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

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Size Matters: Resolution vs distance

This Chart has distance vs screen size for various resolutions, with lines drawn indicating THX and SMPTE guidelines, typical of Home Theater setup documents, this one was compiled by another bloggin enthusiast, Carlton.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge.

According to this graph, these standards for a 55" display at 1080 are around 8 feet distance. For me anyhow, that is pretty close, but its easy to see this graph plots distance to equal visual quality, and represents the avg distance to resolve 2pixels visually at the same size. Meaning: resolution and pixel size matter when you take any given image and spread it out over a screen area.

I know you are looking at your computer screen , so try this gray/grid test:

Its sort of an eye test, 2 x 2 pixel boxes in gray , surrounded by 1 pixel wide black lines, solid gray to the right.

Assuming a typical 1024 x 768 laptop 15 to 17" display is in front of you,
look at the grid and move back until it looks all basically gray.
Measure (or guess) your distance.
Using the chart above, follow the red 1080p line.
A good size for you may well be the screen size in the x axis.

Typically if it takes 8-10 feet before you see all gray in the left box, then you will definitely see value in the accuracy of owning a 1080 resolution display, in a typical living space , at 50-60" in size. Of course, that isnt scientific or statistical in any way, but it does help you think about the value of detail with respect to your eyesight.

This means seeing a single pixel, and easily resolving 2 pixels which is the width of the text in white. On Displays that "Scale" you can slide the browser and see the pattern in the grid is banded and fixed to a screen position.

For our purposes we are discussing HD that is flatpanel Pixel-for-Pixel accurate or a fixed pixel display.

Edit Desk:

3 LG Flatrons 1680 x 1050 and one 37" Westy digital 1080p. This is one place where up close like 4 feet distance reveals all in the HD display. Great for editing HD video and checking compression artifacts in the final render of a project. In some ways, compression matters more than display resolution when visible compression artifacts exist. CBR ( Constant Bit-Rate Mpeg ) is probably the worst culprit. Depending on the scheme used, you may see square or vertically rectangular blocks in high action scenes and scene cut recovery.

Most people dont want to see blocks on the video with a pixelly feel, but often, thats what you get in a 1080i broadcast that is over compressed, and in that case 1080 display shows about the same picture as a 1366, its called:

Broadcast compression blocking: MACROBLOCK.
This stuff is blatant and visible is usually much greater than 2 pixels, typical is more like 16 x 16 pixels in MPEG 2. High action scene cuts like this explosion in STAR WARS broadcast:

Kind of a blocky moment above. This isnt Native resolution fat pixels, its compression artifacts that create a loss of detail during high action event moments, a bandwidth issue for constant bitrate mpeg. Dont allow yourself to view such stuff when buying. Ask for a Blu-ray source to see on the display, perhaps a KING KONG scene, and play it at full frame and slo-mo speed.

1080 LCD accuracy is undeniably rigorous and in my humble opinion, broadcast 1080i mpeg transport stream compression doesnt often live up to the ability of a good 1080p display, yet anyhow. For dramatic high action kept clean, like most of the well crafted HD movies, you most definitely want your 1080 to be from a Blu-ray or HD-DVD. It's just the way it is, and this is what THX is really telling you, for HD off a disc, sit close for home theater experience...but...

So how big is your Pixel?
If you sit close enough to the display to see a single pixel then it would seem you are close enough for sure, the rest depends on eyesight for a lot, one thing that HD does for you is let you see detail textures of a surface that in 480i would just be a solid blotch, the incredible set design detail of many Sci-Fi movies with scenes depicting size and scale that the director used for a purpose. Accurate resolution also give you much more of a connected presence, like being right there in the scene, reading what is on all the signs in Times Square for the King Kong movie for me was a real treat.

FIXED PIXEL DISPLAY is the basis of flatpanel tech.
In the early days of CRT Tubes they used to market pixel size at DOT PITCH, in millimeters, so a .28mm dot pitch meant a nice tight pixel on the screen. Mots people didnt know what that meant but understood a smaller number meant a nicer screen. Sort of like Jessica saying "I totally dont know what that means, but i want it". These days dot pitch or the physical pixel size is not marketed or even in the Spec Sheets. I think it should be.

