Is HD really that meaningful a change?
Only one in five households in Western Europe own an HD TV today, and while that figure is expected to jump to 85 per cent by 2012, most of us will still be watching standard-definition content. So claims market watcher Screen Digest, which pinpointed the poor penetration of HD into Europe on a sparsity of free-to-view HD TV …
Yes - HD is worth a change. I suppose you would still like everyone to use a windows 3.11 computer.
"So claims market watcher Screen Digest, which pinpointed the poor penetration of HD into Europe on a sparsity of free-to-view HD TV channels, especially over terrestrial broadcast networks."
Yep that makes sense. I would be watching HD broadcasts if I could. Not everyone can have a satellite dish. Hope you are reading OFFCOM (the govt institiution with the sole purpose of aiding R Murdoch).
The reason we have HD tv's and not able to watch HD channels is all due to providers the god damn lazy money sucking lame low bandwith companies in europe are far too happy to continue broadcasting in anal og format for as long as they can since going HD means they have to take more money out of their profits that they make from the 0898 and 40 hour quiz tv shows to show all of this waste of space in HD.
Or if you can get it you have to pay sky a bomb to get subscribed and get a few channels in HD.
Freesat will change this but I wonder if it will have a hidden cost somewhere along the line ?
I bought HD TV not for TV but for PS3 since I was fedup of others on HD tv being able to see things clearly and taking me out before I seen them .
For the average viewer (rather than the average Register commenter, who considers any screen < 40" to be not worth watching), no the change isn't particularly meaningful. This is getting as silly as the whole PC "arms race" thing, where the envelope was unnecessarily pushed for years, with the consumer losing out when finding perfect good kit to be obsolete/unsupported. Shops sell LCD HDTVs exclusively (well you might find one Nikki-nakki CRT if you're lucky) because they have better profit margin and lower warehousing requirements. Now public have HDTVs they are told they are wasting their potential if they don't receive in HD.
... why bother?
Compression artifacts naturally decrease the picture quality - however, because the dot-count IS so high, those artifacts don't detract from the actual detail level. That edging around opposite contrasting edges that looks so poor on SD mpeg compression is virtually non-existent.
The main problem is that we're still using mpeg2 for broadcasting - piss poor quality designed for old tube sets.
Make the change to mpeg4, and the artifact issue decreases.
Honestly, why bash HD over SD when it is so obviously better in every conceivable way? I don't get it - unless you're one of those people who put down things as you don't have one - stating 'you don't see the point'?
Bet you didn't see the point of colour too....
Personally, I don't understand the fuss about HD. Yes, it's a clearer picture, but at the end of the day, so what?
But that aside, there have been a lot of technical and political issues with rolling out HD broadcasts. HD over terrestrial is particularly difficult technically. These issues have taken a long time to sort out and the re-allocation of spectrum space to make it all happen, and agreement on standards etc, has also led to delays.
So, although there is an element of chicken & egg (nobody is going to make a HD telly if there are no HD broadcasts and nobody is going to broadcast in HD if nobody can see it), this effect has been small - you can easily pick up a telly capable of receiving HD today. Whether the telly will work with next year's version of HD broadcasts is another matter entirely, and only when HD broadcasts become commonplace will owners of some of the HD tellies on offer (not so much now, but certainly a couple of years ago), find out that they have been duped and will have to buy another "HD" telly ...again, because their existing "HD" telly doesn't actually follow today's / tomorrow's standards and won't work. This problem has already been felt to an extent by owners of "old" HD tellies that don't have a HDMI input; they are finding that they can't actually play HD discs (ie - Blu Ray, as this is the only kid on the block now) in full HD because they are assumed to be crooks and pirates and should therefore be burned at the stake.
But anyway, back to the topic in hand, HD broadcasts will start to happen soon. It's just taken a lot of coordinated effort involving an awful lot of people and organisations to achieve it. And unfortunately, this has all taken time.
Yes it is worth it, far better picture.
It is quite expensive though that is the problem. People who are already paying for SKY etc, don't want to have to fork out again for the extra HD options, plus the HD box.
Shame really, I hope it picks up quickly like widescreen did. Ad revenue from a few HD channels should increase enough to pay towards the extra costs.
I'm with JonB on this. Most broadcast HD is pretty hopeless (I'm looking at you Sky).
The bitrate is pretty low, so you just end up with a terrible picture with more pixels (alright, it's not terrible, but it's not great -- certainly not a tenner a month great).
