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  #1  
Old 06-05-2011, 12:11 AM
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mightyt mightyt is offline
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Angry After 7 years with SageTV, It may just be over

OK, so it's not like I am brand new to Sage, having used it since version 2 back in 2004, but I am at the point where I am just plain tired of getting a poor quality TV picture and recordings. I know my PC is powerful enough (Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 2.4GHz with 4gb RAM), and even upgraded to SageTV v.7, but I have dealt with a "marginal picture" since probably v.4. With this upgrade, I also I replaced a failing Nvidia Quadra FX 3500 card with a new ATI AIW HD with 512mb.

Screen resolustion on my flat panel with Windows 7 desktop is just fine. The new Sage UI is also fine. Online Video is also fine. But go to Live TV or Record anything from a tuner and it is terrible.

I have tried changing up the video settings over and over, as well as customizing through standard settings with "Configure Video Playback" using as much as Advanced, but still terrible.

I have three tuner cards with a total of 6 cable ports. All three cards are Hauppauge. Two are HVR 1600's and one PVR-250. I even bought a $50 signal booster from Radio Shack when I jumped from 4 to 6 cable ports back in the day.

The only time I remember getting good picture quality was long ago when I had an old fanless Nvidia card and used PureVideo.

Anyway, If there is no magic bullet or I am just plain missing something no one can help with, after many commited years, I am ready to pull the plug on Sage. Hopefully someone here can help before I take that poison pill.

Thanks, if you even think of trying to help me ... I am so tired ...

Oh ... and also, what is this green border around video/TV playback?? Very annoying!
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  #2  
Old 06-05-2011, 06:16 AM
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ericscottf ericscottf is offline
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Someone with more sage troubleshooting experience might be better at answering this than me, but my first guesses would be some troubleshooting:

Your problem really doesn't sound like sage, though i'm at a loss to say what it does sound like. I'll ask a few questions you may already have answers to:

1) can you view tv through some diagnostics or program written by your tuner manuf? My guess is the quality will be exactly the same when circumventing sage.
2) what's the picture look like on TV, as played w/o the tuner at all? Perhaps you have signal issues?
3) what happens when you view other non-sage video?
3) I'm not sure if it's allowed or a bad idea or what, but if you want, perhaps i could post a minute or so of some legally redistributable show, like PBS or news or some such, as encoded by one of my tuners and recorded by sage for you to play thru your system
4) can you post a screencap of this lousy quality, possibly with this border you mention?

fwiw, playing sage video on my pc or tv (thru an hd200) looks great. Sage recorded HD content looks better than SD on my tv, despite my TV being an SD tv!
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  #3  
Old 06-05-2011, 07:42 AM
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What video card do you have? Sounds like all of your recordings are SD. Are any of the SD recordings from HD shows? I am not familiar with the 1600 but are you able to record QAM HD as HD? I know that the PVR250 records everthing as SD and the 1600 will record everything as SD unless it is QAM and will be degraded PQ wise from the original HD show.

Can you provide a few details regarding your definition of terrible?

All of your video playback is on an HTPC, correct?

You do realize that your experience is unique, if it weren't Sage would no longer exist.

I have used PVR150s and 250 with Sage and with BTV and with Win7 MC and the recording PQ taking into account the recordings were SD from mostly HD sources was quite watchable but as expected was at 640x480 and not nearly as good as the original HD show. Playing SD recordings at full screen would also cause additional PQ loss.

Also, what video/audio cableing are you using to go from PC to TV?

What cableing are you using from the STBs to your video capture cards?

The key piece of information is whether the recording itself is poor quality or whether the decoding is causing the poor quality? Either way I doubt very much that Sage has anything to do with your issue and getting rid of Sage will solve nothing.
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  #4  
Old 06-05-2011, 09:52 AM
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mightyt mightyt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bits View Post
What video card do you have? Sounds like all of your recordings are SD. Are any of the SD recordings from HD shows? I am not familiar with the 1600 but are you able to record QAM HD as HD? I know that the PVR250 records everthing as SD and the 1600 will record everything as SD unless it is QAM and will be degraded PQ wise from the original HD show.

