedly addressed in this and other threads, and the answer depends upon your location, not just whether the DVR's operating system is PASSPORT or SARA. Look (and search) here TWC NYC.
post #270 of 7483
Thread Starter 
Quote:


Originally posted by comport
I apologize if this is in a FAQ somewhere, but how doe you enable diagnostic mode on the sa800HD w/passport on TWC?

Go to the top of any page in this thread and use the "Search this thread" function...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: HDTV Recorders
AVS › AVS Forum › HDTV › HDTV Recorders › SA 8000HD & 8300HD w/ Passport software (TWC)