I'll stick with downloading a few HD movies on my Apple TV. Not too many artefacts there.
Paris, 'cos she's lo def too.
It’s pretty obvious that the BBC and Channel 4 HD channels are there for some kind of political or promotional purpose and not to server the viewer, as when the same programmes are shown in HD and SD they insist on putting a large “BBC HD” or “C4 HD” logo in the corner of the screen.
Given the choice of a poor picture with no defacement, or a great picture with distracting rubbish logos, I tend to choose the poor picture. Ironically, the standard def stuff that’s upscaled without a logo on Channel 4 HD looks great.
So HD in the UK is great for SD material, but stick to SD for the best HD content.
To those asking about quality- yeah its worth it.
We've just had Sky HD installed and even though we have had BD for some time I was very impressed with the PQ.
True on some of the lower bandwidth less premium channels compression artifacts are present, but even then the PQ is far crisper, detailed and has a wider gamut of colours than SD broadcasts.
Then you have the flagship channels such as Sports, Movies and Documentaries- whereas older movies are of variable quality, new movies such as 300 are superb. Sports and Documentaries are just startlng though- it really is like seeing these with new eyes.
Even SD channels benefit from the upscaling- and imo look better than they did on our SCART RGB Sky + box on the same TV.
If you like Sports then imo HD is an essential purchase.
I can hardly wait to get a HD set, imagine, Eastenders in HD, Coronation Street in HD, Big Brother in HD, it will be fantastic...
As the saying goes, no matter how much you polish a turd, it's still a turd.
The only reason I want a HD set is for playing Xbox 360 games at a decent resolution.
"It’s pretty obvious that the BBC and Channel 4 HD channels.... bla bla bla"
No! The BBC and most other broadcasters have been recording material in HD as standard for some years now (it's reduced to SD for broadcasting). This has taken a lot of money and they wouldn't be doing it if they weren't intending actually broadcasting in HD at some point.
Agree on the logos thing though - They are an absolute abomination. As is the habit of popping up a little graphic telling me that such-and-such is on after the program you are watching. Why can't they wait until the bloody program has finished to tell me that?
All the Free To Air TV channels broadcast a HD copy on a second channel. Not all of the programmes are in HD, but a fair number of them are.
Still using MPEG2 - however the stream data comes in between 13 and 16Mbps. Good enough for full screen quality on a 24 inch widescreen monitor.
The HD content being transmitted in the UK sucks. I worked for one of the providers and to be frank, I find it shocking that they even bothered to use HD on their stuff. It needs to be FREE or as part of the package and at no extra cost (Yeah I'm looking at Rupert and Richard, pair of thieving feckers)
Steve because I've not heard anything about Apple recently
Since most of these are less than 40" and the majority less than 33" and the majority evil 1366 x768, these will never give an HD experience.
Upscaled content will look almost indistinguishable on 1366x768 sets, especially less than 38"
You want 48" to 60" and 1080 line native for 1080 broadcasts for an HD experience.
Different in USA where they have 480lines compared with our 576 lines and bigger sets.
28" 4:3 is approx a 34" WS set too...
Hardly anyone has sets to take advantage of HD.
Also 720 line on 1080 native set or 1080 lines on a 720p or 768p set is only marginally better than 576 upscaled.
Well, I bit the bullet and got Sky HD for £99 + installation of £30 (i.e. signed up as a new customer because old customers get the shaft constantly with Sky), but HD is £10 extra a month, so I dropped the movie channels for a year, once the year is up and I can drop the £10 subscription fee, I'll add the movies back to the mix and just watch the only "decent" HD channels, BBC and C4, which are free.
Gotta admit though, watching The Invisibles on BBC HD was quite nice.
Yep.. I'm waiting for terrestrial, though I might try Freesat.
There's no point paying a premium for HD content, it's easier to just download it.
Blame OFCOM, they seem to be more interested in supporting corporations and maintaining the status quo than anything else. Their approach towards HD seems to be to pretend it doesn't exist.
In the US, (with analog switch-off scheduled for next February) all of the over-the-air channels broadcast "HD" versions (either 720p or 1080i) of their programs on their Digital channels. You can really see the difference when the ads come of (every 10 minutes or so) - the programs are actually recorded at a much higher resolution than many of the ads.
