Brits are HD TV numpties
So you are a reghardware reader and you already know that for high definition TV viewing, you need watch your content through a bolt-on hi-def set top box, Blu-ray player or PS3 console.
But what about the population at large? More than six million Brits think they are already watching High-definition television - but are not connected to the right set top boxes or Blu-ray disc players. In other words they are able to watch only standard definition content on their expensive HD-ready TVs
This is the headline finding of a survey of 9,500 people commissioned by the British Video Association, which found that more than 55 per cent of British households had bought HD-ready TVs "without seemingly having appreciated the experience high definition screens are meant to deliver".
How does the BVA, a trade body that represents content owners, arrive at 6.5 million HD numpties? It extrapolates this from its study which revealed that 28 per cent of people "think they can watch movies in high definition with a DVD player when actually a Blu-ray player or a high definition set-top box is needed to do so, and a further 27 per cent believe that an HDTV shows everything in high definition".
The UK is not swimming in high-def content on free-to-watch TV channels: according to the Daily Mail, three HD channels are currently available to Freesat viewers, three for Freeview viewers, while 41 are available for paying Sky Digital customers and 12 via Virgin Media. Most HD-channel viewers today, clueless or not, will have HD-set boxes supplied by their TV provider.
But the World Cup in June is expected to boost sales of HD-Ready TVs. The message from the trade is: buy a cheap Blu-ray player at the same time, to get the best picture quality.
BVA press release: Choose the right kit for the World Cup
...*these* cows are HD...but those cows are upscaled SD...
Can anyone tell?
I've done live sound engineering, and most people don't notice a nasty feedback-y howler, let alone the difference in quality between CD and 128 bit mp3. It's not that people are stupid, just that they don't care. They could however spot the difference between CD and tape, because tapes were nasty even before they got stretched and sounded horrible.
While I'm much less qualified to talk about pictures, I strongly suspect the same applies here. There's a massive difference between VHS and DVD. Is there a similar jump in quality between DVD and Blueray? HD is better, but is it enough that people who aren't looking can tell. Again I'd say the same with TVs. LCDs are now so much nicer than CRTs, and that's a huge jump in picture quality that most people probably assume is caused by HD - rather than just the fact they've upgraded the old telly.
My experience is pretty limited with HD content, but of the films I've watched the only one that stood out was Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones live DVD 'Shine a LIght'. I've not seen it in normal definition, so I've no idea if what amazed me about the quality was just how much better it was than the usual run of the mill live music DVDs, or its HD superbness.
The manufacturers didn't help with their abuse of the term HD when trying to shift the early, crappy HD TVs that they were trying to dump on the market a few years back. And of course a downside of going for Blueray rather than HD-DVD is that it's just another thing to confuse consumers. HD-DVD does exactly what it says on the tin, Blueray means nothing to people.
Clearly there's a home theatre market, that will pay out thousands to have superb set up, but I'm not sure if that's going to go mainstream, because most people just don't care enough. I guess when Blueray is as cheap as DVD people will switch, but I doubt there'll be the same bonanza as when people dumped their VHS and rebought the same content on DVD. I guess people will just have Blueray players with DVD upscaling.
What is HD?
In response to some of Sky's early advertising around HD, I lodged a complaint with Advertising Standards, who bounced it on to Ofcom. My complaint was around the number of hours each month that Sky had HD programming. My argument was the same - that for it to be considered HD then surely it must be filmed in HD.
The response was:
"We would not dispute that much of Sky's HD output is up-scaled standard definition programming rather than content filmed in HD. However this material is still being broadcast in an HD format (720 or 1080 lines) and would therefore be correctly regarded as HD."
I get jitter on HD anyway
If I connect my Sky+HD box to my Sony Bravia TV using the HDMI cable I get jitter on the HD channels. So I use a SCART connection until either Sky or Sony can tell me how to get rid of the jitter. So far Sky 0, Sony 0, Jitter 1.
HD is not all it appears to be
An absolute fact; Standard Definition Content is best viewed on a top end CRT based TV; High Definition is best viewed in 1080P which requires a HD signal source connected via an HDMI cable. As it is now only possible to purchase TVs that are optimised for HD the best solution for most viewers is to use a SD signal that is 1080P upscaled to the maxim resolution of the screen (e.g. Humax 9300T). This gives all programmes a nearish HD quality that looks much more pleasing to the eye. SD on a HD TV is very poor, have you ever wondered why shops never display flat panel televisions showing SD Freeview?