Kickin’ ‘Em To The Curb

Last year I was a bit annoyed by the so-called “upgrade” to the Verizon FIOS HD DVR.  I’d been trying to live with it to see if they’d fix the problems, but in the intervening five months nothing has changed other than they’d begun rebooting the DVR every Sunday afternoon, which finally pushed me over the edge into going back to Tivo.  This step wasn’t taken lightly, as my last experience with Tivo left me with some lingering ill will.  Despite having the most user-friendly interface, their software development maturity level seemed to be only slightly above what I encountered with the Verizon DVR.

I ordered a Tivo HD model, which I set up on Wednesday just before the FIOS tech came out to set up the CableCARDs in it.  Despite a problem with one of the cards, the installer got everything working within an hour and everything looked good when he left.  Unfortunately, later in the evening I experienced the infamous Tivo HD/S3 FIOS pixellation issue on SciFi (it made the channel nearly unwatchable).  The problem appears to be that the Tivo is more sensitive than the Verizon DVR equipment and gets overwhelmed by the strength of the RF signal coming from the ONT (which Verizon even advertised as a selling point—”+20dB hot”—in one of their commercials).  The solution is to add attenuators to bring the signal down to a level that the Tivo can handle.  I’d been following the forums on this, and knew about the fix for the problem, but forgot to buy attenuators at the same time as the Tivo.  Interestingly, the Tivo finally updated to v9.2a of the software yesterday, and it made SciFi more watchable, but there is still pixellation and the signal strength still bounces around a lot on 441MHz (which is where SciFi lives).  The article I linked mentions that the magic SNR limit seems to be 31dB, and mine is a solid 38dB.  I’ve ordered a set of attenuators to try different “strengths”.  Once I put this issue to rest, I think I can finally enjoy my limited TV time again, rather than fight with a buggy, cumbersome to use, POS DVR that misses recordings for no apparent reason and that has to be rebooted once a week. 

Update:  Added 10dB of attenuation, which brought the signal strength down to 34 or 35 dB (depending on channel, etc).  I still think it’s overdriving things a little, but the pixellation seems to have gone away (at least while I was watching last night; it fluctuates during different times of the day, though, so only time will tell for sure).


  1. Kevin White says:

    Interesting! I have a Motorola DVR through OneSource Communications and have frequent problems on SciFi. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through an episode of Stargate: Atlantis without the pixellation getting so bad that it freezes and I miss dialogue.

  2. I remember there being a signal strength monitor in the diagnostics for the Motorola DVR, but since mine is no longer connected I can’t check.  However, I came across this wiki with info on how to check your signal strength as well as some tips on what to do if it’s high or low.  You may also want to check for overheating, as that could cause problems.

  3. Kevin White says:

    Great, printed and ready to try tonight, thanks!