Comcast HD Quality Reduction: Details, Screenshots - Page 16 - AVS Forum
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Old 03-30-2008, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by jmallory View Post

I don't know how bad Comcast HD is going to look on a $500 "HD" flat panel TV set, either you are looking at a Vizio class TV (that don't look great to begin with) and/or you are dealing with a small screen size. But I do know one thing, Comcast HD will certainly look "better" on that TV than SD and that may be enough for that particular class of customer.

I'll get back to you on that when Comcast implements 3:1 muxing in my area...I'll see how it looks on my LG LCD ($700).
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Old 03-30-2008, 04:35 PM
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heads up, this thread was just posted at Slashdot:

http://slashdot.org/articles/08/03/30/2113218.shtml
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Old 03-30-2008, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by jmallory View Post

Another thing I would like to point out is that at 3:1 compression, this is probably as bad as the Comcast picture is going to get and things only go up from here. While you can make 3:1 compression work, things quickly break down at 4:1 (>10 mbits per channel) and 5:1 (>8 mbits per channel) unless you go to MPEG-4. As DirecTV reaches it's 150 National HD channels...it will be interesting to see if the quality remains the same, past experience indicates that it won't.

This is probably the main issue for me as I contemplate bailing from Comcast and going to DirecTV. "What will it be like a couple of years from now?" In terms of picture quality, virtually anything could happen. There is certainly a bit of hassle and expense to go to a dish system, and within X number of months, there could be no picture quality difference whatsoever. "Maybe I should just be patient."

On the other hand, I could watch the next Formula One race on Speed Channel HD if I jumped to DirecTV, while Comcast may NEVER add Speed to its HD lineup. And expecting Comcast to do anything to improve its picture quality is about as worthwhile as expecting that you'll win the next lottery drawing. In fact, your odds are probably BETTER that you'll win the lottery than you'll ever see Comcast care about its picture quality.

So, personally, I'm still at the same point -- how much more kicking does Comcast have to do to get me off of my lazy butt, and going to get the kind of service I really want? I think they've finally kicked me enough to finally do it!
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Old 03-30-2008, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by jmallory View Post

Depends on the market. Here in Detroit, we have a good amount of competition so prices are kept "somewhat" in check. I visited my mom in WV over the Easter holiday and while we pay the same for triple-play she gets considerably less premium channel wise. So while Comcast is fine for me up here, if I was down there, I would probably be on DirecTV but it would also depend on what my Internet options were.

Oh, I have my Comcast internet, and don't see that changing. I also have cable and phone service from them. Channel selections vary too wildly across the states for Comcast customers. I can't see what is available since I don't sub to any of the HDTV pkgs on comcast here, but I have a QAM tuner and I've noticed several of the digital channels now have 3 sub channels on them, so I suspect the cramming of 3 on a channel is going on here also.
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Old 03-30-2008, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by thoots View Post

This is probably the main issue for me as I contemplate bailing from Comcast and going to DirecTV. "What will it be like a couple of years from now?" In terms of picture quality, virtually anything could happen. There is certainly a bit of hassle and expense to go to a dish system, and within X number of months, there could be no picture quality difference whatsoever. "Maybe I should just be patient."

On the other hand, I could watch the next Formula One race on Speed Channel HD if I jumped to DirecTV, while Comcast may NEVER add Speed to its HD lineup. And expecting Comcast to do anything to improve its picture quality is about as worthwhile as expecting that you'll win the next lottery drawing. In fact, your odds are probably BETTER that you'll win the lottery than you'll ever see Comcast care about its picture quality.

So, personally, I'm still at the same point -- how much more kicking does Comcast have to do to get me off of my lazy butt, and going to get the kind of service I really want? I think they've finally kicked me enough to finally do it!

I doubt that Comcast would NEVER offer Speed in HD because I don't forsee broadcasters maintaining seperate SD and HD channels forever...but it still may not happen in the timeframe you want it to so you just have to make that decision for yourself.

Towards your other point of long-term which would be better. I would guess that history would indicate that DBS is the one that pushes forward and cable catches up. If it wasn't for DirecTV / Dish, Digital Cable probably wouldn't have happened or it would have happened at a much slower pace. I would imagine that about five years into the future, DBS and Cable will be mostly equal in HD as they are mostly equal in SD today.

-- Jim
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Old 03-30-2008, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by sansri88 View Post

I'll get back to you on that when Comcast implements 3:1 muxing in my area...I'll see how it looks on my LG LCD ($700).

