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Links 07/28/2008

July 28, 2008
  • When you turn on a high-definition broadcast, you assume that your TV will come to life with the crispest, sharpest picture imaginable. But the fact is, hi-def doesn’t always mean high quality.

    The standards for what qualifies as HD—the ones that go into effect with the big digital TV changeover in February—were set by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) back in the 1990s, and really only involved one major qualification: having a whole lot of pixels. In fact, there’s no real regulation over high-definition picture quality at all—”none whatsoever,” one industry consultant told me. And that’s part of the reason why different HD stations often have wildly varying levels of picture quality that change from one moment to the next. Behind the scenes, content producers, broadcasters and cable and satellite providers are engaged in a constant tug-of-war over bandwidth and video quality, with no hard metrics to even define what looks acceptable. Even officials at HBO, where Generation Kill looks pretty fantastic on my TV, bemoaned the lack of a silver bullet … for now.

    tags: standards

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