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Sa 8000  

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I just got a Scientific Atlantic Explorer 8000 through Warner and I love it. However the picture quality isn't as good as I'd like - is it possible to speed up the HD - you know, like SP and EP on a VCR - in order to improve the picture quality?
post #2 of 12
Quote:
Originally posted by j2h3r
I just got a Scientific Atlantic Explorer 8000 through Warner and I love it. However the picture quality isn't as good as I'd like - is it possible to speed up the HD - you know, like SP and EP on a VCR - in order to improve the picture quality?
(*I edited out the HD comments to avoid future confusion*)

There is no speed or quality setting to make it look better - what you see is what you get. What software does yours have?
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by RandyWalters
If you mean the SA8000HD then yeah, HD picture quality is not that great. There is no setting to make it look better - what you see is what you get. What software does yours have?
I can't seem to find what software it has in it - the box is only about 3 weeks old so I would imagine it's latest version. Yeah, I was afraid that there was no setting to make the picture quality better, but I thought I'd ask anyway. Thanks for the reply.
post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally posted by j2h3r
I can't seem to find what software it has in it - the box is only about 3 weeks old so I would imagine it's latest version.
It'll either have SARA (Scientific Atlanta's own in house software) or Pioneer Passport (which is better in most regards). The interfaces look quite different than one another. *

One way to tell is to unplug it for a few moments, then plug it back in and watch it reboot. If it says Pioneer Passport Echo splashed across the TV screen then there ya go. If there's no mention of it, then it must be SARA.

In the HDTV Recorders forum there are specific threads for the various software/cable company combinations across the country. There is a SARA/COX thread so you might have SARA.

Pioneer Passport Interface

*I edited out the HD-chit chat as i now know it's a SD unit*
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Yes it's the Pioneer software, and thanks for the Pioneer link.
I'm usually 5 to 10 years behind in technology - I never used a computer until just a few years ago - and these types of forums are very helpful in getting caught up on the latest gizmos. I would have gotten a TiVo years ago, but I wasn't crazy about the 12 bucks a month programming charge. Well, my VCR died a few weeks ago and I couldn't find one that I liked to replace it, so I checked out my cable company's (Warner) DVR offering, and for $6.95 a month I thought I'd give it a shot. I really like the DVR - I'm watching w-a-a-a-y too much TV now - but like I said the picture isn't quite as sharp as I'd like, so I thought I'd post here on the AVS forum to see if anyone had a solution. I guess not, but I appreciate your trying to help me out, Randy.
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally posted by j2h3r
Yes it's the Pioneer software, and thanks for the Pioneer link.
I'm usually 5 to 10 years behind in technology - I never used a computer until just a few years ago - and these types of forums are very helpful in getting caught up on the latest gizmos. I would have gotten a TiVo years ago, but I wasn't crazy about the 12 bucks a month programming charge. Well, my VCR died a few weeks ago and I couldn't find one that I liked to replace it, so I checked out my cable company's (Warner) DVR offering, and for $6.95 a month I thought I'd give it a shot. I really like the DVR - I'm watching w-a-a-a-y too much TV now - but like I said the picture isn't quite as sharp as I'd like, so I thought I'd post here on the AVS forum to see if anyone had a solution. I guess not, but I appreciate your trying to help me out, Randy.
The SA8000 doesn't degrade the picture quality of SD - it records exactly what it gets and playback looks identical to live TV so if your picture quality isn't good it's a problem with your signal or connection or sumthin, not the DVR. My DVR's picture quality is excellent, and looks better than running cable directly into the TV (32" HD-ready Panny tube). I found my PQ is better through the composite video connection than S-Video. There can be a number of reasons why your PQ isn't good whether you're using a DVR, regular cable box, or feeding cable directly into your TV. For instance i replaced an old splitter and my reception got even better than before.

Before i got my SA8000 back in 2003 i was using two high-end VCRs and the picture looked pretty good for tape, but when i switched to the DVR the recording quality was much better than tape and picture quality improved a lot.

I also have the HD version (SA8000HD) and the HD PQ is a little softer than the regular HD cable box it replaced. SD on this unit looks a little fuzzy compared to my regular SD SA8000 cause it can only be connected via Component. I presume you have the regular SD version.

As for the extra cost of the service, i was spending about that much for fresh new tapes every month so it's a wash. I loved my VCRs, but this thing is so much more convenient i can never do without one again.

