HD1080i De-mystify HDTV 1080i ::: know why before you buy

Sunday, May 07, 2006


The time has come for entertainment convergence, with 2 marketspace categories rising to meet the next generation of it all, meaning the video game and the high definition home movie experience. There is such a huge pot-of-gold at the end of this rainbow, that pundits and real experts seem to agree ( that hardly ever happens).

I have crafted a new phrase to identify this, since this is a fresh market phenomina.

"Feed The Screen"

Note that it is not "feed the speakers", 5.1 surround sound didnt really make it over the line into a must-have room feature, and mostly because it has very little impressive content and girlfriends/mommys globally just didnt like the rear speaker wires in plain view. It turns out the subwoofer ( big boom ) matters more than surround, and most people are running 3.1 of the 5.1 they bought.

The interesting thing in a rough anecdotal survey, is that almost everyone knows they will eventually own a larger flat panel widescreen something or other HDTV, if they dont have one already. It seems to be a given constant in the consumer-space, and the momentum to "buy" is not based as much on store selling as it is from seeing a friends HDTV and liking the thing, maybe not much loving the content, they see the potential, they want one.

Expectations run high for E3 ( a gamer video player gizmo tradeshow ) that the PS3 will be roughly the equivalent of a user-friendly supercomputer media center ... for many boomers with tweens and teens on up to daddy's secret passion to blow up stuff in a virtual high def world on his big new TV Screen. Existing HD screen owners will buy one, mostly because this feeds the screen with what they want when they want it.

Cursory mention... the XBOX360 ( doesnt have that much HD really, didnt ship with an HD DVD player and the handful of movies out there in HD DVD are not momentum-makers ) ok say HALO whatever and you are basically done anyhow -- 'nuff said.

Blu-ray = Hollywood support and and the Sony pS3... that is what is going to happen here. I guessed but did not know until recently that this would be true, it seems people have no problem considering that the PS3 should also be the DVD player in thier house. Yet more anecdotal reaction from not-yet buyers indicates they are actually budgeting for the damn thing and it solves the "what to buy for christmas" problem nicely, and justifies the HDTV's existence.

... Very symbiotic in a techno-cultural kind of way

High Def Flat Panel Mayhem will feed the need, feed the screen and kick this industry into the next level. The "old" reason for HDTV was solidly the domain of the man of the house wanting to "see the Game". That reason will be massively surpassed by the new reasoning of feeding the screen with interactive stuff for the younger and more intellectually agressive minds in the house... Basically big bright fast wide visually encompasing bang for the buck that will not be denied, and you are the ruler of a virtual world, one click away from the next thing you do. "big badda boom" whatever, the fuzzy small world of the standard TV cannot survive this explosion for much longer, the difference is too dramatic.

The people who will really make money here are not the enablers though, so thanks in advance Sony, for being willing to lose money in large amounts now, because without the High Def video player and the High Def games to interact with, there really isnt all that much to want for the money required to own it. So you spend a couple grand on a TV and 500 bucks on the PS3 and your ticket-to-ride is all good...? not really, the real mover in this is the content. People seem to not be screaming about prospective $40-50 costs for a game and $30+ for a movie. Heck when you pay 3 bucks for a lousy gallon of gas, your whole perspective on price performance goes through a paradigm-shift. I will be happier when the pricing drops, but grumble a bit and pay it anyway.

So this means...

-- There will be game makers in 2007 that could well produce a billion dollar game. Amazing.
-- Movie makers profit in the higher markup of High Def distribution in already present market channels, all they need do is supply chain feeding/ That part is rather easy actually.

The companies that "Feed the Screen" will quite literally be "printing money" profitable, since nowhere else is the high margin low cost to replicate situation present in today's living. Couple that with the network of internet provisioning to download DRM'd content to a specific known account and this is all a marketer's dream come true, in spades.

I sincerely also hope that this HD enablement will provide opportunity for lower-budget creatives in what was indy-film, to shift to 1920 x 1080 ... Widescreen formatted shot-for-HD content, and deliver it as a download.

Monday, May 01, 2006

When they Say HD and "1080p"

Whats that really mean?

