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Old 2005-06-05, 10:48 PM   #1
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Default Is All HD Created Equal?

Hi all,

I just got HD this weekend and I have a question (sorry if this has been answered elsewhere): Some shows on the "HD channels" are presented in 4:3 aspect ratio, but isn't HD as a standard supposed to be 16x9?

Shows I've seen so far also on the "HD channels" including Cold Case, ESPN Baseball, and the Much Coldplay concert are displayed in 16x9 and the picture quality is AMAZING!

However, other shows on the "HD channels", such as the Tony Awards, Dateline, Family Guy, etc, are displayed in 4:3 so are they really HD?
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Old 2005-06-05, 10:52 PM   #2
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Not all programmes on HD channels are broadcast in HDTV. Many are 4:3 programmes which are upconverted to HDTV and sent our pillarboxed.
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Old 2005-06-05, 11:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vancouver
However, other shows on the "HD channels", such as the Tony Awards, Dateline, Family Guy, etc, are displayed in 4:3 so are they really HD?
Nope. They are HD upconverts. If you're not impressed, it's not HD. Sometimes you will see 16x9 shots (i.e. sporting events) that are simply widescreen.

If it's 4x3 it's easy to figure out if it's HD or not.

Most of the primetime lineup of the major networks are in HD. Outside of Primetime, most shows are not in HD.
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Old 2005-06-05, 11:34 PM   #4
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Even if it is HDTV ... not all HDTV is equal. ABC and FOX broadcast 720p, while the rest broadcast 1080i. While 720p will generally give you less artifacts/pixelation/macroblocking, 1080i gives you better resolution. But even at 1080i you will notice a difference in PQ. Some of the stations are using older HD cameras. Some programs are downconverted from film to HD and some are shot with HD cameras. Also, some are widescreen SD upconverts, such as many of the nature programs on PBS. Also, on some sports telecasts, often not all the cameras are HD ... some are SD even though the picture is 16:9. I am sure that you are understandably a bit confused by all this!

As a general guide-
1. If the PQ is not MARKEDLY better than SDTV 4:3 images it probably is not HDTV.
2. Most programs broadcast in HDTV will indicate something like "HDTV where available" at the beginning.
3. Also, if you go to the web sites of each of the major networks (ABC.com, CBS.com, NBC.com, FOX.com) they indicate on their schedules which shows are broadcast in HDTV.

Some of the best for PQ are Smart Travels, The Desert Speaks, Great Museums and Tracks Ahead on PBS, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC and the best one in my opinion "HD to the Max" on CBS Boston (which is IMAX films downconverted to HDTV ... I say downconverted because IMAX film is of a much, much higher resolution than even 1080p).
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Last edited by HiDefBob; 2005-06-06 at 12:00 AM.
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Old 2005-06-05, 11:53 PM   #5
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For a guide to what's on in HD, see the Digital Home FAQ "Whats on in HD".

Some differences in HD quality can also be put down to "production values". In the same way that not all DVDs or CDs look/sound the same, not all HD has the same production values.

Also, as mentioned previously, some programmes that are 16:9, are not HD. For example, many PBS programmes are upconverted widescreen (also a lot of CBC programmes). These look good, but not as good as HD. On PBS, there is usually a "forward" that states whether a programme is HD, or widescreen.
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Old 2005-06-06, 05:22 PM   #6
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When does HD To The Max Play? Thanks.
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Old 2006-04-22, 01:09 AM   #7
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Can anyone explaine why some HD channels do not transmit in 16:9 format?
I always heard since HD was introduced all HD broadcasting will be in the new 16:9 format. Now having HD channels on BEV I see mostly the US network channels in 4:3 format???
Or am I doing something wrong. Thanks, mecarthur.
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Old 2006-04-22, 03:55 AM   #8
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Because HD channels do not exist. What you call “HD channels” is DTV channels (digital television) using ATSC formats. Sometime, usually in primetime, a DTV station can broadcast HD programs.
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Old 2006-04-22, 06:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerd
Because HD channels do not exist.
Uhhh...pardon? That's a pretty silly thing to say.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerd
What you call “HD channels” is DTV channels (digital television) using ATSC formats.
While technically accurate, if a station broadcasts two signals, one in HD, and one in SD, it's pretty common to refer to the one as the HD channel, and the other as the SD channel. On top of that, HDTV is considered a subset of ATSC, so yes, for simplicity's sake, there are definately HD channels.

The better answer is that while the HD channel broadcasts in HD 24 hours a day, only a portion of it's programming originates in HD. Everything else will be upconverted from it's original format and will retain it's 4x3 nature.
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Last edited by nathan; 2006-04-22 at 06:50 AM.
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Old 2006-04-22, 12:36 PM   #10
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As Nathan explained, not everything on the HD channels is HD material. Much of it can be upconverted 4:3 material (and sometimes upconverted 16:9).

See the Digital Home FAQ "What's on in HD".
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Old 2006-04-22, 12:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerd
Because HD channels do not exist
So HDNET doesn't exist?

Anyway, as previously stated (plus, I'm sure another similiar thread exists) HD material is usually 16:9 but not all material is HD.
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Old 2006-04-23, 11:32 AM   #12
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Threads merged.
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Old 2006-04-24, 09:23 AM   #13
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there is even a huge variance from one "real" HD channel to another. every provider compresses them differently, many of them compress too much. i was watching a fishing show once and it looked alright, but when it focused on the water or something just below the surface of the water, the picture looked so badly compressed that it could have been taken out of an old nintendo game.

i bought a 72" hdtv recently and its really disappointing how much content looks like it was taken from google videos or something. it really shows you how much the providers are cutting corners.
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Old 2006-04-24, 10:00 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by googe
there is even a huge variance from one "real" HD channel to another. every provider compresses them differently, many of them compress too much.
There are providers out there who are further compressing their HD offerings Rogers, however, is one of the those who does not. This may change in the future should bandwidth become an issue...but that will (hopefully) be a while off.

Personally I find the bigger factor is the broadcaster. Networks seem to be the most inconsistent (with possible subchannels taking up space), whereas specialty channels seem to always look fantastic.
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Old 2006-04-24, 10:01 AM   #15
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googe, some providers do not (further) compress HD at all. The compression is done on by MPEG since the original HD stream is over 1 Gb/sec and must be compressed to a maximum of 19.4 Mb/sec (a factor of over 50) for OTA, Cable or SAT.)

Macroblocking of nature scenes (like water, flashes, flocks of birds, etc) is due to the limitation of MPEG, not always the service provider. As nathan states, sometimes the broadcaster is the culprit.

Often, a proper setup of the TV will help with this - lowering the sharpness, etc. See "What you need to do to your new HDTV".

If you put your location and service provider in your profile, it'll also help us help you.
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