I compiled a list of handy undocumented Tips and Tricks that myself and other users have discovered (it's on page 10 of this thread):

Passport Tips and Tricks
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally posted by RandyWalters
The SA8000 doesn't degrade the picture quality of SD - it records exactly what it gets and playback looks identical to live TV
That's true for digital channels (SD or HD) ... but all analog SD channels have to go through an analog -> digital -> MPEG2 conversion/compression. This can have a major effect on poor signals, but less effect on strong signals.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
OK, thanks once again for the links Randy, and I used to use the same 3 VCR tapes for 6 months at a time! As far as picture quality, I had the Warner digital box in my system before I got the DVR, and with the DVR I'm using the exact same cables and connections that I used with the digital box and the picture isn't as good, so I've got to assume that it's the DVR that's the problem. Don't get me wrong, the picture isn't horrible bad, it's just not quite as clear as it was with the digital box.
I thought I had heard that on a TiVo that you could change the amount of programming hours that the TiVo would store, and the trade off for more hours stored was that the picture quality wasn't as good - kind of like toggling between the EP and SP setting on a VCR. I thought the SA 8000 might have that feature, but as you've informed me it doesn't. And that's fine - I like the DVR alot, so I can live with the picture the way it is.
Like I said I'm years behind in the technology department, and I got a chance to watch some of the Superbowl on a friend's HDTV - I was very impressed with the HDTV. I left my friend's house at half time and went home and watched the rest of the game on my regular TV, and my TV seemed so blurry in comparison to my friend's that I thought I needed glasses. Oy! I've got to get me one of those HDTV's.
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally posted by j2h3r
As far as picture quality, I had the Warner digital box in my system before I got the DVR, and with the DVR I'm using the exact same cables and connections that I used with the digital box and the picture isn't as good, so I've got to assume that it's the DVR that's the problem. Don't get me wrong, the picture isn't horrible bad, it's just not quite as clear as it was with the digital box. I thought I had heard that on a TiVo that you could change the amount of programming hours that the TiVo would store, and the trade off for more hours stored was that the picture quality wasn't as good.....

Like I said I'm years behind in the technology department, and I got a chance to watch some of the Superbowl on a friend's HDTV - I was very impressed with the HDTV. I left my friend's house at half time and went home and watched the rest of the game on my regular TV, and my TV seemed so blurry in comparison to my friend's that I thought I needed glasses. Oy! I've got to get me one of those HDTV's.
You're right, Tivo does have selectable picture quality settings but the SA8000 doesn't. I get a good clean signal from TWC and when i got my SA8000 almost two years ago i remember the PQ wasn't quite as good as it was with my previous Explorer 2000 digital cable box using the same S-Video connection to the TV. So i removed the S-Video and used a regular yellow Composite video cable instead and the picture actually improved noticeably. I've tried a better S-Video cable recently but still composite looks better. I've also tried connecting it just with the regular RF connection but it looked worse than the other two methods so i stuck with Composite. I think you should try all three different connection methods and see which one works best on your particular TV. I was surprised to find that Composite looked better than S-Video but my eyes don't lie.

I also have an SA8000HD next to my regular SA8000 and now i'm used to going back and forth between SD and HD but luckily my SD looks pretty darn good on my HD-ready tube TV.

Just remember when you're asking questions about your SA8000, make sure you always say it has Passport as it will avoid a lot of confusion caused by peole who have SARA and think that everybody else does too. Passport is quite different than SARA and runs much better with more features and reliability and common sense. The SA8000HD/SA8300HD w/Passport thread is a must read to really get to know this box. Aside from the HD-specific issues and the half-sized hard drive , the non-HD SA8000 runs exactly like the SA8000HD so just about everything applies.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've got an older TV so it's all co-ax for me. I'll spend some more time over at the 8000/Passport thread and educate myself a little more. Thanks once again for your help.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally posted by j2h3r
I've got an older TV so it's all co-ax for me. I'll spend some more time over at the 8000/Passport thread and educate myself a little more. Thanks once again for your help.
All COAX? So you've got a Jetsons DVR connected to a Flinstones TV ! :D

Maybe it is time for a new HDTV of some sort . . . . :cool:
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by RandyWalters
All COAX? So you've got a Jetsons DVR connected to a Flinstones TV ! :D

Maybe it is time for a new HDTV of some sort . . . . :cool:
An HDTV? Oh man, then I'll really be watching too much TV! Nah, my set is paid for and still works fine, and when it dies then I'll for sure go the HDTV route.
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