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Compression and destruction of HD television

by PortVista-190953130350169 / April 12, 2008 2:39 AM PDT

This is sad to see that cable companies compress their HD channels. I have Comcast and there are only a handful of HD channels, all compressed badly. I was hoping they would get enough complaints so they would stop compressing the channels so much, but it looks like no one cares or notices.

Rogers to compress HD quality, like Comcast

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This annoys me.
by navsimpson / April 12, 2008 12:03 PM PDT

I mean, I know it's no big deal in the broader scheme of things, but what I find particularly dumb is that The Movie Network and Discovery HD - i.e. what to me are the whole point of having HDTV - are being reduced in quality. What's worse, there was no notice - it's one of those moves that plays off people's ignorance. As it is, movies with a lot of movement already suffer from a lot of compression artifacting, so this will make 'HD' probably look around the same as a DVD.

Stupid Rogers!


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I know how you feel
by DaveBinM / April 12, 2008 2:20 PM PDT

Here in Australia, some of our OTA digital "HD" channels are nothing like HD, comparing them with Blu Ray is pointless, the BD wins every time, even though the broadcast is supposed to be 1080i. It frustrates me. Though it does look better than normal digital TV

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It's kind of ironic
by minimalist / April 13, 2008 12:25 AM PDT

that cable and satellite TV began their lives with better signal quality than over the air broadcasts. But now that cable and satellite companies are crushing their digital signals to death to cram in more channels its over the air broadcasts that give you the best HD signal.

I gave up on the ridiculously priced cable packages years ago anyway. I mostly watch movies so if I can't get the few shows I am interested in over the air I'll just rent them via Netflix or watch them on the web.

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just to add...
by PortVista-190953130350169 / April 13, 2008 1:03 AM PDT
In reply to: It's kind of ironic

I get a few HD channels "over the air" and they are crystal clear. Ya I can still see the compression, but it's a lot better than the digital cable box which I got rid of -- mainly due to the interface being too, and the fact that 90% of the channels show up as "not available" make channel selection slow. I've noticed especially Comcast "Stars" movie channels are extra compressed, more than HBO. And the "OnDemand" channels are insanely compressed and sometimes not even in standard def. AppleTV is not much of an answer, it's basically a fancier "OnDemand" box you have to buy, and 1 more remote (I have 5 remotes already).

I'm really hoping the internet will come to the rescue. I really think it needs to be a full media center box, a full computer. It's possible now, but there's no legit service online that allows us to select and download television/movies, certainly not live television.

Blue-ray is nice, but we're taking a step backwards in some ways -- a "disc" that stores one movie, is hard to transfer to other devices or backup, and costs $20+ !!

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I would use a Mac mini and Hulu to stream TV shows
by minimalist / April 13, 2008 5:16 AM PDT
In reply to: just to add...

to my TV if the quality was decent on a 46" set. I care more about the quality of movies so I will continue to rent DVD's and Blu-ray discs both of which are about as good as your going to get. I'd take a good quality upscaled DVD over badly compressed 720p and 1080i content anyday.

Apple TV, Xbox Live Marketplace, Vudu, and all these other walled gardens are not the future. We don't need a bunch of proprietary expensive boxes just to rent the meager selection of movies that company happens to have licensing deals with this week. 1000 movies on Apple TV just cant compare with Netflix's 90,000. Not to mention evey one of these companies could pull the rug out from under us at any moment. Remember Google Video?

What we need is a single digital format that will allow us to rent or buy any movie from a variety of sources. A standardized format will allow content producers to release all their content with confidence and will allow us to play the files on a variety of boxes from a variety of manufacturers. Having a single company in control of the content AND the hardware AND the DRM is a bad thing. It means you will forever be a slave to that company.

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I completely agree on the mac mini bit
by DaveBinM / April 13, 2008 3:17 PM PDT

I did a blog post last year about why the mac mini was better than AppleTV, and that the two products should be merged into one. If Apple added a Blu-Ray drive to it, you'd have a BD player, an upscaling DVD player, music player, photo viewer, web browsing and e-mail, all through your TV. And utilising a wireless mouse and keyboard (and maybe that remote) would give you full access to a computer connected to your TV. (I think that Mac Mini can support 1080 too). I'm seriously considering buying one to use as a media center. (Side note, I'm not a "fanboy", I use Apple and Microsoft products, I just like the size of the Mac Mini compared to a Shuttle for example)

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Well said
by Nicholas Buenk / April 14, 2008 3:48 PM PDT

What's really needed is an open video standard, that lacks DRM yet supports advanced advertising features.
Like mouse over video to get links to sites for product placement. And go to a server on the internet to get latest adverts to embed in the video.

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You guys do realize...
by Slikkster / April 13, 2008 6:11 AM PDT

that all "HDTV" is compressed --even OTA DTV. ATSC uses MPEG-2 video compression. It's apples and oranges comparing ATSC specs to Blu-Ray, and apples and oranges comparing Blu-Ray with source film.

And consider that the OTA DTV broadcasters can choose to split up their available bandwidth even more, thereby potentially cutting the quality of their prime "HD" main channel with sub-channels. Take a look at your local PBS DTV channel. Chances are they have two-three sub-channels all eating away at their available DTV bandwidth.

I just want to set the record straight on compression. Of course, compressing an already compressed source is never a good idea.

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compression artifact party fun fest!
by PortVista-190953130350169 / April 13, 2008 6:50 AM PDT
In reply to: You guys do realize...

Right but we're talking about HEAVY compression in order to fit more channels and other services on the band. It's a dirty marketing tactic to advertise and market MORE channels by reducing the image and sound quality of the existing channels. Because providers know their customers understand what "HD" is, but not "compression artifact party fun fest."

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Yes I realize that. But what's the point?
by minimalist / April 13, 2008 3:02 PM PDT
In reply to: You guys do realize...

Technically all digital audio is compressed as well (CD's included).

But the difference between a 320kbps VBR mp3 and CD audio is nothing like the difference between 32kbps mp3s and 320kbps ones. There is a line where things begin to fall off quickly and cable and satellite companies have definitely crossed it.

I'm not talking about ideological purity. I'm just talking about a baseline for quality.

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There is limited bandwidth....
by Nicholas Buenk / April 14, 2008 3:42 PM PDT

On cable and free to air. And HD uses a lot of bandwidth. Why nothing broadcast will ever compare to Blu Ray unless they go to better codecs than mpeg 2, they are bandwidth limited.
Perhaps you should look at it as a glass half full thing. And be happy you're getting something in HD at all.

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Not Really HD
by Renegade Knight / April 15, 2008 4:30 AM PDT

If you compress the signal and lose the D part of HD it's not really HD anymore. Heck it's not even H. It's just TV.

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by Nicholas Buenk / April 15, 2008 9:40 AM PDT
In reply to: Not Really HD

What you'll tend to get is just motion artifacts, but still way more detail than standard def.

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