When Is HDTV Going to Catch Up?

Yes that is the question I have these days. When is HDTV going to catch up? Are they going to wait until the analog cut off before paying attention to their digital channels?

Ok, you are probably asking what is this rant all about. It is about the crappy programs we get on what should be events. Super Bowl, NBA Playoffs, World Series and yes, the latest gripe of mine - The 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards show on CBS Sunday night. That had to be one of the worse TV broadcasts I have seen to date. And with the cut off looming just months away. You would think a high profile show from Las Vegas that they were going to commit 3 hours to would come off without a hitch, but NO!

First the picture quality was just terrible. Check out this for a HD picture:
Click for large view
I mean come on! That is not even internet video quality. My Sony Cybershot camera takes better video. But that is what happens when overcompression is allowed to run amuck.

Why so much compression? Well a couple of things are going on here. One, the local station, thanks KHOU-DT Houston, has to allocate some of the bandwidth to their stupid sub-channels. Like I need the weather, or whatever, during an event!

Second, that frame was taken while they were flashing a lot of lights for some sort of creative effect, which I’m sure looked killer live, but really plays hell with overcompressed HDTV broadcasts as you can see.

Bear in mind that is not a complete frame being shown, but only the center portion so it could fit on your computer screen. It is presented unscaled when you click on it. Here is the entire frame, again click on it for full size:
Click for large view

Now to show what a picture looks like with minimum macroblocking, here is moments later:
Click for large view

Even here there is another thing to be learned. Notice how her fingers are a blur? Was this because I was watching on a LCD HDTV? Of course not, it is in the source. How many times is LCD motion blur really just a blurred source on fast motion? More than it is given credit for.

Now if that was not bad enough, there is more. The audio was also a total mess. If Simon was rating it he would say just atrocious. The mix was completely off with the vocal microphones, including the hosts, presenters and singers, at a much lower level than the background music. It also had that digital ringing that is hard to describe. Not an echo, although it is close, but some other sort of distortion. Very annoying.

Want to know the capper? I switched to the analog tuner and the sound was very good. What does that tell me?

Add to this the volume level going up on commercials, like back in the fifties and sixties, is there anyone monitoring the digital channels?

Maybe it is just here in Houston, but I would think even down to the station level they would pay more attention to their digital channels.

3 Responses to “When Is HDTV Going to Catch Up?”

  1. AT&T U-verse watching experience - High Def Forum - Your High Definition Community & High Definition Resource Says:

    [...] When there is macroblocking on OTA, the same is true for U-verse. For more info on this see: When Is HDTV Going to Catch Up? __________________ http://www.highdefinitionblog.com [...]

  2. No HD on Fox HD - High Def Forum - Your High Definition Community & High Definition Resource Says:

    [...] I see a great deal of macroblocking on the stations that multicast. For example of this see: When Is HDTV Going to Catch Up? Personally I would like it better if they would shut off their multicasts during special events [...]

  3. Bad Fast Motion From Some Comcast HD - High Def Forum - Your High Definition Community & High Definition Resource Says:

    [...] in advance. Not just Comcast, but this happens ota as well. For more information on this see: When Is HDTV Going to Catch Up? Probably the reason those other channels are not as big a problem is they are for most of their [...]

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