But I almost never bother watching these HD broadcasts, because the convenience of my (SD) Tivo far outweighs any picture quality improvements for the vast majority of programming. (The Tivo is fed from a satellite signal, so the standard def signal is pretty clean to start with).
On my 37" 720p screen, the only time I bother switching from my SD satellite feed to the HD over-the-air signal is for sporting events (that's twice in the last 6 months - the superbowl and the Euro 2008 final). I loose the convenience of the rewind facility on the Tivo, but the picture difference really is worth it. But for the watching game shows, Law & Order, nightly news shows, etc, the SD signal from the satellite is perfectly adequate.
And that's NTSC, which is a lot worse than PAL. I'm not surprised that European viewers aren't that pushed about HD broadcasts - the switch to digital signals (either digital cable or satellite) gives a far more noticable improvement in image quality than going from PAL to HD (for most "chewing gum for the eyes" TV).
I'm not even talking about the content, although that's rubbish too, but about the quality. Without exaggeration BBC One in SD broadcasts in better quality than Sky do with their HD channels, it's just not good enough that the high bitrate SD channels on an SD screen look better than their HD offering.
Freesat is definitely worth a look since BBC HD is beautiful and recognised worldwide as the gold standard in quality broadcast HD (bitrate & encoding are excellent). I don't really see the point for dramas and sports where you are too busy watching the action and/or following a plot to notice. Wildlife documentaries, travel, gardening programmes and the like are where HD really is worthwhile.
ITV HD is a bad joke, since it's not even a proper channel with listings but purely a 'Red button' option.
OFCOM does seem to be intent on serving the interests of corporations and big business, rather than the British public.
I have a friend who works there in Admin, and apparently, from their department's perspective, it's a complete mess. It feels like they are more a revenue generation arm of the government, selling whatever they can to the highest bidder, than an 'actual regulator'. Instead, our citizens have to look to the EU for any effective regulation.
One big problem with HD in the states is that the quality varies DRAMATICALLY. Comcast cable broadcasts are renowned for youtube-level quality on HD broadcasts, sometimes worse, whereas FIOS is often excellent.
If you see a heavily compressed broadcast of lousy content, it'll look worse than good NTSC (or PAL) but if you see GOOD HD, it's pretty awesome.
And there IS better content out there - particularly stuff like the 'When we left Earth' series that was on Discovery a while back. But maybe it's hard to get that in Europe?
Anyway, there's no question that good quality 1920x1080 images with drastically better color reproduction are better than NTSC or PAL. The content will follow, and the TVs will get bigger and better.
US HDTV is nice but nothing to buy a new TV for. The biggest improvement is in color purity. Colors are rich, deep, and clean regardless of the texture. It's like the difference between a glossy silver-halide photo and a cheap color newspaper. Resolution gets better or worse, depending on condition. Analog is consistently blurry and very sensitive to imperfections. MPEG 2 can't handle constrained bandwidth. It's common for the DTV picture to totally disintegrate into fuzzy blocks when there's a lot of motion. Stations may also divide their bandwidth into multiple digital streams. The local PBS station crams 1 low quality HD stream and four very low quality SD streams into a single waste of a channel.
Trouble is, most of us baby boomers grew up with never changing TVs that could access only 3 channels. Then Channel 4 came along, not a big change.
Then Channel 5, we can't get it on terrestrial here, and we are in the commuter dormitory belt.
Now, you can't even buy a ****ing TV for fear of standards (eh?) changing, and your lovely new piece of shiny crap being obsolete in less than 2 years!
**** Sky with their extra charges, for extra rooms when I can get normal TV around the house for no extra cost. Why should I pay for HD now, when it's about to change again soon, and keep on changing?
Give us a few years of non-morphing stuff, where we can amortise our investments and then maybe we'll play ball; else; go to buggeree!
...OK, call me a Luddite.
Reasons to buy a HD TV
If you can answer YES to 2-3 of the following questions:
1) Do you own a next-generation console (ie. PS3 or X-Box 360)
2) Do you wish to watch Blu-Ray movies (or other uncompressed high-resolution video) in their native resolutions (or at least close to) on a display other than your computer monitor
3) Do you own a Blu-Ray player or other device that is capable of decently upscaling older-format video files & streams to at least 720P (preferably 1080P) resolution
4) Do you wish use a 40"+ display for your computer monitor
5) Do you wish to more-easily utilise the benefits of HDMI (pretty nice way to transfer high bit-rate video and audio between devices)
6) Do you want to gain the benefit of HD channels -- more and more of these will eventually start appearing and hopefully with higher resolutions than 720P....
