The state of Broadcast and Provider delivered HD - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 83 Old 08-29-2012, 08:54 PM - Thread Starter
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I did something today that got me thinking, can we really call what is broadcast HD anymore? Sure, it's wide screen and meets the standards for HD but the quality of the image has deteriorated so much from what was first offered if we were to compare today's HD to it to what HD was originally would it still call it High Definition? Yes, I know there are minimum standards to designate what is HD, but much of what I see is little better than wide screen SD.

This morning I was watching Supernatural on TNT and checked something on IMDB and saw a link to Amazon to view the episode. I don't have an Amazon streaming account but I do have Netflix. Being curious i queued up the same episode on Netflix HD feed, not the 1080 feed I get on my Roku but a regular HD feed. Flipping back and forth I have to say the detail was better and the image had more depth on the Netflix feed. Directv is my provider and I do have OTA available, but I have to say overall the image quality has gone downhill over the past 5 years on all feeds.

I was an early adopter, got my first HDTV 12 years ago, the massive RCA 38" F38310. Back then I had to struggle to get an HD OTA signal, but what I got was stunning. I can't say that anymore. With the glut of HD channels crammed into the SAT feed, I assume cable feeds are just as bad, and all the crappy OTA sub-channels, I think what we get today is just a shadow of what was there originally. Perhaps I'm just a bit jaded but I don't see anything today that grabs me on my pro calibrated plasma display like it did in the past.

Your take?
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post #2 of 83 Old 08-29-2012, 11:58 PM
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Dude ... I've been saying this for years. biggrin.gif

I purposely downsized my "main" TV display from 50" to 42." There's no point in beating a dead horse, the barbarians won.
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post #3 of 83 Old 08-30-2012, 06:01 AM
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I know exactly what you mean. I happened to catch "Over British Columbia" a couple of days ago. I think it was on AXS, I'm not sure (on Dish Network). I watched the "Over..." series years ago on HDNET (or one of the VOOM channels) and it was stunning. The current viewing was very soft. No artifacts that I noticed, but not nearly as sharp and vivid as it was years ago.
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post #4 of 83 Old 08-30-2012, 06:31 AM
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I started my love affair with HD in 1986 at the NAB special HD exhibit. My wife and I spent hours in that space being overwhelmed by the magnificent images on those displays. We knew we would eventually have HD in our home. That moment came in January, 2002 when the 65-inch Mits with an OTA tuner was delivered. She hated the ugly, huge box but when the lights were off and the screen was lit, what a joy! All those reruns from PBS digital feeds, we watched programs we would have never watched had they not been in HD. Then VOOM came into our life and all the soap opera drama that went with that provider (and all the nasty posts about VOOM right here in this forum). But the picture was stunning. When VOOM died we moved to DISH, partly to keep VOOM. But there is no question that the quality of the image today that is projected on our 8-foot screen is much less satisfying then it was in those earlier years. That said, I have to report that a month or so ago we picked up a Roku box. We've been re=watching Fringe through Amazon Prime. I've been very impressed with that image. I actually think it is better than what we see from DISH, and comperable to Blu-Ray discs we have. Maybe that is the secret to getting good HD again. A fast broadband connection to a 1080p source.
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post #5 of 83 Old 08-30-2012, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by btokars View Post

She hated the ugly, huge box but when the lights were off and the screen was lit, what a joy!
...and Barry White was playing on SACD.... wink.gif

I got in somewhat late (only about 6 years ago) due to the price point, but I got to see HD at my sister's place on their huge RP. I remember sitting through "Amazing Grace and Chuck" on HBO just because those negotiation scenes at the cabin looked so nice.
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post #6 of 83 Old 08-30-2012, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Matt L View Post

I did something today that got me thinking, can we really call what is broadcast HD anymore? Sure, it's wide screen and meets the standards for HD but the quality of the image has deteriorated so much from what was first offered if we were to compare today's HD to it to what HD was originally would it still call it High Definition? Yes, I know there are minimum standards to designate what is HD, but much of what I see is little better than wide screen SD.
I think some of what you're might just be seeing the sat feeds getting squeezed. On my cable system, I get about 13Mbps on any given HD channel, sometimes peaking around 17. I think that's a bit higher than DirecTV and a lot higher than Dish. Since many cable systems have converted to SDV, they got a ton of bandwidth back and are making good use of it. Dish has been running at reduced resolution for years, and DirecTV continues to starve their SD feeds and cram more HD feeds per transponder. Hopefully, this is just growing pains until they get more sats or at least make all SD MPEG4 like Dish did.

