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  1. Member
    Join Date: Jan 2006
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    Hoping someone here can help me - I bet I'm not the first to fall into this hole.

    (Hope this is the correct forum for this - if not, please be gentle and let me know)

    Most basic question: Can my current hardware be made to work as it once did?

    I have a Panasonic DMR-EH50, and I believe the hardware is working perfectly. Just can't get the TVGuide OnScreen service to work, and now can't record anything off the unit.

    I have basic digital cable service from Comcast in Seattle, WA. Cable signal comes in via coax into a Comcast-branded Motorola DCH70 DTV converter box, then into the Panasonic DMR-EH50, then to our analog Sony TV. Nothing HD.

    The DMR-EH50 worked fine and as advertised for a couple years - all the channels we subscribed to came in fine, appeared in the little preview window in the TVGOS, all the channels' programming data appeared, we could select and record them. Once in a while the TVGOS would flake out, but resetting it would eventually make it come back to life.

    With the changeover to digital TV, we lost some portion of the functionality: Comcast sent us a DTV converter box, which I installed in-line between the cable feed and the DMR-EH50. At that point, everything worked properly for channels 2-13 and 99. Programming info for channels 14-98 were listed in the TVGOS feed, but those channels had no program signal so we could neither view those channels in the little preview window in the TVGOS screen, nor record them. That's how things have been for about the last year and a half. Since we most recorded things off PBS (channel 9 here) and some stuff off the legacy networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, all of which are on low-numbered channels here), it was an annoyance, but it mostly worked for us.

    About 2 weeks ago, I went to schedule a recording, and every channel just showed "no listing". I figured I had to reset it, so I pressed the up/down buttons simultaneously for 5 seconds, entered the setup screen and went through the initial setup questions, let it sit overnight. But now all I get is "the search for data has failed". Have gone through this routine a dozen or more times now, same results. It's obviously not connecting to the feed it needs.

    I know this is an older unit, but it meets all my needs - at least when it works. I'd like to get it working again. I'm confident that the hardware is just fine, it's just a question of the TVGOS and program feeds.

    I also know what I'll get if I try to call Comcast (they're blissfully clueless and will just try to sell me something I don't want) or Panasonic (the worst customer support experience I've ever had, breathtakingly bad) - they will be of no help whatsoever. I know there are smarter and better-motivated people here.

    Can anyone tell me if it is possible to get this combination of hardware and feed to work?
    Is there a way to determine if the TVGOS service is available in this area? If it is, how can I get the DMR-EH50 to access it?

    What's the best way to resolve this? If the current combination is just not possible to get working (even though the DMR-EH50 is in perfect condition), then what's a good alternative to get the same functionality? I'm not willing to pay the cable company a monthly fee for this. I want to be able to see program listings, schedule recordings, record them to a hard drive, and occasionally burn a DVD. The DMR-EH50 does this perfectly - if it can get the proper feeds. That's what I'd really like.

    Many thanks in advance to anyone here who can help.
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  2. Member
    Join Date: Oct 2004
    Location: Freedonia
    Search Comp PM
    While indeed your hardware may be fine, I sure as heck wouldn't EVER rule it out. I work in IT for a living and my experience has been that the more adamant you are that "X simply cannot be the problem", the more likely it is that X is indeed the problem.

    Now having said that, I think that probably you are actually right that this is really a TVGOS problem. A quick search showed issues dating back at least 5 years with TVGOS in various parts of North America. One helpful post said that in one city the problem was that Gemstar, who apparently owns the service, basically screwed up on some contracts. It could simply be that Gemstar no longer has a contract with any TV channel in your area to provide the data. Honestly I don't know how the heck you are going to be able to get any kind of satisfactory resolution here. I've got Comcast too and the rule with them is that 10% of the company knows what they are doing and 90% does not. If you go to Comcast over it you are just going to have to raise a ruckus until you get someone in that 10% range who can possibly help you. The front line people who answer the phones are often completely clueless and many of the techs who come out to houses are pretty dumb too. Just demand to speak to supervisors if you aren't getting anywhere. Note that Gemstar did have contracts with some CBS channels to provide the info so you might also try contacting your local CBS carrier and ask them about it as they might have someone who knows. But I'd probably try email to the station as you really need a technical person to help out and it might be easier with email to reach one.
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  3. Member
    Join Date: Aug 2006
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    Analog TVGOS was replaced by a digital version of TVGOS, available OTA in some cities. Rovi, which now owns TVGOS, also says this at their website: "Most cable providers do convert our data back to an analog signal." As jman98 said, maybe the local station which provided TVGOS data has stopped sending it, or maybe Comcast has stopped sending it. As he suggested, perhaps someone at the TV station can tell you something. Look here to find out which station provides TVGOS in your area so you can email them for information: http://digitaltransition.macrovision.com/digtrans.aspx?link_id=rightPromo and http://www.rabbitears.info/market.php?request=tvgos .

