Sunday, April 20, 2008

Paid Big Bucks for HDTV and See Junk?

It's the cheapo cable companies.

In Brent Swanson's basement home theater, there should be nothing drab about "Battlestar Galactica." He's got a high-end projector that beams the picture onto a wall painted like a silver screen, and speakers loom in the corners, flanking two big subwoofers.

Yet when he tuned in Sci Fi HD for a recent episode filmed in high definition, the image was soft and the darkest parts broke up into large blocks with no definition. Explosions, he said, were just dull.

As cable TV companies pack ever more HD channels into limited bandwidth, some owners of pricey plasma, projector and LCD TVs are complaining that they're not getting the high-def quality they paid for. They blame the increased signal compression being used to squeeze three digital HD signals into the bandwidth of one analog station

In a posting on the AV Science Forum, Ken Fowler of Arlington, Va., compared Comcast signals with those on Verizon Communications Inc.'s all-fiber-optic network, which doesn't have the same capacity limitations. Fowler found the higher-compressed HD stations, including Sci Fi, Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel, the Food Network and A&E, fared particularly poorly.
He analyzed the signals by recording them on a digital recorder, then transferring them to a personal computer for analysis. He found there was much less data, measured in bit rates, flowing to some channels than others.

For example, Discovery's bit rate was 14.16 megabits per second on Verizon's FiOS system but only 10.43 Mbps on Comcast; A&E HD was 18.66 Mbps on FiOS compared with 14.48 Mbps on Comcast. The FiOS system didn't offer Sci Fi HD, which Fowler's testing showed at 12.59 Mbps on Comcast

Well. Maybe you should belay the multi-$thousand expenditure for a while...

1 comment:

James Wigderson said...

How much is lost due to compression on the porn channels?