Having said that, a lot of content is still just upconverted SD. Unfortunately it will be a very long time before that goes away. But I'm still optimistic.
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post #7 of 83 Old 08-30-2012, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

I think some of what you're might just be seeing the sat feeds getting squeezed. On my cable system, I get about 13Mbps on any given HD channel, sometimes peaking around 17. I think that's a bit higher than DirecTV and a lot higher than Dish. Since many cable systems have converted to SDV, they got a ton of bandwidth back and are making good use of it. Dish has been running at reduced resolution for years, and DirecTV continues to starve their SD feeds and cram more HD feeds per transponder. Hopefully, this is just growing pains until they get more sats or at least make all SD MPEG4 like Dish did.
Having said that, a lot of content is still just upconverted SD. Unfortunately it will be a very long time before that goes away. But I'm still optimistic.

Dish really doesn't seem to care about HD PQ at all. They're cramming in 9, occasionally 10 HD channels per 40Mbps transponder. I look through lyngsat.com at all their transponders and see a TON of bandwidth that is poorly allocated in my opinion: foreign SD channels still in MPEG-2, tons of horse racing channels, spot beams for nationally available channels, gazillions of PPV channels etc.

I posted on satguys about Dish's HD video quality, and was told it has to be a problem on my end, to turn up my TV's sharpness, and lastly that I was a troll. It seems those of us that think HD PQ is lacking are very limited.

Even OTA can be pretty poor, I've compared my ABC station (which only has 1 SD sub, you guys dealing with an HD sub, yikes) to hulu+ HD streaming, and the OTA channel easily lost.

I think the only way we'll see things improve is if and when 4k TV becomes available. People with 84" + sized 4k TV's aren't going to be happy with whats out there now. A single 40mbps h.265 stream that's only been subject to one lossy compression would be quite nice.
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post #8 of 83 Old 08-30-2012, 06:34 PM
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Good luck getting a second "digital transition" through the pipelines to enable broadcasters to use 4K and H.265. Just look at how long it took to get the last one approved. People would be even less interested in having it happen again, especially when it would provide far fewer benefits to the general public and would be even harder to explain to them than the change in 2009 was.
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post #9 of 83 Old 08-30-2012, 09:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post

Good luck getting a second "digital transition" through the pipelines to enable broadcasters to use 4K and H.265. Just look at how long it took to get the last one approved. People would be even less interested in having it happen again, especially when it would provide far fewer benefits to the general public and would be even harder to explain to them than the change in 2009 was.

Eh? I only meant a few satellite/cable channels to supplement what we have now. Besides which cable and DBS pretty much already require everyone to have a box on each TV (yeah yeah there's Cablecard that in a few homes). It would just be a matter or switching out rental boxes. OTA? That will probably be MPEG-2 for a very very long time.
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post #10 of 83 Old 08-30-2012, 10:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Seeing the reports on 4K is what got me thinking. With the state of things now I'd be hard pressed to spend $$$$ for a 4K set. The only content that might be available in the foreseeable future is streaming over a very hefty FOIS feed or some sort of memory based system.
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post #11 of 83 Old 09-04-2012, 10:32 AM
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In 2001 I watched HD for the first time on an RCA 36mm110 tv. It was the santa clause movie with Tim Allen,stunning pq. next was a college football game .This was ota. That first year I watched HD was so much better than now its unreal.HD NET used to have to be shown uncompressed by contract,''over america '' was a show that was tremendous in its amazing use of HD. The thing I miss the most now is the ''looking through a window'' feeling. Its too bad that many people will never see what broadcast HD can really look like.
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post #12 of 83 Old 09-04-2012, 02:06 PM
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I'm so glad this topic was started. I had contemplated starting it myself.

