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DVDO vs. TiVo

Posted on 2013-12-28
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Last Modified: 2014-01-10
The Panasonic Z65ZT60 has the ability to show a 1080p x 24 input really well.  However, the formatting I get from TWC is all over the map and 1080i at best.  In addition, the TV seems to downgrade any audio output to PCM (can anyone verify this?) which doesn't play well with my Sonos Playbar, Sub, and 2 Play:1s.  I'm thinking about two options:  getting rid of my two Motorola DCX3400-M (has the ability to output 1080p but TWC won't unlock that unless it's playing something recorded) and swapping the living room box for a TiVo Roamio Plus and the bedroom for a TiVo Mini.  Of course then I'd have to pay an extra service charge each month and lose access to all of my on demand premium channels.  I found a good price on a DVDO iScan Duo and it gets great reviews.  I could stream the signal from Duo to the DVDOAir-P in the bedroom with good line of sight.  If I had to, I could keep the living room Roamio, add the Duo and AirP as well.  I'm really looking for the best picture and audio I can get.  Any suggestions?  As usual it seems to come down to where I can get the purest signal going into the TV as well as audio going out....
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Question by:turbojournal
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11 Comments
 
LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 39743786
I can't confirm for that specific TV, but it's common for TV's to only output PCM audio except for audio from the set's tuner, which is typically provided in its original format.   So you're probably correct in your assumption about PCM output for the audio streams.    Basically, you need to treat the TV as a display device only, and do all switching and other processing before the signal's sent to the TV.   A DVDO does a very nice job of this, as you clearly know.

I recently helped a friend set up his TIVO Roamia Pro and was definitely very impressed with this box.     It's certainly a good option, unless the loss of on-demand is an important factor.   We're also on TWC, and I'm definitely NOT a fan of their policies with regards to the CCI flags they apply, which are very restrictive even on network channels that should be marked "Copy Freely".     I can't comment on their policies on their DVRs, as I don't use one of them -- I built a PC as a custom DVR/HTPC box.   I do know, however, that my cable card tuner (Ceton 6-tuner card) only supports 1080i ... but since no broadcast/cable source provides 1080p that doesn't really seem to be an issue.   As far as I know, only BluRay and satellite sources provide 1080p content.   I believe the networks are still limited to 720p or 1080i content.

Not sure why you'd want to mix the Roamia with a DVDOAir-P link to the bedroom.   Why not just use a Tivo Mini to access your Roamia content?
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Expert Comment

by:Darr247
ID: 39743833
Personally, I would not buy a Roamio Plus. I would buy a regular Roamio and a Tivo Stream separate. You give up the ability to ever decode over-the-air digital broadcasts if you get the Roamio Plus or Roamio Pro. To me, it's not worth the slight space savings of having the Stream built into the Plus/Pro to give up the over-the-air ATSC decoders.

The multi-channel digital cablecards provided by TWC won't decode your premium channels?
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by:garycase
ID: 39743888
Darr247 =>  Cablecards will decode premium channels with no problem.   The issue is access to on-demand programming.
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:Darr247
ID: 39743940
Oh...  I was thinking Pay-Per-View, which Tivos can record as long as their channel shows up in the Guide.  Sorry.
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Author Comment

by:turbojournal
ID: 39745653
After sitting a couple of days with the Roamio Plus (and ended up buying the Mini for the bedroom) I wasn't terribly satisfied.  My main issue was TWC and their ability to trouble shoot problems.  I spent a couple of nights on the phone with their tech support trying to get the tuning adapter working.  After a visit from a technician who professed he'd never seen one let alone worked on one I decided I wasn't up for the hassle.  I began having issues with my home wifi and the picture quality wasn't that great on the duel channels (I believe due to the CCI flags noted above).  And, I guess I didn't realize I was giving up on-demand for all of my premium channels - I thought I was just giving up TWC on-demand which I could get from Apple or Netflix.  Bottom line:  I returned both and cancelled my service packages.