Being an LG Plasma owner, I will tell you there is even a world of difference between the South Korean manufacturers and the Taiwanese / Chinese ones.

Your $700 LG panel is probably better than the $500 Vizio panel, but let us know.

But I think one thing we all need to keep in mind is that we are enthusiasts and are looking at things with a much more critical eye than the average consumer. We also have a tendency to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Try to imagine yourself as an average customer who takes his Vizio home from Wal*Mart or Target and upgrades their existing Comcast analog service to digital...that is going to be a day and night difference to them. We may see problems with it, but that consumer is going to be tickled pink. This is the consumer that everyone markets to. Nobody markets to enthusiasts. In short, enthusiasts "measure"-bate on bit-rates and compression ratios. Most other people just want to watch TV.

If you need proof look at DirecTV advertising, it is the number of channels first, then price, then picture quality. If you look at Comcast advertising (at least here in Detroit) it is Triple-Play, then Voice, then Internet, then the amount of HD choices (counting On-Demand), and then picture quality. Heck they hardly market Cable TV separately anymore.

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Old 03-30-2008, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by jmallory View Post

I don't know how bad Comcast HD is going to look on a $500 "HD" flat panel TV set, either you are looking at a Vizio class TV (that don't look great to begin with) and/or you are dealing with a small screen size. But I do know one thing, Comcast HD will certainly look "better" on that TV than SD and that may be enough for that particular class of customer.

As I sit here at my computer, I watch a Toshiba 20-inch set that I got as a "no-box return" for $250 from Circuit City, sitting about three feet away on my table. Fed with the component output from my Comcast DVR box, the difference in picture quality was just night-and-day apparent the day that Comcast tossed its HD PQ down the toilet.

I've seen both Panasonic and Sony 26-inch sets on sale for $500 at Fry's Electronics lately -- I picked up a Panasonic 26-incher that was on sale for that price, about a month ago. Technically, that's got a bit smaller "SD image size" than the usual 27-inch SD CRT, but physically, it's right in the ballpark for anyone with anything from a 20-inch to a 27-inch CRT. It's got plenty of size to judge picture quality from, and it goes to show how you can get major-brand quality at that $500 price point. Stuff like Visio is even less than that.

A quick check at WallyMart shows the least expensive HDTV at $233. Lowest 26-incher is $299. Lowest 32-incher is $568. Shoot, even a 37-incher for $668. Anybody can get into any one of these and get real HDTV just like that. And yes, I'd think that any one of these could show the difference between Comcast's uncompromised local channels and the kind of garbage I've been seeing on HGTV HD. It really doesn't take any kind of higher-quality set to see that your screen is full of blocky, pixellated junk instead of high-quality, sharp HD video.

I can't really speak for how other folks might care about "HD Lite" picture quality, but I think I'm with you -- there's really very little hope for anyone who cares about cable television picture quality. I think the best indicator is how truly awful Comcast's "digital cable" picture quality is, and how Comcast has been able to take wheelbarrows full of money home from people who haven't complained one bit about it.

I guess the industry is making things perfectly clear, starting with the "SD stretchers" like History Channel HD and others: "Just fill the wide screen with something, call it 'HDTV,' and start barging the money home." We might as well all give up and start watching YouTube.
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Old 03-30-2008, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by jmallory View Post

I doubt that Comcast would NEVER offer Speed in HD because I don't forsee broadcasters maintaining seperate SD and HD channels forever...but it still may not happen in the timeframe you want it to so you just have to make that decision for yourself.

Yep. I sure don't expect Comcast to offer Speed HD during this calendar year, at the least.

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Originally Posted by jmallory View Post

Towards your other point of long-term which would be better. I would guess that history would indicate that DBS is the one that pushes forward and cable catches up. If it wasn't for DirecTV / Dish, Digital Cable probably wouldn't have happened or it would have happened at a much slower pace. I would imagine that about five years into the future, DBS and Cable will be mostly equal in HD as they are mostly equal in SD today.

Well put. "Just relax for a couple of years and see what happens" probably wouldn't be a bad strategy, for anyone who can be that patient.
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Old 03-30-2008, 05:29 PM
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i find that TLC in Chicago looks awesome. just thought i'd toss that out there.
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Old 03-30-2008, 06:28 PM
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Ahh, just put up an antenna and screw 'em all. That's what I did. I still see artifacts-a-plenty OTA, even on the subchannel-less stations, but at least I'm not payin' for it and don't go to bed every night angry and feeling like a total sucker.
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Old 03-30-2008, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

Ahh, just put up an antenna and screw 'em all. That's what I did. I still see artifacts-a-plenty OTA, even on the subchannel-less stations, but at least I'm not payin' for it and don't go to bed every night angry and feeling like a total sucker.

