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  #1  
Old 07-09-2011, 10:01 PM
Netdawg Netdawg is offline
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Cool HD PVR Picture Quality vs DirecTV STB

Long Time SageTV believer...Finally got the balls to buy HD-PVR at the time I started a new DirecTV setup (long time Comcast - but moved out of area). Changing chanels on HD DirecTV H25-500 was a challenge, but is now working flawlessly via USB-DB9-Null Modem-COM port. Whilst learning how to change channels via SageTV, I had a DirecTV STB connected to 50" plasma for WAF (marriage harmony). When comparing output of DirecTV to SageTV, there is no doubt that DirecTV picture is AWESOME. SageTV via HD PVR is good. Perhaps, I don't have it connected the best way. DirecTV STB only gives me Composite, HDMI, or "Digital video (via RCA style connector). So, I'm using Composite into the front of the HD PVR. DirecTV sells a DVR for $200 and whole house DVR for a couple extra bucks/month. So, what to do? We have traditionally been fine with 2 input sources spread to 4 clients via SageTV. Ditch SageTV for DirecTV Whole House DVR? I still have to buy another HD PVR and Serial Connectors ($200) or DirecTV DVR ($200 + additional monthly fees). Also, what's the future of SageTV now that Google owns it? Will they grow the product or did they buy it to phase it out?

So, the question - Is there some way to get better picture quality from HD PVR? I always imagined I would go STB to HD PVR via HDMI - but a quick scan of forums mentioned something about HDMI being encrypted. If I stick with SageTV am I investing in something that will eventually be sent to End of Life hell?

Your comments and opinions are welcomed.
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  #2  
Old 07-10-2011, 07:43 AM
Ender Ender is offline
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You should be using the component output of the H25 (the dongle that goes to the proprietary DIN-style connector). That would get you HD quality output. By using the composite output, you are limited to 480i.

This should fix your quality issues.
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  #3  
Old 07-10-2011, 08:12 AM
Savage1701 Savage1701 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Netdawg View Post
Long Time SageTV believer...Finally got the balls to buy HD-PVR at the time I started a new DirecTV setup (long time Comcast - but moved out of area). Changing chanels on HD DirecTV H25-500 was a challenge, but is now working flawlessly via USB-DB9-Null Modem-COM port. Whilst learning how to change channels via SageTV, I had a DirecTV STB connected to 50" plasma for WAF (marriage harmony). When comparing output of DirecTV to SageTV, there is no doubt that DirecTV picture is AWESOME. SageTV via HD PVR is good. Perhaps, I don't have it connected the best way. DirecTV STB only gives me Composite, HDMI, or "Digital video (via RCA style connector). So, I'm using Composite into the front of the HD PVR. DirecTV sells a DVR for $200 and whole house DVR for a couple extra bucks/month. So, what to do? We have traditionally been fine with 2 input sources spread to 4 clients via SageTV. Ditch SageTV for DirecTV Whole House DVR? I still have to buy another HD PVR and Serial Connectors ($200) or DirecTV DVR ($200 + additional monthly fees). Also, what's the future of SageTV now that Google owns it? Will they grow the product or did they buy it to phase it out?

So, the question - Is there some way to get better picture quality from HD PVR? I always imagined I would go STB to HD PVR via HDMI - but a quick scan of forums mentioned something about HDMI being encrypted. If I stick with SageTV am I investing in something that will eventually be sent to End of Life hell?

Your comments and opinions are welcomed.
If you like DirecTV whole-house I might stay with that. Their are tricks for upping the default bitrate on the HD-PVR, which I have done, that make a noticeable improvement in the Sage default maximum quality for the HD-PVR (you can push it up to about 16 Mb/s from 13.5). The Colossus will go at a higher bitrate. Either way, you are still going through a digital (satellite signal)-analog (Component out)-re-digitize (HD-PVR) set of cycles that is going to nibble at picture quality.

If you want to know how to edit the properties file to let your HD-PVR increase its digitizing bitrate, let me know and I'll see if I can find my references to them. It's about 6 or 8 lines of code you add to the properties file and you are good to go. The difference is noticeable. You will also consume about 7GB/hour of disk space with this higher setting.

I'd just want to make sure I had enough licenses/extenders now that Sage is in limbo. That alone might pull me to DirecTV, sadly enough, since they have a digital whole-house distribution system, assuming it works. My poor understanding of DirecTV's distribution system is that it sends a protected digital signal from a main recorder to an extender via a coax cable. If that's the case, you are probably going to get the best picture quality that way. If you already think your DirecTV signal is awesome, I doubt the HD-PVR can beat it, even with the tweaked settings.

