Can someone explain the differences in satellite, cable, and DVD especially in terms of resolution? I am new to multimedia but learning fast. My satellite now appears almost unwatchable compared to DVDs because of the quality difference.
I agree with you in regards to satellite vs. DVD. Digital cable looks like satellite. Analog cable can look better or worse than satellite (being analog makes it susceptible to noise). Satellite and digital cable look bad because they are highly compressed so theyâ€™ll take up less bandwidth.
If you run across a very poor DVD that's been highly compressed, you'll see that it looks a lot like a bad satellite TV channel. It's not the resolution, but the compression.
It's funny, but my local OTA DTV channels look better with SD material than the SD channels on DirecTV, because they don't compress their signals nearly as much. Heck, they look almost DVD quality on my SWX20B
I have TW digital cable with some premium channels to get their HD feeds (HBO-HD and SHO-HD). I run my analog channels directly into my HDTV (Samsung 507), use S-VHS out of the digital STB that TW rents me (SA 3100 HD) for the non-digital digital channels (yes, some of their so-called digital channels are not digital at all), and use component for the digital, premium, and HD channels. HD has the best PQ although sometimes the broadcasts are simply up-scaled 480 sources. DVD is next but still very nice - 480i up-scaled by my HDTV is better than the 480p either of my DVD players output (one Toshiba and the other Pioneer Elite). The digital cable and premium channels are very good. The analog channels are variable, depending on the source and range from okay to really bad.
I have friends who have digital cable from another provider (AT & T) and my PQ is better across the board, so cable sources vary by vendor and by region. It is impossible to make a blanket statement about cable PQ.
I have friends who have DirecTV satellite. The comparison between my premium and HD to their premium and HD is quite pronounced. The DirecTV PQ is worse for these two types of sources, almost always. The HD on both is very good but I get fewer dropouts. My guess is that the DirecTV sources for premium are more compressed than the TW signal I get over digital cable. If the DirecTV - Dish merger had gone through then the combined company (after a few years) would probably have effectively dealt with compression problems but it didn't happen for whatever reason. So, cable currently has better potential to deliver better PQ because of more bandwidth capability. Unfortunately, not all cable providers are equal and some are doing a better job than others...
Of course, differences in monitor and how that monitor is set up and differences in STB quality (among other variables) add to the confusion. For example, many of the current "HD-capable" monitors really can't resolve 720p or 1080i at their full resolution and the affordable monitors that can are the lower cost fixed-pixel displays that run 1280 X 720 (equivalent to 720p).
The bottom line is that 480i is the resolution limit for DVD and SD broadcasts as that is the NTSC standard. Any compormise in either source material or compression in gettin the signal to your monitor will degrade PQ. HD is another story since there are multiple resolutions that qualify for being HD. Over the air (OTA) HD broadcasts have the best potential for delivering the best PQ right now but the range in source quality and broadcasting resolution is quite wide, ranging from 480p to 1080i with no 720p in my area.
Assuming that you do have an HD-capable monitor, my advice is to try out digital cable from your local cable provider and see how it looks compared to your satellite. They probably have some kind of promotional deal because they are trying to capitalize on the over-compressed signals of the satellite feeds...
Originally posted by Amused ............It's funny, but my local OTA DTV channels look better with SD material than the SD channels on DirecTV, because they don't compress their signals nearly as much............
Actually, this should be expected since the OTA DTV signal is a completely superior type of signal. Isn't it ATSC as opposed to NTSC? Its still being broadcast in 16:9, its just "picture-boxed".
My DLP projector has a "Native" mode that I use to watch Dish on. What it does is display Dish or whatever source I am viewing at the actual native pixel count of that source. I believe Dish is something like 480 X 480 so I get a smaller square image in the center of the projector that looks much better than if I select 4:3 and blow it up full screen, which is nearly unwatchable.
I am impressed by DVDs compared to my satellite but I find that most titles are widescreen and the loss of the full size on my monitor makes widescreen not that great. I tried stretching but then the vertical image just does not appear clear. I get the impression that with 4:3 DVDs they give more bandwith to the vertical resolution.
I suppose we will just have to wait until HD is here fully in all its glory.
Right now I use a box to capture S Video to DV but with high density another capture device will be necessary. Hopefully compression will improve and hard disk storage will increase in size and decrease in price in order to just store it on external drives.
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