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

Sunday, September 10, 2006

HD 1080 delivery

It is getting to the point where 1080i HD is gaining in delivery methods. This is a good thing, and the open market response to this in terms of availability and enabling tech is rather location sensitive at this time, but that is one major situation undergoing change... based on new & fresh network capability. This years CEDIA is all about 1080 resolution products and people are buying. The puzzle pieces start to fall into place.

Enter the ISP - In a table published very recently by PCworld, respondents gave us a view of actual performance for several enabling ISP services capable of HD delivery, in summary:

1) Cable ( co-ax copper ) avg = 5.7 mbps
2) DSL ( varies ) avg = 2.9 mbps
3) Fiber Optic (FIOS) avg = 9.6 mbps
4) Fixed Wireless (2.4/5.8 ghz) avg = 1.6 mbps
5) Satellite (very service dependant ) avg = 720kbp

... so whats all this mbps mean? There are too many variables to discuss here, but the supplier central office distribution thruput to you is really the control to end-point here, except in the case of satellite, where dish location and quality matter and variances are dramatic. Lets think of it as HD transport stream bandwidth.

I have found that the VC-1 transport stream is very good for hd1080 at 8384 kbps or about 8 mpbs, but for average action video you can get a decent hd stream for around 5mbps, thats 5 million bits-per-second or 5 megabit. You do well at 10mbit, and get perfect around 40mbit, which really is proper for 1080 Sports and high action stuff like racing.

Practical reality for this means that HD as delievered by connected service is able to deliver pretty well, up to and including service that functions as TV/Internet like Digital Cable. Most service happening right now is Mpeg transport though, and hence the rather blocky outcome in a lot of cases, its buffered and cleaned up some at your receiver box, cable set-top whatever.

What is VC-1? well essentially its windows media v9,10, etc and standards adoption is being managed by SMPTE 421M-2006. It does a great job of delivering a compact HD transport stream within the available bandwidth, because it was originally crafted to be capable that way.

Why does this matter? Well, MPEG 4 (H.264 ) was heralded awhile back as the best... But you want to see more, you get VC-1 / SMPTE 421M. At this moment Mpeg 4 is good to go in my opinion, BUT My guess is that it will become more prevalent, based on the simple economics of better picture in less bit-load, with on-chip device decode and essentially realtime transcode.

Getting that HD from its source, to my eyeballs ...
For those in the know, last mile fiber-opic is the way to go. Thats what i have.
... Verizon FIOS, which currently has no video on-demand of its own, yet, but i have it on good authority that a clean fiber connection is capable of gigabit performance, with very little stress. Unfortunately the infrastructure is still in buildout and central office processing is not yet there for the video HD consumer, but it's in the hands of verizon, they can supply whatever they want through this pipe, whenever they are ready to.

This opens up a world of something very cool, IPTV. Essentially this is connecting your HDTV to your Internet Connection. IPTV is a-la-carte supply of HD and pricepoint momentum is happening now. check out http://matrixStream.com for example. VOD or Video on Demand. This is my personal favorite solution, VOD being the high quality i would expect for my time spent looking at stuff that i would set-aside time for. WHY? because i look at movies and events maybe 2 times.. I may be odd that way but i will wait for quality and i will pay for it.


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