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Question about 720p downconversion quality and HDTV provider question

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3 replies to this topic

#1 of 4 OFFLINE   Dave Mark

Dave Mark

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Posted February 01 2004 - 08:26 AM

Okay, I am finally going to get local channels from DirectTV. My local cable company (Comcast, BTW, whom I have had countless problems with)is also going to start offering HDTV cable boxes. These should both happen by this Spring.

Two years ago, I bought a Sony KP51HW40. When receiving a 720p signal, my TV will downconvert to 480p. My question is two-fold:

1) How much picture quality improvement can I expect from a downconverted 720p signal. Probably 60% of my HDTV time will be spent with this signal since I will primarily be watching ABC and ESPN sports in HD (both of which broadcast 720p). Will the signal be closer in quality to 1080i or closer to the standard DirectTV satellite signal? Has anyone had any downconversion artifact issues? I have gone to Circuit City and other stores and seen the HD channel they show. I know some of these TVs downconvert while others either upconvert or display natively. In the store, however, it's difficult to determine the actual differences when an ESPN sample comes on because of how different I'm sure all of the TVs are set-up and I'm not sure which ones do what (neither do many of the reps).

2) Would it be better to get my service through the cable company or shell out $400+ for a DirectTV HD receiver? While I hate dealing with Comcast, it certainly seems to be the cheaper route versus springing for the DT receiver, especially since on top of the $400 plus the extra $20 or so to get the HD package if theres not much difference in PQ between the two. Part of this will be determined by how much difference I will see as a result of Part 1 (i.e. I'm not going to sink another $400 plus monthly fees if the downconverted picture will look like garbage).

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated as I try to wade into the HD waters.Posted Image

#2 of 4 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted February 01 2004 - 10:22 AM

Dave, I own a Sony KP57HW40, same as your set except for screen size, and have had HD for over 2 years first with a Hughes E-86 DirecTv box and for the last 6 months with a Sony HD-200 DirecTV box. Your concern about 720p to 480p downconversion by your set is is happily a non issue. All DirecTV boxes as well as the HD cable boxes most commonly used by Comcast will convert 720p to 1080i and send it to the tv, so you won't have to use the set's downconversion at all. Both of my DirecTV boxes did this so well that it was impossible to tell from pq whether the native signal was 720p or 1080i. ABC and ESPN HD use 720p, all others currently are 1080i. I can see no difference between the two. As for the DirecTV vs Comcast decision, it depends mainly on which channels are offered on your local Comcast system vs DirecTV. DirecTV currently does not broadcast any local HD stations over their satellite. They do carry CBS East and West coast HD feeds and soon will add Fox,but these will only be available if you live in a market whose local CBS station is owned by CBS, or if you can get a waiver from your local non-cbs owned station. They will not give you a waiver if you can receive either their digital or analog signal. That being said, all DirecTV HD boxes include local over the air digital and analog tuners, which will receive your local digital and analog channels with an antenna (separate from the dish). If reception conditions are good in your area you will be able to receive all your local HD off the DirecTV box's local tuner. Comcast may or may not carry all of your local HD channels, depends on the deals they make with your local stations. They usually don't carry local SD digital channels at all, which would be available on you DirecTV box if reception conditions are good enough. Comcast's offerings of non-local HD channels varies from system to system. For example in my area they offer only HBO, Showtime, INHD-1, INHD-2, and ESPN-HD, along with my 3 local HD stations but none of the other 6 non-HD local digitals. They do not offer Discovery HD or HDNet or HDNet Movies so my net available HD with D* is still more than what I can get with Comcast at this time. In other markets, Comcast does offer more HD than D*, so you need to check with your local Comcast as to offerings. I still have Comcast analog cable, and all my locals look much better over the air from my D* tuner than from Comcast, and the non-HD channels on D* (A&E, History, etc) look better on D* than on comcast.
Steve S.
I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.

#3 of 4 OFFLINE   Dave Mark

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Posted February 01 2004 - 12:40 PM

Top shelf stuff, StevePosted Image .

It will be a while before Comcast comes out with their stuff but I'm now leaning towards DirectTV. I was regretting not getting a TV that upconerted 720p, but you've put my mind at ease.

I actually have a waver for ABC/Fox but I imagine that these may go away once they offer locals in my area.

Thanks again for the excellent anwer,

#4 of 4 OFFLINE   Robert_J


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Posted February 02 2004 - 01:08 AM

If you have been a DirecTV customer for at least 2 years, have at least a $40/month bill and you have never missed a payment then you are eligible for the $99 HDTV upgrade. You will get a HDTV receiver, mutli-sat dish and installation for $399. They will then give you $300 in programming credits. The only requirement is that you sign up for the HDTV package for a year. -Robert

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