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

Monday, October 22, 2007

TRUE HD vs UPconverted.

"True HD" (OP-Ed)

Oh my god... i'll bet everyone thought HD was HD, started to realize it was NOT, and searched to find HD1080i... we get a lot of search string hits here.

For one thing... Almost without exception the actual broadcast video transport stream you get from DISH or Cable source, into your Set Top Box or DVR and out to your TV, is HD1080i. Think of it more as a delivery tactic than as anything else, it is an MPEG ( 2 or 4 ) compression convention for digital video. That resolution for a fully displayed frame is 1920 x 1080 pixels, regardless of the source or of the display monitor or TV you may have.

Here is the rub... some DISH and a lot of cable broadcast content at this moment is NOT HD, it is Upconverted or telecine converted from a lesser resolution format, and that is ok sometimes, but really a slap in face most of the time. You Paid for HD channels but you are getting whatever thay want to send out ( or the best they have at the moment ) In fact it would seem people are proudly displaying the letters HD everywhere they can regardless of whether or not HD 1080 was the source. So be it, things are improving every day... we are watching you....

Fotunately some stations are admitting when they are NOT boradcasting HD to an HD channel, and you may find that listed as OAR UPCONVERSION... ( with no explanation )

OAR = Original Aspect Ratio. This can mean movie theater wide - an Academy format widescreen movie usually a bit over 2 times wider than it is tall in the frame, making a black band at the top and at the bottom even on a widescreen TV.

UPCONVERSION means they scaled it from a lesser resolution to HD1080 before broadcasting it. I am grateful for when a channel listing identifies this for me so i know what to expect, and sometimes the picture is ok enough that its all good, sometimes not. The black and white Fellini stuff looks real nice though.

If you have a 1366 x 768 display then you probably dont notice the "softer" image quality of an upscaled 1080 since your display promptly down scales it from 1920 to 1366 wide before you see it anyhow. In my opinion ALL HD looks rather good and about the same on a 1366 display.

Personally i prefer true 1080 hd, like HDNET and DISCOVERY HD, even though after a while I cant take repltiles and landscapes, bodyparts and nature goo, i watch just because it looks so damn nice. 2 words. planet earth. well worth setting aside time to watch this.

Most often though the upscaling we prefer here is done by an OPPO or my own computer, and better than cable provider upscaling, and my displays have Faroudja in the chipsets anyhow.

NOT HD but is a higher definition 1440 x 1080 (spoof frame displayed as example)

Some UPSCALING is done to create a SQUARE 4:3 non-widescreen HD equivalent ( 1440 x 1080 ) and then that is sent to a broadcast box that converts to a 1920 x 1080i formatted display frame with black "pillar box" sides to it. I have to repeat my issue with this because there is currently a surge of that going on in supposed HD lineups, basically a big square image. They sort of get away with it since many studio cameras are very very good, some are 1440 and scaling direct out of the camera looks pretty good for a talking head news show.. it isnt True HD, but it is 1080 pixels high.

Am I harping on this issue? Riding that Horse into the ground...


This "We just launched a lot of NEW HD CHANNELS" noise is NOT living up to the marketing hype, ( at this moment anyhow ) we know it and it is NOT WORTH paying extra to get a package full of that. I still prefer the OnDemand HD quality over most of the packaged bundles... And COMCAST .. put HDNET BACK into the channel line up i paid for. There are still only a couple dozen decent HD channels, and even then only a handfull or 2 that actually show HD content at any given time.