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Sacramento, CA - SureWest - Page 21

post #601 of 963
I am debating whether or not to keep the DVR or turn it in for an HD STB. How is the HD STB? I heard that they were going to do a whole house access for the DVR a-la UVerse from Att. Thanks for the info though. Much appreciated.
post #602 of 963
Anyone notice a reboot last night? My HD 16:9 changed to 4:3 on one box and the other has no picture.
post #603 of 963
Yes... I checked mine when I came home. I noticed which i clicked on hardware it had to reboot in order to access the tv settings.

I'm a new SureWest customer but i also noticed sometimes the Center Channel will go dead during commercials and sometimes on SpeedHD. If I change the channel and come back it will re-decode. Hmmm
post #604 of 963
Well, the service guy showed up and replaced the Amino 120 HD boxes with 130's. He said next week Surewest will be switching to MP4 and the 120 boxes don't support it.
Anyway, everything seems to work. Does anyone know if you can record off the video out (coax)?

Thanks
Mike
post #605 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by madmin View Post

Well, the service guy showed up and replaced the Amino 120 HD boxes with 130's. He said next week Surewest will be switching to MP4 and the 120 boxes don't support it.
Anyway, everything seems to work. Does anyone know if you can record off the video out (coax)?

Thanks
Mike

I haven't tried, but I'm curious as to why you would want to. I'm guessing you can't use HDMI for the connection to the TV, so you're using the video out to the TV and wanting to send the coax to a VCR/DVR device. I used to connect my ReplayTV to the S-Video out of a AmiNET130 while the HDMI was connected to my TV. I have since stopped using my ReplayTV... I've found a new love for watching what I want, when I want it... I got a UPnP-compatible media player and using several media servers supplying me with many shows, including Netflix instant play videos. I have a DLink media player in the bedroom and a PS3 on the main TV. The main TV also has the SureWest DVR... It will be nice if they ever deliver on streaming recorded shows from the DVR to other boxes in the house.
post #606 of 963
Madmin,

Did the Surewest service rep tell you that the switch to mpeg4 was for your area only or for everyone? I was told around May for Elk Grove.
post #607 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adinn View Post

Madmin,

Did the Surewest service rep tell you that the switch to mpeg4 was for your area only or for everyone? I was told around May for Elk Grove.

I talked with a 2nd tier tech support and he mentioned that he didn't see it happening until after they dumped Minerva as their middleware provider. I'm not sure if this was stated as a personal opinion statement of frustration because of limitations with Minerva Networks or something that is actually factual. This was about two weeks ago that he said this. I'd think he'd have more of a factual knowledge in his position if it were sooner than May (that is my opinion). I'd guess that when the change is made, it will be made across the board in the Greater Sacramento market (as opposed to Kansas City market). I'd doubt it would make much sense for them to regionalize it in the Greater Sacramento market.
post #608 of 963
bigRoN - I have a DVD/VCR hooked up and couldn't record from the 120 - wanted to try with the 130. The HDMI from the 130 goes to my receiver and then another HDMI to the TV.

Adinn - He didn't say, just said that the 120's were junk and wouldn't work after the switch.
post #609 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by madmin View Post

bigRoN - I have a DVD/VCR hooked up and couldn't record from the 120 - wanted to try with the 130. The HDMI from the 130 goes to my receiver and then another HDMI to the TV.

Adinn - He didn't say, just said that the 120's were junk and wouldn't work after the switch.

