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HDTV Programming > Comcast HD Quality Reduction: Details, Screenshots
MikeSM's Avatar MikeSM 11:29 AM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by sansri88 View Post

bfdtv you are now famous.

Article on Multichannel News: http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6545648.html

They botched the bit rate numbers - Discovery was being hurt more than 28% worse, it was 38% worse on a bitrate basis. But this should get a lot wider circulation now!

Keenan's Avatar Keenan 12:43 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

They botched the bit rate numbers - Discovery was being hurt more than 28% worse, it was 38% worse on a bitrate basis. But this should get a lot wider circulation now!

If the NYT does a piece it should get very wide circulation as those articles appear in papers all over the country.

Too bad Comcast has never stated actual numbers for their HD, otherwise we could throw a false advertising lawsuit into the mix. That's how DirecTV got caught, they actually stated 1920x1080i resolution numbers in their STB documentation and training videos.
MikeSM's Avatar MikeSM 12:55 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

If the NYT does a piece it should get very wide circulation as those articles appear in papers all over the country.

Too bad Comcast has never stated actual numbers for their HD, otherwise we could throw a false advertising lawsuit into the mix. That's how DirecTV got caught, they actually stated 1920x1080i resolution numbers in their STB documentation and training videos.

Comcast advertises a quality advantage for their HD service. That is clearly false advertising. And the fact that they do not tell people the versions of the HD channels they offer are not the same as competitors sell because of the "special handling" they provide is also deceptive. It's selling selling you an Intel CPU who's name implies a 3 Ghz clock rate, but finding it only operates at 2 Ghz.
QZ1's Avatar QZ1 01:03 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by davehancock View Post

Right from Para 76.56 of the rules:
(4) Any costs incurred by a cable operator in downconverting or carrying alternative-format
versions of signals under ยง76.56(d)(3)(i) or (ii) shall be the responsibility of the cable operator.

In practical terms, do you think it matters?
Do think the cableco. will give up an profit to pay for the boxes?
All they need to do is raise prices of unregulated services, and, bingo, the boxes are effectively paid for.

Same goes for Ltd. Basic, it is regulated; so if it is too little $ for Comcast's liking in a given municipality, some other service(s) is priced higher.
For example, here, Ltd Basic is $10.75, but Premiums are $20.
I believe it is called 'cost shifting'.
Keenan's Avatar Keenan 01:38 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

Comcast advertises a quality advantage for their HD service. That is clearly false advertising. And the fact that they do not tell people the versions of the HD channels they offer are not the same as competitors sell because of the "special handling" they provide is also deceptive. It's selling selling you an Intel CPU who's name implies a 3 Ghz clock rate, but finding it only operates at 2 Ghz.

Yes, but, there hasn't been any subjective data/numbers advertised as far as I know. To say that 7 people out of 10 prefer Comcast HD over satellite, while it makes for great advertising, it's not hard numbers - there's no actual data comparison. I doubt that he said/she said type of statements, such as those from our very own Mr. J(pass it as we get it) would be substantial enough to qualify as false advertising in court.

I think Comcast has been smart about how they advertise and have probably learned from DirecTV's mistake in that there is nothing that states we will get X-bitrate at X-resolution.

I was just commenting that we can raise all the hell we want, and we need to continue to do so, but as far as legal remedies(including the FCC as I don't see any reason they would have any say so in how Comcast delivers these channels), there's nothing there.

Public/subscriber outcry is the way to go, and in fact, appears to have worked regrading Comcast's heavy hand in disregarding the concept of net neutrality.
NetworkTV's Avatar NetworkTV 02:20 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

Too bad Comcast has never stated actual numbers for their HD, otherwise we could throw a false advertising lawsuit into the mix. That's how DirecTV got caught, they actually stated 1920x1080i resolution numbers in their STB documentation and training videos.

Technically, D* only said their HD was 1080i. They never once stated the horizontal resolution. The vertical resolution they provided was 1080 lines (at least on the 1080i channels, anyway). It was even interlaced.

Also, as far as I know, they never actually were held liable in any court. The case was only brought there. That being said, they certainly implied you were getting the best possible HD when you clearly weren't at the time.

The real one to watch would be Time Warner, since they sued D* for claiming their HD was better. If they start reducing their quality, people deserve to be upset at that type of hypocracy. However, I haven't heard any recent numbers from them and have no reason to suspect they are doing any rate shaping at this point.

Not related to quality, but I find the Comcast ads that state "more HD choices" than any other provider very misleading. While they don't use the word "channels", it's safe to assume that the average customer is thinking that's what they mean. They were the same ones that had those ads with idiots talking about how traumatized they were with satellite TV or how it would go out "whenever the dog sneezed".

