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

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Full HD 1080

Is Full HD 1080 a real spec? ( stamp by Sony ™)

No, but ... that evolves, since there are a lot of new-to-market non 1080 displays that really suck, it is a useful thing for us all to see, and i like this stamp.

The truth is, that HD makers are using the 1080 number with TRUE and FULL as a differentiator for the systems that have 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, and in all cases that i could determine, its an indicator of native processing and display in all 1080 inputs. A situation analysis here is for those marketing efforts that list 1080i as an input compatibility.
The fact is that even the new Samsung BD-1000 Blue-ray 1080p player actually converts the 1080p to 1080i internally, processes that and reconverts to 1080p for output. Huh? true.
Done properly it does not matter how the 1080 arrives, what matters is how that is handled, and most all the new nice 1080 stuff does what is needed nicely. Thanks.

I guess FULL HD - 1080
is just thier way of not saying this

Even more confusing is the marketing that lists a VGA resolution system as HD TV simply because it has an ATSC Digital broadcast receiver in it, AHA .. so it can tune into an HD broadcast that its not capable if displaying at any HD resolution levels. for shame, shame shame.

The problem people are encountering is that nearly all cable and satellite broadcast HD is 1080i and some new game machines and HD DVD / blu-ray stuff always says 1080p. The assumption being that a 720p or 1366 x 768 plasma display is just not up to the 1080 level of image quality.
We even have Jessica Simpson telling us in satelite tv ads that "It's broadcast in 1080i" ... "I totally dont know what that means, but i want it",.

The useful info here is the number "1080"?
The difficulty with all this is that 1080 is the display resolution, and the display processing is more important than anything else, and FULL TRUE HD 1080 whatever doesnt always mean you get everything there is.
Display makers are basically telling you that they are the only ones that make a real HD display and use 1080 as a number to do that. 1080 is in fact an indictor of the prevailing proper processing of what HD has to offer, and you want that for sure, but it isnt all there is to it.

Firstly, the source has to be in a 1080 format. At this point, 1080i or 1080p should mean to you that you are cable/satellite or HD DVD/blu-ray with your source.

One way some makers use to try and convince you that thier stuff is real HD, and the best, is by placing an HDMI stamp on thier stuff. Sorry, you can put an HDMI connection system into anything and it is no guarentee whatsoever of 1080p thruput, i have a DVD player here with HDMI labeled on the front that doesnt output anything other than DVD 480 resolution.

So you cant use the presence of HDMI stamps as an assurance of 1080 anything, however, you want HDMI in your system components, its 1.3 spec is rigorous enough to provide the best thru-put, and it is a good standard, but in an of itself it is no guarentee of the resolution you will get from a source you plug into it. Blaming HDMI for a poor image in your display is like blaming the messenger for the message, because it is simply a convention for connection between devices in such a way that includes everything, the lowest through to the highest in video and audio is inclusive in this. I really like HDMI 1.3 and Component YpBpR for video and DVI for PC connections, you should seek mutiple input in your HD display with all these and a VGA input for good measure.

FULL HD 1080 and PS3
Here is one of the current rubs in this mix, the Sony PS3 being blamed for games that are developed for it that were created in 1280 x 720 resolution, that were then connected to old 1080 displays. In this case the PS3 is worngly accused of having a comaptibility problem, since the hardware is just fine with newer systems that have newer processing and connection conventions.

Its sort of a 720p problem redux in that 720p is sort of a misguided child of the dual HD standards, and not all display systems handle this 720 resolution with equal ability. In a worst case scenario, the display seeing anthing that is not 1080, will downscale to 480 NTSC ( or PAL ) standards. This would be not just limited to the PS3... the problem exists with the older display and the fact that the game should have been re-authored to produce a 1080 optional resolution. Sony bashers are pushing this like its a huge blunder, but in fact its limited to a rather small group of older HD TV owners with 1080i displays, and in the greater scale of things it is nothing huge, but should have been identified somehow ahead of the selling of the games involved. These older system owners were not informed of the possible problems, assuming that sony branded items will always play well together, regardless of the generation of the product. This was a failure to communicate, the tech issues aside.

Consumer Information about 1080 ...