Can you provide a few details regarding your definition of terrible?

All of your video playback is on an HTPC, correct?

You do realize that your experience is unique, if it weren't Sage would no longer exist.

I have used PVR150s and 250 with Sage and with BTV and with Win7 MC and the recording PQ taking into account the recordings were SD from mostly HD sources was quite watchable but as expected was at 640x480 and not nearly as good as the original HD show. Playing SD recordings at full screen would also cause additional PQ loss.

Also, what video/audio cableing are you using to go from PC to TV?

What cableing are you using from the STBs to your video capture cards?

The key piece of information is whether the recording itself is poor quality or whether the decoding is causing the poor quality? Either way I doubt very much that Sage has anything to do with your issue and getting rid of Sage will solve nothing.
Thanks Bits!

The video card is a VisionTek ATI All-In-Wonder HD. As mentioned above direct cable connected, no HD box in between. Everything is HD. The 1600's each have one Digital tuner and I have tried Clear QAM, but most of the channels either never show up or after a long while do, but stutter badly.

I agree terrible can be different for everyone. For me terrible is watching a picture that is grainy, pixilated and almost blurry.

All video playback is on the HTPC. It's a server at the TV and HDMI connected, thus not sitting in another room.

I agree with the uniqueness and this is no slam on Sage, more my frustration at not being able to overcome the problem or get a clear "do this and your problem will go away". Maybe I am in dreamland, but at this point I just want it to go away and really enjoy my Sage like you and many others.

My TV is a 50" Panny Plasma ... I watch these same channels on other flat screens in the house without boxes and they seem fine, why would I have to play at less than full screen?

The ATI card has an HDMI out so it's HDMI to HDMI (Nvidia didn't have HDMI so I have to convert DVI to HDMI.

No STB's ... just cable from the wall split with a signal booster and plugged directly in to the TV Tuner cards.

As for the recording, I set the quality at DVD Standard. I believe that's 3.2gb.

I'd be just as happy if solving the problem wasn't Sage. But keeping it with this poor quality doesn't make sense. Somehow, I need to fix or destroy!

Killer to me is I think I have all good componants in my set up and there's no reason I can figure why this would not work.