I'm with you there. I'll take my OTA signal and the broadcast channels over cable, and the $60/month minimum I save by not getting cable can just go towards bar costs when I do want to catch something on ESPN.
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by jmallory View Post

As DirecTV reaches it's 150 National HD channels...it will be interesting to see if the quality remains the same, past experience indicates that it won't.

It's always possible that DirecTV may lower quality in the future, but one should consider that the DirecTV of today is a far different company from the stagnating operation that was looking to be dumped by Hughes for years.

For HD fans, Comcast has simply moved too slowly in bringing their HD delivery technology up to speed to compete with the satcos, this 3-pak delivery of HD channels is nothing but a quick and dirty(read cheap) way to at least boast of more channels, an area they are getting soundly beaten by satco. Now, the one thing they could always claim they were the best at, PQ, has suffered.

Cable has new technologies coming to increase bandwidth efficiency, but I don't see any of them reaching a fully deployed level for a few more years. Meanwhile, DirecTV just sent up a new bird, and, they have another sitting and waiting on the ground.
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by cypherstream View Post

"As of 04/30, the following analog channels will no longer be available...." And then at that point there's huge backlash from analog subs wondering why crap like CSPAN2 is no longer available without a box...

I am a captive Comcast customer due to a bulk purchase contract with my condominium association. And I'd like to say that CSPAN2 is probably the cable channel I most frequently watch -- for BookTV on the weekend. Luckily, I'm provided with a digital box since it's no longer provided on analog...
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by keenan View Post


Meanwhile, DirecTV just sent up a new bird, and, they have another sitting and waiting on the ground.

Yep, they have actually been planning for the future, Comcast looks to just be reacting to things. Now, if Direct will just get that HD-PC tuner on the market, they'll have me wrapped up, hook, line and sinker.
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:47 PM
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can someone please post a screen shoot of Scifi HD please
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:54 PM
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Oh, youtube went widescreen??
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:54 PM
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Comcast a joke of a company. They should just die. worthless overpriced cable from an ego maniac that screws customers every chance he gets.
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Old 03-30-2008, 08:05 PM
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I wonder how long it will take before common know about this problem.

Can your HTPC Media Center / DVR Do this??

SageTV: Unrestricted full-quality 12 tuner HD Premium Cable recording, including "On Demand" in HD + OTA ATSC + DVB-S2 + Blu-ray/HD-DVD serving 5 clients.
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Old 03-30-2008, 08:49 PM
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Comcast a joke of a company. They should just die. worthless overpriced cable from an ego maniac that screws customers every chance he gets.

Gee, Mr Two Posts, tell us how you really feel? I don't work for Comcast and have no vested interest other than as a long time customer. I just don't get that level of vitriole. You have choices, make them.
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Old 03-30-2008, 11:04 PM
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Since I'm not getting a full 1920 x 1080 picture without artifacts, shouldn't I also be billed less than full price for the HD option?

I already know the answer...one can dream.
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Old 03-30-2008, 11:35 PM
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I see comparison between Fios and Comcast... Can we get U-Verse and Dish added as well? Those are the two main choices for me.
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Old 03-31-2008, 01:42 AM
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Originally Posted by richiephx View Post

I don't care who the provider is but, if anyone thinks for one minute that any of them, including D*, won't sacrifice picture quality to increase channel count or use bandwidth for other purposes that would improve their profit margin, is naive. Historically, they all did it to SD and I wouldn't be surprised if they did it again somewhere down the road.


That's the problem with having to push down every channel all the time to every customer (what cable and dish have to do). You tune to the channels you want on your set top, but all those other channels you don't watch are still robbing bandwidth.

IPTV solutions solve this problem by only pushing requested channels. And IGMP means that if more than 1 user in a house, or a neighborhood, or a city is requesting a certain IP stream, it just duplicates it and saves the bandwidth upstream since it is already there. Yup, we're starting to see (above) the problem with old technology, cable and dish, trying to stay alive beyond it's prime. IPTV for the win.. only problem is it's so new, i can't get it yet
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Old 03-31-2008, 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted by keenan View Post

For HD fans, Comcast has simply moved too slowly in bringing their HD delivery technology up to speed to compete with the satcos, this 3-pak delivery of HD channels is nothing but a quick and dirty(read cheap) way to at least boast of more channels, an area they are getting soundly beaten by satco. Now, the one thing they could always claim they were the best at, PQ, has suffered.