    There is no reasonably-priced guide-based stand-alone device available to consumers for recording digital cable TV that you can get without paying a monthly fee to someone. People come to VideoHelp fairly often looking for one, but they do not exist. Comcast charges a fee for their DVRs. Moxi has free guide service but their device costs $600. TiVo charges a fee for their service, and their devices don't work without it. Moxis and TiVos need CableCARDs to work for digital cable, and sometimes Comcast charges a fee for those too. Sezmi also chages a fee for guide service for their DMR-1000, which won't record encrypted digital cable channels, and owners generally seem less satisfied with the device than those who have a TiVo.

    It is possible to record cable TV with a PC using a free guide service from Microsoft. This is not a solution for everyone, but it is an option for some people. There are devices that allow a PC to record the output from a cable box, and control the box. An NTSC/QAM PC TV tuner will give you local stations and a few others provided in unencrypted digital format (clear QAM), plus any analog channels that are left. However, setting up the QAM channels is not easy. To record anything else in your package without using a cable box, you would need to have a PC running Windows 7 Home Premium or Ultimate, plus a digital cable tuner, and would need to obtain a CableCARD from Comcast. However, there may be a small monthly fee for the CableCARD.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 12th Sep 2011 at 11:00.
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  4. I have not got TVG for 3 years. But I can record just fine, input it manually. Use TitanTV online to see what's playing. I'm in Calif.

    From Rovi:
    Due to the digital transition, we currently don't have a host station this area. Our broadcast team is working to come to an agreement with a host station in this area to carry our digital equipment. When they do and the equipment is installed and in operation, our data will back passing in this area. Until this time there will be no guide data.
    If you wish to check back in 60 days for an update on this area, we may have more information at that time.
    We apologize for this inconvenience.

    Regards,

    CE Customer Support
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  5. Member
    Join Date: Jan 2006
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    According to Rovi, TVGOS is available in both digital and analog formats here on my system - their last updated info was 09/01/2011. According to RabbitEars, TVGOS was confirmed to be available here on the local CBS affiliate, KIRO, as of 04/21/2010.
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  6. Member orsetto's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2007
    Location: NYC
    Search Comp PM
    Originally Posted by slugwump View Post
    I'm not willing to pay the cable company a monthly fee for this. I want to be able to see program listings, schedule recordings, record them to a hard drive, and occasionally burn a DVD. The DMR-EH50 does this perfectly - if it can get the proper feeds. That's what I'd really like.
    You, and perhaps six dozen other people who have been complaining on this type of forum since the digital switchover. Thats it. Sadly, nobody else cares: this problem has dropped so far to the bottom of cable company and Rovi priority lists that it will likely never have a solution. TVGOS was a nice recorder concept for frugal cable users for a few years, but the experiment failed spectacularly and the free ride is over: if you want a feature-rich point-and-click recorder/timer system today be prepared to pay thru the nose for it. Your choices are:

    1. Continue to use your Panasonic, but in total manual VCR-like mode with no TVGOS grid of any kind.

    2. Pay a monthly fee for the ComCast DVR or a TiVO. Connect either of them to your Panasonic when you need a DVD copy of something (the TiVO can also network to your PC for lossless file transfer).

    3. Pay a rather hefty upfront one-time fee of $600 to buy a TiVO (or similar recorder) with lifetime guide subscription.

    4. Pull every last hair out of your skull trying to make a home theater PC work like your Panasonic.

    To be brutally honest, DVD/HDD recorders with TVGOS laid a gigantic egg, they didn't make significant money for anyone involved, and most consumers jumped on the cable rental PVR the second they could get access to one. The ratio of people willing to pay upwards of $100 monthly for a cable package that includes the PVR far far exceeds the number of people who wouldn't be caught dead spending more than $50 a month. Its simple business math: few consumers wanted to pay $400+ for a "kludgy" TVGOS recorder when they could get the fully-integrated ComCast PVR for a few dollars more a month on the cable bill they were paying anyway. So the Panasonics etc were discontinued in 2008 and not updated for digital cable signals, the TVGOS parent company lost interest in moving the platform forward while maintaining backwards compatibility, TV stations couldn't be bothered to keep analog TVGOS going after they switched to digital broadcasting, and the digital QAM regulations had so many gaping loopholes that ComCast and other cablecos took the opportunity to break cable compatibility with anything but their own hardware. The result today is most areas are denied access to the complete basic channel range unless they rent the cable PVR or jury-rig some convoluted way to make their DVD recorder and decoder box coexist.