7) Are you an adaptive forward-thinker (vs someone that dislikes change and is "perfectly fine" living with 25 year old technology)
PS: I agree that the broadcasting companies are currently letting everyone down and stubbornly/cautiously moving forward very very very slowly. Its exasperating. Makes me very glad the whole "thou will stop using analog broadcasts" was passed into law otherwise we'd be stuck in the dark-ages forever.
HD is fine if it's free, but I would never pay a premium. SD can be perfectly adequate quality for me, but broadcasters use low bit-rates and low resolution to save money. Now with the HD content I have seen, some has been as bad as good SD quality, due to the compression tiling the frames and removing definition in the highlights and shadows. On some HD, you can still see the lazy refresh of parts of the image which haven't changed much. It's just a marketing gimmick :o)
In my opinion AD is no where near BD, and only slightly better than CD. My mate and I were watching some DD last night and agreed ED was all over FD. GD is old school compared to HD which has clearly fake ID especially after a bit of JD. KD languishes behind colorful LDs but you can beat the surgical accuracy of MD. ND wont tell us much for fear of OD. PD is download-tards. QD? Never heard of it. RD is better for rural folk, where SD is just fine for urban dwellers. TD, which was displaced when UD got VD, must be remembered here of course. WD is good on computer based systems including the XD. YDo we have so many formats? Its all about $D.
PH - Because that's one combo I'll remember.
.. why do ordinary old TV's have only 2/3 broadcast resolution? In other words, if you care about Definition, why didn't you buy a studio quality UHF TV? You can puff all you want, but the facts show that nobody cared about resolution enough to pay AUS 1000 for a good TV. Now they do, but what has changed? That must have more to do with what the neighbours are watching.
the problem here in Belgium is that since cable is almost everywhere no broadcaster currently plan to distribute their channels in in free to air format. In some parts of the country you can get a few HD channels over cable but but it's expensive and very inconvenient.
Where I live you can get 5 HD channels over cable, but you have to take a "digital pack" that cost you 15€ a month. Then you need to buy a €250 proprietary decoder and recorder (with a rather small 160 GB hdd) from the cable company. Even then, there is no way to take any HD recording you make out of the proprietary box (all you get is an HDMI to connect to you TV or an analog SD output). All this to get 5 HD channels that are actually free over satellite (and of which 2 have very specialised content that will only attract a few peoples).
I Agree that HD is somewhat better than PAL, but its not worth the extra cost and trouble. Also don't forget that European SD (PAL) is already much better than American SD (NTSC), so the quality difference between PAL and 720 P isn't that great.
When it will be the same cost as standard cable (or free to air on DVB T) and they lose all the proprietary stuff and usage restrictions maybe people will be interested, but currently HD is only a nuisance for the analog channels they had to remove to make space for this.
I bought a new TV recently, I paid more for one that scales SD upto a 1080p screen properly, some friends were round at the weekend and they all thought I was watching HD! They have HD devices but only SD TV, They were gobsmacked when I told them it was SD Digi TV, I think they regret buying the TV's that they did! which were HD panels with SD as an after thought!!
Scaling is what is important on a tv, if you intend to use it for multiple sources, not the screen res! some 720's have better pictures as the scaling is less, if you want a 1080p get a decent one! with a processor capable of scaling the image correctly.
So when your in the shop, change the channel! and if they wont let you, walk! its no good being able to watch bluray discs if you cant watch TV properly the rest of the time!
btw I highly recomend the Panasonic TX37LZD85! (£799 inc Manf 5yr warranty)
So 20% of people have an HD (ready) TV. How many years have they been selling for? Given the numbers and an average lifetime for a TV of maybe 15 years, it seems that the overwhelming majority of owners (The Reg. viewers are excused from this - we're an abnormal lot at the best of times) only buy an HD box when they are replacing an old telly - or buying one for a child.
Why would that be? Possibly because these days in the UK, that's all you can buy. It's hardly a tale of success when it boils down to the statement that "people buy HD TVs because those are the only ones available".