Just need to know what I can do to make it work.
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  #5  
Old 06-06-2011, 12:32 PM
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heffe2001 heffe2001 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mightyt View Post
The video card is a VisionTek ATI All-In-Wonder HD. As mentioned above direct cable connected, no HD box in between. Everything is HD. The 1600's each have one Digital tuner and I have tried Clear QAM, but most of the channels either never show up or after a long while do, but stutter badly.
The stuttering on those QAM channels is most likely due to codec problems on playback. Any of the Sage HD extenders would probably play those channels fine. I'm using 2 HVR2250's (same as your 1600's essentially, except dual tuners on both digital and analog), I get absolutely stunning quality on the QAM channels I have, but good to fair on the analog channels (Charter Cable, and the other comments on this thread about them having quality issues on their analog channels are definitely true, I don't even get audio on the GSN, or if I do it's got such a horrible hiss you can't hear it). When I complained about the quality on the analog channels, I was told I'd need to get a cable box at some point, as they are going to phase out straight analog any day now, and be digital only... I'm hoping the new silicon-dust cable-card tuners get Sage support, I'll switch to one or 2 of those, and everything should be great from there on out..
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  #6  
Old 06-06-2011, 04:53 PM
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you do know your sd recordings look like crap because your displaying them on an hdtv. That being said I'm almost exactly the same with my setup. I just removed the last of my pvr-150/250/500 cards. Now all i have is an hvr-1600, hvr-2250, and hdpvr-usb running in my system. I output to an optoma projector and my screen sizer is 105". My sd recordings look horrible when ive just watched something in hd, but it is to be expected as the native resolution of those recordings is far from coming anywhere close to the hd ones. If you have an hd settop box you can try recording over firewire although you'll lose any 5c protected channels, but you will get the raw feed piped into your system sd and hd. Then you can compare PQ with your pvr cards, although I do highly recommend you dump the 250 for something a bit more up to date. But kudos on having pvr-250 that still works after all these years. Codecs from TME or Cyberlink have always been my friend, but the cold hard truth is that as more and more content is delivered to us in hd from every direction anything in lower quality will start to look more and more like crap. If you from 4 years ago were here today he'd tell you that your crazy and that it looks the same to him. Frankly if you want things to look good then they must be recorded in the quality you are trying to achieve.
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  #7  
Old 06-05-2011, 07:42 AM
rrhorer rrhorer is offline
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There are a number of possibile causes for your poor video, starting with the codecs and video card configuration. To me, it sounds like the latter. Make sure you are using EVR; and I suggest the built-in Win7 codecs. Also, check your video card configuration. It should allow applications to control anti-aliasing, etc. In CCC, there is a specific setting that allows this (I don't remember the specifics). Good luck and know that it is fixable; so don't give up.
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  #8  
Old 06-05-2011, 10:00 AM
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mightyt mightyt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rrhorer View Post
There are a number of possibile causes for your poor video, starting with the codecs and video card configuration. To me, it sounds like the latter. Make sure you are using EVR; and I suggest the built-in Win7 codecs. Also, check your video card configuration. It should allow applications to control anti-aliasing, etc. In CCC, there is a specific setting that allows this (I don't remember the specifics). Good luck and know that it is fixable; so don't give up.
Thanks rrhorer!

Yes ... I think codecs could be a problem, but which ones work and where to get them. You have to pay for many of them and I would hate a costly trial end error solution. I was able to get a free optional Codec Package downloaded from ATI when I downloaded Calalyst and Drivers.

If you have any codec or video card configuration suggestions, I am all ears ... but now wouldn't that mean I would get bad video playback from anywhere?? Maybe not? But I know it happens with Live and Recorded TV.

I will try using EVR, think I saw it and did, but will try again. How do I get to the Win7 codecs? Don't see them anywhere? I will try the video card settings you suggested too.

I don't want to give up, but if I can't get it working with this round of pleading and receiving help, it will just be a sad ending.

Thanks again!!
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  #9  
Old 06-05-2011, 10:29 AM
KeithAbbott KeithAbbott is offline
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Have you thought about purchasing an HD300 for $150 to see if that resolves your problems? No codec issues with that solution...

Even if that doesn't resolve your problems, you could re-sell it and recoup almost all of the cost, I'm sure.
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  #10  
Old 06-05-2011, 11:02 AM
reggie14 reggie14 is offline
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I have to say I'm not so convinced that the OP's experience is that unique. How many of us have switched to extenders due to similar issues? I know that was my primary motivation. Moving from a PC-based client to a MediaMVP (and later an HD100 & HD200) was the second biggest change to video quality I ever did (the first being moving to HD tuners).

I strongly suspect this is a codec issue. Some codecs are awful at playing back SD video, and a smaller number don't seem to be as good at broadcast HDTV. As others have said, I recommend trying the Windows 7 codecs. They seem pretty good when I've used them.

How you get Sage to use them is another matter... In my case I'm pretty sure it showed up in Sage as one of the mpeg2 decoders. Either way, I recommend trying to clean all the third-party codecs off your system. Uninstall whatever codec package you previously installed. Windows includes mpeg2, mpeg4, and VC-1 decoders out of the box, and that's probably 90% of what you need. The only codec pack I used on my current system was Antipack, by babgvant.