    But TVGOS has disappeared from one neighborhood after another: its an annoyance for cable companies to provide, they have no $ to gain by offering it, and hardly any subscribers are bothering them about it- it ain't coming back. Get used to setting your Panasonic manually, or get used spending a lot more money for the same functionality: the North American mass market chose the cable rental PVR by a factor of 96%. (Europe, Asia and Australia still have a wide selection of TVGOS-style recorders and steady pilot signals because they have no cable monopolies to interfere.) TVGOS corporate shills at Rovi will gas you to death with BS statements that "TVGOS is officially available in your area on X channels as of today." Understand this might be factually true, yet utterly impossible for you to actually use. Its gotten to the point in many neighborhoods where you need to know someone who knows someone at your local cable office who can personally direct a TVGOS generator into your distribution block (there are threads about this on dedicated TVGOS forums).
    Last edited by orsetto; 12th Sep 2011 at 22:09.
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  7. Or get a ReplayTV with free TVG.
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  8. Member
    Join Date: Aug 2006
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    Originally Posted by handyguy View Post
    Or get a ReplayTV with free TVG.
    Good idea, except that ReplayTV is analog only, has not been made since 2006, and the guide service could be discontinued at any time. http://www.digitalnetworksna.com/replaytv/
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 13th Sep 2011 at 10:56. Reason: fixed typo
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  9. Hi - we are in Seattle area (also comcast) and this happens periodically. It just happened to us recently, also. I have called and told the technician that "our TV guide feed from Channel 9 is not coming through." Allegedly, she went and "fixed the feed" and we are to wait to see if we update now. In the past (probably at least two, maybe three times over the years), I have had to really dig down to local repair technicians to find someone who had any idea what i was even talking about -- so we will see if this works. It has always been something on their end they changed, and had to change back.

    However, my point is this has nothing to do with digital, or your equipment. We do not have digital cable, and have no box. We have two Pan. DVRs and both dropped their listings at the same time. We have been inputting the recordings manually.

    I had the # of a great person who helped me a few years ago, but the recording is now for someone else, so I had to just call the regular number. I input for technical issues, not customer service.

    I just noticed above someone said "get someone to personally direct the feed to your distribution block." I will bet this is what I have had to do, and hopefully what the last person just did. So maybe if you use those words, you will get faster results.

    Also, this happened to us both before and after digital. I think with digital Comcast began messing with the channels a lot more, but this is not a "digital" issue per se, at least based on my experience. I was Not told the TVGOS is not available, I was told she fixed the "feed."

    Fingers crossed!
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  10. Member
    Join Date: Jan 2006
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    Hey Christine12 - any luck with your TVGOS? I agree that this happens occasionally (it happened before the digital transition, and also happened after).

    ROVI says we should have both an analog and digital feed. They also list a handful of digital converter boxes that are known to work with TVGOS...and the box I have is not on that list. I'm wondering if I should next try calling Comcast and see if they'll swap my box for one on the "known to work" list.

    If yours is working, what model (digital converter) cable box do you have from Comcast?

    Not giving up yet.

    Thanks!
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  11. Hi - here is where we are in the saga --

    finally got someone who even knew what I am talking about to come out. He checked our line to make sure there was or was not some sort of filter. He then called someone in another department and they are "looking into" whether a) they moved the data feed for TVGOS to CBS, if they did, did they move it to the DIGITAL CBS, or is there just a problem in the "feed processing somewhere."

    He said I am the only caller. I told him that I knew of at least one fellow in Seattle (I'm on BI) that is having the identical problem.

    Based on the online sources, as you say, we have both analog and digital feed of TVGOS - our unit is an analog unit (EH-55). I think it has been moved to CBS, but this does not explain why the searching is not picking it up.

    I note, however, our clock is right and our channel lineup is coming through. On other threads, the time at least was through the TVGOS, but this may not be the case here.

    They are getting back to us next week. The guy actually suggested we get an antennae and use that for the data feed (I saw another post somewhere where you can split your input).

    If they come back with it is on CBS, and it is analog, and we see no problems, I am going to call Panasonic and have do their voodoo diagnostics to make sure the unit looks to CBS for its data. I wrote down the code to look to see if it is coming through, but it will be easier for them to walk me through and make sure it has the deepest reboot we can do.

    We are not on a box, we only have basic cable. So we get some digital channels, but few. Anyway, as you know, the Unit (as we call it) cannot get a digital feed. Anyway, I don't think this is a box issue. They moved it again and our Units are just not finding the feed.