Pixel Shape
Most people looking at standard TV dont realize the pixel they see is not square but in fact a rectangle. Most Plasma screens and LCD is square pixel, but 4:3 NTSC TV is a .9091 to 1 shape. Not square. So when you see a regular pillar boxed STD def TV show on your HD screen, its really scaled in a lot of ways.

Back in early TV for Color on CRTs they worked it out by placing Red, Gren, Blue vertically masked bars or color subpixels with very thin black borders separating the colors for the electron gun to scan. This caused a need to "converge" in STD TV sets ( get Red Green and Blue to line up ) . We got used to fuzzy in the process, tint knobs, yuch. HD TV is not fuzzy now and square uniform pixels are part of that.

HD PLASMA 1366x768 runs into the same problem that regular TV CRT masks had, in much larger PLASMA screens the black area surrounding each pixel of Red Gren and Blue dots can be visible. They call this the "Screen Door" effect, since up close, your picture looks like you are seeing it through screening, which in a way, you are... People that claim HD is not what its cracked up to be usually are reacting to having seen such a plasma screen and extend that to the entire HD world. On larger 1366 x 768 plasmas at the 60 inch size you can really see each pixel and the black surrounding area. I would tend to favor the screens that look great at any viewing distance. Spend your money if you like what you see at 6 feet away.

DLP and Sony SXRD XBR2 almost totally eliminate this pixel to pixel separation, the whole Rear Projection tactic allows for that and they really do it quite well.

Sometimes things get bad...

THIS COLUMN written by some old guy in Baltimore sums it up pretty well, a huge 1366 x 768 screen was probably what he saw, with a rather dry and mildy irritating sense of humor.

THIS PAGE on Westinghousedigital.com actually lets you print out a full size picture of your tv, sort of taped toogether letter sheets to let you see how much space your TV really will need, and how big this is in relationship to your seating.

OK so what is what?
I think that from 37 to 55 inches, you are basically a TV watcher, typical of a lot of living spaces, and that from 55" on up you really are in a Home Theater kind of setup, where really the Screen takes over a typical room and becomes what the space is designed around. In my opinion this makes a sweet spot of LCD at up to about 4 feet of screen and Gives rear projection rigs like DLP and SXRD stuff an advantage at 60 inches on up.

I have read some posts elewhere that profess 1080p is too expensive, and i really need to point out that if you do the search, you can find great 1080p for a bit over 2k$.. My HD 1920 x 1080p Screen cost me $1298 and that was when it came out, you can buy it for less than that now. In 2007 i would guess that 37-42" screens with 1080p will likely hover around 1k, good deal i think. I paid 1800 for my RP Hitatchi in 1992 or so 45" NTSC screen, and thats a 480i, so in the big picture you are getting more for less if you seek out the great deals on 1080.

IMHO if you dont mind having to replace an expensive lamp maybe every 2 years, SXRD 1080p from Sony is superb.

PIXEL for PIXEL accurate HD1080p off Blu-ray or HD-DVD is worth it. Its is for the most part, the only way you can see what the director/producer intended. No scaling, no mucking with the image, every frame is a piece of art.

IF you can not see a difference between a 1 megapixel and 2 megapixel display at 8 feet away, then you really have less of a problem with resolution decisions. Probably you are more sensitive to black levels and contrast, and will prefer plasma or SXRD technology.

I have helped more than a few people over the past months, and comparison buying is in fact a challenging thing to do. Sometime in the spring i will create and release a Test HD-DVD and downloadable TEST File that lets you see comparative situations and excersizes the scaling and processing chipset in a display/player. Know why before you buy, and IMHO - pixel perfect is the best choice to assure no future regrets, since a TV is something you tend to keep for years.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


The Switch heard round the world....

A new Monster is born. "ATSC"

Ker-thunk goes the analog broadcast TV channels and the end of an era is created as digital takes it's place. Possibly the biggest broadcast event to ever happen, as a mandated change to end over the air television in analog and replace it with digital-only broadcasting... a monster created from the bits an pieces of an already cobbled-together network.

THE ANALOG TO DIGITAL SWITCH is not specifically HD, but it assures that HD has standards that are the same everywhere.

It is ALL channels of broadcast Television. HD is already digital, and its the best of what that has to offer... I have it on good authority that several producers see that as a date to initiate 1080i anyhow. They have been collecting HD shows on the shelf and in the can and building out a full schedule to support that for a couple years now.

