HDTV through my Cable Provider (Time Warner - Tampa Bay) - any one else have this?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chris Rock, Aug 14, 2002.

  1. Chris Rock

    Chris Rock Supporting Actor

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    After finding out that upgrading from my current Digital Cable box to an HDTV box is free (yes, no additional cost) - I decided I'd go for it.

    They're offering 4 Channels at this present time: ABC, FOX, HBO and SHOWTIME. The idea of seeing FOX Football, Monday Night Football, and ALIAS in High Def is giving me goosebumps!

    I do have some questions for any of you that may have High Def service through their cable providers, especially if any of you are in the Tampa Bay area:
    1. How's the quality? Does it compare to HD Service via Satellite or Antenna?
    2. Does the Non-HD signal come through on the Component Video out of the HD Box, or do I also need to hook up the S-Video out to view Standard Definition material?
    3. How much HD Programming has digital sound?
    4. What format is most HD Programming in? 720p, 1080i or are they calling 480p "high definition"? Is most HD material in widescreen?
    5. When movies are shown on HBO and Showtime in HD, are they displayed in their native Aspect Ratio?

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can respond.
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I can answer some of these questions, but not all. I currently have the Scientific Atlanta 3100H box, which is probably what you'll be getting as well.
    On Showtime, yes. HBO, however, has formally adopted the unconscionable practice of cropping 2.35:1 films to fit the 16:9 HD screen. Massive organized protests when this decision was announced led to naught. An occasional HBO HD broadcast will be 2.35:1, presumably when that's the only master available to them.
    One word of advice: If you need component cables longer than a foot or two, get them in advance. At least up here, the cable installer arrives with a set barely long enough to reach down the back of a decent-sized RPTV.
    M.
     
  3. Chris Rock

    Chris Rock Supporting Actor

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    Michael,
    Thanks for your answers!

    In question #3, I actually did mean digital as in ANYTHING Digital - be it 5.1 or not, but I appreciate the clarification. My current digital cable box outputs DD 2.0 for some of the "digital" channels, also.

    For clarification, I have a Sony Wega XBR450 (36") 4:3 TV - will I still see the "windowboxed" effect (with grey bars on the side) on my set?

    That sucks about HBO cropping movies.

    Thanks for the advice on the component cables, too! I plan to pick some up tomorrow.
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  5. Adam Tyner

    Adam Tyner Screenwriter

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  6. Chris Rock

    Chris Rock Supporting Actor

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  7. Michael St. Clair

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    I have the box. And a 'tall' HDTV with an unsqueezed 4:3 mode but true 16:9 480p and 1080i modes.

    The box converts EVERYTHING to 16:9 1080i when using the component outputs. This results in black bars on all 4 sides with a 4:3 HD set when watching non-HD programming. The solution is to watch everything through s-vid except true HD programming.

    It's kind of a shame, because some standard def ATSC is broadcast 480p 4:3, and by converting it to 1080i it takes away the ability to let typical HD sets (not just the 4:3 ones) do zooming, stretching, or whatever you might choose to do with the picture.

    There are already newer boxes in the works that will eventually give digital cable viewers control over scan rate conversion, aspect ratio control, and so on. This is really only the second generation (really more like 1.5 generation), the hardware is going to get a lot better.
     
  8. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Screenwriter

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    Chris,

    Just to let you know, on the regular Time Warner Tampa Bay digital service, you can get 5.1 audio from anything HBO sends out as 5.1 without going to the HDTV version. I heard some samples of BAND OF BROTHERS and SPACE COWBOYS in 5.1 from my receiver and non-HD digital box.

    I think some other digital cable channels might have broadcasts in multichannel audio, but I'm not sure which. I almost never watch cable with the digital audio into my receiver (analog channels come out as silent, and I don't have another S-video out of the cable box to go with the digital input to the receiver). Anything in the digital tier is at least DD 2.0.
     
  9. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    Is this a big rollout by Time-Warner? I saw a glossy flyer that said that TW was now carrying HD. But, is that in every market? Or, more specifically, just because I have that flyer, does that mean it's going to be in my market or do they send that flyer to every market regardless? I just got the flyer in the mail yesterday and am going to call and find out, but just wondering if everyone gets the same flyer whether they are getting HDTV or not.

    Bruce
     
  10. Chris Rock

    Chris Rock Supporting Actor

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    Bruce,
    In our market, it's still a big secret. I called a couple of months ago just to find out IF HDTV signals could even be delivered over cable, and they said yes.

    They said that on August 15, they'd have 4 channels - FOX, ABC, HBO and SHOWTIME - and when I found out that upgrading to the HD Box was FREE (since I already have digital), I signed up right away.

    I'd suggest calling your local TW office and just asking.
     
  11. Michael St. Clair

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    Time Warner has over 60,000 HDTV subscribers in something like 30-40 markets (can't remember the exact number of markets).
     
