Originally Posted by DOBE
At the moment, I don't use D*'s STB. I have a Sony HD 300 STB ($800 when purcahsed) paired with the 50" Fujitsu. The HD and SD quality is fairly good.
I'm hoping that sending all channels at native resolution out of the HD300 and into the D2 will improve the PQ even more. I'm sure it won't make it worse.
My current plan is buy the HR20, which is D*'s. I hope it's not "crappy". I was going to buy the S3 TIVO, but Comcast in Sacramento (also known as Comcrap on the boards) is way behind the curve.
As I said, it's still mostly SD and they only offer about 5 channels in HD, besides the premiums.
I'm thinking that although the $800 S3 Tivo probably has a better scaler, if I'm sending a native signal into the D2, the extra money put into the S3 scaler/processor (Vs the HR20) will be wasted. No?
My understanding is cable has its own terrestrial limited bandwidth problems. Also D* claims that they will be offering 20 new HD (MPEG4) channels by this time next year. Do I believe them?
If they're offered will they be HD lite?
All I know is that with a larger display 65" Vs 50", I will see the difference for better or worse. That's one of the reasons for the D2.
OK a lot of stuff here. First of all I doubt you'll get 20 new national HD feeds from DirecTV because there aren't that many. Some will be premium channels. Some channels will be local rebroadcast. Some will be sports packagaes. Some will be the same channel in East and West coast versions and you'll only be allowed to actually watch one or the other. DirecTV uses "new math" in counting its channels. Mind you the cable guys do the same thing. My cable service offers the same HD channel on 2 different channel numbers and counts it as two channels.
Second, they will most likely either be HD-lite or delayed in showing up. DirecTV still has to launch some more birds. What's happening right now is that they are pushing MPEG4 fast, and that is freeing up some capacity on the existing birds.
Third you *CAN'T* feed a native HD-lite signal to the D2 because the DirecTV receiver doesn't make it available to you. So if a given, bit-starved, 1080i HD-lite channel actually comes in to your receiver at 1280x960i equivalent bandwidth, the satellite receiver will "scale" that up to 1920x1080i (i.e., reconstitute the "original" signal) before you can get your hands on it. So the quality of that proccess in the receiver becomes an issue. Although this is not precisely what happens with bit-starved signals, the best way to think of it is that the receiver de-interlaces, scales and re-interlaces. Yuck.
Now that said, the H20 is your best bet for DirecTV (as I understand it). The S3 plus a simpler satellite receiver will not gain you anything. The simpler receiver will still have to handle the HD-lite stuff before the S3 can get anything.
Set the H20 to "native" resolution output. This will be a big win for SD because you will get a true 480i signal (they don't bit starve SD since there aint enough bits to starve) and the D2's de-interlacing and scaling will take it from there. For HD you will get the HD-lite scaled up to the "original" 720p or 1080i by the H20 -- there's no way around that -- and the D2 will take it from there. This will be a win vs. setting the H20 to always send out either fixed 720p or 1080i no matter what you are watching.
Now for SD you will still see macro-blocking due to the over-compression DirecTV foists on you. This is not equally bad on all channels -- DirecTV tries to pick its enemies. It is worst on channels with lots of commercials and on local SD stations rebroadcast by DirecTV to you. You will also see it on animation channels due to large blocks of solid color that just show it up more. Some SD channels actually come through quite well in this regard. Unfortunately it does vary as D* needs to shuffle things around from time to time. The Friday and Saturday before football Sundays will see more damaged SD for example as that's when they re-jigger the transponders to carry the various football HD feeds.
For HD you will primarily see artifacts in areas of rapid motion. This is a combination of bit-starving and then re-scaling in the receiver and also some over-compression. Again this varies between channels and from time to time. Mark Cuban at HD-NET has a running battle with D* about what they do to his signal.
Now I don't want to make this sound too grim. You will see BETTER stuff through the D2 than you are getting now. SD will gain a lot. Although on channels with bad over compression that may just make the compression artifacts more noticeable, the good SD channels will definitely show improvement. In addition, the color space issues between SD and HD will be taken care of automatically by the D2. HD will be improved due to feeding both 720p and 1080i to the D2. The D2 will also enable you to better calibrate the levels for your HD feed. The result CAN BE very very good. But two days later you may find the same channel has been given the D* "touch". Record the same HD program on the same HD channel on different days on your H20 and you may very well see different quality when you compare them. And that's entirely due to what D* does to the signal since the H20 is merely recording the exact bitstream coming down from the bird.
Cable providers that are still using mixed analog and digital systems often over-compress the digital channels to cram more digital channels into limited bandwidth.
Cable providers that have finally managed to eliminate their analog stuff don't have that problem (more or less) and the resulting digital signals can be excellent. For Comcast that means when they start offering the Motorola 3412 HD-DVR instead of the 6412 HD-DVR. The newer 3412 is digital-only while the 6412 is mixed analog and digital.
Have you considered moving? (grin!)
I should add that even cable companies that over-compress the bulk of their digital SD channels typically have very good HD channels since that's their main point of competition.