Is woeful at best. Sony's 1080 tour for example, basically says you want this, go to a store.
HUH? people go to the web to find useful info right now and immediately. 1080 evangelism is scattered about and not enough up-to-date to be immediately useful, google will find articles written in 2004 and 2005 that are in todays world just plain wrong.

Monday, November 13, 2006

HD1080i.com Prelaunch

www.HD1080i.com was created as another evolution of one-network.com as a division of DSMJ LLC to hopefully take a place in the landscape of the HD revolution as a useful resource for a more mass market perspective, less tech , more pictures, more immediately useful info. Proving to myself that getting #1 position with "hd1080i" search word was not just an experiment, it was preparation.

The future of High Definition is complex.

The reasons are many, but the advent of a large screen with high resolution in front of the consumer market eyeballs and hands, provisions a new generation of everything connected to it, and connected is what will happen. This has enormous benefits, since it is all about enabling higher quality consumption in a market space that is defined and qualified by the mere presence of required wealth to posess it. Greetings.

This evolution first requires that you be properly equipped, and then properly connected, and that qill will scribe the initial writings and value of HD1080i.com

Saturday, November 11, 2006

1080i / 1080p

Interlacing is an analog broadcast format where the display is refreshed 60 times a second with odd then even then odd rows of video. That is proper for the scanning electron gun approach of a CRT or Tube TV / display, with all its phosphor latency and blurry stuff. I will take the specific case of LCD HD displays for the moment.
Interlacing is a horizontal thing , every other line of pixels must be "laced" together to construct an image frame

... play with the flash example above, animated sliding to see what interlace really does in an image. Click "Normal" to see what is normal 1080i properly assembled into your image, - click 'See Interlace' to see what interlace processing error looks like.

LCD displays are are not interlaced display technology.
This is because LCD and such divices to not "Scan" to create a display screen, each video frame is displayed direct from memory all at the same instant. PC'c connect with DVI - simple and excellent results. HD 1080 spec is referred to as WUXGA 1920 x 1080 for this purpose.

Any HDTV that is LCD is giving you a complete image display by design and cannot "scan" display lines, instead it has 2 buffers for video display, one that you see and the other is being written/updated for the next pending image. ( high speed dual port VRAM usually , called by all kinds of names, its memory in your display ) The 1080i incoming odd-even data is assembled into the bitmap VRAM memory and shown all at once, full frames in sequence, 30 video frames every second.

So if you have a 1080 LCD display, it inherently has 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and is in fact 1080p capable. However, not all 1080 LCD displays HD the same way, and are therefor not created equal. The Progressive display trolls are correct in one respect... how the firmware deals with incoming odd-even lines to assemble 1920 x 1080 as a complete image does matter.

Huh? firmware?

Firmware in your display is what drives the LCD display, Pixel math on a chip. When you purchase a widescreen flatpanel display, you get more than inputs and glass, you have a small amount of dedicated highspeed processor stuff in there. The quality of that processing is in the Chipset the manufacturer used, the slang for that processor chipset is "firmware", and it has to match the LCD cycle time and the memory that holds the image. It is seriously important stuff.

Even though flatpanels do not "scan lines" across the display, they do have a refresh rate, or time to change a pixel from one color to another. LCD screens have a typical refresh time of 5-10 milliseconds, and the firmware has to know that, since each pixel is a light valve that needs to open and close for the proper amount of light at the proper instant, but basically they are not independant, the entire screen refreshes at the same instant.

It seriously matters that the firmware is tuned for the display's characteristics, and therefore you want your display to be "SMART". I will go into detail in other posts but seek out DCDi / Faroudja
available in literature as Genesis Display Perfection® technology, found in Westinghouse Digital and LG LCD displays. www.genesis-microchip.com Hard working stuff - tech read = http://www.gnss.com/products/FLI5961-FLI5962_Prod_Brief_C5962-PBR-01B.pdf

what is Progressive? 1080p?

Progressive is really a term for how a single frame of video is delivered, or transported to the display device... as you can read from above, it is not how the display presents the video frame.
So the term "Progressive scan" is a horrible misnomer that applies only to CRT display technology, it should be something else, since it really applies to how the video is sent from one place to another as a stream of data that starts at the top of the video frame and progressively fills memory until it completes the frame. Progressive is the method used in sequential data delivery for almost all things digital anyhow, and has value when very high action sports that can benefit from full frame 60 times per second video is available. Unfortunately, compression used to send these full frames can seriously negate that benefit, to the point where 720p60 isnt really any better, regardless of speed or resolution. Broadcasters now know this and most everything you see is 1080i as a result.