Well, he was at least telling you the truth about the 120... on both counts. My in-laws just started with SureWest about 2 months ago and they were issued two AmiNET120s and the ADB DVR box; none of their TVs are HDTV. This gave me the opportunity to compare the AmiNET 130 with the 120, since I have two 130s at my place (plus the DVR). I found that the 120 was more sluggish in response. I still have occasional times where my 130 will be sluggish, but it seemed as though the 120 was always just slower. Also, it is a fact that the 120 can only decode MPEG2 while the 130 can do both MPEG2 and MPEG4. I'm hoping that once they make the move, I can exchange one of my AmiNET130's for another DVR. I'm not exactly sure how much bandwidth they will end up using for HDTV, I've heard numbers thrown around ranging from 8-12 Mbps where I've heard MPEG2 numbers being thrown around being 12-18.2 Mbps. 2 DVRs recording 2 HDTV shows each... 32-48 Mbps, plus a third box watching HDTV... that brings it up to 45-60 Mbps, plus my 20 Mbps Internet... 65-80 Mbps... that is all do-able, keeping under the 100 Mbps constraint.
post #610 of 963
madmin, I have a Toshiba DVD/Hard Drive unit I used a lot after my VHS vcr died. I have connected it to a 130 using the cables Surewest provided, the s-video out of the 130, to input of the Toshiba using the component video plugs and audio plugs. Viewing HD channels through that route is still pretty clear. I also hooked up component video and audio out of the Toshiba to my HDTV. I am able to record the channel the 130 is set to and play it back on the Toshiba.
bigRon, I bought a second HDTV after Christmas and turned in 2 120s for a 130. I didn't notice any difference in response between the 2 stbs. I did ask them why after a few months, the STBs, including my DVR was taking longer to acquire a new channel I change to and they said I needed to power the STBs and DVR off once in a while. I don't know if re-booting the units would work too. I think they may be right. I have powered off all my units last week and the channel acquisitions are pretty quick again.
I hope Surewest starts to turn on more features to the DVR.
We'll see if they switch to mpeg4 in May and hopefully they add more HD channels too.
post #611 of 963
bigRoN,
I have searched and have yet to determine the difference in picture quality between H.264 and MPEG4. Am I missing something, or is the difference rather esoteric in nature? Is it just compression for the sending of the signal downstream to the STB's?
post #612 of 963
MPEG4/AVC = H.264

Did you mean the difference in picture quality between MPEG2 and MPEG4/AVC (H.264)? H.264 has better quality when compared to MPEG2 at the same bitrate. This means H.264 could have the same quality as MPEG2 but at a much smaller size if desired. Small size means the ability to have more STBs, have more bandwidth free for faster internet in the future, or push HDTV over slower internet links.

The question will then be if Surewest will actually be getting H.264 streams from broadcasters and transmitting as-is (Best option), re-compressing everything to H.264 themselves in realtime (Worst option with quality loss. if this is the case, I'd rather keep the original MPEG-2 streams we have now), or just using both (The best compromise without quality loss. H.264 when available and MPEG2 when not.).

If Surewest gets H.264 streams directly from broadcasters, they should be considerably better quality then the MPEG2. Unless that is, the bitrate is insanely low. I'll pass on HD-lite.
post #613 of 963
Thanks for the explain Cyber.
I show in my Surewest DVR that the current bitrate offered is h.264.
post #614 of 963
Hi all,

I am in the East Sacramento area and am looking into migrating my TV & Internet service away from Comcast to SureWest or another FTTH provider. Currently I think that SureWest is the only option in East Sac. I scanned through this thread but did not see too much commentary on SureWest's overall package versus other offerings. Why should I switch to SureWest?

Feel free to go into detail on the technical and service aspects.

Specifically, the following are important to me:
  • Food Network HD
  • high bandwidth (little to no compression) for digital TV
  • truly high-speed Internet with symmetric offerings: sweet spot for me is either 10Mbps symmetric or 20Mbps symmetric, and SureWest offers these. The speed requirement basically knocks out DSL entirely. I do not believe that AT&T (U-verse?) and Verizon FiOS are available in the Sacramento area.
  • good customer service and knowledgeable, friendly staff
  • smooth HD-DVR support

"Smooth" HD-DVR support should be qualified a bit: I scanned this thread and saw a lot of problems over the past few months/years with SureWest's DVRs, but I am interested in how HD-DVR is supported as of now. I am interested in getting a TiVo HD and I was curious if anyone out there has experiences worth sharing with the newer TiVo HD/HD XL models and SureWest's service. Alternatively, how does SureWest's rented HD-DVR compare with TiVo and with Comcast's rented HD-DVR?
post #615 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanTek View Post

Hi all,

I am in the East Sacramento area and am looking into migrating my TV & Internet service away from Comcast to SureWest or another FTTH provider. Currently I think that SureWest is the only option in East Sac. I scanned through this thread but did not see too much commentary on SureWest's overall package versus other offerings. Why should I switch to SureWest?