    An interesting note, however, I was out of town when this stopped working last summer sometime -- my husband had been delighted when we finally bought a used wide screen that is digital (our old TV was not) and we were getting Bloomberg & BIO. He saw a BIO on Hendrix, and turned on the Unit. On TVGOS it SHOWED BIO, AND SHOWED HENDRIX. It allowed him to tape 30 seconds. Then it stopped.

    Since then, Comcast cut off BIO, evidently it is not supposed to go thru on basic, and the other digitals all have .1s etc on them.

    Tune in tomorrow. Till then, we are taping manually (eek). I was dismayed to learn that my fall back of Video+ numbers has been discontinued.
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  12. Also, I noted on Comcast's website that if you miss a network show you can replay on the computer free. It had non-Network also, you just have to sign in. It was under the What's On section.
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  13. Member
    Join Date: Jan 2006
    Location: United States
    Search Comp PM
    Thanks for the update. Let me share what I know (or think I know) and my setup, in hopes it's of use to you.

    We have Comcast's Basic Cable package (no HD, no extras). We have an analog TV. We did not have any kind of cable box, but when Comcast went digital (roughly June of 2010, if I recall correctly), of course nothing worked without a converter. Comcast provided a digital-to-analog converter box. I plugged the coax cable from the wall into the Comcast converter box, then into the Panny DMR-EH50, then out to the TV. That worked (mostly - we were only getting the TVGOS feed and programs on the DMR-EH50 (also analog) for channels 2-16 + 99, but that was enough) for much of the past year-and-a-half (with the occasional reset needed). Around September 1 of this year, the signal stopped coming through entirely. It's been that way (flashing 12:00) since.

    I heaved a heavy sigh and steeled myself for another encounter with the World's Absolute Worst Product Support, and called Panasonic. As always, they were utterly clueless, reading from a script. Yes, I did the reset. Yes, I let it sit for 24 hours. Of course, the result was the familiar screen that says: "The search for data has failed". To placate them, I went through all of that with them, let it sit for 24 hours, and of course when it failed again (which I knew it would), I called back the next day. They gave up, and informed me the issue would be escalated to their "TVGuide Expert", who they promised (repeatedly) would call me within 7 days. I was skeptical, since I had been told this same lie before, and never got any call. That was 2 weeks ago. Surprise, no call from them, so I called back, got escalated to a supervisor, who simply kept repeating that all I could do was wait. How long should I wait? Maybe a month, he said. 2 weeks ago, they said I would have to wait 7 days, and swore I would hear from them. So why were they now telling me to wait a month, and why should I believe them this time? And what if they didn't call in a month? Then I should call them back and they would start the process over again, and wait another month...and again and again. Forever, I asked? Yes, replied supervisor Ramesh, just keep waiting a month and then call back to begin again. I asked if he had ever heard the definition of insanity...well, that's how it went. The guy eventually hung up on me. I certainly enjoyed participating in their automated customer satisfaction survey afterwards.

    Go ahead and call Panasonic if you want (say hello to Shawn, Phillip, Floyd, Orlando, Marilyn, Dave, Sherrod, Antonio, and Kathy at their Kingston, Jamaica call center, and supervisors Myron and Ramesh in Chesapeake, VA - please tell Ramesh I didn't appreciate him hanging up on me today). But keep your expectations low - all they will do is have you reset the unit and tell you to go away and check back tomorrow, if that fails, go away and wait a month for a call that won't come. If you need instructions on how to reset the unit, I can share those (done it hundreds of times now).

    Some questions for you...

    You said: "finally got someone who even knew what I am talking about to come out" - someone from Comcast?

    You said: "He said I am the only caller." OK, I will call them tomorrow to double the number of reports. Can you suggest who/how to report the issue so it gets on the same person's radar?

    Are you currently getting a channel lineup? Time is set automatically? Neither is true for us.

    You said: "We are not on a box, we only have basic cable" We also have basic cable. Is your TV analog or digital? Ours is analog (but I might be willing to buy a digital one if that meant this thing would work again). If you have an analog TV, surely you must have a converter box, no? The cable feed is digital so needs to be converted for analog TVs (I would be quite happy to remove Comcast's box, but I'm pretty sure all we would get on our TV at that point would be snow). Ah, I see you switched from an analog to a digital TV. Can you tell me when you changed TVs? Was that before or after the TVGuide feed disappeared?

    Thanks!
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  14. Ok - here is (likely) the scoop -

    Comcast told me today they dumped TVGOS. "Their" guide is "better" with a full week (vs. 2 wks on TVGOs!) of data. It comes through a box. I told them we do not use a box.