In the end, until the "truth in advertising" laws get reeled in again, we'll see more and more of this borderline fraudulent advertising from all kinds of companies.
xpangler's Avatar xpangler 02:25 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

They botched the bit rate numbers - Discovery was being hurt more than 28% worse, it was 38% worse on a bitrate basis. But this should get a lot wider circulation now!

Actually the percentages reported in Multichannel News are the percentage that the Comcast bit rates are _lower_ than those for FiOS TV.

i.e.: 14.48 Mbps is 22.4% lower than 18.66 Mbps.

18.66 - 14.48 / 18.66 = 22.4%

Todd Spangler
Technology Editor
Multichannel News
(646) 746-6998
todd.spangler@reedbusiness.com
thoots's Avatar thoots 02:27 PM 03-28-2008
I noticed the compromised signal quality a week or so ago, and I thought it was some kind of "technical difficulty" that would be resolved soon. "Guess not," after finding this thread.

For the record, I've got a 37-inch Toshiba set with 720p, and the difference is as clear as the nose on your face -- anything with any movement dissolves into pixellated mush. HGTV HD is a great channel to watch -- their content is all new, fresh, clean and clear HDTV, or at least it WAS before Comcast dumped it down the toilet. Now it's just pixellated garbage most of the time. I'd call it FAR WORSE THAN 'DIGITAL CABLE' -- more pixellation than I've ever seen on a TV screen. Almost in the neighborhood of YouTube "quality." Utter garbage.

I have already contacted a couple of Comcast "representatives," and I'll be contacting my local Cable Franchising Authority and my state's Attorney General's office, as this comes awful close to outright FRAUD. I'm also going to contact my local newspaper and TV stations, to see if they can't publish how spending bundles of money for Comcast's "HD" service won't get you proper HDTV. We also need to get the Associated Press involved -- send a link to this thread and any other media story about this issue to their address at info@ap.org .

In the meantime, I'll be doing some heavy research into the dish networks, and if Comcast doesn't get back up to quality within the next couple of weeks, I won't be around to see whatever the heck they do. With their recent rate increases in my area, I'm paying very close to $100 per month for my "HD" service, and I'm sure not going to keep paying that kind of dough for pixellated garbage.
MikeSM's Avatar MikeSM 02:29 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by thoots View Post

I noticed the compromised signal quality a week or so ago, and I thought it was some kind of "technical difficulty" that would be resolved soon. "Guess not," after finding this thread.

For the record, I've got a 37-inch Toshiba set with 720p, and the difference is as clear as the nose on your face -- anything with any movement dissolves into pixellated mush. HGTV HD is a great channel to watch -- their content is all new, fresh, clean and clear HDTV, or at least it WAS before Comcast dumped it down the toilet. Now it's just pixellated garbage most of the time. I'd call it FAR WORSE THAN 'DIGITAL CABLE' -- more pixellation than I've ever seen on a TV screen. Almost in the neighborhood of YouTube "quality." Utter garbage.

I have already contacted a couple of Comcast "representatives," and I'll be contacting my local Cable Franchising Authority and my state's Attorney General's office, as this comes awful close to outright FRAUD. I'm also going to contact my local newspaper and TV stations, to see if they can't publish how spending bundles of money for Comcast's "HD" service won't get you proper HDTV. We also need to get the Associated Press involved -- send a link to this thread and any other media story about this issue to their address at info@ap.org .

In the meantime, I'll be doing some heavy research into the dish networks, and if Comcast doesn't get back up to quality within the next couple of weeks, I won't be around to see whatever the heck they do. With their recent rate increases in my area, I'm paying very close to $100 per month for my "HD" service, and I'm sure not going to keep paying that kind of dough for pixellated garbage.

Also make sure you file a complaint with the FCC...
NetworkTV's Avatar NetworkTV 02:39 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

Also make sure you file a complaint with the FCC...

This wouldn't be an FCC issue.
Keenan's Avatar Keenan 02:50 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by NetworkTV View Post

Technically, D* only said their HD was 1080i. They never once stated the horizontal resolution. The vertical resolution they provided was 1080 lines (at least on the 1080i channels, anyway). It was even interlaced.

Also, as far as I know, they never actually were held liable in any court. The case was only brought there. That being said, they certainly implied you were getting the best possible HD when you clearly weren't at the time.

Actually, they did, in early documentation when they first started with HD. The case is still pending, working it's way through the court system.
bicker1's Avatar bicker1 03:41 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by QZ1 View Post

In practical terms, do you think it matters?
Do think the cableco. will give up an profit to pay for the boxes?
All they need to do is raise prices of unregulated services, and, bingo, the boxes are effectively paid for.