I've used Sage (and BeyondTV prior to that). Sage is great, but now it's essentially gone. If I had a choice at this instant, I would get DirecTV with the distribution system as a fallback. (My cable company has a rather small HD lineup and I have about 15 months left on my Dish contract, so I can't change anything right now). I put my opinion about Sage's buyout under the "Stay or Bail" thread, so if you read that you will know where I am coming from on my opinions.
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Last edited by Savage1701; 07-10-2011 at 08:20 AM.
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  #4  
Old 07-10-2011, 09:05 AM
bhyman1 bhyman1 is offline
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You need the component dongle for the H25, call DirecTV and see if they'll send you one for free. Composite is garbage.

Also, you can use HTTP channel changing if that box is connected to your network. Works great.


As for the DirecTV DVR, I have an HR24, it works quite well and worth considering IMO.
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  #5  
Old 07-10-2011, 09:07 AM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Netdawg View Post
DirecTV STB only gives me Composite, HDMI, or "Digital video (via RCA style connector). So, I'm using Composite into the front of the HD PVR.

So, the question - Is there some way to get better picture quality from HD PVR?
Well first things first you have to use Component (YPbPr, the Greed, Red Blue RCA connectors) to get HD, you're currently only getting SD/480i via Composite. That will make a very large difference.

While I can't speak to HD PVR vs STB, I do have Dish with an HDPVR and an R5000 mod so I've compared the HD PVR to the raw Dish bitstream (what your STB plays), and with most Dish channels at least, there's no significant difference in quality.

Quote:
I always imagined I would go STB to HD PVR via HDMI - but a quick scan of forums mentioned something about HDMI being encrypted.
Those of us with Colossus's have found that Dish and DirecTV appear not to encrypt their HDMI outputs.

Quote:
Also, what's the future of SageTV now that Google owns it? Will they grow the product or did they buy it to phase it out?

If I stick with SageTV am I investing in something that will eventually be sent to End of Life hell?
Unfortunately it already is. Everything we've heard from SageTV/Google is that there are no plans to continue development on, or sales of "SageTV". Sage's technology may show up in a future Google product, but I doubt it will be "SageTV compatible".
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  #6  
Old 07-10-2011, 01:17 PM
Netdawg Netdawg is offline
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Thanks!

Thanks for the many posts here. Looks like I need to get the doggle to convert to component output if sticking with SageTV. I'm definately interested in any tweaks to change the bitrate sampled with HD PVR. I got this gear on Father's day. How ironic that SageTV sold out that very same weekend.

My initial thought when Google bought them out was that SageTV would go from Awesome to super Awesome now that they had the resources of Google. It does seem clear with the shutdown of the SageTV store that Google is not concerned with the needs of the SageTV community.

My brain knows that the smart move is to dump SageTV and move to DirecTV; however, it's hard to leave a hobby and to let go of all the money I have invested in extenders/clients/networking. SageTV is the only MC that worked with ripped DVDs and streamed TV flawlessly over wireless. It's hard to let go.

Thanks again for the responses.
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  #7  
Old 07-20-2011, 12:29 PM
Netdawg Netdawg is offline
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Got Dongle - DTV tells me Component is not supported on H25-500

Ok. Will someone please tell me if DirecTV is full on this one or not? I got the dongle that breaks out DIN style connector into component connectors. I plugged it into a regular TV and got no signal. I tried a red button reset on the H25-500. No luck. I called DirecTV and they told me that only HDMI was supported on the H25-500. My guess is that it's HDMI HDCP and they are not willing give me the unencrypted HD signal. It just seems crazy to have the output for component even if it's via a dongle and have it not supported. Somebody planned for it to be there, but directv must have it shut off. Anybody been here before?
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  #8  
Old 07-20-2011, 12:34 PM
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panteragstk panteragstk is offline
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What does it say in the video output settings menu? IIRC if you choose 1080p as your resolution it won't output to component. You have to choose 720p or 1080i. You may also be able to choose to output the native resolution of the video stream as well. Also, almost every directv box doesn't use HDCP as far as I know.
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Last edited by panteragstk; 07-20-2011 at 12:42 PM.
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  #9  
Old 07-20-2011, 12:54 PM
Netdawg Netdawg is offline
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Niice

I assumed DirecTV used HDCP. I was cursing the idea of having to buy an HD Fury II ($120) to decrypt stream for each HD PVR. So, even if HDMI is the only option supported, I could by a converter to convert HDMI to RGB...I guess.

