Good video card for Comcast DRM/H.264 issues

A place to talk about GPUs/Motherboards/CPUs/Cases/Remotes, etc.
Ken H

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#21

Post by Ken H » Fri Apr 17, 2020 12:47 am

Having a desire to continue to use WMC with Comcast, I decided to try a better, more current PC and graphics card.

It's a Lenovo M83, Windows 7 Professional fully updated, Intel 3rd gen Core i5 3470 3.2GHz / Turbo 3.6Ghz, 20 GB RAM, Nvidia GT 1030. I chose this unit because it was the newest I could find that was originally designed for use with Windows 7, with above average specs that could be easily upgraded.

Much to my disappointment, I'm still having the same issues with the H.264 channels; sometimes nothing, sometimes audio with no video. Flipping channels can sometimes fix the issue, other times WMC locks up and has to be restarted.

I also decided to try a TiVo and found one cheap on eBay. It works fine with none of the H.264 issues, but I find it a mediocre replacement for WMC, which as we all know here is very customizable.

And then, came the $64,000 Question - Why didn't the TiVo have the same issues with H.264 that PC's do? And not just the TiVo Bolt I have, but even the older TiVo's didn't have the issue once Comcast changed over.

What is it about TiVo hardware/firmware that allows a system designed well before H.264 existed, to have zero problems with H.264, while PC's with better hardware don't work?

Hmmmmm.

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d00zah

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#22

Post by d00zah » Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:32 am

For those considering the Nvidia GT 730, be aware that there are 2 distinct versions
(thanks Nvidia):

- Fermi arch. (128 texture units), slower clocks, cheap & still easy to find, latest drivers are incompatible
- Kepler arch. (64 texture units), faster clocks, more expensive, better performance, latest drivers OK

https://blog.cuvilib.com/2012/03/28/nvi ... hitecture/

Research specs carefully. Kepler cards still 'modest', but good for media center PCs.

Win perf. index: 7.0 (Kepler)

artm

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#23

Post by artm » Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:53 am

This tells us nothing about the incompatibility issues with Comcast.

This thread is for cards KNOWN to be good, not assumed based on specs!
-Art --
Win7 Ultimate x64 (NO UPDATES!), EPG123, Schedules Direct,
HDHomerun Prime, Dell 980 SFF, i5, Nvidia GT710

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d00zah

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#24

Post by d00zah » Fri Apr 17, 2020 3:10 am

Sorry, Art. People were recommending the card, & I agree, but the difference in versions warranted mention. Do with it what you will.

Ken H

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#25

Post by Ken H » Fri Apr 17, 2020 5:36 am

artm wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:53 am
This tells us nothing about the incompatibility issues with Comcast.

This thread is for cards KNOWN to be good, not assumed based on specs!
?

Again, it's not just a card.

The idea is to find a system that works. By eliminating as much as possible, we get closer to something that does. Assuming that's possible.

Ken H

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#26

Post by Ken H » Fri Apr 17, 2020 5:59 am

Oh, the version of the GT 1030 is 2GB GDDR5.

The version of the GT 730 is 1GB GDDR5.

Both have been tested with the latest GeForce driver, 445.87.

And as I've posted before, I've also used a Radeon R7 240 2GB DDR3.

It may be a bad assumption, but until otherwise proven different I believe a more advanced, capable, faster GPU would be more likely to work.

Ken H

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#27

Post by Ken H » Thu Apr 23, 2020 2:46 am

Disclaimer: I have no formal computer training and no nothing about how video codecs actually work.

The more I think about it, the more I'm starting to believe that hardware is not the problem. If it were, we'd have heard about Comcast subs that don't have the problem by now.

So that leaves software. What is unique about the H.264 that Comcast uses that WMC can't handle properly? I've asked Comcast through a number of different channels and get the same reply: nothing. No one there has ever responded to this question. At first they acknowledge the question and say they'll get back to me but that's the end of it.