Interlace - image over time.
Interlaced video has one problem that takes place in high action and rapid scene movements.
That is the 1/60th of a second that each odd or even row is sent is actaully 1/60th of a second of new image. Basically it is not 540 lines odd then 540 lines eeven rows sent of the same image, but instead it is 540 rows of image at 1/6th second in time, and even rows at the following 1/6oth of a second, so whatever is moving or changing its location on the screen will be shifted in position by 1/60th of a second in every other line. This situation was ideal for CRT "picture tube" displays, mostly due to the persistence time or "latency" of screen phosphors. LCD and the like have no such situation, so it must be handled.

Great firmare will determine this condition, ( correlational edge bicubic de-interlacing for example ) and that pixel detect and fix math creates a smoother edge in clean motion blur.
Unfortunately, for us, some display do a great job at this, making a film-like look, and some are horribly digital jaggy about it. Display Processing Firmware matters.

But, it doesnt stop there. what matters perhaps more, is how the codec or compression is done, and lossy compression always has some very visible injected artifacts, blocky stuff that does more harm to the image of a frame than de-interlacing does. So...
Compression of the video frame is very important, since each pixel is not sent for every frame. Instead, each video frame image is run through som math that determines what is different in the next frame, and basically those things that are different are sent. For a News show perhaps only the head movement and eyes and mouth of the person talking are different between frames, the background is the same as the previous frame... and that info is all the next frame packet compression gets. ( this is a way over-simplification but that will do for now )
The problems get far worse when everything in the frame is different like in rapid scene cuts.

Why all this background?... you need to appreciate the huge amount of conversion that happens before your display gets its video input. By now you get that an HD video frame displayed on a flatpanel as 1920 x 1080 may well have been compressed, decompressed, chopped up into some format and reassembled a couple of times before you see it -- All this is handled for you and you have little choice in the matter, except for choice of inputs and devices with thier processing chipsets.

You can choose buying an HD display that has the right stuff in it, since that is where 1080i and 1080p signal processing matters most. HD1080i.com will explore all this in detail in early 2007, so you will know why before you buy. When it is all done properly it is truly a thing of beauty.

Friday, November 10, 2006

High Def DVD Formats and 1080i / 1080p

.. reading other articles spawns yet another instruction rant from me.

The so-called experts are starting to talk like their observations should matter and they are producing an incomplete picture.. bigtime.

For one thing, Calling the HD-DVD / Blu-ray competition a format war. Not so. Its a PLAYER war, an enablement situation at the user-end, just as the HD Display is required, and a source.

In the Best-Of-HD, 1080p content is the holy grail, and the presence of a PLAYER is required to monetize the 1080p source is in the holy-water & constant supply of content... quite frankly, it is not a mass market motivator. Perhaps if millions of PS3 units are out there, but that is quite some time away from now, and honestly i dont see 1080p as a single big enough reason for disposable income flow for middle america.

Pundits hit the format war with the Betamax/VHS story. Thats too old to apply. It was also about the availability of players at the endpoint, but it was before adoption curves had traction.

Lets get fresher about this, the VHS/DVD format war.

I recall when a DVD player that cost 400 bucks became available, i was on a waiting list to get one and my memo on that was printed in MIX magazine.... in just a very short time later you could buy a passably good DVD player for 59 bucks and they were piled high in every appliance store... and during that time i watched the VHS movie rental store go from all VHS Tapes to walls and walls of DVDs to rent. The difference between VHS and DVD was worth it at the pricepoints. WHY? because the players were out there everywhere. People still had thier VHS machines and movies were being offered in both formats.

This matters even more now. The HD-DVD and Blu-ray will succeed not because of content supply, ( the studios will crank out millions of whatever will sell, quickly) but rather by the installed base of HD displays and Players.

So where is the High Def Player adoption analysis in all this talk out there? or to re-kindle and use an old joke...

What comes first, the chicken or the egg?

Neither. The Rooster comes first and thats where it matters.

