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

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.


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