Actually, this would qualify as cause to raise the rates for the regulated services. I suspect that we'd see our $8.50 per month lifeline service increased to $12 per month, without too much push-back from the franchising authorities.
audiomagnate's Avatar audiomagnate 03:55 PM 03-28-2008
I was an early adopter with D*, then it went to crap, so I got E*, then it went to crap so I went to OTA and HD-DVD. My local 1080is (CBS has three subchannels here) are worse than crap and my kids made me subscribe to my local cable company, which looked fantastic, but still had very limited HD offerings, so I resubbed to E* with the super cheap HD Only package, which looks like crap. And Netflix is sending me regular DVDs now, thank you. All I have left is Voom, Fox and ABC (OTA) which still look decent.

What if the electric company started you out with 120 volts and plenty of current at a perfect 60 Hz and then started lowering the voltage. amperage and frequency accuracy, wouldn't people be up in arms? What's the new standard, "If it's better than YouTube it's HD?"
MikeSM's Avatar MikeSM 04:37 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by NetworkTV View Post

This wouldn't be an FCC issue.

Sure it is. At least with Kevin Martin as chairman...
balazer's Avatar balazer 05:57 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by NetworkTV View Post

The real one to watch would be Time Warner, since they sued D* for claiming their HD was better. If they start reducing their quality, people deserve to be upset at that type of hypocracy. However, I haven't heard any recent numbers from them and have no reason to suspect they are doing any rate shaping at this point.

Time Warner was using rate shaping at the time. I don't know if they still are. But it looked better than DIRECTV, even with the rate shaping.
thoots's Avatar thoots 08:33 PM 03-28-2008
I've got a couple of examples of what I've noticed so well -- the "pixellation" or "blockiness" of scenes with movement. Here's the first one:



We're not really focusing on the fact that the guy in the picture is moving, but rather, the blockiness in the picture.

Here's an even better example:



This is EXACTLY what I'm talking about. Comcast added HGTV a few months ago, and it featured WONDERFUL, high definition picture quality. Then, BANG -- all of a sudden about a week ago, it was blocky, pixellated mush like this. If someone at Comcast thinks I'm going to just lie down and pay them a hundred bucks a month for utter garbage like this, they're freaking CRAZY.
heed316's Avatar heed316 08:45 PM 03-28-2008
thoots,

Do you have those screenshots in a format other than jpeg as it does compress the image(although I'm sure the jpeg still shows how bad the pq is).
MikeSM's Avatar MikeSM 08:47 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by thoots View Post

I've got a couple of examples of what I've noticed so well -- the "pixellation" or "blockiness" of scenes with movement. Here's the first one:



We're not really focusing on the fact that the guy in the picture is moving, but rather, the blockiness in the picture.

Here's an even better example:



This is EXACTLY what I'm talking about. Comcast added HGTV a few months ago, and it featured WONDERFUL, high definition picture quality. Then, BANG -- all of a sudden about a week ago, it was blocky, pixellated mush like this. If someone at Comcast thinks I'm going to just lie down and pay them a hundred bucks a month for utter garbage like this, they're freaking CRAZY.

This looks like data loss on your plant - it's too terrible even for this transcoding... Are you local network HD channels looking just as bad? If so, it's not this problem.
thoots's Avatar thoots 09:01 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by heed316 View Post

thoots,

Do you have those screenshots in a format other than jpeg as it does compress the image(although I'm sure the jpeg still shows how bad the pq is).

Oh, I could make some, but the original is a JPEG, anyway. These do quite adequately show what I've been so upset about....
davehancock's Avatar davehancock 09:10 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

This looks like data loss on your plant - it's too terrible even for this transcoding... Are you local network HD channels looking just as bad? If so, it's not this problem.

It's possible that there could be data loss on some channels and not on others. There could be a lot lower (cable) signal strength at higher QAM channels than at lower ones. He needs to check the QAM frequencies and the signal strength of each to be sure.

PS: I agree - the blockiness shown are not related at all to the images being jpeg. bfdtv's images show more subtle artifacts where the jpeg artifacts could be a factor (if he had used jpeg).
thoots's Avatar thoots 09:31 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

This looks like data loss on your plant - it's too terrible even for this transcoding... Are you local network HD channels looking just as bad? If so, it's not this problem.

Nope, network HD is just fine. The local NBC channel broadcasts its news in full HD, and there's been no loss of quality there, whatsoever.

This is definitely "the very worst I could find," and usually happens when the camera pans very quickly through a scene, or makes "quick zips" as HGTV tends to do in some shows. Overall, though, these shows tend to have a rather "fuzzy" look to them whenever there's any motion in the picture -- more like Comcast's "digital cable" channels. But, it does get this bad at times.

This just happened a week or so ago -- all of a sudden, "the HDTV was gone," replaced with the fuzziness or absolutely pixellated quality you see here. I haven't done a comprehensive review of all of my channels, but the network stuff definitely hasn't been degraded. Some of the "other" cable networks like National Geographic show a far more subtle degradation, but HGTV has been very noticeably awful.
thoots's Avatar thoots 09:38 PM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by davehancock View Post

It's possible that there could be data loss on some channels and not on others. There could be a lot lower (cable) signal strength at higher QAM channels than at lower ones. He needs to check the QAM frequencies and the signal strength of each to be sure.