US Congress voted on it, passed it... House and Senate tabled, but is going to happen anyhow. ( some citizen groups are planning to sue about it, The UK is having an even tougher time of it, it seems to become a global thing since satellite digital is the way of a lot of this.) Whatever...Our USA FCC decided that they need to re-organize the distribution of broadcast frequency allocations for other wireless purposes, and that comittment will be honored.

This is dragging us all into a situation. We didnt have a voice in how it got the way it is and no voice in how it will change. Meaning: the TV makers in Asia have been handed billions of US dollars to make stuff that deals with it.

Feb 17th 2009 is kind of a calendar-as-dartboard for all this.

Basically the end of NTSC and the beginning of ATSC.

ATSC = The Advanced Television Systems Committee, Inc., is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards for digital television. The ATSC member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries. ATSC creates and fosters implementation of voluntary Standards and Recommended Practices to advance terrestrial digital television broadcasting, and to facilitate interoperability with other media.

Note the International nature of this. It will be one of the few events in history that is intended to universally affect a global population of TV users.

The New Digital TV Tuner is also called ATSC, the digital broadcast standard. Regular TV in the usa is called NTSC. doesnt really matter all that much, its a Bunch of numbers, new channels. Juggling act of biblical proportion that will in one day obsolete half century of TV Tuners.

To defray the impending furor, the US Govt thru the FCC have allocated a billion or so to subsidize the making and selling of the new digital tuners needed for the new digital age.... like 50 bucks is worth something in the year of the OX, 2009 is targeted for the consumer. Probably a rebate form you have to fill out and hope you see a check in the mail... right. Some TV station will come up with a "Crisis" name for it, i cant wait, & I will be available for wry commentary interviews.


Prior to that, Cable providers are required to install and enable something called a cablecard...ever hear of it?.. do you have Cable? you will need to know more. Starting July 1 a deadline exists for switching over to new digital cable set-top boxes with slots for removable security/descrambling modules called CableCARDS. It doesnt really do YOU the consumer much good, but it does provision the management of content protection that is demanded by the content owners, who have pressured "the system" and FCC to insitute and implement it.

Motorola or possibly CISCO is likely the maker of your cableCARD. Think of it as your card-sized gatekeeper, the same capacity to list the GUIDE is the one that phones home to the network for fresh info, identifies you, and by definition, every click of yours is unique to that card ID.


Industry executives estimate that the CableCARD-enabled versions of the mal-equipped digital boxes will cost more than $200 each. Someone is making money on that, and someone is gonna pay. Probably you. Right now Comcast is asking the FCC for a waiver of the July 1 2007 date untill a cost effective plan is crafted, since basically they bought Adelphia and took on a huge load of old crap doing it, its a stress point for them. For Inclusion of ATSC tuners in larger HDTV, the must sell date by the FCC is now March 1, 2007. This means that if you buy a large HDTV it may well have both NTSC and ATSC tuners in it, or NTSC and Cablecard Slot, or both.

Since analog shutoff is about 2 years away, and that is easily within the expected lifecycle of your next TV purchase... you need to know this if you have an antenna on your roof that feeds that CRT TV set.


If you have Cable/dish access ( and its your internet connection ) then you will see this Feb 17th 2009 come and go with zero impact, unnoticed, since by then you very likely already getting a digital signal through your subscriber-set-top-box anyhow., HDCP/cableCARD and whatall DRM will be in place.

Over The Air DIGITAL TUNER SET TOP CONVERTER Like this one here...

If you are thinking of getting rid of your old TV , i would have that yard sale soon.

Monday, January 08, 2007

LCD True HD and Full 1080p

It would seem that 1080p LCD in the 37 to 55 inch range is going so strong that any other display tech is going to be price sensitive very soon. This is the Westinghouse Digital Lvm 42"

1080p at 42" only 4.5 inches deep is the Westy LVM-42W2, and at a street price around or under $1500 it is perfect as a start for your 1080 experience without breaking the bank, and totally connectable to all your devices. Mine uses both component inputs, one for the Cable box and one for the HDV video camera, one of the 2 DVI inputs is my main computer with an nVidia 7600gt card and the other DVI is to a small Aopen box i use for tradeshow HD loop delivery. The HDMI connector is to my DVD player and the VGA connecter is to my Laptop. I have 6 sources of HD video to pick from.