The most forward-thinking are talking about units that dont exist, and will cost 400 bucks that will play either format, or the PS3 that will cost 600 bucks and give you an access suite to go with game play... or of course the XBOX HD option afterthought gizmo ad-on.

In this, the 1080i or 1080p nature of the source will not really matter when the public finds that it cannot really tell the difference when the display firmware does its job properly. It will be an Advertizing target, but most folks wont much care or want to care. 1080 may matter, but i or p ... whatever works.

My opinion? I have one, and its lengthy. Short form:
It is not a format war, but a device/player subscriber value-point war.

The Player will not exist in the same way as before. The winners will be those that integrate the device into more than just a mindless jukebox, get the price-point right, and make it so that anyone with a 4th grade education can and will and use it. The days of a box for this and a box for that are nearing an end. Meaning: multiformat players that are found within more capable systems that provide surround sound amplification and are HDTV tuners, DVRs, entertainment.
I see a future win where Subscriber-box devices with the player included in it, that connect to services are more in demand... In fact i want my multiformat HIGH DEF DVD PLAYER to be just another thing in my Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300+ HD 1080i box or TIVO HD whatever i use to channel select. It makes perfect sense as the ideal subscriber value add to bring me what i want. Sony knows this with PS3, and it isnt really ahead of its time as much as it is futureproof value that anyone can see easily.

Without some exclusivity, there is no format war...

What if .. Hollywood said: "We will not be making a blu-ray version of Son of Harry Pooter" the bewiched would worry about exclusivity that would fuel a format war, based on Pooter availability. But that is not happening so the consumer will not encounter or much see this a s problem. So dont buy that $10,000 market analysis from these verbose HD experts. A moron can detect this situation.

In this millenia, the motivators include connectivity.

The connected device/player user will opt for whatever free thing they can get, meaning lots of advertizer opportunity for eyeball capture in a dedicated environment. If i Buy product XYZ with an HD player in it, and i get ABCDEF stuff for free, and its cool, i am justified, much as i see HD formats involved, they are not in and of themselves a motivating differentiator.

And even more importantly, subscriber box functionality with HD DVD and blu-ray, enables the AAC and whatever DRM phone-home authentication to work inherently and seamlessly without user knowlege or interaction... producing as a high value byproduct for marketing eyeball count feedback that is the Holy Grail for Hollywood. Whatever i buy, its got to be connected, to lots and lots of stuff, and joe sixpack wont care what's under the hood, only what's on screen.

Yes, i'm getting a PS3. Wireless highspeed gizmo and social connectivity. However, it is just the beginning of a much much bigger picture.

Differentiators? Seek interaction. The zoom click kind. No Keyboard.

This biggest problem i see is basically a lack of Fresh Content in HD. My first Treat interactive buy for an HD-DVD would actually be a google earth Encarta like wiki photo video story thing, where buying the HD DVD automatically subscribes me to all kinds of stuff that i dont get with Blu-ray, and isnt as cool without the HD-DVD. why? all the HD formats are very capable software delivery platforms, and the player will have a hard disc in it.

- lots to discuss there.

Monday, November 06, 2006

HD1080i content vs less than 1080 screens

A quick review is good.. here you go:

HD1080i is a std format for HD DVD's and Broadcast High Definition. Its is 540 lines that arrive in screen odd rows and screen even rows, its then buffered and put together so that your display will assemble that in to a 1080 image, every 30th of a second.

540 @ 1/60th sec + 540 @ 1/60th sec = 1080 lines @ 1/30th sec

HD1080i is a full screen at 30 frames per second by simple math, but is actually displayed at 29.97 frames per second, for reasons of timing that stem from NTSC standards established in the previous millenia. This convention of odd and even display lines in broadcast is from the old CRT days, but it also provides a nice way to stream high bandwidth digital images, this is important because the digital packets have to handle 1920 pixels per line.

When we say HD1080i we mean 1920 x 1080 pixel display resolution.

The "i" means Interlaced, and that is just the method used to transport it to us, in odd/even rows rather than top to bottom in a single pass. Your HD monitor/display has to assemble that into each frame that you see. If it does that well then you see a great high def image.