I'm sure there are better people here that can give you advice on how to configure decoders. I was never very good at it.
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  #11  
Old 06-05-2011, 09:34 AM
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mightyt mightyt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ericscottf View Post
Someone with more sage troubleshooting experience might be better at answering this than me, but my first guesses would be some troubleshooting:

Your problem really doesn't sound like sage, though i'm at a loss to say what it does sound like. I'll ask a few questions you may already have answers to:

1) can you view tv through some diagnostics or program written by your tuner manuf? My guess is the quality will be exactly the same when circumventing sage.
2) what's the picture look like on TV, as played w/o the tuner at all? Perhaps you have signal issues?
3) what happens when you view other non-sage video?
3) I'm not sure if it's allowed or a bad idea or what, but if you want, perhaps i could post a minute or so of some legally redistributable show, like PBS or news or some such, as encoded by one of my tuners and recorded by sage for you to play thru your system
4) can you post a screencap of this lousy quality, possibly with this border you mention?

fwiw, playing sage video on my pc or tv (thru an hd200) looks great. Sage recorded HD content looks better than SD on my tv, despite my TV being an SD tv!
Thanks ericscottf! I'll try and answer your questions ...

1 - I have not viewed TV through the Hauppauge Theater software. I quit installing software that I would not likely use on my Sage server. But, I suppose I could try that.

2 - The TV quality through my cable box is fine. My cable splitter sends one signal through the box to the TV and the other cables to the Hauppauge TV Tuner cards in the server and out through the ATI Video card via HDMI.

3 - Non Sage video works great. MPEG's and Ripped DVD's.

4 - Sure can ... Will try and do it today.

For me, well I don't have HD through Sage since I don't want to pay for another box, so it's direct connected extended basic Time Warner cable channels for me to record.

I know others get good quality, but can never lock down how they get it and I can't??? Hence, my frustration.

Again, I appreciate the suggestions!
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  #12  
Old 06-05-2011, 07:53 AM
damonbrodie damonbrodie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mightyt View Post
OK, so it's not like I am brand new to Sage, having used it since version 2 back in 2004, but I am at the point where I am just plain tired of getting a poor quality TV picture and recordings. I know my PC is powerful enough (Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 2.4GHz with 4gb RAM), and even upgraded to SageTV v.7, but I have dealt with a "marginal picture" since probably v.4. With this upgrade, I also I replaced a failing Nvidia Quadra FX 3500 card with a new ATI AIW HD with 512mb.

Screen resolustion on my flat panel with Windows 7 desktop is just fine. The new Sage UI is also fine. Online Video is also fine. But go to Live TV or Record anything from a tuner and it is terrible.

I have tried changing up the video settings over and over, as well as customizing through standard settings with "Configure Video Playback" using as much as Advanced, but still terrible.

I have three tuner cards with a total of 6 cable ports. All three cards are Hauppauge. Two are HVR 1600's and one PVR-250. I even bought a $50 signal booster from Radio Shack when I jumped from 4 to 6 cable ports back in the day.

The only time I remember getting good picture quality was long ago when I had an old fanless Nvidia card and used PureVideo.

Anyway, If there is no magic bullet or I am just plain missing something no one can help with, after many commited years, I am ready to pull the plug on Sage. Hopefully someone here can help before I take that poison pill.

Thanks, if you even think of trying to help me ... I am so tired ...

Oh ... and also, what is this green border around video/TV playback?? Very annoying!
Sounds to me like another case of watching SD content on an HDTV and being displeased with the results. What TV were you using back in version 2, 3 and 4? Have you considered moving to an HD setup like the Colossus?

I'm a relatively new Sage user, but a long time BTV user and when I switched to an HDTV, my existing SD pvr solution was unwatchable to me.

Sounds like your setup is just great - it is the source content that is your problem.

Unfortunately the world of HD has issues with Hauppauge. The HDPVR was a flawed product out of the gate. Some people have success, others (like me) had no end of pain with it. I'm using the Colossus card now and with Sage I finally have a very nice PVR solution again. The Hauppauge Colossus drivers are buggy and can result in infrequent BSODs. I've worked around that with a daily reboot of the Sage server, though I've been trying to get Hauppauge to acknowledge the issue and get new drivers.