We know from the days of VHS tapes that most viewers don't care about picture quality, so what makes them buy HD (apart from the stated lack of alternatives). My money's on the marketing: tell people that it's the new, must-have domestic appliance and the nice, compliant early-adopters will besiege the electrical stores waving money. If you don't believe me, just look at all the hype over iPhones. Where the rich tek-heads lead, the sceptical will follow - when the price falls.
So, what about HD content? The short answer is: what HD content. From what I've seen, there is no "killer ap" for HD. Sports suffer from the same speed-bluring you get on normal resolution (but more so, due to compression, processing and more pixels). Costume drama - maybe, if you can stay awake long enough to appreciate it. Soaps - people being spiteful to each other is the same at any definition (even VHS) and news/current affairs doesn't even need a picture, it provides exactly as much information with just the sound on.
From all of this, I'm forced to the conclusion that HD TV is a marketing solution looking for a problem. In that respect it follows video-phones and quadrophonics as something that's technically feasible, but with no obvious benefits for the average consumer. "Vive la marketing department!"
I think you di it a deservice especially as you focus on the vertical resolution.
SD is 720*576i at best. A good few freeview or SKY channels are transmitted as 544*576i.
Compare that to HD which is 1280*720p at worst. That's a near or better than doubling of horizontal resolution, and a near tripling of vertical resolution for movement (because 576i it 288 ilnes every second whilst 720p is 720 lines every second).
It looks dramatically different and is much better when scaled up to 1366*768 than SD is, if only for the fact no deinterlacing has to take place with the compromises that can entail (especially with anything other than film sourced content).
Sure, if you have a 26inch set and sit 10 feet away you may not see the benefit. But, as people buy into HD, they almost always go up a screen size or 2 (I went from 28inch to 40inch and that's common with others I've spoken to). Bigger the screen, the more apparent the benefit of HD whether it be 1080i or 720p
'course the boradacasters are doiong their best to ruin it with crappy bit rates) those planned for freeview are super crap). But there you go.
I would consider buying a new 500+ HD TV if the TV channels actually showed something interesting anymore. The quality of picture might be arguably better in HD (I don't see it myself) but it is utter shite programs being aired.
Who cares if Big brother can be seen in HD, it is still Big Brother.
"Also 720 line on 1080 native set or 1080 lines on a 720p or 768p set is only marginally better than 576 upscaled."
Errr, no. 720p is both progressive and a native 16:9 format, meaning it's around 4.5 times the resolution of the best case in PAL and more still for NTSC suffers. I'd get your eyes tested if you seriously think upscaled PAL looks anything like 720p.
Of course HDTV is only part of the story it's the HDMI, DVi, VGA inputs that are just as important meaning xbox, PS3, media PCs, bluray etc.
HD broadcast trials and initial services have recently started in more European countries including:
Italy (trial in 4 cities for Euro Cup
Spain (Barcelona area)
and several others in Eastern Europe. Also for a European article you
France as mentioned will start full service after over a year of trials this September/October.
UK will not start anytime soon due to OFCOM's decision to use DVB-T2 as the broadcast standard. Experimental broadcasts are just starting but commercial hardware will not be available for some time and official launch not planned at least until around the end of 2009.
That's me. And I was asking an honest question. Thanks to those who answered and big fat raspberry who decided that I must be some sort of luddite.
"6) Do you want to gain the benefit of HD channels -- more and more of these will eventually start appearing and hopefully with higher resolutions than 720P...."
I take the points about video games in latest-gen kit and HD movie sumptuousness, and if you're that much of a sports fan, extra sharpness could be attractive, but I'm entirely unconvinced that most of the current content broadcast is going to be any more worth watching in HD than it is in SD. What prompted me thinking of the question was the current HD ad that shows some really clear pictures... on SD. It's like advertising colour TV on a black and white broadcast...
I have a HD tv, the only HD content I give it is via the Apple TV, I'm no Apple fan but it was the only box which was hackable to give me all I wanted.
I would have waited much longer to buy a HD tv if it weren't for this little box.
Offcom have sold us up the river, there will be no decent HD via freeview what with them selling off the digital dividend, and Sky will continue to charge extra while it can, which with no proper dish-free/cable-free option it can for a long time to come. Unless we all just move to IP TV using H264/Divx which I'm sorry to say is the only way to get all that data small enough.
Offcom are damaging the TV industry in the UK.
They are promoting standard definition as the future of terrestrial broadcast television. So let's just turn the TV off and do something else more interesting instead.
Podcast's could very well be the future, hey we finally got public access!
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