I also think one factor not yet discussed is the displays people watch HD on. When HD first came out, the best way to watch it was on a CRT TV. Plasma, LCD, and LED can't match up to CRT, but those have come a long way. Still, there's that factor. My first HDTV was a Zenith CRT and it had an amazing picture. Of course, signals of the few available channels weren't compressed like they are now. My Panasonic plasma is close to that Zenith, but still a bit behind.

I see some really poor quality programs, networks, and feeds. I was watching the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech football game last night and the picture was awful. Lots of noise, the swimming effect on the grass field, and picture that was not that sharp. It was pathetic.

And like has already been said, the providers vary so much. I switched from Comcast to DirecTV several years ago because of lack of HD channels and poor quality with many of their channels. Some channels on DirecTV are really nice, others are just so-so. I still have Comcast limited cable to get my internet cheaper. I have noticed some of my locals on DirecTV look worse than over Comcast or even OTA.

I feel like we've been sold a load of crap. Get people to buy TVs with these amazing pictures and then it doesn't live up to what we thought we were getting between providers and types of displays. After watching a movie on my BluRay player and then going to TV, I feel like I'm watching an upconvert SD picture on some of these channels.
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post #13 of 83 Old 09-04-2012, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MRM4 View Post

I feel like we've been sold a load of crap. Get people to buy TVs with these amazing pictures and then it doesn't live up to what we thought we were getting between providers and types of displays. After watching a movie on my BluRay player and then going to TV, I feel like I'm watching an upconvert SD picture on some of these channels.
The problem is, crap seems to always win.

People want movies scrubbed of grain, they prefer to download rather than use physical media that can (if done correctly, which is more frequently not the case) rival anything available online and they want more channels full of repeats and reality shows instead of high quality, high bandwidth HD.

One only has to look at the music industry to see where the quality of media is headed.

People want cheap and they want it right now. Currently, those two qualifications cannot yield the best quality - and the way internet pricing and tiering is going, it's less and less likely it will in the future. Streaming is in dnager of edging out the physical media market and the tightening of bandwidth and monthly caps is in danger of ensuring quality will slowly get worse as customers look for ways to avoid overages.

They won't care about the quality, either. Why have 1080p at best bit rates when people are watching it on 3", 7" and 10" screens?
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post #14 of 83 Old 09-04-2012, 02:28 PM
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I miss the days of the 90 minute loop of HD material on DirecTV - I used to let that run all day in the background. After a few weeks when they'd slip in a new 2 minute movie trailer, it'd be like getting a brand new channel. Tanya Memme was also quite pleasant. wink.gif

The look and sound of the Red Planet trailer made me stop whatever I was doing - every single time it came on.
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post #15 of 83 Old 09-04-2012, 03:25 PM
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I'm so glad this topic was started. I had contemplated starting it myself.
I also think one factor not yet discussed is the displays people watch HD on. When HD first came out, the best way to watch it was on a CRT TV. Plasma, LCD, and LED can't match up to CRT, but those have come a long way. Still, there's that factor. My first HDTV was a Zenith CRT and it had an amazing picture. Of course, signals of the few available channels weren't compressed like they are now. My Panasonic plasma is close to that Zenith, but still a bit behind.
I see some really poor quality programs, networks, and feeds. I was watching the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech football game last night and the picture was awful. Lots of noise, the swimming effect on the grass field, and picture that was not that sharp. It was pathetic.
And like has already been said, the providers vary so much. I switched from Comcast to DirecTV several years ago because of lack of HD channels and poor quality with many of their channels. Some channels on DirecTV are really nice, others are just so-so. I still have Comcast limited cable to get my internet cheaper. I have noticed some of my locals on DirecTV look worse than over Comcast or even OTA.
I feel like we've been sold a load of crap. Get people to buy TVs with these amazing pictures and then it doesn't live up to what we thought we were getting between providers and types of displays. After watching a movie on my BluRay player and then going to TV, I feel like I'm watching an upconvert SD picture on some of these channels.

They're 100% guaranteed to be, at least slightly, worse than OTA. DirecTV and Dish take the locals MPEG-2 broadcast and re-compress it using MPEG-4 AVC.
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post #16 of 83 Old 09-04-2012, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by lobosrul View Post

They're 100% guaranteed to be, at least slightly, worse than OTA. DirecTV and Dish take the locals MPEG-2 broadcast and re-compress it using MPEG-4 AVC.
Agreed....but....

