Disappointed with HD TV (I think)

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by majordude, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. majordude macrumors 68020

    majordude

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    #1
    Okay, I am one of the world's last converts. I don't have cable, I don't have satellite and I don't have an HD-ready television.

    Fact is, I got pissed off with DirecTV a few years ago ($29 in the ad, $79 if you want to use Tivo, get local channels, etc.) and told them to go forth and multiply (but not in those words).

    Anyway, I was at an upscale hotel this week and they had HDTV. To me, some shows looked pretty good but most looked like they had a LOT of artifacts. What's the deal?

    On cheap TV I don't notice the lines that make up the screen, but I notice artifacts on the better televisions. What's the point? What am I missing?
     
  2. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #2
    Cable companies aren't the best sources of HD signals. Also, many shows aren't in HD yet. Digital broadcast is the absolute best quality signal you can get at the moment. Yes- I mean all you need is an amplified rabbit ears antenna on top of your TV and you'll get a great, digital picture form all your local stations. That's what I do and I love it. I'll never have cable. I've got an Apple TV for cable shows, should I want them.
     
  3. swingerofbirch macrumors 68030

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    #3
    Agreed. Ironically a $14 antenna in the right position gives me better picture than digital cable. I think cable has bandwidth limitations that limit the picture quality--meaning they compress the image more than they should.
     
  4. iShater macrumors 604

    iShater

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  5. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #5
    HD will look great if you are seeing it at full bandwidth, what you saw was compression to the max so it looked like crap.

    The digital switch wont do any good either until everyone is off analog cable as that is what is filling the pipe that could be used for HD.
     
  6. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #6
    Rabbit ears are not going to cut it where I live. I'd probably get two stations.

    Watching an HD TV does not mean you are seeing HD TV. Even though we are only months away from the official change-over, the vast majority of cable broadcasts are still in SD, especially if you are stuck with Time-Warner Cable, which is notoriously behind the curve in providing their customers with even the available HD channels. This is made even worse because most people watch these 480p 4:3 SD broadcasts on their HD TVs distorted to 16:9, which looks just nauseatingly awful. Real HD broadcasts in 780p look great most of the time, although again the quality varies a lot depending on whether the broadcaster or the cable company is cheating bandwidth by compressing the image.

    Maybe someday they'll get this all together. In the meantime, HDTV is very much a hit-or-miss proposition.
     
  7. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #7
    The main problem is bandwidth, it takes a lot to produce true HD. Until analog is dead for good and everyone is on some form of digital, HD will still look like crap. Over the air HD will look good if you are getting a strong signal. The cable companies are throttling back because they don't have a big enough pipe.
     
  8. Stridder44 macrumors 68040

    Stridder44

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    #8
    Ditto. Dish Network HD is amazing.
     
  9. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #9
    The problem is that "true" HD has about four working definitions. In theory a 780p broadcast is "true" HD, but that doesn't mean the providers aren't compressing to conserve bandwidth. Very few 780p broadcasts look like crap, but some of them don't look as good as they could, and we're certainly not getting what we were promised ten years ago when this changeover process began.
     
  10. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #10
    The FCC really dropped the ball, they said all channels had to be in digital, not necessarily HD. There is a big difference between digital and HD Digital. Also the different formats of HD, 720p, 1080i, 1080p. Technically official HD is 1080p but there is not nearly enough bandwidth.
     
  11. Rhosfelt macrumors 65816

    Rhosfelt

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    #11
    Check out a movie on blue-ray (blu-ray?), or an Xbox 360 playing at 1080i or 1080p, you'll see a difference then. I am the same way, disappointed with TV HD.
     
  12. iShater macrumors 604

    iShater

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    #12
    That is correct, too much compression at a lot of providers. They don't have the bandwidth, and people with good TV sets are expecting good quality.

    I mean, how can you enjoy BSG on SciFi with any kind of artifacts?!
     
  13. jb60606 macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    when it's coming from the right source, and being displayed on a good TV, there is really no comparison.
     
  14. SpaceMagic macrumors 68000

    SpaceMagic

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    #14
    I think what you noticed majordude was perhaps a HD TV, running HD Cable but showing a normal broadcast. This is a problem and you do see artifacts.

    However. Hook a HD TV (1080p especially) up to a BluRay player and put in a DVD. WOW. There really is no comparison. I'm yet to see SatHD as it came out in the UK while I've been away working in Germany, but I'm told the quality is outstanding on proper HD broadcasts.
     
  15. hotzenplotz macrumors regular

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    Sep 19, 2007
    #15
    Like leekholeer, I do not have cable or sat, but rather OTA HD and two ATVs. I used to have occasional picture freezes due to the amount of splits and lengths of the antenna cables. One of these amplifiers hooked to a Terk antenna took care of it. Beautiful picture.
     
