April 21, 2008
HD enthusiasts crying foul over cable TV's crunched signal
As cable TV companies pack ever more HD channels into limited bandwidth, some owners of pricey plasma, projector and LCD TVs are complaining that they're not getting the high-def quality they paid for, reports the Associated Press. "They blame the increased signal compression being used to squeeze three digital HD signals into the bandwidth of one analog station".
"The problem is viewers want more HD channels at a time when many cable and satellite providers are at the limits of their capacity", said Jim Willcox, a technology editor for Consumer Reports magazine.
Compressing the signal is cheaper than costly infrastructure upgrades to increase capacity. Satellite TV providers also have the option of launching satellites to boost the number of HD channels on their systems.
While information is nearly always lost when signals are compressed and then uncompressed, the process can theoretically be made unnoticeable to eyes and ears — and Comcast says it should be.
But some viewers say they can see it. Willcox said complaints about compression have been showing up on Web forums, including the AV Science Forum, a site for serious audio visual enthusiasts.
"It's not exclusively Comcast, although Comcast, being the largest cable provider, is probably the largest target," he said."
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