In my market, I can't tell the difference. Other markets might have different results.

There are too many variables, like the quality of the original signal from the station. In my case, the faults of some of my locals help mask the faults of the re-encode. In other words, there's already plenty of visible compression. A little more makes no difference. Garbage in, garbage out.

On the other hand, an excellent signal from your OTA station can potentially appear much better than the re-encoded signal on a large screen TV in the range of 60" or more. On a smaller TV, it would likely look similar since the source starts out cleaner.
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post #17 of 83 Old 09-04-2012, 06:23 PM
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I think networktv hit on somethingwith smaller screens. In the next few years if not already viewing screens are shrinking,with people watching tv on phones,tablets,and so on.Large tvs sales will plunge I believe. Bragging will be not who has the biggest tv ,but who has the smallest.This of course could all be wrong,but something I have thought about lately. PQ will not matter and the broadcast companies know this.
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post #18 of 83 Old 09-05-2012, 06:57 AM
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I think the current desire for the small screen is also going to cause the same apathy about 4K video as there is with 3D - unless of course the marketing guys can convince people that the Retina display is the perfect thing to watch it on at double the price.
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post #19 of 83 Old 09-06-2012, 01:49 PM
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I do well to read some of the things on my phone let alone try to watch a TV episode or movie on something that small.
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post #20 of 83 Old 09-06-2012, 09:04 PM - Thread Starter
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I think the small screen issue plays into the apathy about overall picture quality. When content is available everywhere on everything people watch on whatever is convenient, not what give the best quality. I see tough sledding for 4K adoption, at this point to me it seems more like a solution in search for a problem - we haven't fully realized the quality available in the current standard. Who knows maybe dumbed down 4k will look like 1080p/i is supposed to look...
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post #21 of 83 Old 09-07-2012, 07:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt L View Post

I think the small screen issue plays into the apathy about overall picture quality.
I think it's the other way around:

Apathy about picture quality has spawned the desire to watch content on any screen that happens to be in front of people. They don't care about quality, so they don't mind if the picture is shrunken to the size of a credit card.

For the majority, convenience trumps quality every time.
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post #22 of 83 Old 09-07-2012, 08:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Perhaps, i guess the vast majority of people have never seen a good HD image, just as many people did not ever saw a truly good NTSC image.

Last year I had an interesting conversation with one of my cousin's. She's a psychologist and I was spending a few days with her. She has several flat screen display around the house and only one has an HD feed. I was trying to convince her to swap out her cable boxes for HD units, and she said she was thinking about dropping HD all together. In fact on the one set that had an HD feed she choose to watch the SD channels -- that drove me crazy. Her comment when I questioned her about it was that in her opinion women and men process what they are watching differently. She said women focus on the content and more of the emotion of what they are watching while men focus on the image and details She did not see much added value in the HD option. Perhaps that's the case as the vast majority of members here are men.

It may be a generational thing overall. The current younger generation has no idea about aufio or video quality and they don't seem to care. Most music is delivered over earbuds or crappy speakers, and most video for the younger generation is delivered via an ipad or phone. I do not know if they will ever grow to want a better image and sound.
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post #23 of 83 Old 09-07-2012, 09:10 AM
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Perhaps, i guess the vast majority of people have never seen a good HD image, just as many people did not ever saw a truly good NTSC image.
Last year I had an interesting conversation with one of my cousin's. She's a psychologist and I was spending a few days with her. She has several flat screen display around the house and only one has an HD feed. I was trying to convince her to swap out her cable boxes for HD units, and she said she was thinking about dropping HD all together. In fact on the one set that had an HD feed she choose to watch the SD channels -- that drove me crazy. Her comment when I questioned her about it was that in her opinion women and men process what they are watching differently. She said women focus on the content and more of the emotion of what they are watching while men focus on the image and details She did not see much added value in the HD option. Perhaps that's the case as the vast majority of members here are men.
It may be a generational thing overall. The current younger generation has no idea about aufio or video quality and they don't seem to care. Most music is delivered over earbuds or crappy speakers, and most video for the younger generation is delivered via an ipad or phone. I do not know if they will ever grow to want a better image and sound.
I think it's always been this way since the beginning of home media.