Feel free to go into detail on the technical and service aspects.

Specifically, the following are important to me:
  • Food Network HD
  • high bandwidth (little to no compression) for digital TV
  • truly high-speed Internet with symmetric offerings: sweet spot for me is either 10Mbps symmetric or 20Mbps symmetric, and SureWest offers these. The speed requirement basically knocks out DSL entirely. I do not believe that AT&T (U-verse?) and Verizon FiOS are available in the Sacramento area.
  • good customer service and knowledgeable, friendly staff
  • smooth HD-DVR support

"Smooth" HD-DVR support should be qualified a bit: I scanned this thread and saw a lot of problems over the past few months/years with SureWest's DVRs, but I am interested in how HD-DVR is supported as of now. I am interested in getting a TiVo HD and I was curious if anyone out there has experiences worth sharing with the newer TiVo HD/HD XL models and SureWest's service. Alternatively, how does SureWest's rented HD-DVR compare with TiVo and with Comcast's rented HD-DVR?

First off, when it comes to HDTV QUALITY, nothing comes close to matching SureWest's quality. Technical support also is someone relatively local... my questions typically stump the first-tier tech support, so I frequently get bumped to 2nd-tier support, which are very friendly and responsive. For home Internet connectivity, nothing comes close to matching SureWest's service... even if Verizon provided FiOS here, SureWest's would be better, just due to the FiOS using a passive optical network versus SureWest's active optical network. PON is akin to using a hub to share devices as compared to using a switch... the more users, the slower it gets.

The one point SureWest doesn't get a glowing review is there DVR... the good news is they have one... and it can record two HDTV shows at once. The problem is it is one of the poorest interfaces. It has improved drastically since it was first deployed, but it has quite a ways to go before I would sing of its praises. I don't believe I've missed shows, but it just is not a polished interface. Due to the nature of its network, the TIVO-HD will not work to record HDTV from SureWest. Their signal is nothing like any traditional cable TV company. You can't bypass a converter box, a converter box is always required. Because a convert box outputs HDTV via component or HDMI, these either can't be recorded or most people can't justify the expense of a recorder capable of recording the HDTV off the component output (I've seen recorders, they were just ridiculously expensive)... TiVO for one cannot record this output.
post #616 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigRoN View Post

I don't believe I've missed shows...

Lucky you. My wife is extremely miffed that the DVR failed to record The Mentalist this week. I have it set up as a series recording with "only record new episodes" - apparently it decided that this week's episode wasn't a new one so the recording icons turned gray.
post #617 of 963
Thanks for the detailed response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigRoN View Post

Due to the nature of its network, the TIVO-HD will not work to record HDTV from SureWest. Their signal is nothing like any traditional cable TV company. You can't bypass a converter box, a converter box is always required.

Ok, understandable. One of the sales agents said that the signals can be delivered over coaxial at one point. If over coaxial, then the signal could be relayed as 8VSB or ClearQAM for a regular tuner (including a PC tuner) to get it. I have no idea if they were misinformed or something else. Presumably, the fiber breakout box has an Ethernet RJ-45 output. Does it also have coaxial at any point? I have never seen any pictures of the SureWest equipment.

Quote:


Because a convert box outputs HDTV via component or HDMI, these either can't be recorded or most people can't justify the expense of a recorder capable of recording the HDTV off the component output (I've seen recorders, they were just ridiculously expensive)... TiVO for one cannot record this output.

Correct. I think that Sling Media makes a new Slingbox PRO-HD, but it only takes in component video, not HDMI, and the full HD streaming is limited to certain platforms.

Is the hard drive of the SureWest DVR equipment upgradeable? Has anyone tried it?

