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Is it time for HD yet?


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25 replies to this topic

#1 of 26 David Sorenson

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Posted July 15 2003 - 07:20 AM

I've been happily watching my HD Sony set with my digital cable for almost a year now and I'm once again asking myself if it's time to get some actual HD signals. The questions are:

Are the HD receivers out there now good enough, and has a standard finally emerged?

Is there enough HD programming out there yet to make it worth the $$ to buy the receiver and whatever else I need.

Aside from a receiver, what else do I need?

Thanks in advance for any input.

#2 of 26 Michael TLV

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Posted July 15 2003 - 08:17 AM

Greetings

How long is a piece of string?

What constitutes enough? Enough for one is nothing to another ...

I'm enjoying my HDTV programming now. Isn't it supposed to be about quality rather than quantity?

Regards
Michael @ The Laser Video Experience
THX Video Systems Instructor/ISF Instructor
Lion A/V Consultants Network - TLVEXP.com


#3 of 26 Lew Crippen

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Posted July 15 2003 - 08:18 AM

I assume that your cable company does not have an HD offering and I am not sure what you mean by a ‘standard’, but I’ll comment otherwise.

As to programming, it depends on what you watch. CBS in prime time is almost all HD. So is NBC except for a few.. And ABC is except for a few shows. PBS has some shows in HD, but is mostly SD. Fox has nothing in HD, but has promises for 2004. They do telecast some shows in 480p. The other networks have almost nothing in HD. The cable/satellite channels are all in SD, except ESPN, Discovery, Showtime and HBO which all have HD offerings. There is also some PPV HD available depending on your service (DirecTV has some, for example)

Very little in non-prime time is in HD other than what has been noted, with the notable exception of sports telecasts, which are tending to be presented in HD on an ever increasing basis.

Up to you if you think that this is enough. If you watch the premium movie channels, prime time network or sports, there probably is plenty of HD content. Otherwise there is not.

There are quite a few HD receivers on the market. If you are happy with your cable service, you can get local, OTA HD (assuming that you are in an area where HD is telecast), by adding a receiver and an antenna (I use rabbit ears—you may need something else). Or if your cable service has an HD option, they may provide you with an HD cable box. You should be aware that most cable companies boxes will not decode OTA telecasts, so you will still need another receiver. On the plus side, some (not many yet) cable companies are carrying local HD telecasts over their cable.

Your other option is to drop the cable and subscribe to a satellite service. Neither has local HD telecasts as a part of their satellite service, but at least their STBs will also decode OTA transmissions. Dish does carry CBS HD and it is available for some, not all subscribers.

I have an older Hughes HD receiver that works very well. Good picture and good 5.1 sound (when it’s present). I do think that I’d get a couple of fringe stations a bit better if I had a new, state-of-the-art receiver.

So from a technology standpoint, I’d see no reason not to make the jump.
¡Time is not my master!

#4 of 26 Ron-P

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Posted July 15 2003 - 08:37 AM

Quote:
Isn't it supposed to be about quality rather than quantity?

Nope. Direct TV offer's 2 channels in HD for $11 a month, ESPN and Discovery. I don't watch any sports and rarely watch Discovery. I don't watch any OTA (less Friends).

So, quantity over quality is a must. Bring on more HD channels and then I'll sign up. Until then...


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#5 of 26 Jack Briggs

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Posted July 15 2003 - 08:45 AM

Well, Michael hits it on the nail for me.

David, do you sometimes thrill to the look of a well-authored DVD in progressive scan? HD will take you to a whole new level. Your set can do HD, and settop boxes are reasonably affordable. Why wait?

#6 of 26 Lew Crippen

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Posted July 15 2003 - 08:52 AM

Quote:
Nope. Direct TV offer's 2 channels in HD for $11 a month, ESPN and Discovery. I don't watch any sports and rarely watch Discovery. I don't watch any OTA (less Friends).

So, quantity over quality is a must. Bring on more HD channels and then I'll sign up. Until then...

I just used my secret decoder ring and came to the conclusion that you don’t watch TV, Ron. Posted Image

If you subscribe to either HBO or Showtime, you can get their HD offerings for no additional charge (other than the extra you pay already).

HDNet has some non-sports stuff as well. Otherwise for movies (in HD) it is PPV.
¡Time is not my master!

#7 of 26 JohnSch

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Posted July 15 2003 - 09:06 AM

It's all about what you watch. For under $400 (under $300 if you have a decent antenna on your roof already) *if* you live where you can get HD/DTV over the air (see www.titantv.com and/or www.antennaweb.org) you may be able to get fox/abc/cbs/nbc, plus Smallville on WB and the PBS HD demo loop (Posted Image) over the air.