People chose VHS over Beta because it recorded longer. People choose CDs over records because they were smaller and held more music. People chose MP3s over CDs because you could carry a whole lot of them with you in a small package.

The same goes for Tv and movies. Anything that lets us watch it now trumps watching it on a nice big home theater screen. If putting tinfoil on the rabbit ears or thumping on the cabinet saves us going out to a play or the movies, we'll put up with it. If we can watch stuff in low quality YouTube form, we'll do it if it means we don't have to turn on the TV or spin up a disc.

Honestly, with the number of people who seem to want stuff now and for free, I'm pretty sure the only thing that keeps piracy in check is that a lot of people still don't know how to do it.
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post #24 of 83 Old 09-07-2012, 09:17 AM
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Sadly that's true. I am in the minority when it comes to picture quality and sound and I see/hear about it from other women I talk to. They don't care, they see it as a huge waste of money and can't understand why their husbands want big screens with expensive sound systems. I find it quite humorous when I attend functions with my husband and the men ask him what kind of HT setup "he" has. He simply tells them "Ask her! She's the one who sets that stuff up". I get all kinds of looks. biggrin.gif

I'm a 'hooker' and a knitter. I guess that makes me bi-stitchual :). Crap I say
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post #25 of 83 Old 09-07-2012, 10:20 AM
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Most people don't understand the difference between SD and HD, just as they don't understand the difference between lossless and lossy audio. People would perhaps think twice about abandoning the CD format if they understood the superior content it provides.

That analogy isn't entirely valid, though, since no commercial video format is lossless. A closer one would be between CD and SACD. The latter never caught on, because despite its technical superiority, it provides little utility, i.e. double-blind tests reveal no difference between the two formats. While seeing the difference between SD and HD video may be easier, the difference is still less noticeable than the transition from VHS to DVD, especially for people with smaller displays (and much of DVDs' benefit came not from the improved quality, but from the convenience of chapter selection, special features, and not having to rewind).

The thing that HD proponents often fail to acknowledge is that the content of a video determines the viewer's enjoyment of it more than its delivery method. HD makes good movies look better, but if you can believe the HD promotional material, HD also makes bad movies good, which is a stretch at best. It's akin to the "If you can't make it good, make it 3D" mindset for movies. If HD and 3D are as important as they're often touted to be, John Carter would have been a huge success. It wasn't. Since HD still commands a premium price and the movie's content will be the same either way, most people will opt for the DVD version, because it costs less.

Blu-ray can only replace DVD if it costs the same, and since things like 3D, 4K, and even HD were mainly created as gimmicks to raise TV manufacturers' revenues by getting people to buy new sets, players, and more expensive discs, the odds of Blu-ray becoming price-competitive with DVD aren't very good. That is not to say HD has no merit, but we can't pretend that it was invented to make the viewing experience better: it was created to make the content providers more money. As such, getting them to treat HD as standard instead of premium content and getting them to price it accordingly so as to facilitate broader market penetrate will be a challenge. Prices will only fall on HD when the content providers have moved on to 4K, as it will give them something else to occupy their premium content tier. If that subsequently allows Blu-ray prices to drop and more closely match those of DVDs, then maybe HD will become more attractive to the average viewer.
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post #26 of 83 Old 09-07-2012, 11:06 AM
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^^^HD was the carrot on the stick to get the American public to accept the government mandated transition from analog to digital broadcast, whose purpose was to free up bandwidth the govt. could then sell for other uses. This did create a relatively shortlived bonanza for CE mfgs. but that was not the reason for it's existence.
Now that everyone who wanted or could afford an HD set already has one the mfgs. are struggling to maintain sales with stuff like "Smart tv" 3D and 4K that most consumers don't find compelling enough to justify an upgrade.

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post #27 of 83 Old 09-07-2012, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Aleron Ives View Post

Most people don't understand the difference between SD and HD, just as they don't understand the difference between lossless and lossy audio. People would perhaps think twice about abandoning the CD format if they understood the superior content it provides.
I disagree.