Back to the drawing board.  My original intent was/is to let the star performers shine:  the Panasonic P65ZT50 and the Sonos audio system shine.  I decided the DVDO iScan Duo would remain the hub and would supply the signal for both.  I have Roku and Apple TV2 and the Duo does well capturing picture and sound from both.  The real issue (again) is TWC...  After a little more research I decided to give the Slingbox 500 a try.  The whole idea, unless I'm missing something, is to grab a good enough signal from native programming to let the Duo perform it's magic for the TV.  I'm open to comments and suggestions on my logic and choice of Slingbox.

My questions are as follows:

Are there any settings available to the public (TWC blocks some of the menu items) on the Motorola DCX3400-M that would help get a more native signal from TWC?

What in and out settings on the Slingbox 500 would help get the Duo the best content to work with?

What in and out settings on the Duo would give the Panasonic a 1080px24 which it displays best?

Audio will be fed from the optical out on the Duo and it should be fine.

Realize I won't accomplish all of what I'm looking for in one forum, but any tips and tricks would be helpful.
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by:garycase
ID: 39745721
The Slingbox is certainly a good choice.   I haven't seen the 500, but I've seen the version that Dish integrates with the Hopper, and it's really cool technology.    FWIW, Dish is one way to get away from the restrictive CCI settings TWC uses -- they're much less restrictive; and have quite a bit of 1080p programming.    I haven't switched -- my wife likes her cable -- but am certainly tempted.   The Hopper has 6-channels at once recording (almost as good as what I can do with my HTPC) ... and built-in Sling features, so it's definitely tempting.
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:PCableGuy
ID: 39747511
Are there any settings available to the public (TWC blocks some of the menu items) on the Motorola DCX3400-M that would help get a more native signal from TWC? If TWC is using encrypted QAM, unfortunately that will limit your choices for a HDTV tuner or using their signal in a native form.


On the DCX3400, does the Stretch option on the 4:3 Override help?

Stretch — The DCX3400 will automatically stretch all Standard-
Definition programs to a widescreen aspect ratio and present the
video in the format designated by the HDMI/YPbPr Output setting.
Note that the Stretch option is only available when the TV Type
setting is 16:9.
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Author Comment

by:turbojournal
ID: 39748607
If possible, I'd like to have the Duo do any processing, rather than mess with the signal coming in...
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Author Comment

by:turbojournal
ID: 39757066
PCableguy - your suggestion helped some with the screen fill.  Thanks!  In addition, the Slingbox helped out a lot!
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Author Comment

by:turbojournal
ID: 39770174
I'm close but no cigar.  Yet...

TWC Motorola DCX3400M is connected to Slingbox 350 with component video cables.  Slingbox goes to DVDO iScan Duo and then from Duo to Panasonic P65ZT60.

I'm starting to guess that the version of the content online (via my Macbook Air 2013) is true HD, but I'm trying to figure out how to get that on my TV.  I'd prefer not to use Airplay because I can't use a remote (and for some reason don't think it looks as good).

Anyone heard of DLNA?

http://www.techradar.com/us/news/digital-home/home-networking/dlna-what-it-is-and-what-you-need-to-know-1079015

Is this my answer for getting true HD picture quality from TWC to my TV?  Not quite sure how to set it all up though...  I believe all of my devices have an ethernet port with the exception of the Duo.
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Accepted Solution

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Darr247 earned 500 total points
ID: 39771822
There are numerous DLNA compatible media servers.
The NAS boxes I use (WD MyBook World 'white lights' models) came with licensed versions of Twonky Server installed. If you decide to go with that (Why Choose Twonky?) on a Mac or Windows machine I would recommend the Twonky Manager, since that includes Twonky Server. For Linux they offer only Twonky Server.

Linux has many free Media servers, like UMedia, GMedia, et al. Search your distro's repositories for "media server" if you're running linux.
 
I tried many before I got those NAS boxes, and the one I liked best in Windows was TVersity...  If you have or are considering a dedicated home theater PC (HTPC), you might want to check out OpenELEC... I think all of their ISO's are Live versions you can boot from, then run from CD to try before you commit to installing it as an operating system on the HTPC. If you're not sure which one you need, go with one of the Generic builds (overview of OpenELEC versions).
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