High definition TV appears pixelated

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A few months back, I wrote about how I was receiving free-to-air digital TV from Sky but yesterday, I noticed that the picture was clearer on analog than on digital, which appeared pixelated. Well, it seems that Sky is getting ready to launch it’s high definition service next week in glorious 1080i or 768p; however for those of us who are still hoping to get a few more years of life from our widescreen CRT TVs (I bought a 32″ Sony Trinitron in 1998 and it will probably outlast many flat panel TVs on sale today) it seems that our picture quality will deteriorate.

If HD’s a mystery to you then check out the HD TV article on Wikipedia . According to the BBC, Sky’s new service starts on 22 May but digital terrestrial (Freeview) viewers may have to wait until after the UK has completely switched to digital TV in 2012 to receive HD broadcasts.

2 thoughts on “High definition TV appears pixelated

  1. The picture would be clearer on an analogue signal. The technology was invented way back when purists in BBC Engineering ruled the roost. I’d argue that the effective bandwidth on an analogue signal is much better than a single channel on either Freeview or Sky. Also analogue “smoothes” the artifacts on source material – do you ever recall the image quality when BBC2 used to broadcast Teletext as opposed to when it was decoded on your TV? IMHO Sky’s compression is much higher than Freeview’s and, hence, looks worse. Recently I viewed the same channel on two TVs, one via Sky and one via Freeview, side by side. The Freeview one demonstrated much less compression artifacts. As far as HDTV goes, it’s possible today to receive the BBC’s trial HDTV broadcast without a Sky subscription or their very rare HD box. Humax and Pace have free-to-air HD satellite receivers available for <£300 that'll pick up the unencrpyted BBC SD and HD output plus the ITV SD channels. Unfortunately, all the other non-subscription channels are still encrypted on Sky's transmission platform (Astra) so you need their Freesat card for a SkyBox. Not a very open system yet for HDTV but it'll come - I really can't see all the broadcasters who currently serve up content on analogue and digital terrestrial perpetuating Sky's virtual HD distribution monopoly.

  2. Hi Don,
    Thanks for the feedback – it’s particularly interesting to hear that the Sky picture is more highly compressed than Freeview.

    As it seems as though my digital picture has deteriorated in the last week or so, I assumed this was something to do with Sky’s new HDTV service.

    The only reason I got the Sky box in the first place was because the analogue BBC2 and ITV1 signal had become so bad. I understand that this is because the transmitters are reducing the analogue signal strength as more viewers turn digital. Freeview would have required an aerial upgrade and as the Sky dish was already installed on the side of the house by the previous owners I just bought a box for it from eBay. Now it seems as if the Sky picture is also deteriorating.

    So, I guess I’m stuck with watching BBC1 or Channel 4 on analogue if I want a good picture and will have to make do with a mediocre digital signal for the rest.


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