Sounds expensive, but the alternative is dish/direct tv ($500 for the box to get 5 HD channels, 3 premium for $11/mo) or cable (could be as low as $5/mo for box rental and "HD" service, may well get 5 non-premium HD channels, but it depends on your cable company.)

I am fortunate - I live in the SF bay area and (finally now that I have the antenna installed correctly - don't ask) pull in 15 DTV stations, including all the major networks. So my $350 investment in Set-top box HD receiver and antenna provides what I could not get from Comcast for any price, and more than what I would get from a satellite company.

HDTV is something to see - last night I caught just a bit of the Tonight Show in HD (before nodding off!) and it was like Jay's jaw was shooting out of the set.. Actually even "plain old" digital TV is a nicer picture than some of the analog cable signals I get.

It's still "early adopter" time, but it's past "bleeding edge gotta have it before anyone else" time for HDTV.

#8 of 26 Ron-P

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Posted July 15 2003 - 09:43 AM

Your decoder ring worked Lew, unless it's Discovery Wings channel or Friends, I don't watch TV. I won't buy movie channels either. When I have time, I watch DVDs, that's about it. I'm also not impressed enough with HD to warrant the coin for it. After watching at a friends house, yeah it's nice looking, but it's just dressed up TV I don't watch.


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#9 of 26 David Sorenson

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Posted July 15 2003 - 09:43 AM

According to various sites I have all the major networks being broadcast in HD within 30 miles of my house. My local cable company doesn't have HD yet, nor do they have any timeline to get it (hurry up Comcast!) so no luck there. I don't have an antenna currently and there are some restrictions on putting one up. I'm not a sports fan and don't get any premium channels so it's just the normal stuff for me. Since they took farscape off I don't even watch that much anymore....but it's summer too.

I also hate to mention that I don't even have a progressive scan DVD player yet and am just using my current players S-Video connection and letting my TV upconvert. I have a Sony 32HS600 and it seems to do a good job.

Any suggestions on a good HD receiver brand?

#10 of 26 Steve Schaffer

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Posted July 15 2003 - 11:02 AM

Ron P.

The $11 DirecTV HD package includes 4 channels, not 2: HDNet, HDNet Movies, Discovery HD, and ESPNHD. With the exception of ESPNHD, these are all HD all the time.

I also subscribe to the Showtime and HBO feeds, adding 2 more available HD channels and there is an additional HD PPV channel.

There are also 2 local OTA HD channels available in my area.

All that being said, I can identify with your position. My compulsive dvd addiction has led to the accumulation of some 400 or so movies over the last 5 years and more often than not I find myself watching one of them rather than HDTV for an evening's entertainment.

The fact is that for most movies, the 480P dvd picture quality is very close indeed to the HD picture quality on HBO or Showtime, with the added benefit of special features and the all-important pause button for snack and potty breaks.

There are so few regular tv shows anymore that are worth watching and a bad show in HD is still a bad show. My local OTA HD reception is still largely hit and miss though the stuff on DirecTV is rock solid, so even those few commercial network shows I love aren't always gonna happen in HD at my house.

I have confidence that the offerings on Discovery HD and the upcoming HD channels like Bravo HD will make my investment in HD gear more sensible in the future, but for now it's a novelty toy rather than a must-have source of entertainment.
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#11 of 26 Ron-P

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Posted July 16 2003 - 02:54 AM

Quote:
Ron P.

The $11 DirecTV HD package includes 4 channels, not 2: HDNet, HDNet Movies, Discovery HD, and ESPNHD. With the exception of ESPNHD, these are all HD all the time.

Good to know, thanks Steve. Last time I checked it was only 2. Still though, not enough for me to commit yet. I need more channels before I buy in.


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#12 of 26 Jeremy Tebo

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Posted July 16 2003 - 04:00 AM

I'm in the same boat. I've got digital cable through Adelphia. When I asked them about HDTV, they said they plan on having it by the end of the year. I also asked if they needed any testers, and they said they forwarded my name to thier techs. Anyone who was a tester for digital cable - how long before the public release did they start testing?

I'm just about to get Directv with an HD reciever, but $500-$800 seems like a big investment. I could get an OTA only reciever to wet my whistle, but the only OTA signal we get now is CBS, which has to be the most worthless network ever. Fox is starting to broadcast, but who really cares about 480p.

Another issue with satellite is that I would have to keep my cable modem.

What do you guys recommend for an HD Directv reciever?

#13 of 26 dan fritzen

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Posted July 16 2003 - 04:26 AM

Quote:
Any suggestions on a good HD receiver brand?

I bought the Samsung SIR-T151 and it works quiet well in the basement with an amplified antenna in a window sill. It is only $300 at Amazon or $289 at Sams Club.
"Other than that Mrs. Lincoln how did you enjoy the show?"