Good luck on your quest for better picture quality!
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  #13  
Old 06-05-2011, 08:19 AM
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Skirge01 Skirge01 is offline
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Others have alluded to this, but I'll ask more directly:

1. What changed? When did you start noticing the PQ issues? New TV? Different provider? Change of inputs? Cable change? Channel lineup change? Different codecs?
2. Are you using a high definition TV?
3. Is your source material high-def or standard-def?

I can pretty much guarantee you that SageTV itself is not the cause of the PQ issues.
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  #14  
Old 06-07-2011, 06:39 AM
valnar valnar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mightyt View Post
I have three tuner cards with a total of 6 cable ports. All three cards are Hauppauge. Two are HVR 1600's and one PVR-250.
The Hauppauge cards have always been terrible quality. I used them out of convenience. Fortunately most of what I watch now is digital from my HDHomeRun, so the quality is the same as live (through my HD200/HD300's).

I did however replace my PVR-250 with an old discontinued NVidia DualTV board. Wow!...much better. I have that for my remaining analog needs and its much nicer.
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  #15  
Old 06-07-2011, 10:13 AM
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sleonard sleonard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valnar View Post
The Hauppauge cards have always been terrible quality. I used them out of convenience. Fortunately most of what I watch now is digital from my HDHomeRun, so the quality is the same as live (through my HD200/HD300's).

I did however replace my PVR-250 with an old discontinued NVidia DualTV board. Wow!...much better. I have that for my remaining analog needs and its much nicer.
Before I switched to HD I used 3 Hauppauge PVR-250 cards and had outstanding video quality, even on a 720p HDTV.

S
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  #16  
Old 06-07-2011, 11:03 AM
valnar valnar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleonard View Post
Before I switched to HD I used 3 Hauppauge PVR-250 cards and had outstanding video quality, even on a 720p HDTV.

S
My PVR-250's, even with all the registry tweaks available for brightness/contrast/saturation, etc didn't look as nice as native cable to my TV. The NVidia is closer.

If you say the Hauppauge PVR-250 looked as good as regular TV, I am surprised.
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  #17  
Old 06-07-2011, 05:42 PM
bits bits is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valnar View Post
My PVR-250's, even with all the registry tweaks available for brightness/contrast/saturation, etc didn't look as nice as native cable to my TV. The NVidia is closer.

If you say the Hauppauge PVR-250 looked as good as regular TV, I am surprised.
I agree with sleonard. My PVR150 and 250 made very decent recordings provided the source material was decent. When viewing SD recordings on my HD TVs I do not force full screen because that will cause the PQ to degrade significantly. We simply watched with the black bars. I think a lot folks have forgotten that SD video (720x480 or 640x480) was not meant to be played on a 1920x1080 screen. It is a lot like taking a photo shot at 1Mega pixels and blowing it up to make a poster....it will look like garbage.
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Last edited by bits; 06-07-2011 at 05:46 PM.
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  #18  
Old 06-09-2011, 12:36 AM
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mightyt mightyt is offline
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Again ... thanks to everyone for some great advice ...

So, attached are my current settings. I am interested in your comments/suggestions. I made the changes to Win7 where possible on the video side. It did seem to make a difference, so I would not consider it "terrible" anymore. Moved up to fair to good, but as also advised, I think I am going to look at color correction next because the picture is a bit washed out.

I hear you all saying better codec's help, but also not to expect great SD picture on a wide screen HDTV. The only thing that keeps me from reconciling that in my head is when watching the same SD channels through the HD cable box, that tuner provides a better picture.

Many of you are also convincing me that the HD300 is really worth getting and also improves SD picture quality. So, I am now considering that as another option.

Lastly, you convinced me not to throw in the towel just yet. Since my frustration level has simmered a bit and am now using the new out of the box v.7 UI, my wife even commented ... Is that Sage? It really looks good! That was a first for me.
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