I know that a lot of ink has been spilled on opening up the cable platform, between the FCC's requirements for CableCARD (largely unsuccessful, but at least an option) and IEEE-1394/FireWire output (also very non-intuitive, but again an option). So: 1. presumably SureWest does not offer CableCARDs, since it has no coaxial feed, unless their converter box offers a coaxial transcoder. But: 2. Do SureWest's boxes have FireWire output? Has anyone tried to view or record shows over the FireWire connection? See how to set it up for Mac.
post #618 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanTek View Post

2. Do SureWest's boxes have FireWire output? Has anyone tried to view or record shows over the FireWire connection?

Surewests's boxes do not have Firewire. Technically, they are not a cable company so the FCC regulations that require Firewire output do not apply.
post #619 of 963
SeanTek,

I concur with bigRoN, HDTV is high quality, currently mpeg2, changing to mpeg4 in the coming months. The Surewest sales rep saying you can use coax cable?? What area are you in? The fiber from the street goes right up to the side of your house and terminates to an ONT. See attached pic of ONT. There are no coax plugs.
Surewest DVR is not that great. Since you are renting the box, you can't replace the current hard drive with a bigger one. We can only hope they enable the USB port to plug in a hard drive. They told me they are slowly adding more features to their DVR.
I have the 10/10 internet, excellent speed.
Current bandwidth is 100 mb, depending on how large your household is and how many HDTVs you have, this can be a problem until they switch to mpeg4 and/or increase bandwidth to 1 gigabit. I currently have 3 HDTVs, one DVR and 2 130s, and 10/10 internet. Surewest support says with my current setup, I am at ~96 mb out of 100 mb. That means I cannot get another DVR if I wanted one.
Hope this info helps.
LL
post #620 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanTek View Post

Ok, understandable. One of the sales agents said that the signals can be delivered over coaxial at one point. If over coaxial, then the signal could be relayed as 8VSB or ClearQAM for a regular tuner (including a PC tuner) to get it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adinn View Post

There are no coax plugs.

There is coax output on the Amino 130 STB, and I assume that is what Surewest is talking about. The coax output does not output HDTV (ATSC) though, and it converts and letterboxes everything to SDTV (NTSC) resolution from what I've seen. Correct me if I'm wrong.
post #621 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanTek View Post

Ok, understandable. One of the sales agents said that the signals can be delivered over coaxial at one point. If over coaxial, then the signal could be relayed as 8VSB or ClearQAM for a regular tuner (including a PC tuner) to get it. I have no idea if they were misinformed or something else. Presumably, the fiber breakout box has an Ethernet RJ-45 output. Does it also have coaxial at any point? I have never seen any pictures of the SureWest equipment.


This is NOT QAM nor any other standard cable signal... what they are doing is converting an Ethernet signal to run over existing coax cable. SureWest's video is all IPTV. Instead of properly running CAT5 or CAT6 wire from the fiber gateway, the plug a CAT5 Ethernet cable into a converter box that has a coax F-connector. At the other end of the cable, the put another box that converts it back to a CAT5 cable that plugs into the converter box. This is not ideal, but it reduces labor costs of running the proper wire.
post #622 of 963
Why would Surewest do that?
SeanTek has not mentioned where he lives....
post #623 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adinn View Post

Why would Surewest do that?
SeanTek has not mentioned where he lives....

SeanTek mentioned he lived in East Sacramento.

When asking about why SureWest would "do that"... what are you referring to... converting from CAT5 to RG6 and back to CAT5? Short runs of Ethernet typically runs on 4 twisted pairs of CAT5 or CAT6 cable. Attempting to run this signal over existing coax is not going to be efficient... there will be many lost packets, slowing down network speed. When I knew I was going to change to SureWest, I rewired my house. I've mentioned it several times before, but I have run many lengths of CAT6e all throughout my house. I have 6 lengths that run from the fiber gateway to a closet to a rack mounted 48-port patch panel. I then have from 3-6 lengths of Ethernet to every room in house. I have a 24-port 10/100 switch (I'd love to go 10/100/1000 switch, but haven't done that yet) under the patch panel. Of the 6 lines coming from the gateway, one goes to my router and back from the router to the switch. I then jumper each run on the patch panel to either the switch (if I want Internet) or jump to lines 2-6 of the inputs from the fiber gateway.