#14 of 26 Lew Crippen

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Posted July 16 2003 - 04:32 AM

I have a Hughes E86 that is supposedly not as good as the newer generation ones by Samsung and Zenith.

Sony 200 is a rebadged Zenith (which in turn is a rebadged, Luckey Goldstar). Sony is about to come out with a new model. I don’t know if is to be another Goldstar or not.

All of these are DirecTV receivers.

Out of curiosity, why would you have to keep your cable modem if you went with DirecTV? I would presume that you would drop cable if you went with any satellite service.
¡Time is not my master!

#15 of 26 Michael St. Clair

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Posted July 16 2003 - 05:02 AM

Warner Cable here provides us with the following for no charge over regular digital cable:

NBC
ABC
CBS
PBS (x2)
Discovery

And your HBO and SHO are also included if you buy the standard-def versions.

If I went Satellite+OTA, I'd have to spend $500 on a box, plus more on a rooftop or attic antenna (I'm in the fringe, rabbit ears don't work here with 8VSB). Frankly, I don't consider it worth the expense at this point...glad I've got cable.

#16 of 26 Jeremy Tebo

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Posted July 16 2003 - 09:18 AM

Michael, you're lucky and I'm jealous. Colorado Springs is supposed to be a "tech" city, but the HD cable is coming slow as mole asses.

Lew, I wouldn't have to keep the cable modem, except that I still want high-speed internet. I don't have a home phone line (cell only), so DSL wouldn't be worth it.

My TV (Sony 36HS500) has DVI, so I'd like to get one of the recievers with DVI out, such as the Samsung or Sony/Zenith. I've heard good things about both of those, but jeez they're expensive.

I think it might be a waste of money to get an OTA only reciever if I'm going to upgrade to satellite, although it looks like I can pick up a T151 for a little over $200. (But could then only get crappy CBS for now)

It looks like the Hughes is the least expensive sat/ota, but I would have to settle for component video.

Of course then there's the issue of whether I should wait for the Sony SAT-HD300.

If Adelphia got thier act together I wouldn't have this problem. I really doubt they get it up by the end of the year, earlier this year they said they would have it this summer.

Dreaming in HD,
JT

#17 of 26 Lew Crippen

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Posted July 16 2003 - 09:43 AM

I’m jealous of Michael too, Jeremy. My cable service actually provides HD—but only for Showtime, HBO and (I think) Discovery.

I asked them over the 4th weekend (at a display) when they were going to get local channels and ESPN—and the response was the expected, ‘in negotiations’. I do think that the future of HD is in cable, as the bandwidth potential is so much greater than with satellite, but so far in most locations satellite has the early edge.

BTW, I am pretty sure that I see ads all the time in DriecTV for Internet access. I might be wrong, but you might like to check.

I’m deciding if I should get another receiver now (and move my E86 to the bedroom set) or wait for an HD PVR. I’m not that impressed with the one that has hit the market with only an 8 hour (or so) HD capacity That will have to improve before I’ll jump.
¡Time is not my master!

#18 of 26 Rob Tomlin

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Posted July 16 2003 - 11:39 AM

If EchoStar would hurry up and get their PVR 921 out, along with the "Superdish", I would be set!

The 921 will have a huge hard drive that can record full blown High Def programs for time shifting! Not to mention DVI and FireWire outputs.

More specifically to the question at hand...there is more and more HD programming all the time. Bravo will be launching an HD version, as are others.

All of CBS' and ABC's prime time shows (except "reality" and "news" programs) are broadcast in HD.

Hell, even FOX has finally decided to get on the HD bandwagon no later than early 2004. Of course, this will mean that hell hath officially froze over! :wink:

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#19 of 26 Richard Paul

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Posted July 16 2003 - 06:11 PM

David, I would recommend the Samsung SIR-T165 which to my knowledge is the only ATSC receiver with Firewire connection's for recording. Besides Firewire it includes a bunch of features which include the ability to upconvert 480i and output in either 720p or 1080i. Since you don't have a progressive scan DVD player this might be useful. If you look around you should be able to get it for no more than $600.

#20 of 26 JimmyK

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Posted July 17 2003 - 03:30 AM

Quote:
There are so few regular tv shows anymore that are worth watching and a bad show in HD is still a bad show.

This is the main reason I've not bought an HD receiver yet. At this time, the content available is not worth the $400 minimum investment it would take. It would be nice to see Discovery Channel in HD, but I don't watch it enough to make it worth the money.

Most of the time, if given a choice between watching "TV" or a good DVD, I'll take the DVD!

Perhaps I should stash that $400 away for when HD DVD comes out.Posted Image

JimmyK


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