I can hit the format button, but it doesn't seem to change the results. I guess I need to look into that menu again. I was hoping to see an obvious way to get RGB outputs to work. Couldn't find it. So, I called Tech support only to be told RGB component outputs weren't supported.
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  #10  
Old 07-20-2011, 02:54 PM
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panteragstk panteragstk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Netdawg View Post
I assumed DirecTV used HDCP. I was cursing the idea of having to buy an HD Fury II ($120) to decrypt stream for each HD PVR. So, even if HDMI is the only option supported, I could by a converter to convert HDMI to RGB...I guess.

I can hit the format button, but it doesn't seem to change the results. I guess I need to look into that menu again. I was hoping to see an obvious way to get RGB outputs to work. Couldn't find it. So, I called Tech support only to be told RGB component outputs weren't supported.
From what I've read on some of the dbs sites they work, but you have to have the dongle you already seem to have. I do know that a bunch of the guys that use the colossus use dtv boxes' hdmi output with success, so I'd think directv would stick with the hdcpless hdmi. At least I hope they do since I got a colossus today and am getting directv installed next week.

Keep in mind that you probably know more than the "tech support" guy.
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  #11  
Old 07-21-2011, 05:04 AM
Spectrum Spectrum is offline
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I don't know anything about DTV specifically (or their STBs) but Component != RGB; it's YPbPr. Make sure you are selecting the correct output...
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  #12  
Old 01-05-2012, 11:01 PM
jman315 jman315 is offline
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Can you elaborate on how you got the channel changing to work? The ir blaster on the HD PVR doesn't seem to work. I also purchased a usb to db9 and female to female serial cable. Since the USB end of the cable connects to the H25, I don't think it will communicate with the serial port on my PC. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
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  #13  
Old 01-06-2012, 10:10 AM
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Skirge01 Skirge01 is offline
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Try this method.
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  #14  
Old 01-06-2012, 11:16 AM
jman315 jman315 is offline
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I did come across this. However, I don't see how I can get connected on my home network with the H25. This is the only Directv box I have in the house. The H25 has no ethernet port and no built in wireless. The network setup on the box shows that in any configuration (wired, powerline, or wireless) the ethernet port is used.

On a side note, I did get the USB to serial adapter to communicate between the PC and the H25 with the DirecTV Serial Control Utility. No luck with SageTV yet.
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  #15  
Old 01-06-2012, 12:45 PM
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panteragstk panteragstk is offline
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You need the device that directv uses to assign boxes ip address that doesn't require an ethernet connection. I have one and I can control my HR24 and my H25 without any issues.
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Old 01-06-2012, 02:09 PM
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Skirge01 Skirge01 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jman315 View Post
I did come across this. However, I don't see how I can get connected on my home network with the H25. This is the only Directv box I have in the house. The H25 has no ethernet port and no built in wireless. The network setup on the box shows that in any configuration (wired, powerline, or wireless) the ethernet port is used.

On a side note, I did get the USB to serial adapter to communicate between the PC and the H25 with the DirecTV Serial Control Utility. No luck with SageTV yet.
My bad. I wasn't aware the H25 had no ethernet port. There's another thread around here about serial tuning, if you want to go that route. But, the http tuning is probably easier to get working.
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  #17  
Old 01-28-2012, 03:17 AM
mtpudelko mtpudelko is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jman315 View Post
I did come across this. However, I don't see how I can get connected on my home network with the H25. This is the only Directv box I have in the house. The H25 has no ethernet port and no built in wireless. The network setup on the box shows that in any configuration (wired, powerline, or wireless) the ethernet port is used.

On a side note, I did get the USB to serial adapter to communicate between the PC and the H25 with the DirecTV Serial Control Utility. No luck with SageTV yet.
You don't need the ethernet port on your H25 for HTTP channel changing. The 'device' the other poster was referring to is called a DECA. That device has an ethernet port and a coax port. You run a Cat5 cable between your router/switch to the DECA and a coax cable to an empty port on your DirecTV splitter. Your H25 will then pipe its network connection over the coax and get an IP from your router. Once you do that, HTTP channel changing is very easy to set up (see other post), and works 100% of the time without all the mess of serial to USB hacks.

Regards,
Mike
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