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Contributor
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎10-30-2008
Accepted Solution

DVR Playback Issues

I've had my Comcast Motorola HD-DVR for about a year and a half.  Have never had any playback issues until last week - it just started.  Many (but not all) recordings are now "skipping" or "freezing up" for a few seconds at a time.  Pretty much like what you'd see when watching a scratched DVD.  It's obviously quite annoying to try and watch these playbacks now.  I can even tell when FFing past the commercials - it's not fluid and seems to speed up, slow down, and sometimes even freeze.  I don't see the problem when watching Live TV, but it does act similar at times when I try to Rew/FF Live TV.

 

Does anyone have any experience with this type of problem?  I'm thinking either the hard drive in the DVR is starting to go, or it's a signal strength issue.  The picture looks good though, even on the non-cable box TVs so I'm unsure about it being signal strength.  But if it's the DVR itself, I'm having no problem playing back shows I recorded prior to a week ago, and it's intermittent on newly recorded shows. 

 

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,676
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues

It shouldn't be a signal strength issue, since it doesn't affect live viewing.  The drive may be going.  Even when a live program is being viewed it's being written to the disk and then read back, which would explain the problem when doing Rew/FF.  It would probably be a good idea for you to swap for a new DVR as soon as you've watched whatever programs you want to from your accumulated ones.
Recognized Contributor
Posts: 874
Registered: ‎07-03-2003

Re: DVR Playback Issues

Interestingly, I've noticed similar behavior from my Moto 3412 over the last month or two.  The problem has been tolerable, so I haven't taken any action.  But I've started to think the HD's health might be an issue.  On the other hand, as WE points out, even live programming is being written/read to/from the HD.  Maybe it's a disk framentation issue that rears its head when you're pulling the HD in three different directions at once (buffering two live channels at the same time you're watching a recorded show).  If I didn't have a bunch of programs stored on the drive, I might try an HDD Reset to see if it had any impact on the problem.
Silver Problem Solver
andyross
Posts: 3,531
Registered: ‎10-17-2003

Re: DVR Playback Issues

One issue to remember is that the DVR's have two tuners. Recordings, at least if only one is being used, will occur on the 'other' tuner. If you have the box off before the recording starts, it will end up using tuner 2. Tuner 2 tends to get a weaker signal. If your signal is marginal to begin with, tuner 2 will show problems first.

 

On the channels you are seeing issues, try using the SWAP button on the remote and set both tuners to the same channel. Do you still have issues?

 

Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,676
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues

Excellent point.
Recognized Contributor
Posts: 874
Registered: ‎07-03-2003

Re: DVR Playback Issues

I'm only seeing the problem during playback of recorded shows, Andy.  Sometimes I'm losing audio only, with the video continuing to play normally.  Other times, I see stuttering or pausing with pixellation that does look similar to what you'd see as a result of signal degradation.  I guess the difference in signal quality for the two tuners might be a factor.
Contributor
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎10-30-2008

Re: DVR Playback Issues

Yes, it's the same situation for me - only during playback of recorded shows.  I'm intrigued by the thought of it being tied to the 2nd tuner - it's possible.  I don't often record two shows at once, but know that there have been times when I have, and one of the shows had skipping/freezing and the other did not.  When I record only 1 at a time, I only encounter the problem part of the time.  I wonder how I can tell which tuner is being used while recording only 1 show?  Does it vary, or would it always be the same one?

 

If in fact this problem IS tied to just one of the tuners, does that then likely make this a signal strength issue after all?  Maybe it would be worth my while to call Comcast and have them measure the signal strength after all.  Would they charge me a service call to do that?  When they were still Insight they did not, but I'm guessing that Comcast will...

 

Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,676
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues

You can determine which tuner is being used for each of the two channels being tuned, and the signal strength of both tuners, after you finish recording.  You need to turn off the DVR (but not unplug it) and within a couple of seconds hit the "OK/Select" button on the remote.  This will bring up the diagnostics screen.  Page d04 (In band status) will show you the SNR (signal to noise ratio) of each tuner, and page d06 (Current channel status) will indicate the channel numbers being tuned (you'l need to page down to see tuner 2).  The SNR should be in the mid 30s.  The two tuners should also not be very different.

 

Silver Problem Solver
andyross
Posts: 3,531
Registered: ‎10-17-2003

Re: DVR Playback Issues

On my DCT-6412 Series II, I typically see tuner 2 having an SNR that is about 1-2dB lower.
Contributor
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎10-30-2008

Re: DVR Playback Issues

Well, things seemed to improve for me for a while until yesterday - really bad skipping and freezing again to the point where I had to delete my recording.  However, last night I discovered something I hadn't realized earlier.  I was recording two shows at once, and was watching one live.  As I was watching it, it was freezing and skipping as well.  I had thought before that it was the playback, but apparently it's recording that way.  After about 40 minutes of trying to watch it through the freezing & skips, I finally gave up and stopped it's recording.  As soon as I did, it displayed fine.  So apparently it specifically has to do with the act of recording.  It looks the program I recorded on the other tuner recorded fine though, so maybe it's tuner specific?