1080p doesn't have to wipe out your wallet

I see a lot of posts out there that say you cant get over 40 inches for 1080p for under $2k and that is just plain wrong. This Westinghouse screen is so good that usually it is not on any display floor, since other 42" displays look a bit fuzzier at 1366 x 768 and cost more $. No retailer wants to obsolete his own inventory, so to get this one you usually have to ask for it. They tend to keep them in the warehouse. Or weighing in at only 60 lbs , have it shipped to you. I asked for mine at Magnolia, an HD TV store within a store at Best Buy. I asked about it, the manager came over, nodded, said it was a great unit and got me one in 3 days.


Because the LVM-42w2 is a true 1080p monitor, you can attach all your favorite sources using uncompressed digital interfaces. Multiple high-bandwidth digital interfaces mean high-performance HD digital cable, HD satellite and an HD game console. Additionally, PC and notebook users can enjoy the same fat pipe, along with industry-best Genesis Display Perfection® technology.

It is important to note the Faroudja DCDi 3rd generation chipset is in this one, making all your source scaling as good as it possibly can be.

In my humble opinion, this display is perfect for your average living space, has no HDTV tuner so it costs less and connects to your HD Cable / Dish / Satellite provider set-top box, and has very basic speakers that you do not even see. Very clean front -- you can even disable the lit (w) logo on the front. My unit is not bright silver, sort of a brown tone that reminds me a bit of the old high-end macintosh tube amp front bezel. The Scaler chipset is worldclass and all computer connections to it are pixel perfect. Its contrast ratio at about 1200:1 reads like it might not have black levels that a true home theater enthusiast wants, but it displays the entire color gamut of my sources perfectly, i just dont have the backlight set at full , usually about level 2 out of 5 is more than enough, and with that setting, black levels are about right for me.

Most importantly, every computer, game, dvd player we connect to it displays perfectly. We have 3 computers ( 2 on DVI and one on VGA ), and all are doing exactly as i set them up to do, no fiddling on the display side. Part of this benefit comes from an auto-display-config that is built in and figures out what its incoming signal is. That mode pops up and sets itself correctly every time, so i dont have to click through the source options to see, just turning on the connected device causes the display to switch to it and run display optimizing. I dont know whay they dont brag about this on review sites or on the westinghouse digital site, but they should since this makes it a perfect conference room / trade event click and use solution.

This is one display that looks great with your nose right up to it.

And trust me on this, people will do that. In fact they may just prefer to park themselves 4 feet away and stay there to look at it. I run my HDV-FX1 hd video camera right in to it with component input and it becomes my interview realtime review monitor. Its display latency ( the difference between actual time and display time lag ) is so short that no one has a problem with it. It is so accurate that its now my reference monitor for lighting and camera exposure.

All i need now is a nice Anvil transit case for it.

HD1080i endorses this display as a best $ for the buck.

HD wireless cable by Phillips

Some new monikker called "wireless cables" ... oxymoronic but just the way we like it, no visible wires and more points of connectivity. Itsn not a wire, its a couple boxes.
Think wireless HDMI 1080p ... only you dont run out of jacks to plug stuff into with wireless is channel availability, so devices can really sit near the couch or hidden away anywhere in the room and not have to be under the TV anymore.

The big problem with Wall mounted flat panels is the ugly wire drop downs of all the crap you hooked up that is plugged into the back... that eventually forces you ( actually it may be your wife's constant harang on too many wires that produces that ringing in your ears ) to poke a hole in the wall to run them out of sight and therefore make all that connectivity more of a hassle to get at. My advice, Pay an Installer to put in the wall arm, and install the power outlet anyhow. But after he leaves, you buy another gizmo and now what.. all that cost of install to avoid wire is right back where you were, another dangling cable.

When you are finally done... buying slightly longer cables to reach the rack and whatall plugging the clean looking wall mounted outcome together, you have spent WAY MORE time and money than any of the cool new wireless systems cost. I would like to thank MONSTER CABLE's pricing for making wireless a very attractive and cost effective solution. In my case I would need a 36foot linear run down the wall , around the baseboard, around a corner and up into my rack for an 18 foot direct line-of-sight actual distance.

From the mouths of babes...

My 4yr old son once reminded me of how pervasive wired component systems can be... when one day i asked him to hand me a stereo audio cable...
he looked at me, confused, and said "what cable?"
I replied, "the long black stuff next to you." ...
to which my son promptly admonished me with:
"Oh that's not a cable, that's anudda damn wire"

Obviously he had been listening to my wife's comments..., Thanks Hun.