A guy from Boeing asks: "how can hd 1080 be displayed at 768?"
Answer - it can but it isnt 1080 anymore.
Problem - 768 vertical pixels is greater than 720
Issue - 720 vertical pixels is an HD standard known as 720p usually.

so.. can they say HD and have a 1280x768 display or 1366 by 768 display? Yes... the display will scale its 1080i incoming stream of 2 megapixels down to the 1 megapixel resolution of 768.
e.g. more resolution arrives than your 768 display can show you.

so can they say that HD is there when the display is 768 vertical pixels? yes ... but it is being deceptive to say "accepts hd 1080i", or HDTV, and then show you something less than HD quality in pixel space.

everyone, even the usually trustable people are causing this problem.

Even engadget... http://www.engadgethd.com/2006/11/03/lgs-dual-screen-hdtv-equipped-refrigerator/

puleeze.. an HDTV-fridge? Nope. Why? - Display resolution.
anything 1024pixels in horizonal resolution does not qualify for HD. 1280 is the minimum number. So how do they get away with this?.. they install an ATSC HD capable digital tuner. Meaning; the co-ax for your cable or HD antenna connects to it, and it receives HD channels. However, what you see is not HD resolution, but HDTV channels at reduced resolution. I'm sure it looks great but it is NOT High Definition, it is HDTV channels at something much less than HD resolutions.

Confusing? Of course it is.

So what is HD? ... a digital signal path with an HD Transport Stream, displayed in at least 1280 x720 on up to 1920x1080 pixel resolution. For the HD experience to properly exist, all devices from beginning to end must be true to the spec.

Slapping a tuner (ATSC chip) that recieves HDTV signals into some device , and displaying it on a small low resolution screen is NOT HD, but it can be marketed by the slimy people as HDTV. They know that simply the HD connection is enough to sway buyers to a product. Its like naming a hotel "OceanView" when the hotel is 20 miles for any shoreline. Slimy.

If you are a Consumer/buyer and wandered into this blog, then you are among the thousands that seek the right stuff and get a very mixed bag of junk to have to figure out... the odd thing is that i have been talking about bad marketing for over a year here now, and instead of that problem getting better, its is getting worse. There are more ugly bugs in HD marketing now than you will find in an African termite mound.

Blu-ray Delay
Trust me on this, you would rather they delay it than ship whats happening now. ' nuff said and i have no problem with that, its my belief that the 2006 seasonal buying experience doesnt need a massive January 07 crash and burn over HD player issues.

This is the broadcast format and std display of HD streams that will persist for the next few years, mostly due to bandwidth and compression efforts prepared for future use. The key thing for you to know is that interlaced HD source transport streams look great when properly processed at the disply endpoint, and basically its all good when that happens, the result is a progressive image that is delayed from actual arrival by mere milliseconds. This means component , DVI . HDMI basically should look quite good when done right and compatibility is not really a huge issue... for the moment anyhow.

I have seen it, and really it is quite nice, notably clunky in initializing itself but basically it does its job well and the larger problems exist not in the format, but in the downstream processing and display its connected to. Kudos to the HD-DVD guys.

I made a pretty good demo reel in that format, actually it can play off a regular DVD too since its short in TRT, but basically i have proven to myself that there is no real problem at all in HD-DVD image quality and fast action scene-cut compression artifact recovery. If the Video editing. mastering / colorizer team does its job well, then you are going to love it.

HDMI 1.3
ok i caught some nooise on this....
Please... the 48bit color depth available in 1.3 is just not happening out there, so dont push this. Perhaps a dozen very uber-high end displays can even come close to 48bit color gamut at the pixel rendering right now, and in my opinion it is a false selling point. Joe sixpack wont buy a mountain climbing option for his SUV if he lives in a very flat floridian Keys area, since he knows he has no mountains around... 48bit color however sounds good and poor Joe has no clue, it isnt a mountain he can see, making it an unfair pitch.

Stuck Pixels?
ok you LCD HD display people .. tell me.
Does anyone have a stuck red-green-blue pixel dot on thier screen? Let me know.

Refresh & Frames Per Second.
The 720p60 issue that people have in displaying 1280 x720 resolution at full frames 60 times per second. get this, movies are displayed at 24 frames per second. not a problem. Normal TV in the USA is 29.97 frames per second. Unless following some ballistic sports is critical to you, 60 frames per second is useless overkill.