 

Additionally, I did check my inbound signal strength to both tuners.  They're always in the 36-38 range and say GOOD, so I seem to be ok there.

 

Also checked the unit temperature - that seems to vary between 111-119 degrees.  Not sure what is normal there, but it says it is not over temp.

 

Any thoughts now?  Seems like it has to be the box.  I'm leaning towards opening a service call with Comcast....

Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,676
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues


bredstik wrote:

...I was recording two shows at once, and was watching one live.

...


I assume you mean you were recording two shows and watching one of those two while it was being recorded.  Were you doing any pausing or rewinding while watching?  I wouldn't think it would matter whether you were recording or not, since each tuner is always recording to the buffer prior to outputting to the TV -- but when we first got the now departed Microsoft DVR software in Seattle we did have similar problems any time there were simultaneous recordings, so anything is possible.

Contributor
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎10-30-2008

Re: DVR Playback Issues

Correct, I was recording two shows and watching one of those two while it was being recorded.  No, no pausing or rewinding.  Even if I tried, while it's frozen you can't do anything anyway - you have to wait for it to unfreeze before any functions will work. 

 

I agree, I wouldn't think it would make any difference if I was recording or not, but it definitely does.  As soon as I stopped recording it, the live show I was watching acted fine.  I'll bet if I had tried to rewind live TV at that point I would have experienced the skips & freezes.  So maybe it is having issues recording to the buffer?

 

Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,676
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues

It's possible there is some conflict in the software accessing several buffers simultaneously, but unless they let me take a look at the code I'll never know for sure (and that isn't going to happen).  :smileywink:
Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎02-14-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues

I am having very similar issues. It started back around January. When trying to watch a recent recording, there would be skips and jumps in the video. It would pause for 1-5 secs and then continue, skipping the content that it paused at. While watching normal TV, sometimes the rewind and FF commands wouldn't work. I would get a message along the lines of "This operation is not available in this playback mode."

It was approaching Super Bowl time. I pulled the plug on the DVR, let it sit for 10 min, plugged it back in and everything seemed fine. Watched the Super Bowl and new recordings with little to no issues.

 

Now recently, we have been having the same issues creep up. Our recordings are unwatchable due to pauses and skips, normal tv watching will sometimes not like me trying to rewind, etc. So last night, I unplugged the box, let it sit for 10-30 min (i was reading), turned it back on, and everything seemed to work. Except when I pressed My DVR, I got No Listings Available and 0% Space Used. So all of my shows are gone and I will have to turn to hulu to catch up on Heroes.

 

I have a 3416 I box, I believe DCH is the write letter combo. I never turn it off as I have read in previous forums that it works better running 24/7.I do connect to the TV over HDMI. When watching recordings I was not recording on either tuner at the time. We rarely record 2 shows at once.

 

 

My question is, should I have Comcast switch out the box? Let me know if you need anymore info.

 

Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,676
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues

Since you've lost all your recordings, it would probably be a good idea to swap the DVR now.
Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎02-14-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues

That is what I figured. Thanks War Eagle. I believe the DVR I currently have is the best model that Comcast currently has available to this area, the DCH-3416. Is this correct? Also, can I just go to my local payment center(which says it provides, accepts returns, and does exchanges of DVRs) with my DVR and have it swapped out, or should I call first? I know to call to see if they have extra DCH-3416's but I am not sure if they want you to have an exchange request in or anything.

 

Thanks again.

Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,676
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues

That's the newest one.  You need only take the old one in and ask them to swap it.  I never even had to take the power cord -- just the box.
Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎02-14-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues

I checked before coming into work today and it is a DCT 3416, so does that mean if I ask for a DCH I will get a newer model? Is there a wiki or some easy resource that outlines all the possible models?
Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,676
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues

The DCH is the latest model available.  Here is the wikibook that has a lot of good info on the Motorola DVRs.
Contributor
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎03-26-2007

Re: DVR Playback Issues

I also am having problems with my Motorola box.    About 3 months ago I had a Scientific Atlanta model,  and it started skipping to the end of the recording on playback.   I would hit the FF button,  and the program would zip all the way to the end.   I took it to a Comcast location about a month ago,  and picked up a new Motorola box, but had the same skipping problems.    A Comcast technician came to my house about 2 weeks ago with another Motorola box,  and he thought my problem had been that my box was getting too warm;  it had been sitting on top of my stereo receiver,  which was always on.   We moved the box to a location where it is by itself,  but still the same problem.   It is interesting because most of my problems are with NBC programs,  30 Rock,  ER,  Kings(the new mini-series).     I record "24"  but never have a problem when I fast forward through commercials.