I got a lot of helpful texting by cell from pals walking the asiles of CES, makes me wish i had gone there.. but a consensus was handed to me on Wireless HDMI. click.
1). NetGear EVA8000
2). Neosonik
These two systems are HD1080i compatible with HDMI 1.3 which means video and audio digital wireless. The Netgear sort of assumes your PC will rule the decision path for content, and the Neosonik assumes you have all digital source and how you handle that is more component Device AV centric. Offhand i would say that Neo has it going properly for the user that just wants wireless and no need to sync this or boot that, and they have a proprietary signal that is more immune to wrieless traffic of the standard 802 whatever. Thats a good thing, my experience with netgear is that at 50 feet or so your signal is now junk. Neosonik claims twice that reach.


There are several new wireless offerings, i like all this enough to mention each in its own turn. look for posts on wireless 1080 hdmi later on...For example there are Flatpanel systems out there at CES that have something i would call wireless drop, where you place the ATSC tuner and its controller box just below the display, all your wires go into that... ( and along the baseboard however they are needed, out of sight for the most part ) The screen is connected by a High Speed wireless that only has to travel a few feet vertically up to it. Sweet. This may well be the solution of choice if you like the display ( A samsung plasma ) . My preference would be to have this option available for any display thats 1080p, but i do like integrated stuff also.


Basically the surround sound rear speaker issue gets too painful, largely because of the rear speaker wires that had to go under carpet or along ceiling or in a path of travel within the room. So for a time i had basically 3.1 sound Stereo LR, center speaker and subwoofer. The only part that really had to be wireless was rear left and right. I finally bought a Pioneer VSX D414 that satisfied this for me. Wireless HDMI 1.3 is full audio and video , inherently allowing a better path, but beware, some systems will have a processing delay time that makes the sound a bit out of sync or seem more distant, sort of disturbing the soundfield for nearby rear speaker sounds that are in the video. Near Zero Audio processing latency is needed, you have to ask about that.

really this is the way to go.
Why? because you want it all in one processing path to avoid audio and video sync delay issues and you need HDCP inherent to the system for it to work anyhow, the HDMI for 1080 use is designed to deal with all that.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Full HD 1080

Shown above are the relative areas of screen resolution.
red is 1920 x 1080 16:9 FULL HD
gray is 1366 x 768
black is 1280 x 720
blue is 720 x 480

If all pixels were the same size, this would be the relationship of amount of equally detailed area. If you take an image that is fully detailed in the space of the blue box and stretch it out to fill the area enclosed by the gray border, then you are essentially doing the same thing as getting your face 3 times closer to the screen. This doesnt get you a better image, just the same thing bigger. New Technology is available and developing that actually can make the larger scaled-up image look rather nice, and in effect make you feel that you are seeing a higher resolution.

HD is where edges matter, details tell all.
Its very important, the ability of the human visual system to resolve details, like body language, that is present in anything they see. 1920 x 1080 pixels of resolution provides this detail where you are seeing the image in about the same detail that you see everything else, when spread out over 40-60" of area and that is average room size viewing distance to resolved detail.

The problems that need fixing are that Video and TV are images in motion... things change over time. It is here that Interlaced ( every other row sent separately ) content from broadcasts must be reassembled into a complete image. 1080i coming in, 1080p on the screen.

Le me show an example before describing the issues.

Mike's Bike Video

crop of Mikes bike video frame in 108o ppixel for pixel

Interlacing error is one pixel separation of horizontal ( odd / even ) lines, play with the flash example above, animated sliding to see what it really does in an image. Click "Normal" to see what is normal 1080i.

You may well have seen fleeting moments of such stuff on your screen where a comb like edge appears when something in the video is moving, and you also may recognize this as a horizontal effect. This comb look is always a left-right edge problem. In the above view, it only takes 4 pixels of purely horizontal panning shift to cause a horrible outcome when de-interlacing is not done properly. If everything is done right which is the usual case - you never see this.

It is this issue that makes de-interlacing and scaling firmware in your HDTV or set-top so important. Lots of very fast technology goes into this, read my other posts on DCDi. Each frame is de-interlaced prior to scaling inside the display's processing path, using Directional Correlation de-interlacing math. Very cool.

