True. It's especially a big improvement over satellite Local-in-local channels; typically alot less compression. And it certainly doesn't take a "golden eye" to notice the improvement (kids & wife noticed immediately).
You have a right to install OTA and dish antennas on property under your control.
I must rely on satellite since I cannot receive OTA in my mountainous rural area. On my large screen, low contrast content like movies have become virtually unwatchable on the basics, superstations and locals. IMHO uncompressed NTSC would look much better in an area of good reception.
Are OTA SDTV channels heavily compressed as on satellite ?
Sorry, but I am no supporter of SDTV on the new digital frequencies, and I'd be much happier if the FCC mandated that the spectrum be used for full bitrate HDTV only.
Remember that SDTV is cheaper to produce and can be used with multicasting to sell 4 or 5 times as many commercials. If I were a beancounter at a TV station, choosing SDTV over HDTV would be a no-brainer. If viewers don't stand up and demand real HDTV, then SDTV is what they'll get.
I guess I am just one of those people who appreciates whatever they get. For example, widescreen instead of 4:3 is by itself an improvement and I like it. It really improves the DVD experience. True 480p may not be HD but it's superior to DVD and I like it. Naturally true HD is better yet, but there's an old axiom, "Don't let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good."
So I will generally take what I get. Given the enormous technical superiority of real HD, I'm sure it will get here soon enough even if not immediately.
I do have a particular pet peeve, namely multicasting on the HD channel. PAX network sends 6 channels here in Chicago and the quality of the picture is just awful. The shows are not that good either, but my issue is that the picture quality is similar to NTSC on videotape. It's almost unwatchable once you've seen any other ATSC digital broadcast. I think PAX will wise up eventually.
SD may have some improvement in PQ over analog. However, keep in mind that most tv stations are broadcasting SD is only one channel at this time. I bet your outlook on SD would greatly changes should stations decide to broadcast all 4 SD stations as oppose to one SD or HD channel.
I have seen our local PBS station test with SD on all 4 stations. (WETA 18.104.22.168.4) The quality suddenly drops off so bad that it looks worst than cable. This is due to the over compression.
Now how do you think you feel after looking at such degraded picture quality after spending thousands of dollars.
This is a big problem with a "market driven" economy. In the old days they would have pushed HDTV a lot more trying to sell people on something new. These days it seems to be "give the people what they want" and they want more channels and not quality (both picture and content-wise). This is the dark side of capitalism where they keep dumbing down society in order to make money.
It is true that the picture quality of SD can vary from station to station but if it isn't better than analog- higher resolution and more importantly vastly superior color- the broadcaster is doing something wrong. It has taken my local stations quite a while to get it right. Hopefully as new stations come on the air they will be able to learn from those before them. As far as broadcasting HD, the station that is broadcasting HD is the station being watched! ABC seems to be getting the message.
[This message has been edited by Bill (edited 04-30-2001).]
I too have noticed the better quality of the SD digital broadcasts, but I am totally against multicasting. One thing to remember here is that this is NOT a market driven thing. These stations were GIVEN free spectrum 50 years ago to operate in the public interest. They were LOANED more free spectrum recently to transition their existing analog broadcasts to HD broadcasts, still to operate in the public interest. Other spectrum users (cellular phones, pagers, etc.) have had to pay dearly for reserved chunks of radio spectrum, TV doesn't as long as they at least pay lipservice to public interest. That's why every TV station has some newsmagazine or some other local features program, although sometimes it is on at 3am.
Of course when the time came to set the standards for digital, the computer people and others outside of the TV biz suddenly thought their interests should be looked after in this new system. The spineless FCC gave in and allowed 18 different formats to be chosen from and now we are all wondering why J6P doesn't get it - it is too complicated. Some of these 18 formats do work well for multicasting of 4 or 5 stations but that is not why we are changing to digital broadcasting, it is for the better quality.
Incedentally, WRAL in Raleigh runs an DTV channel and a SD channel all day every day and they say they can also squeeze in weather if they want to during storms. I don't really have a problem with somehting like that, it could actually be good. Think about the next time there is a storm somewhere in the area, they can put up a little crawl on the bottom saying there is a storm nearby and tune to channel 5-03 to see details. If you don't care you can still watch TV without the annoying Doppler radar and endless speculation about what time storm cell 39-Z would be over some town 50 miles away and heading the other direction.
IMHO, SDTV is not ready for primetime. Sure, it looks good, I use a Dish 6000 w/OTA mod and the locals look great, but I actually had to switch to cable analog to finish watching a basketball game the other day. The pixelation was so bad, it looked like the floor was fluid during a fast break.
Is Joe 6-pack ready for this? I don't think so. Until they can develop a better compression scheme or up the bit rate, SDTV is not ready for primetime (or at least sports time).
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