But if the mass market is screaming for "more" channels and not necessarily "bit-perfect" picture quality, what would you do if you are Comcast? Comcast doesn't make these kind of decisions in a vacuum and they don't wake up every day going what can we do to reduce picture quality. They are responding to market pressure while still trying to maintain backwards compatibility with their existing customers. DirecTV, Dish, AT&T, and VZ all have a significant advantage of not having that "analog albatross" around their necks...in a few years time once analog is eliminated or reduced to a dozen or so channels...things will be even.

Let's be clear, I agree with you, I would have preferred that Comcast had taken the high road and offered less of the more niche HD channels and concentrated on getting the big ones and keeping picture quality high. But that isn't what the average consumer is telling them to do.

-- Jim
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Old 03-31-2008, 05:07 AM
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Originally Posted by jmallory View Post

...
Let's be clear, I agree with you, I would have preferred that Comcast had taken the high road and offered less of the more niche HD channels and concentrated on getting the big ones and keeping picture quality high. But that isn't what the average consumer is telling them to do.

Yes, but when threads like this get picked up by other sources then it tells them to move back to the high road a bit.

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Old 03-31-2008, 05:19 AM
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Why do you make excuses for them?
Comcast has always been one of the best cable providers of high quality program material for many years. They chose to give us what we have now. People are asking for more hd programing because there are more and higher quality choices now available. Comcast is chosing to increase the hd lineup disregarding their previous high quality record because they have to, not because we want it. The majority of people seeing the reduced picture quality do not call in to complain. Most are probably just tired of complaining. They will just jump ship when they can. There is not one person in comcast management that doesn't realize what the picture looks like. I would like to be a fly on the wall to hear some of the conversations. Their bandwidth problem is not my problem. Either increase quality or risk loosing your profitable customers. The majority who leave will do little complaining up front, they will just leave. Comcast should be striving to be the best up front. Yes it may cost more initially. I think their spin doctors are running the show.
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Old 03-31-2008, 05:39 AM
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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.

AFAIK, some TWC head ends are still rate shaping. A few years back various articles quoted TWC officials confirming they do rate shape. Whether requantization is the reason some report ~1300 lines maximum effective horizontal resolution versus a few AVS members--smaller cities apparently--who have measured nearly 1920X1080i, using HDNet's Saturday 6:30 am ET test patterns, isn't clear. STB limitations may play a role, too.

Here, (NYC's TWC), although I've measured only 1290 lines , blocking artifacts are a rarity on any channel. Like Comcast now (some cases), we also typically have 3 HD channels per 256-QAM slot, as this Excel spreadsheet , compiled by member berk32 for Manhattan's northern headend, shows (700+ HD-channel numbers). I'm on the southern headend, and regret Verizon hasn't been given the okay to deliver video yet for comparison. -- John
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:56 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jmallory View Post

Let's be clear, I agree with you, I would have preferred that Comcast had taken the high road and offered less of the more niche HD channels and concentrated on getting the big ones and keeping picture quality high. But that isn't what the average consumer is telling them to do.

Indeed, and what you said is 100% on the mark, IMHO, and more importantly, a realistic, balanced view.
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:56 AM
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Even though everyone cries about bandwidth, it's still not the tell-tale sign of PQ. I notice FoodHD was one of the lowest bandwidth in the "before" sample in the OP. IMHO that is one of the best looking HD channels I have seen.

-Chuck
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:58 AM
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Also using an obviously pixelated frame in a comparison shot is pretty stupid IMHO. Run a fair test if you're going to try to prove something.

-Chuck
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Old 03-31-2008, 09:03 AM
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Even though everyone cries about bandwidth, it's still not the tell-tale sign of PQ. I notice FoodHD was one of the lowest bandwidth in the "before" sample in the OP. IMHO that is one of the best looking HD channels I have seen.

well, considering that you'll be hard pressed to find many action shots on Food, it likely would compress less unfavorably than others. I can't comment on what it looked like before the 3:1, but I've read posts from people saying it doesn't look as good as it used to. Bandwidth isn't always a tell tale sign of PQ, but compressing 3 1080 streams is not a good idea. They seem to have done well to fix the pixellation here, but there's frame drops a plenty on channels like USA. I saw it all weekend.

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