But it isnt that simple. Some broadcasters will actually scale up lower res video, not deinterlaced, and then send that out thru 1080i. Classic failure to attend to this detail of processing is not your fault, or the fault of your TV, it is created by the source provider ( telecine processing ) and the Cable/dish digital provider systems. TNT especially - thru Comcast, on shows like "Charmed" have digitized film in interlaced format, scaled that, and distributed.

Broadcast 1080i of a scene from King Kong.

Properly handled de-interlacing of a film broadcast in 1080i should look like this, where a motion blur in the direction of the motion is presented ( zoom up of a screen shot from King Kong ) 1/60th of a second. You can see a slight ghost of the plane's wings from the previous frame, and a line-blur from the tracer bullet it shoots. No Jaggy comb effect, broadcast properly. In 1080p you should see none of this slight ghost, but you need a 1080p source like HD-DVD or Blu-ray to get it.
I'm not going into 2:3 pulldown since that film-rate to ATSC broadcast rate is now handled really well by every player in the market.

Bly-ray and the HD-DVD in progressive formats, remove the need for processing of this type entirely, by providing an already cleaned up and exactly rendered image of what they want you to see in every frame., and do that at the source, your HDTV doesnt have to do anything more than just decode/de-encrypt and show it to you.

The value of 1080p? It is like a guarentee that the technology is available and in use to assure a perfect image in every frame. This doesnt mean the movie itself was great, detailed and clean, just that the technology is there to provide for it. I think Made for HD DVD, shot in 4k or HD ( not film conversions telecine or otherwize ) will really express this, and that has yet to become the normal production.

If you make an investment in 1080 native resolution display technology then you will get the value out of it from the Full Frame no-interlace processing inherent in 1080p from the high definition DVD.

I shoot in HD and "flatten" my videos at the point of color correction to be 1080 for this reason, most commonly for 24p since it lets me control the motion and feel of focus in foreground motion vs focus and depth of field in background motion blur. Lots of high action happens in sub-second time so the natural feel of a progressive frame requires managing this. It is so worth that step in processing. I now also rely on VC-1 to be my codec for archive.


HD-DVD/ Blu-ray in VC-1 @ 1080p displayed on a real 1080p monitor is what HD is all about.

Almost everything else is "almost HD", very good, but not all there is. So all these so-called experts that do not have 1080p in front of them, that do not shoot in the format and edit in the format, just dont know what the f&@k they are talking about. These editorializers that claim to have authoritative understanding of things are interested in extending thier own importance than in actually knowing the reality first hand. I read an Article that basically said 1080i and 1080p are indistinguishable for most people. I disagree, a 1080p source is enough better to justify the HD-DVD and Blu-ray for its value. Scale that down to 720p and its still nice but you just cut your detail level down to 1/2 of what it should be. Kind of like buying a Camaro with a nice paintjob and having a 4 cylinder engine in it.

WHY VC-1? - because there is no scene-cut block recovery artifacts in it when its done really well, its perfect. Read Macroblock garbage is my worst complaint about mpeg2 and mpeg4.

CES - DUAL HD-DVD/Blu-ray play in one unit.
We should see some dual format media and players this year and i think its all good.

The Dual Format LG BH100 first generation player Retail $1200.
It plays everything you put into it. ALL DVDS any format.
Conversations by cell with attendees confirms its really a Blu-ray player and burner with the added capability of handling HD-DVD playback. All indications from those that i know that spent bucks on thier 1080p screens, failed to get a PS3 yet ... is unanimous. They want one. I would like to know first hand that the upscaling of std DVD widescreen versions is good on this unit but it looks like a win.

Interesting to note they do not list VC-1 as a format codec on the Best Buy site , instead they simply say SMPTE. I guess you are expected to relate that SMPTE 421M is the official Spec name, but you could sort of say that its WMV9 and be in the same class of codecs. I want the common term of understanding to be VC-1.

This player is a fully built computer, so inside there is processing for the BDJ stuff meaning interactive programming for Blu-ray, and an ethernet port for future networking, hopefully meaning you can upgrade the operating system in it, upgrade firmware, get "Soft" deliverable feature enhancements. Yep, i'm liking this.

When the Video-techygeek early adopters are done buying this, then the price will drop and some stripped down to basics equivalent will probably be built into a TV that i will probably buy, slap on my bedroom wall. thanks LG.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

2007 - Year of the High Def DVD?

Who knows?

