HDTV, some sick joke? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 03-22-2002, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
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OK, I'm like you. I love the beautiful image of 1080i. It's absolutely stunning. But the road to 1080i is a hard one. And the learning curve steep.

But the results look like some 1st grade science project. Some stations are cropped top and bottom as well as side to side; some are stretched out; others are in 720p, some in 480i (excuse me if I am getting some of the numbers wrong), and a few times a week, we get rewarded with 1080. WHERE IS THE FCC? You would think they would regulate this mess. I mean come on, if this isn't their sole purpose, what is? Fining Howard Stern and issuing CB Licenses?

It's no wonder HDTV isn't catching on. I can't even convince my friends that a $300 Tivo is a worthwhile investment. Here is what us HDTV newbies are faced with:

Costs:
HDTV, $1500
HDTV STB, $600
Oval shaped dish, $150
New antenna, $150
Multiplexers, extra LNB, etc. $200
Installation, $$$$$???

And the downside:
Forget about time shifting
$15 Bowtie antennas and popping rivits!
Hook up with multiplexers, multiple runs of cable
Finding out how to do all this in one place
STB's with noisy fans, slow responses, drop outs, running hot. Most of them are expensive and plagued with problems.
Only a handful of shows on the networks, HBO and HDNet
The prospect of losing our investments to newer standards: DVI and Firewire
Multiple mirror fees for DirecTV if you have Tivo

It's like going back in time. Big antennas, no time shifting, slow channel changing, really, really slow TV guides. All for the half-dozen 1080i shows on CBS.

Is it worth it for me? No. Will it be? I hope so. That's what I am holding on to. I imagine all my favorite shows in 1080i widescreen, on my HD-Tivo all waiting for me when I get home. All this in one box with all the simplicity of Tivo, all the elegance of one integrated system without multiple wires, boxes and gizmos.

I am not trying to ruffle feathers here. I just want to know if those in the "know" think it will improve, especially more HDTV content from NBC and Fox (I know Fox said they will never go Hidef). And what went wrong on the standards? If you have 6 standards, it's not a standard. There was NTCS in US and PAL in Europe. That's it. How did this happen?

Finally, I am stunned at what my projection TV is capable of. I am even more stunned that this comes over the airwaves through a pair of $30 Rat Shack "rabbit ears."
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post #2 of 14 Old 03-22-2002, 09:58 AM
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There are 18 ATSC formats ( variations on 4 basic ). ATSC defines digital TV for the USA, only some of these formats are HD. HD was "tacked on" the digital TV standard as it evolved.
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post #3 of 14 Old 03-22-2002, 03:22 PM
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Thanks, wowser, for stating my own plight so well! I too am holding out for HD TiVo (or HD DishPlayer, or whatever), and I'm also waiting for the Firewire vs. DVI copy-protection battle to be settled. (I'm not so innocent as to imagine that no copy protection will be imposed.)

wowser: I know Fox said they will never go Hidef...
I'm really fed up with Fox and their bitter-end tactics. If they stick to that unbelievable assertion, then they'll simply disappear. Too bad we'll have to wait until about 2015 to see their destruction!

NBC is lamely hanging back, but at least they're not issuing warlike pronouncements against HDTV.

As for standards, I really wish that either 720p or 1080i would be broadcast by all, so that fixed-pixel display makers could dedicate themselves to that particular number of pixel rows.

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post #4 of 14 Old 03-22-2002, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
wowser: I know Fox said they will never go Hidef...
I'm really fed up with Fox and their bitter-end tactics. If they stick to that unbelievable assertion, then they'll simply disappear. Too bad we'll have to wait until about 2015 to see their destruction!
Do you know something I don't? When did anyone from FOX say they would never go HI-def? If you can quote someone and give their name and position, I'd like to see it.
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post #5 of 14 Old 03-23-2002, 01:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by wowser
But the road to 1080i is a hard one
Isn't life a bitch... yes the bleeding edge of HDTV is a hard one. But look at it this way, it's only been out a few years! Just think where it will be in 2006. We might even have some programming ooptions by then ;)

Now to put things in perspective, PCs have been out for over 2 decades and they are still just as confusing and are pieces of !@#$. If it weren't for the internet 95% of America wouldn't even need one.

welcome to the Kaos. sit back, grab a beer and enjoy....HDnet:)

Yes sometimes it appears to be a sick joke. But then you realize it's just very unorganized. As soon as people figure out how to make $$$ from it, it will grow faster than....
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post #6 of 14 Old 03-25-2002, 05:26 PM
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Interesting topic.

I guess if I ONLY could use my expensive equipment for the handful of HD programs, I would feel that it not worthwhile. However, are we forgetting that watching DVDs on our widescreens is nothing short of awesome and even regular old analog looks better thanks to line doubling?

Even if we take HD out of the equation, wouldn't it still cost a pretty penny to make a decent home theater? What would we save - maybe a thousand or so on a bigscreen analog versus a HD-ready widescreen and the cost of the STB? But without those, we have an even more limited investment that will NEVER be capable of even enjoying DVDs to their max, much less the slowly increasing amount of HD. To me, THAT is a waste of money.