First, comparing audio quality to video quality is a flawed comparison. Few people have audio equipment that can come even close to revealing the difference between lossless and lossy audio, nor do they have a listening environment that is controlled enough to hear it even if they did. On then other hand, even the worst TV currently being sold can easily reveal the difference in quality between SD and HD video.

So, why don't they go for the good stuff?

People just simply don't care. They don't want to put in any effort. To them it's just TV and they certainly aren't going to pay any $10 extra a month to get HD service. They don't want to mess with an antenna to get it for free, either.

The same goes for music. An MP3 player the size of a match book holds hundreds of songs and doesn't skip when shaken. A whole collection of music can be had on the cheap and stored right on the computer they already have - so it takes up no extra space.

SACD and other premium audio didn't fail because people couldn't hear the difference so much as A) they looked at the price of each and took the cheaper one and B) those formats didn't play in their car or any other device they already owned.

The majority of people stepped up to HD sets not because HD is better but because the TVs got cheap.
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post #28 of 83 Old 09-08-2012, 03:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Matt L View Post

Perhaps, i guess the vast majority of people have never seen a good HD image, just as many people did not ever saw a truly good NTSC image.
Last year I had an interesting conversation with one of my cousin's. She's a psychologist and I was spending a few days with her. She has several flat screen display around the house and only one has an HD feed. I was trying to convince her to swap out her cable boxes for HD units, and she said she was thinking about dropping HD all together. In fact on the one set that had an HD feed she choose to watch the SD channels -- that drove me crazy. Her comment when I questioned her about it was that in her opinion women and men process what they are watching differently. She said women focus on the content and more of the emotion of what they are watching while men focus on the image and details She did not see much added value in the HD option.

 

That makes sense (and I do believe it's basically true), but unless they have something like FIOS SD (or maybe U-verse's, if it hasn't changed for the worse) their TV's are pretty small, they're watching all of them from over ten feet away, or they never really saw any or much TV, or paid attention to the PQ all their younger years when they were often sitting right on top of the sets, I can't understand how people like her don't seem to notice or care how much worse  that source looks on an HD display than it did on their old, standard def  CRT's.

 

Maybe in the earlier days of SD digital TV, when newer, clean material was quite presentable on an HD display. But now ?

 

I always watch a TV show for it's content, first and foremost, too (thus I still watch a good amount of SD myself), but I'd still never be able to not notice such a thing and not be bothered by it. Unless it's always a decent, relatively sharp source, it would downright hurt my eyes or give me headaches (especially on most LCD's, which I've never used for my larger, main-viewing TV. Most  SD I see on most of them looks like you're watching underwater. I can't watch SD on an LCD over 26".

 

As far as getting a handle on the "emotions" being conveyed by someone on-screen (and I don't know if this is a "male thing" or not), along with having good, clear audio, I prefer to actually be able to make the face out to best be able to accomplish that. wink.gif

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post #29 of 83 Old 09-08-2012, 04:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

That makes sense, but what I can't understand is how people like her don't seem to notice or care how much worse  that source looks on an HD display that it did on their old, standard def  CRT's.

If it looked the same, I could understand. But how can they put up with that much worse  PQ? 

Maybe in the earlier days of SD digital TV, when newer, clean material was quite presentable on an HD display. But now ?

Or does she either have something like FIOS, that doesn't look that bad, or very small TV's?
I'll stand by the "they don't care" part.

For a great many people, it's only TV. To them, it's still CSI whether it's in HD or muddy SD.
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post #30 of 83 Old 09-08-2012, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Nayan View Post

Sadly that's true. I am in the minority when it comes to picture quality and sound and I see/hear about it from other women I talk to. They don't care, they see it as a huge waste of money and can't understand why their husbands want big screens with expensive sound systems. I find it quite humorous when I attend functions with my husband and the men ask him what kind of HT setup "he" has. He simply tells them "Ask her! She's the one who sets that stuff up". I get all kinds of looks. biggrin.gif

I love your post! It made me remember a video I made a few years ago - my wife installing our new PJ: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGhf0JMSXZo&hd=1
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