One thing for sure, the basic art of Buzz-word use is alive and well - I expect to see quite a few new products, that employ HDMI/HDCP to appear as players of all types. Here are some notes...

on the plus side ...

HD-DVD seems to have one strong thing going for it, it uses this VC-1 compression codec to get the movie onto the disc and it is truely a stunning thing to see, its very compact and in that regard blows out the argument the blu-ray people use for having more storage, since the VC-1 codec just doesnt need all the gigabytes of MPEG2 or MPEG 4. It plays solidly and looks perfect. Gooodbye to that blicky blocky garbage look in rapid scene cuts and high action moments of some of the best films ever made. It gives the film clarity you want. Its is also somewhat less expensive.

Toshiba has continuously improved its set-top products for faster startup and runtime, and some manufacturers are adding chipsets that support 1080p thru a de-interlacer in the unit.

On the minus side, its seems that breakable content rights management for software players on PC platforms will be likely, making a few geek users happy at the expense of Movie distributor angst. Already some people are complaining to me that a scratch in the HD-DVD will kill things for you, apparently too soft a plastic coating and higher density makes for a less rugged media, but i would expect the HD-DVD camp to solve this, or Netflix etc. In the meantime handle with care. I cant tell you much yet about the ROM burner performance.

Seems Pricing and product release delays prevail here, but the DRM is reasonably robust and the surface technology is proper for high density DVD as a format. The best movies in the best players look great, any trip to Best Buy should include a pass throu the HD area to see the Pioneer Elite. Its high ticket and perfect an all regards.

Mutli-Format Players
I would expect this as a shakeup of some sort....
LG was making some waves last year with a buzz about HD-DVD / Blu-ray combo players and we will see one next week aparently. Warner has also made some mentions of a multiformat or "format agnostic" player technology that is focused on 1080 playback more than anything else, and they appear to have a patent and working tech to prove it.

1080 is the number
no doubt.
It seems that the 720 crowd is being ignored in all storage media formats so all you 1366x768 owners should make sure your player for whatever DVD, has scalers in it that work nicely. Downsampling from 1080 to 768 is non-trivial, and quite a few companies are now in the game of making that work out for you, so its all good. Silicon Optix, Genesis and Sony all have great technology for that. I like DCDi by faroudja but have recently been convinced by exposure to LG's display that correlation de-interlacing processing prior to scaling not only works nicely, but works consistently enough to be transparent to the user.

I am starting to get lots of questions now about this, which is great, it means that people relate to what interlaced stuff is about ( i get comments like , "this looks like the teeth of a comb all along the edge" ) etc, and they recognize that 1080p usually is the process of removing that. There are a lot of great chipset technologies that handle this now, in real time, with embedded processing speeds of 1 trillion operations per second and lots of memory buffers, so its all good.
Scalers are needed after the de-interlacing is done, to rezise the incoming pixels to the display's native pixel resolutions, and they usually are also incorporated into a matching chipset that reads the same memory buffer and writes to your display VRAM ... which basically is what you see, 30 times a second.. . You need to know about and appreciate this hot technology, since it is cutting edge of what used to be in a whole rack computer in flight simulators all brought together in a small package behind your screen. And it Rules what you see.

For example a couple of currently available blu-ray DVD players out there actually convert 1080p off the disc mpeg2 to 1080i , just to run it all through the chipsets that de-interlace -scale - color correct - perform 24p frame 3:2 pulldowns - sharpen and filter noise and output your 1080p. So in that case it doesnt matter if your DVD is interlaced or not, done properly you will not know a difference, and it looks great, like HD should be.

In the case of having all this processing inside the display itself, you have a great solution that can take anything from STD DVD ( 720x480) to 720 broadcasts , to game machines, to 1080i mpeg from blu-ray.

For example, My Westinghouse Digital 1080p LVM display upscales DVD very nicely and i love it. I have seen the new LG 1080p LCD display with integrated DVR that records whatever you see, and its a great buy, in a large part because the internal processing engines that de-interlace and scale do a great job. ALL the Sony SXRD XBR stuff scales so nicely you wont even realize your movie was in a different res than the screen is, although SXRD is intensely mechanical and has a projection lamp light source that may need replacing, its image is sweet based on the large amount of very tuned processing for it.

In fact this is so important that i probably will research and summarize in some type of soft-tech review, made simple to understand by the average buyer, what the processing is about and who is doing it well, give some credit where it is deserved.