  16. MotleyPete macrumors regular

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    #16
    Whenever I find myself in a shop checking out the picture on HD TV's, I always think "So, what's the big deal?".

    I'm no luddite, I'm all for progress, but I think HD is massively hyped for what you actually get. I'm in no rush.
     
  17. rhett7660 macrumors G4

    rhett7660

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  18. majordude thread starter macrumors 68020

    majordude

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    #18
    How does Dish compare to DirecTV? Aren't they the same company?
     
  19. swiftaw macrumors 603

    swiftaw

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    #19
    No, Dish Network and DirecTV are two separate companies both who provide TV via satellite signal.
     
  20. mondesi43 macrumors regular

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    #20
    DirecTV has great HD as well. My wife was female-dogging about me upgrading from the standard service. "I can't tell the difference...bla blah blah" So I put on the HD channel, had her close her eyes, then put on the SD channel. When she opened her eyes "Turn it back, turn it back!"

    Watching sports is so much better in HD. My wife was watching the French Open on the tennis channel HD. This was the first year she actually enjoyed watching it because you can see the ball so much better. I went with DirecTV because I had a bad experience w/ Dish. In my house for 10 days, working for a total of 3 days and me using vacation for 3 service calls.

    DirecTV also has better PPV events (imo) and the NFL ticket.
     
  21. Lyle macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #21
    Same here. I'm usually one of the early adopters for this kind of thing, but I'm just not in any rush to buy an HD TV. I think my wife is actually more anxious to get one than I am, and she's never into stuff like this. ;)
     
  22. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #22
    You can't judge by going into the store and seeing 50 TV's showing the same source. The signal is being split so many times and usually not amplified right so it looks horrible.
     
  23. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #23
    I think technically 1080p, 1080i, 720p and 720i are all considered to be HD formats, which is why this stuff has become so confusing to consumers. But I get what you are saying about digital broadcasting vs. HD. Many stations will continue to broadcast in 4:3 480p, digitally instead of analog, after the switch. This should still be an improvement in broadcast quality though, at least for HDTV set owners who don't try to watch it distorted into 16:9.
     
  24. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #24

    You can't mandate that everything be in HD though, since there are so many things, especially reruns from years back, that weren't filmed in HD.

    Now, a rule that everything from this point forward be filmed in 1080p goodness, I can live with :D

    And the FCC also needs to require that cable providers carry all local HD channels. Charter in STL doesn't carry our CBS affiliate in HD due to disputes over money, which is complete crap IMO. It's a local channel that I can pick up for free with an antenna, there shouldn't be any disputes since subscribers aren't paying for it.
     
  25. aloofman macrumors 68020

    aloofman

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    Socal
    #25
    As others mentioned, you may not have been watching HD. A telltale sign is whether the image looks stretched or not. If the people look wider than they're supposed to -- and every widescreen TV I've seen in a hotel room and most in restaurants and bars are like that -- then it's not HD. It's just a standard-def image stretched across a widescreen monitor. All I can think is that they upgraded the monitors, but are waiting for a better deal to get the HD broadcasts. Or they just don't care whether it looks good, but felt like they had to go widescreen to keep up with their competitors. Also like others said, even if it was an HD signal, so many things can happen to degrade the image before it gets to the TV. I wouldn't expect even a high-end hotel to do HD really well.

    High-definition television looks far better than these examples. The debate over 720p vs. 1080i is often overblown, since most people don't have a monitor big enough to discern the pixel differences from the distance they watch programs. (As far as I know, there aren't any stations using 720i.) There's also the matter of how well the monitor receives both of those signals. Each station uses one but not the other, so the monitor often has to either scale up or down from its native resolution. Some monitors do this better than others. A good HDTV will make both of them look very good and you usually won't be able to tell the difference unless you're sitting too close to the screen.

    There's a common misconception about the upcoming digital transition coming up in February. It will NOT force everyone to watch HD or get an HD monitor. It's not the digital standard-def signals that are going away; it's the ANALOG standard-def signals that will cease to be broadcast. All cable companies and satellite providers have switched to digital transmission already, so only people who rely on rabbit ears to get their television will be affected. (The feds are providing vouchers to help people pay for converter boxes.) You don't have to switch to HD by February.

    Standard definition TV is going to be around for quite a while because broadcasters can't afford to lose the audience of non-HD viewers. Think of it like the transition from audio cassettes to compact discs. It took years after people started buying CDs for retailers to completely stop selling cassettes. Within a few years, the electronics makers will stop selling standard-def TVs, but it will take years after that before HD penetration is high enough to stop broadcasting standard-def channels.
     

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