I'd be glad to check out what I can, if someone would walk me through how to do it. I'm afraid I haven't gotten too deep into the technical stuff. Yet.
MKANET's Avatar MKANET 11:37 PM 03-28-2008
So, in picture quality ranking where does Comcast fall pretty much to last place?

1) Verison FIOS (best)
2) DirecTV (mpeg4 channels)
3) Dishnetwork
4) Comcast
jdonnici's Avatar jdonnici 11:44 PM 03-28-2008
I'm currently using DirecTV (standard def) and about to purchase our first HD set. In doing so, I planned to get the HD Tivo and go over to Comcast so I could use their CableCards with the Tivo.

I came up with the plan because it seems to me that Comcast is my ONLY option if I want to use a Tivo DVR with HD -- DirecTV's gone to using their own non-Tivo box and I've not been impressed with any non-Tivo DVRs I've seen. I've used Tivo for many years and am spoiled by the UI, I suppose.

1. Mistake to go to Comcast, or is this quality issue a short-term thing they're likely to resolve?

2. Is there a way to use an HD Tivo with DirecTV service that I'm not yet seeing?

Thanks,

JD

* I should probably point out I'm in the Denver area and that Verizon FIOS isn't available in my area.
xpangler's Avatar xpangler 02:09 AM 03-29-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

They botched the bit rate numbers - Discovery was being hurt more than 28% worse, it was 38% worse on a bitrate basis. But this should get a lot wider circulation now!

Here's the easiest way to explain how to calculate percentage differences:

2 is 33% less than 3
(3-2)/3 = 0.3333333...

3 is 50% more than 2
(3-2)/2 = 0.5



Todd Spangler
Technology Editor
Multichannel News
(646) 746-6998
todd.spangler@reedbusiness.com
markrubin's Avatar markrubin 04:29 AM 03-29-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdonnici View Post


1. Mistake to go to Comcast, or is this quality issue a short-term thing they're likely to resolve?

2. Is there a way to use an HD Tivo with DirecTV service that I'm not yet seeing?

there is no way to use an HD Tivo with DirecTV service

I have gotten quite comfortable with the DirecTV DVR: they still have some shortcomings (no dual buffer) but I don't miss my Tivo at all

you will be able to put a lot more HD on your DirecTV DVR than your Tivo: and I doubt the Comcast situation will ever improve
PaulGo's Avatar PaulGo 07:17 AM 03-29-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by markrubin View Post

there is no way to use an HD Tivo with DirecTV service

I have gotten quite comfortable with the DirecTV DVR: they still have some shortcomings (no dual buffer) but I don't miss my Tivo at all

you will be able to put a lot more HD on your DirecTV DVR than your Tivo: and I doubt the Comcast situation will ever improve

Come on Mark don't be so negative about Comcast. They can improve it's just a matter of them making an investment in better technology like Vyyo's spectrum overly - Cox has decided to use this technology and with it it could give them more than double the bandwidth (up to 3 ghz) to play around with (more than Verizion FiOS). If Verizon can invest about $1500 per subscriber for FiOS Comcast needs to invest at least $100 - $125 per subscriber for increased bandwidth. Comcast has the technical and financial resources to to this it's just a matter of enough people applying enough pressure to justify the expenditure of resources.


http://www.vyyo.com/index.asp?_metho...sc=213&cn=3152
cypherstream's Avatar cypherstream 07:42 AM 03-29-2008
Well I see the blockyness also, but in all of the posted pics, they are snapped at the channels most intense bit starved moment.

The reality of what I see, is when a scene changes, or theres heavy camera panning, the mosaic effect only lasts for about a second, or maybe less than a second. As soon as the image stabilizes, so does the perceptual resolution.

So while these pictures are accurate, for worse case scenario... we need more video's. How are you grabbing videos? Firewire out of the cable box, into a program on your PC?

Mike brings up a good point. There could be data loss at the transport to your local hub or regional headend. Remember there's less FEC data available now that the QAM is crammed in 3:1 slots.

Try watching Discovery SD over Discovery HD... I'm sorry I just can't do it. The 3:1 is miles ahead of the 12:1 garbage. I'll take this compression now in the short term, until SDV or brute force bandwidth expansion is deployed.
sansri88's Avatar sansri88 08:14 AM 03-29-2008
Word on the street has it the new channels that were added in Jersey on the 27th have little to no PQ degradation.
maxman's Avatar maxman 08:18 AM 03-29-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by sansri88 View Post

Word on the street has it the new channels that were added in Jersey on the 27th have little to no PQ degradation.

I wonder if they're finally implementing SDV?
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