    We only have basic, and we used to have an analog TV, now have an older digital TV, neither use a box. I think you only need a box for any of the new free HD channels (we got no digital on the analog, of course, since the tuner was not digital). But this has nothing to do with TVGOS.

    I believe that if you tried to use a digital box, you have to use the IR blaster on the DVR in order to schedule and record shows. This causes (as I vaguely recall things I have read) a problem, because your box is set to the taping channel while you hope (perhaps) to be watching another channel. Plus, the IR blasters are not without their own issues.

    Amazingly, the person I spoke with was able to go ask her supervisor to confirm TVGOs was dumped "a few months ago." Why did it take me hours of several sets of phone calls, a guy to come out and "check our pole" and promise to have a supervisor from "hub" call us, then they charged us for the call, when I called to get that taken off, was told no pending issue on our account, a new ticket was made out and, again, someone "from hub" would call us, when I called today I was told the ticket was marked "resolved" without comment. Amazing. I think they are right, as our DVR blanked out after a power outage and now will not even set the time.

    Here is something from Roadrunner.com we might try:

    If my cable company has switched to an all-digital lineup, can I still use TVGOS?
    Maybe, but you might need to attach an OTA antenna to your TV's secondary RF input. When switching to a digital-only lineup, cable companies have been known to leave one analog channel (the TVGOS host channel) in the lineup so that TVGOS does not stop working, but not until after customers complained. If your cable company switches to all-digital broadcasts and your TVGOS stops work, call your cable company and complain.
    In the absence of an available analog host station on your cable network, you can still get TVGOS data over the air if you have an OTA antenna strong enough to receive your host station's broadcast signal. Connect the OTA antenna to a free RF input on your TV and reconfigure TVGOS to use the antenna instead of the cable input.


    My prior research indicated the host channel in our area is CBS (KIRO 7) now, rather than PBS. http://www.rabbitears.info/market.php?request=tvgos



    I have seen something on internet about codes you put in to "force" your DVR to look in a particular place for the TVGOS, but my plan is to call Panasonic and ask them to walk me through getting to the place you put in the code and the code itself. We are, unfortunatley, in a bad area for antennae.


    Here is an article by a guy about cutting the cord - he went back to cable with a TIVO DVR.



    have to go back to first page to click on the link to get the next segment -
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20025986-1.html?tag=mncol;rvwBody


    I note that Netflix won't do just mail DVDs anymore, so that is not a good option. I am not wow'd by the instant streaming options, which are all pretty costly also. We are going to try to get our TVGOs back, and if we can't get it just (as someone else suggested) keep using the TitanTV listings and manually schedule.


    Here is a link on how this stuff works - as well as a link to a forum where people on east coast are having the same issue and are hooking up antennae.


    http://www.dvdplusrw.org/Article.asp?mid=-1&sid=-1&aid=79


    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1122914&page=33


    they mention in setup for a Sony that uses TVGOS you can set for both cable and antennae, I have not checked this yet.


    Depending on whether we can get any OTA signals here, we may just dump cable, we only get the regular networks anyway.


    I'll update if we have any results.


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  15. Here is something from a Canadian thread from a few years ago - note again at setup supposed to telling it using antennae as well as cable.

    TVGOS by OTA antennae
    Yes, you should be able to use rabbit ears to receive TVGOS updates in Edmonton. I am in Calgary and have a Toshiba DVD/HDD recorder. About 6 months ago, Shaw stripped the TVGOS data from the CTV cable signal in Calgary.

    I was able to get the TVGOS data from the OTA CTV signal by attaching rabbit ears to the normal cable input connection on my recorder. Then I reinitiated the TVGOS setup, making sure to identify that I had an external antennae as well as cable connection.

    You don't have to switch back and forth between antennae and cable if you have alternative input jacks on your recorder. In my case, I had an old VCR that I used to route the cable through to the DVD/HDD recorder.

    Good luck, I am sure you will find it much more convenient than using Shaw's PVR. Only problem remaining is that local TVGOS channel coverage is only about 90% complete.

    Greg
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  16. Ok, I ran a couple of tests on websites that test your area for OTA reception, and we essentially have none- so we won't be testing the antenna option. I only see one In on the DVR also (an older EH-50 and an EH 55) so we would have to rig another unit to somehow get the cable in there, which we don't have. So we will be manually setting. TitanTV seems to let you search for just movies and such which is one of the main things I did with the TVGOS. Good luck!
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  17. Comcast website lets you watch tv online -streaming, free, use it as a 578T dvr. lol
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  18. Thanks, I did see that when I was looking into this, that is a good idea though.
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  19. Or just use TitanTv.com & set your recorder manually.
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