The mis-information out there is getting worse due to marketer's that are promoting technology association with 1080 resolution vertically and not much mentioning the biggest and most important number, 1920 = the horizontal pixel accuracy of the display, and this issue is a billion dollar baby with brand credibility at stake.

I do not take this lightly, and i'm not going hammer on that same nail all day, but details matter and you need the details to see the picture properly and know what you are buying.

By way of example - check out this page

Ok this is deceptive in my opinion because it lists 1080p processing as a Feature, but it's maximum horizontal resolution is not up to the 1080p spec, so it really is working to reduce the incoming pixel resolution of 1920 pixels down to the 1024 pixels it actually has.
At a quick glance you might consider this display to be 1080p since it says 1080p processing, so its a BUYER BEWARE event to read and absorb that this plasma TV really has pretty much the same pixel resolution of a typical laptop computer, only it's bigger in size.

However.. ( and there is always a few of them ) the processing of the image you see on a widescreen display is in fact just as important as anything else about the unit.

You need to see that to understand it. And you need to trust what you see.
Get out of the house. Find your nearest Magnolia.


I do not normally support direct endorsements here, but go to a Magnolia store-within-a-store at Best Buy. I have been misdirected by sales people at most all other stores ( many , and i will not list them ), but Magnolia people in Salem NH spoke the exact truth about what an HD display can do and will not do, unit by unit. I am guessing that level of staffing is also present at every Magnolia. They are not that well known, rather new in fact.

So what is 1080p?

It is the progressive display of 1920 x 1080 pixels usually at 24 frames per second and in the case of LCD displays, 30 frames per second. p = progressive. It really menas "complete image at once"

1080 = the vertical number of rows in the display, the horizontal number should be 1920.
p = progressive scan - basically it should mean to you that the display shows each frame at 24 or 30 times a second, as a full complete image.

WHY do they call it 1080p?

This is basically to identify the difference between interlaced and progressive display.
Most people simply regard the existence of an "i" as less good than the existence of a "p" in the 1080 definition. That is mostly bunk, and does the consumer little good, in that nowhere in any buying process is the "i" really defined for what it means in a useful way,... and joe sixpack does not even want to understand what interlaced or progressive scan means, he only wants to know good, from better and best, and will buy "good enough".

The proper way to identify a 1080p HD display is :
1920x1080 pixel resolution at 30 frames per second. ( or 24 frames/sec)
any other physical numbers just are not 1080p.

To use some analogies,
a 1024 pixel flat widescreen plasma "1080 p processed HD"
display is like:

-- Saying your car is better beacause you can put a supermodel in the passenger seat, when your car is just another of many rounded off minivans.

-- Buying a "development" house because the Model Home you saw had a nice big oriental carpet in the hallway.

-- Apples and applesauce.

for the most part if "they" ( meaning the manufaturers and then the stores ) do not really have something like 1920x1080 flat panel display accuracy , then they will tell you you dont need it, and want you to buy what they DO have. Bad things happen when they heavily promote whatever association with 1080p they can muster up, and the unit itself is just yet another same old resolution display with nowhere near the horizonal pixel accuracy of 1920.

Problem. I have seen stores deliberately put Westinghouse Digital 42 inch 1080p LCD displays in the back of the store display area, they are 1920x1080 resultion and very nice and - almost out of sight, nowhere near the the other displays of similar size, because the other stuff has less than half the display accuracy in pixel resolution. Of course this is to impede a side-by-side comparison with the westinghouse digital unit that would kill the apparent value of most of thier inventory.

ALL LCD DISPLAYS have to be "p" at the final endpoint of displaying the picture and this is because "i" = interlacing in 1080i is not possible with usual classic Liquid Crystal display refresh chips that drive the thing. LCD displays basically are "full images at 30 frames per second". And therefore, in 1080 displays that are LCD, the processing of the signal coming in matters a lot, since that processing assembles the full image you will see.

... and you have to "go see" to really appreciate it.

--- and Kudos to Best Buy for making the display resolution often the very first and most easy-to-read feature of the displays they offer.