Sony Tivos -- Recording quality?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brian Harnish, Jan 10, 2002.

  1. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    How is the recording quality on Sony's Tivo's? For example, is it VHS quality or better than VHS quality (which I'm hoping it is)? How much can I expect to spend on a good to great-quality Tivo? What are the standard features that I should look for when buying a Tivo? Can they output to tape or other recording format? Do I need a subscription service in order to activate the Tivo or can I record from any cable/satellite source?
    Please forgive all the questions. I'm new to the Tivo thing. [​IMG]
     
  2. Mark_E_Smith

    Mark_E_Smith Second Unit

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    There are 2 types of TiVos
    Standalone TiVos which can record from various sources ie cable, sat,and off the air. These are sold as Philips and Sony. These type of TiVos you can select the recording quality from
    1) slightly less than VHS, Basic
    2) to better than VHS, Medium
    3) near Digital sat, High
    4) near DVD, Best
    Each setting has different memory requirements, the higher the quality the more memory is required. Standalones recording time is based on the lowest quality.
    With Standalones you can only record one channel at a time, but you can watch something that is allready recorded while it is recording a show. This unit passes stereo but has some problems with surround.
    Direct TiVos (DTiVos)Sold as Sony, Hughes and Philips can only record from DirecTv sat broadcast. They have 1 quality setting perfect sat digital. The recording time is rated at this quality and it is not selectable. DTiVos can record 2 channels at once, and watch a recorded program while recording 2 channels. DTiVos also have Dolby Digital 5.1 output via Toslink. The unit has 2 Direct tv receivers built in. If you have Direct tv and you can get locals (if important to you) this is BY FAR the best TiVo to get. This unit WILL NOT RECORD OFF THE AIR OR CABLE only what is on the sat.
    All TiVos have a monthly subscription of $9.95 this includes tv guide data for 10 days into the future and software updates that come over the phone line. You can buy a lifetime subscription for THE UNIT for $250 and not have the monthly fee. All TiVos have a save to VCR feature. If you have a DTiVo and you want to add another DTiVo Direct tv will mirror the TiVo fee from the 1st unit for the standard $5 mirror fee for a second receiver. All TiVos are made in the same plant. The internal boards drives andsuch are the same for each type no matter what Lable is on the machine. Sony uses a different remote. Some prefer the Sony remote. TiVo is coming out with new gen 2 units in Feb these are standalones they will record 60 hrs, and hve USB ports for conecting to future devices. They will sell for $399. If you need a standalone I might wait for one of these. If you need a DTiVo I would buy one now as there are some real good deals for them right now ($99). There is also an ATT broadband model I would stay away from this model unless you have ATT broadband it is a 40hr machine with USB ports. Gen 1 standalones are about $299 for 30 hr units. The gen 1 units and the DTiVo units you can add larger hard drives and increase the recording time to over 200 hrs if you are somewhat familiar with changing drives in a PC. I have done this to my TiVos. However it does void any warranty. TiVo has change the way I watch Tv I dont know if could go back to watching with out a TiVo. Buy it and it will be the best buy you have made for tv veiwing!!! I hope this helps.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    Tivo recording quality absolutely blows away VHS. Even the 30 hour mode can look better than VHS depending on the recording source.

    Basic (30 hour) I think it looks better than VHS most of the time. Lossy video compression (like MPEG2) is not good with lots of moving picture elements at once, so don't record sports broadcasts this way. Cooking shows aren't relly good either -- tossing a colorful salad full screen results in tons of artifacts. But dramas come out particularly good this way.

    Medium (20 hour) Handles motion better than Basic and is a bit sharper. Better than VHS? Darn tootin'.

    High (15 hour) Looks slightly off from broadcast. Good for football. I can't really tell the difference between High and Best when it comes to slower moving fare. My standard recording mode.

    Best (10 hour) You need highly trained eyes or a side by side comparison to pick out programs recorded in Best mode from original broadcast. Really no comparison to VHS.
     
  4. PaulG

    PaulG Stunt Coordinator

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    This is about standalone units, I don't own any DirecTiVo units.

    Another advantage of Sony over Philips is a Sony will control a Sony VCR, although I have heard that it won't control all Sony VCRs. The TiVo will turn on the VCR, start recording, stop recording at the end of the show and turn off VCR. You still have to put in the tape, select speed and channel or line input. TiVo has 2 sets of line outputs (one of them has both composite and s-video, the other has only composite), and an RF out. The RF out is a mono signal, but the line outs are stereo. The same signal is sent to all outputs at the same time. However, if the unit is in standby, the RF input is passed to the RF output. When you buy the unit, it will probably have software 1.3 installed on it. TiVo makes daily phone calls to get guide data. During one of these phone calls, 2.5 will be downloaded to your TiVo. TiVo will install the new software with a restart at 2am, or after you get the download, you can do a manual restart.