One reason that's occurred to me to believe it's not hardware is that all of the PC's that I've used for WMC can stream video fine using Adobe Flash, which uses H.264. If an Internet browser can play H.264, why can't WMC on the same PC?

stuartm

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#28

Post by stuartm » Thu Apr 23, 2020 9:01 pm

I have formal computer training and 40+years in software development specifically Hardware/Software interfaces. It is fairly apparent to me that the bulk of any problems associated with H.264 and WMC are almost certainly software issues in WMC. The WMC H.264 implementation is quite old and when it came out MPEG2 was still the dominant codec for video streams. Thus the H.264 code got a lot less shakeout than MPEG2 also, Microsoft disbanded the WMC team so there would be no more testing/bug fixes for WMC problems. I have commented on these issues previously but I will reiterate here. I have Comcast and most (not all) of my channels are h.264 (pretty much all the HD channels). I can switch easily between all my H.264 channels with no problem copy protected or non copy protected. Record and playback of H.264 works flawlessly (yes there is an occasional glitch where something hangs when skipping a commercial with skip forward/back but I would say I get probably 98% of the time it just works). When it doesn't I suspect that WMC got confused skipping around in the video stream. (Caveat, I don't subscribe to any premium channels so I have relatively few copy protected channels and they are typically channels I don't do recording on so these are non copy protected recordings). The one issue I do have is the problem where if I tune from a HD H.264 channel to one of the non H.264 Copy Protected channels (the ones I see this on are typically the SD Encore channels and the newer SD Streampix channels) I usually get a black screen or a black screen with audio only. Continuing to try to switch between the problem channels and working H.264 channels can also lead to the WMC hanging problem. If I bring up 411-info it usually says unknown codec for the SD channel or sometimes thinks it is still H.264. If I tune these channels first after starting WMC they seem to almost always work and then 411-info says they are MPEG2 streams. It's pretty clear to me that WMC is having a problem detecting what encoding the switched to stream is and is not setting up the video driver/adapter properly to decode it. I think you can change video cards/drivers all you want and it won't fix the problem WMC is having recognizing the video stream. Although I rarely see skipping problems. the described symptoms don't sound like anything having to do with the video card/driver they sound like WMC having difficulty moving around in the recorded H.264 stream.

adam1991

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#29

Post by adam1991 » Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:06 pm

artm wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:12 am
OFF TOPIC!!!

If you want to know that answer do a search and find it!
my, aren't we testy...not to mention demanding...

Let me guess: you're one of those HOA guys.

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#30

Post by adam1991 » Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:07 pm

artm wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:50 pm
Rickt1962: To be clear
HE WAS EXTREMELY CLEAR!!!

YOUR POST IS OFF TOPIC!!!

Ken H

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#31

Post by Ken H » Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:48 am

stuartm wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 9:01 pm
I have formal computer training and 40+years in software development specifically Hardware/Software interfaces. It is fairly apparent to me that the bulk of any problems associated with H.264 and WMC are almost certainly software issues in WMC.........they sound like WMC having difficulty moving around in the recorded H.264 stream.
Thank you very much for the detailed reply. Yours is the same conclusion I have come to.

Knowing that WMC can be modified using software like EPG123 and My Channel Logos, is there any possibility of fixing how WMC handles H.264? How could it be done? I realize a video codec is completely different than the type of alterations I mentioned, but I had to ask.

stuartm

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#32

Post by stuartm » Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:02 pm

There are alternate splitters/codec packs etc. e.g. Shark codec pack. Shark has a whole forum for discussion and questions. I have never used alternate codec packs but I understand they may not play properly with DRM protection. You may want to post a question over in the Shark forum describing the problem and ask if the alternate codecs would address these issues.

Ken H

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#33

Post by Ken H » Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:40 pm

Yes, that definitely occurred to me, that PlayReady may be part of the problem. The fact there is no other way than WMC to get copy protected premium content to play and record for future use, says a lot about why the H.264 issue exists. At least I'm guessing.

Again, thanks for the reply. I'll take a look at the Shark forum and see what they say.

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