  12. Marc_Sulinski

    Marc_Sulinski Supporting Actor

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    Here in the Raleigh, NC area, we have had HD programming for a while now. I just have the basic digital package (no Showtime or HBO due to the cropping issues). I think that includes NBC (which never broadcasts anything in HD - the widescreen shows end up letterboxed and windowboxed), ABC, which looks good and sounds great - Alias is broadcast in 5.1, among other shows, and CBS seems to have everything in HD, though I don't like any shows on CBS.
    As far as picture quality, I think ABC is doing a 720p broadcast, because the quality is nowhere near as good as the HD demo channel, which is 1080i.
     
  13. Michael St. Clair

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  14. Marc_Sulinski

    Marc_Sulinski Supporting Actor

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  15. Chris Rock

    Chris Rock Supporting Actor

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    Well,
    I got my HD box delivered today, and within 5 minutes it was connected and fired up.

    I got to look at part of Planet of the Apes on HD HBO, it it looks pretty good (although it's probably cropped). Showtime didn't have any true HD programming on.

    They supposedly carry only HBO, Showtime, and FOX at this time, but they had a "test channel" with HDABC.

    Non-HD material on these channels is both letterboxed and windowboxed - with the exception of FOX - that appears to be letterboxed only (and squished, for that matter). I will be watching all Standard-Definition stuff via S-Video.

    I did notice that I was getting 5.1 sound on Planet of the Apes, and that some of the "regular" digital channels (like HBO) also came across in 5.1. I previously had not had a subscription to HBO, so I was not aware.

    I'm looking forward to catching some HDTV stuff on FOX and ABC, specifically FOX Football and ALIAS. (And it looks like my box will be coverting 720p to 1080i, also.)

    All in all, my wife had better admit that she can tell the difference. I can't see how she wouldn't considering that normal cable channels (not the digital ones) look practically un-watchable on our Sony Wega set.
     
  16. Chris Rock

    Chris Rock Supporting Actor

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  17. Michael St. Clair

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    PBS demo loop material is typically shot with HD cameras and can look better than most film-based transfers you see on TV. There is a lack of grain that can really make the images pop out. On the other hand, I think dramas like CSI have a more appropriate look shot on film than the HD video shot stuff like the The Young and the Restless, Max Bickford, etc.
    The 720p material I saw was sports demo footage (higher action than typical nature footage demo material) shot with Panasonic gear and popped right off the big projector screen. Progressive scan for HD is a good thing. Interlaced material doesn't compress as well in MPEG, and is filtered to reduce certain flickery artifacts. Good 720p kicks ass and I hope someday we only have progressive HDTV (and in 60fps where possible) in 720p and/or 1080p. 1080p display devices are coming so maybe we'll have 720p and 1080i scaled to 1080p. Even 60fps 480p for now could actually be pretty stunning for sports, but there is virtually no 60fps 480p on the air so practically nobody knows how good it can look. 480p can look a lot better than the last superbowl.
    Here's a good source for progam listings:
    http://www.hdtvgalaxy.com/broad.html
    At least some Showtime programming that is labled 'upconvert' is actually full HD, and a lot of the rest looks as good or better than HBO's transfers, so don't fear that too much.
    Though frankly I have both, but I really mostly use HBO for their original programming since they crop so many movies.
     
  18. Brent_H

    Brent_H Second Unit

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    so how does satellite compression compare to cable compression when viewing HDTV material? I have never been really happy with how DirecTV looks....so I don't know how HDTV signals would improve it that much, it still looks majorly compressed most of the time. I would think cable would be less of an issue.....any ideas?
     
  19. Bill Slack

    Bill Slack Supporting Actor

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    Neither cable or sat are currently compressing anything. DTV may cut the bandwidth somewhat, but not to a point it effects image quality, at all (you don't need as much error correction info with it's not OTA... I'm told...)

    Don't get too excited about Fox football. They're supposedly going to start doing widescreen broadcasts after the World Series. But it's 480i/60 upconverted to 480p. It looks OK to me, but it's pretty poor compared to HDTV. (This is how they did the Superbowl last year.)

    ABC will have the Superbowl in HD, and hopefully some playoff games. And we'll have MNF next year in HD.

    I don't quite get the Showtime listings. I watched Spy Kids the other day and it looked great, but was listed as an upconvert. Dances with Wolves and City Slicker 2 looked really bad, as upconverts. Who knows... but, I find I watch it a lot more than HBO crop-o-vision.

    Here in Boston we're getting our final network on the air (the WB) in the next few weeks, so we'll have access to every bit of HD content available (though our PBS station [which is one of the flagship stations!] seems terribly reluctant to pass the nat'l HD feed, lately.)
     
  20. Brent_H

    Brent_H Second Unit

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    Well, I know EchoStar uses mpeg2 compression for the video.....so I would be very hard pressed to believe DirecTV doesn't use any. I was watching the HD Discovery channel at Circuit City today.....Looks compressed to me. If thats 1080i and thats as good as it gets....what a waste.
     

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