Do I wish we have more HD? Of course. Do I wish it was easier to figure out? Natch! But I, for one, feel like my investment in HD-capable equipment is worthwhile. Maybe its a case of the glass being half-full or half-empty.
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post #7 of 14 Old 03-25-2002, 06:24 PM
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I'm with you wowser. I'm glad I don't HAVE TO buy a new big screen at this point in time as my 21 year old Hitachi 50" projection is as good as any non-HD TV out there. If I had to, I'm still pretty sure I'd buy a high end HD ready TV and be disappointed for a few years.
I have a few questions for you or anyone else. 1. What exactly are 'artifacts', both visually and technically? 2. What exactly is 'time-shifting? 3. What is so great about TIVO that warrants a $10 monthly fee as opposed to a S-VHS recorder?
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post #8 of 14 Old 03-25-2002, 09:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Jvos:
Yes, I agree. The DVD factor is a big one; I forgot about that! I do appreciate watching DVDs on my widescreen HDTV. Most HDTV owners do use their HDTVs for PS DVDs.

Tryg:
Yes it is a bitch. My biggest disappointment isn't with the technology, it's with the networks. It isn't handled professionally at all. Some shows cropped, some in 480, commercials get loud and then the show gets quiet, pops, clicks, glitches, and distortions abound. It's like a five-year-old is at the controls. NBC, the biggest network, only broadcast ONE show in high-def at at 11:30pm! HELLO?

Isrankel:
1. What exactly are 'artifacts', both visually and technically?

Visually: unwanted little pixels that distort a picture.
Technically: A digital picture (whether satellite or HDTV) is made up of pixels or little squares. Since a TV image is made up of thousands of pixels that rapidly make up a moving image they must be compressed (although HDTV is not I believe). The more compression, the more artifacts there will be.

2. What exactly is 'time-shifting?
Simply watching shows when YOU want, not when they are broadcast. You could time-shift with a VCR but Tivo makes it child's play.

3. What is so great about TIVO that warrants a $10 monthly fee as opposed to a S-VHS recorder?
I would pay $100 month for Tivo if I had to, seriously. With Tivo you don't watch live TV. Think of Tivo as Blockbuster in your house. With TV you are spoonfed 5 good shows a day at specific times. Tivo records these shows automatically while you watch other shows previously recorded. It lists them nicely in a NOW SHOWING menu. But here is what's truly great:
1. My 5 year old has 20 "Arthur", "Dragon Tales", and "Dora the Explorer" kid shows all at the ready and can play them herself on Tivo. And I don't have to worry about a show being too adult for her.
2. I haven't seen a commercial, stupid political slander commercial, or news teaser in two years.
3. All my favorite must-see shows are waiting for me when I get home. No need to rush home for prime time tv.
4. I get more out of HBO since it finds shows I would never stay up for. So if a Clint Eastwood movie is on at 2 am, it knows I like Clint and records it for me without me even asking it to!
5. If I want to watch Friends, I can start watching at 8:20 pm, start at the beginning of the show, skip the commercials and catch up to the end.
6. Bathroom break? Anytime with Tivo, just pause the TV.
7. Miss what that actor said? Just hit the "back" button to six second-back. It's like an instant replay. I wish DVD players had this.
8. Fast forward through a whole movie in, um, 10 seconds.
9. Search new shows by name, actor, channel, time, date, director, etc!
10. Store 30 hours of programming without tapes, labels, rewinding, indexing all with almost perfect reproduction, and simplicity. It's nothing like a vcr.

I recommend a DirectTivo which combines and records DirectTV signals with no loss in quality. Plus it can record two shows while you watch another! They can be had for $100 with a new DirecTV subscription (try Americansatellit.com or Orbitsatellite.com). Add either the $10 a month from Tivo or $250 for a lifetime subscription and you're set!
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post #9 of 14 Old 03-25-2002, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by wowser

Since a TV image is made up of thousands of pixels that rapidly make up a moving image they must be compressed (although HDTV is not I believe). The more compression, the more artifacts there will be.
An uncompressed HDTV data stream is 1.43 Gigabits/sec. The ATSC channel provides a maximum of 19.3 Megabits/sec (about 18 mbits/sec usable for video). That means a compression ratio of at least 80 to 1 for HDTV.
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post #10 of 14 Old 03-26-2002, 07:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
An uncompressed HDTV data stream is 1.43 Gigabits/sec. The ATSC channel provides a maximum of 19.3 Megabits/sec (about 18 mbits/sec usable for video). That means a compression ratio of at least 80 to 1 for HDTV.
Is that lossless compression or lossy? When I watch Satellite I can see lots of mpeg artifacts; with HDTV it is perfect. So is HDTV a lossless compression?
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post #11 of 14 Old 03-26-2002, 07:38 AM
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It's lossy.

David S.
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post #12 of 14 Old 03-26-2002, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by DTC mac
There are 18 ATSC formats ( variations on 4 basic ). ATSC defines digital TV for the USA, only some of these formats are HD. HD was "tacked on" the digital TV standard as it evolved.
Actually, it was the other way around. HD was the original goal of the "next generation" U.S. broadcast TV standard; it wasn't even clear whether it was going to be analog or digital, or even how many channels it would occupy. Once the decision on digital was made and as things evolved, the SD formats and multicasting were what was "tacked on".

For a good review of the history, see the beginning of the book "DTV: The Revolution in Electronic Imaging", by Whitaker.

You have a right to install OTA and dish antennas on property under your control.
See http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html
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post #13 of 14 Old 03-27-2002, 05:42 PM
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I time shift my HD programs every week with my HiPix cards. I hate watching shows in real time.

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post #14 of 14 Old 03-27-2002, 07:00 PM - Thread Starter
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aaronwt, when you use your hipix, is it as easy to use as Tivo? Is there at least a NOW SHOWING menu? Also, will it change the channel on your STB with an IR Blaster?
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