 

I also starting to notice that when I try to reverse a recording to replay,   sometimes it skips all the way back to the beginning.  

 

Can someone pass on any help,  in layman's terms?    I've had Comcast for years,  and only in the past couple of months have I seen these problems.

Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,676
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues

I'm not sure about the problem you're having, but I can help you avoid it by suggesting you implement 30-second skip and 15-second replay buttons on your remote.  See this reference.  Since these allow you to make discrete jumps with the remote they're less likely to be susceptible to such problems.  You can hit the forward skip a few times until you see the program return, then replay if you've gone too far.
Contributor
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎03-26-2007

Re: DVR Playback Issues

Thank you,  WarEagle.  I'll give that a try.   I've noticed many posts with this same problem.   I would hope that Comcast/Motorola/Scientific Atlanta makes note of these problems with their hardware.   As I mentioned,  this "skipping"  just started happening in January of this year,  and I've had an HD DVR since 12/2007 and never had a problem until this year.
Contributor
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎10-30-2008

Re: DVR Playback Issues

I thought I would provide an update on my DVR situation - I finally am back in business.  About a week ago, the hard drive on the DVR finally died.  I was able to confirm this from the diagnostics screen with the harddrive information - it didn't even see that the disk existed anymore.  I had been in the middle of a playback, and the box completely crashed.  After that, after several iterations of powering it off & on, and even having Comcast do a soft reset remotely, I was never able to get the harddrive and hence the DVR functionality back.  So, lesson learned - if you start getting issues with skips & freezing during playbacks, more than likely your DVR is dying.

 

Took the DVR to Comcast and they provided me with a brand new DCH3416.  Really happy with the new box so far.

Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,676
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues


bredstik wrote:
...

Took the DVR to Comcast and they provided me with a brand new DCH3416.  Really happy with the new box so far.


That's what I suggested several weeks ago here:smileymischief:

Contributor
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎10-30-2008

Re: DVR Playback Issues


WarEagle57 wrote:

bredstik wrote:
...

Took the DVR to Comcast and they provided me with a brand new DCH3416.  Really happy with the new box so far.


That's what I suggested several weeks ago here:smileymischief:


 

Actually I think that suggestion was a reply for bruceoite.  He had lost all of his recordings, which made it an opportune time to swap the box.  I still had a bunch of recordings left to watch.  I would have just swapped the box much earlier on had I not still had a bunch of saved programs that I didn't want to lose before I could watch them.  Thanks for the replies.

 

Cable Expert
WarEagle57
Posts: 10,676
Registered: ‎12-31-2004

Re: DVR Playback Issues

You're right.  Hard to keep it straight with these things.  I hope he swapped his, too.
Regular Visitor
RVisit
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎03-30-2010

Re: DVR Playback Issues

Same problems here. It all started after an update was pushed to my DVR.  I had the DVR changed to the latest and greatest but no change. The slowing and sticking still happens.  According to Comcast some of the changes were intentional. I just wish that they would leave things alone and stop changing stuff that works

New Visitor
Glornt
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎12-03-2011

Re: DVR Playback Issues

I think I might be having the same problems now, after only about 3 months of having this DVR. A couple of things really annoy me about this:

 

1. THREE MONTHS??? And this after the initial DVR they installed got "fried" when the technician had the person at the office "reset" the unit. You'd think that after such an inauspicious start, they'd want to make sure to provide a reliable unit.

 

2. I also have a good bit of material that I haven't had a chance to watch yet. I shouldn't have to gamble on whether this unit will last long enough, or force me to quit recording new shows while going through my backlog. Has anyone at Comcast heard of the concept of being able to do backups? And no, going through on a show-by-show basis and recording them one-by-one onto a VCR is not a solution, as that ties up the playback/viewing mode for the duration.

 

3. A separate DVR gripe: The Comcast site says that the DVR capacity is "up to 300 hours" of regular programming, or up to 60 hours of HD. Well, it turns out that mine is about 66-67 hours of regular programming; I don't record any HD channels, because they would fill up my unit too quickly. Do I have a "special" low-capacity unit, or could this be part of the above problem? If so, it's been this way from the beginning.

 

I like my current channel lineup with Comcast, but if I end up losing shows I've recorded or have to continually worry about equipment failure, I WILL switch to Uverse (which, if it had been available in my area when Comcast basically killed VCR recording, I would've already done). Comcast doesn't have much room to disappoint me further without losing me as a customer.