If you were wanting to know why SureWest uses Ethernet to distribute their signal, it is because it is more efficient. The largest fundamental difference between SureWest and traditional cable is that SureWest does not send every house, every possible channel that they possibly offer all the time. This leads to over-compression of the signal... look at how bad Comcast compresses their signal, leading to mosaic blocking. This is also why SureWest has much better quality over cable. They ONLY send the channel your set-top-box is actually wanting to watch. When you want to change channels, you essentially tell SureWest that you wish to change channels and the switch is done from the head-end, not in your house. This limits the amount of traffic coming specifically to your house. This is very similar to the way AT&T's U-verse operates, except that SureWest is using a much fatter "pipe" to bring the signal to your house... AT&T's "pipe" is about a quarter the size of SureWest's fiber. Because of this, AT&T compresses their signal more, so they can still have several set-top-boxes in the house and still provide you Internet with less bandwidth. For a more graphical explanation of this, look at this file from AT&T about IPTV. This is why a cable-ready or digital cable (QAM) tuner will not work to pick up the television programming... it is a totally different type of system.
post #624 of 963
Yes, I was referring to converting from CAT5 to RG6 and back to CAT5. I didn't know Surewest would even offer to do it that way. I was told I would be wired fiber to the side of the house then ethernet cable to all hookups. That is also why I had my house wired with CAT6 and a patch panel. We discussed this a few months ago.
Just wondering why a Surewest sales rep would tell SeanTek he could be wired that way.
Also, spewak, where did you find this?
"I show in my Surewest DVR that the current bitrate offered is h.264. "
post #625 of 963
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adinn View Post

Yes, I was referring to converting from CAT5 to RG6 and back to CAT5. I didn't know Surewest would even offer to do it that way. I was told I would be wired fiber to the side of the house then ethernet cable to all hookups. That is also why I had my house wired with CAT6 and a patch panel. We discussed this a few months ago.
Just wondering why a Surewest sales rep would tell SeanTek he could be wired that way.
Also, spewak, where did you find this?
"I show in my Surewest DVR that the current bitrate offered is h.264. "

Just repeating the fact that it isn't ideal, but many people decide not to go with SureWest for video over Comcast because it requires rewiring. I believe this is called HPNA, when Ethernet is run over coax. This adds about $100 or so to the installation cost, but it saves in labor costs. I did my own labor for my wiring, so other than my own time, it was just parts. My wiring is superior over what they would do anyway.
post #626 of 963
Adinn,
Press Menu on the DVR remote, then select Settings, enter password, then Hardware Settings at bottom screen. There you will see the h.264 bitrate.
post #627 of 963
So Surewest has already switched to h.264?

You can check the bitrate of channels with the DVR? Well, since I don't have the DVR, what sort of bitrate is the DVR showing for various SD and HD h.264 channels?
post #628 of 963
Can't specify if the bitrate for SD and HD are h.264, but I screencapped this from the DVR:
http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r21814931-h264
post #629 of 963
So the STB doesn't show the bitrate. I think you are confused at what bitrate means.

H.264 is not a bitrate, it is a form of compression.
MPEG2 is not a bitrate, it is a form of compression.
13Mbps is a bitrate.
3Mbps is a bitrate.
1000Kbps is a bitrate.

I'm unsure it that screenshot actually means anything. Surewest may have just decided to change the UI in preparation of deploying H.264. Has anybody contacted Surewest and determined one way or another if the switch to H.264 has already been made?
post #630 of 963
I never noticed the title "H.264 IP HDTV STB" on the DVR setup screen before, but then again I never looked at the top of the screen. I received a large update about 2 weeks ago but I had not rebooted my DVR in a while; so I don't know when the actual date the update was available.
A rep at the Elk Grove Customer Service Center told me the switch to mpeg4 would occur sometime in May. I also emailed support and they confirmed the switch will occur this year but he didn't have a timetable.
I also have 2 STBs (Amino 130) and their setup screens do not show the statement "H.264 IP HDTV STB". Maybe they are just getting ready for the switch.
I don't think you can check bitrates.
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