    I bought my first TiVo, a Sony 30 hour, in September of 2000. Did I like it? Well let me just say since then I have purchased a Philips 60 hour, and a Philips 20 hour. I want to put big drives in the 20 hour. I went with Philips because Sony didn't make a 60 hour, and I got a good deal on the 20 hour. I have not had any trouble with any of the 3 units. My advise is to buy, buy many and buy often.
     
  5. Jeff Bamberger

    Jeff Bamberger Second Unit

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  6. Mark_E_Smith

    Mark_E_Smith Second Unit

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  7. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  8. Mark_E_Smith

    Mark_E_Smith Second Unit

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    Well if you A B test a SA TiVo and a DTiVo you can really hear the difference. Also there are numerus threads on the avs tivo forum about the failings of surround in the SAs. Basically the encoder TiVo uses loses some of the surround encoding. You get some of it, but plug in a DTiVo and WOW! I have both SAs and DTiVos.
     
  9. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    A link would be helpful.
    I can only go by my own experience. My SA TiVo does an excellent job at extracting surround, but only to the extent the surround is there in the cable signal -- and sometimes it just isn't.
    M.
     
  10. Mark_E_Smith

    Mark_E_Smith Second Unit

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    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=25530&highlight=surround
    Heres one of them, It starts with a question on poor sound then the discusion gets into the details starting with otto's post
     
  11. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Thanks for the link, Mark. Unfortunately it appears to be broken. The quotations from the thread are intriguing, but they suggest a basic confusion on the author's part about how ProLogic works.

     
  12. Mark_E_Smith

    Mark_E_Smith Second Unit

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  13. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Thanks, the second link works. And the additional information is very interesting. I owe Otto an apology [​IMG], because his explanation of the interplay between ProLogic and MPEG compression is excellent.
    As noted by other participants, though, there are additional important variables, notably the decoder and the signal quality. Probably one reason why I've never had much problem is that I use a Lexicon MC-1. Lexicon's proprietary DSP mode for TV signals is very good at hooking onto subtle clues in a 2-channel stream to extract center and surround information.
    M.
     
  14. Paul Padilla

    Paul Padilla Supporting Actor

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    Found immediate problems with the picture quality on my Sony SVR2000. Obviously adding something to the chain is going to have some effect, but I’ll put it like this. My wife saw no difference in picture from my 3-year-old Sony interlaced DVD player to my new Pioneer Elite DV-37 progressive scan…but she DID see a difference after adding the Tivo. I was concerned about some image problems prior to Tivo, so I first added a Monster HTS-2000 line conditioner, which helped considerably. Everything is running into a Sony 32” XBR400. It’s always had an incredibly crisp image and it’s not exactly a giant screen that will magnify every little flaw. I have good quality cables throughout and I’m careful not to run power along side of component cables.

    We, too, heard rave reviews from friends and co-workers, so we jumped on the current rebate on the SVR2000. Basic quality recording is intolerable. If there’s ever a WGG network (Watching Grass Growing), then basic might suffice. Any movement more than simply walking down a street results in severe artifacts. Even at “best” quality, the picture is soft and finely pixilated which gives the appearance of “grain”. Audio sync seems to be a problem too. There were little features that we were used to with our digital cable…jumping to favorites, etc. but we wanted to get used to the Tivo. Moving too quickly from channel to channel tends to kick the audio out of sync with the picture. I finally pulled up the twin picture mode and compared the Tivo signal to the signal going directly into the TV. No contest. It’s been in place less than a week and last night I was forced to yank it out of my system. It’s going back tomorrow. Still have to work out the details of the lifetime service we bought.

    There are other examples of image quality issues on the Tivocommunity.com forum.
     
  15. Bob Jackson

    Bob Jackson Stunt Coordinator

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    TiVo has a 30 day MBG on TiVo services.

    I find the picture to be slightly degraded on my standalone in best, but it is especially noticable on bright yellow/orange screens. It seems some of the Sony flat screens have extra sharpening or processing that makes the TiVo picture look worse than normal. I think there was a line of Panasonics that seemed to be affected to.

    The DTiVo is lossless and you get what DTV sends you (minus the occasional bit flip from the drives).
     
  16. Andre F

    Andre F Screenwriter

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    Just wanted to say that I've had a Sony Tivo for almost a year and I think it's great. I have not really noticed a difference between the Sony and the Phillips models (my father in-law has a Phillips). Both are great!

    -Andre F
     
  17. Mike Witt

    Mike Witt Stunt Coordinator

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    I just wanted to add that I also have an AT&T Tivo and it works great. I am not an AT&T customer. Owning one of these is no different than owning a Philips or Sony branded box. It's just a name on the box, nothing more or less.

    I wouldn't buy anything but a new Series 2 SA unit if I was buying right now. Tivo's site now has the new 60 hr units for sale. Buy one of these to get the faster unit with more recording time and the USB ports. Get the new technology not the old. Just MHO.
     
  18. Mark_E_Smith

    Mark_E_Smith Second Unit

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    If you have DTV get a Direct TiVo it is the best, by far, pvr solution for DTV. If you can find one.[​IMG]
     

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