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Broadcasting HDTV On Analog Bands

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the free-3-D-glasses dept.

Television 145

Texas writes "Check out this new development in HDTV signal-encoding tech. As you know, HDTV currently requires an entirely separate broadcast channel, which the FCC have allocated to current broadcasters in order to simulcast HDTV and regular NTSC signals. This new tech from Los Alamos puts the HDTV info into the current NTSC band, and is even compatable with analog TV (which won't see the additional HDTV data since it's hidden in vestigal sidebands and unused closed caption data space). Also, this new method only requires slight changes to current NTSC broadcast stations and HDTV receivers, and will not make current analog sets obsolete."

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Forced obselescence... (1)

alptraum (239135) | more than 13 years ago | (#380455)

Though I am not in favor of paying a few thousand dollars for a new HDTV, by forcing everyone to switch to HDTV could have its positives. Look at all the problems the computer industry has due to the need to support legacy hardware. If the computer industry was freed from having to support old hardware and software, think of the problems it would alleviate. By being torn from the old alot of good could come from it.

You *can* live without TV, you know (2)

eap (91469) | more than 13 years ago | (#380457)

Why not spare yourself the headaches of buying new equipment and dealing with "copy protection" schemes that deprive you of fair use and JUST QUIT WATCHING TV.

I just cancelled my cable today, and I feel better already. Now I will have more time to do productive things, like spend time with friends and family, read, or even exercise. That's not to mention the fact that I will have $57 extra per month to spend on whatever I want.

Time is really the most valuable thing you have. Don't waste another minute watching cheezy sitcoms and braindead ads. Crap is crap, even if it's 1920x1080.

Re:but... (1)

donglekey (124433) | more than 13 years ago | (#380460)

why would they count 000000000000000 (15 bits) as 1? wait, 32768 would be the total number of channels, but the last channel would be 32787, who would devise such a counter intuitive system?

just kidding C, I still love you, don't be mad, I got you a present, I'm going to go feed C# and put him down for a nap.

Re:but... (1)

ahknight (128958) | more than 13 years ago | (#380462)

Hey, man, if there's nothing on, it doesn't matter how many stations you toss in the mix, there isn't going to be anything on. =)

Great - just what we need - another HDTV standard (2)

taniwha (70410) | more than 13 years ago | (#380465)

IMHO the main thing that's slowed HDTV adoption has been the 1000 different standard that have been proposed/adopted over the past decade

This is great.. (2)

Blind RMS Groupie (218389) | more than 13 years ago | (#380466)

..but the $64K (USD) question is, is it too late to get this scheme adopted by the FCC as the forthcoming standard? An awful lot of money has been invested in the currently proposed standard.

If this new scheme were to become the standard it would mean that plain old VCRs would have another 10-20 years of useful life left to them, meaning I can still copy stuff off the air. I'm not so sure that would still be the case after a complete switchover to a digital format and the obsolesence of NTSC.


Re:Unused closed caption space? (1)

torinth (216077) | more than 13 years ago | (#380467)

You know, there are a lot of hearing impaired people out there that use close captioning. It seems selfish to take their bandwidth away just for a better picture on a $5,000 TV. Now, if all the hearing impaired were given broadband so that they could download the closed captioning, that might work.

I think the idea was that the closed captioning space was over-allotted, and that the extra space can be utilized by the HDTV simulcast.


Not Bloody Likely (1)

chorder (177607) | more than 13 years ago | (#380468)

Have we learned nothing here in these last few years of being jacked over by corporations trying to sell products?
Where's your jaded /. instincts, boy???

Sure, this standard looks great, but for chrissakes wake up and smell the oligopolistic practices. Chances are this technology will be buried just as quickly as DSL is being kicked under the carpet [] . Its very likely that the new set manufacturers will simply not implement this technology into their sets, precisely because it will allow the existence of old sets along with new.

If people don't have to buy new sets, lots of them wont. If people know that old TV standards are headed for obsolescence, they will be more likely to buy new ones. This is the goal of Trinitron, RCA, Panasonic, and everyone else on the "Sell More Sets" bnandwagon. Its why DHTV was made in the first place, cuz everyone already has a friggin TV and they just can't sell as many as they used to.

We're jaded for a reason ladies and gents, don't forget that.


Re:Not Bloody Likely (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 13 years ago | (#380474)

Its very likely that the new set manufacturers will simply not implement this technology into their sets, precisely because it will allow the existence of old sets along with new.

Most of the current crop of HDTVs don't come with a tuner, the tuner is a separate add-on. This tech affects the tuner, not the base tube. By making digital TV signals more practical (it could work with cable without stealing channels, so cable systems wouldn't be reluctant to carry digital channels), this could help them sell *more* sets, not fewer.

Heck, you could even have a tuner box that creates the digital picture and then converts it back to analog, with the result probably a little higher quality than the original.

Re:Unused closed caption space? (1)

Apotsy (84148) | more than 13 years ago | (#380476)

Closed captioning provides more than just one stream of text , though. Just look at all the menu items on a CC compliant TV. There's CC1, CC2, etc., plus TEXT1, TEXT2, etc. And I've yet to see a station broadcast anything except CC1. I think they're talking about all the stuff beisdes CC1 when they say "unused".

I agree though -- closed captioning is a good thing. And since the FCC now requires it in every new set sold in the USA, I'd say it's unlikely to go away any time soon.

Also used for Digital Radio (1)

Aztech (240868) | more than 13 years ago | (#380478)

This is similar to what Lucent are doing for their Digital Radio encoding, it's called "In Band On Channel" (IBOC), it's a nice idea since you don't need to allocate new spectrum. The first widespread commercial application originated in RDS radio services in Europe, where stations encode a few bytes of data along with the FM channel, such as station titles, genre's, time, and traffic alerts, auto-tunning. (this is at a low bitrate).

However, IBOC suffers from multipath problems (propagation of frequencies when they bounce of buildings, causing a delay, and therefore 'ghosting'), the power of the transmitter has to be greater, and the transmitter proximity has to be closer, otherwise you just drop back to the anologue signal.

It's a nice idea, but as always there's no such thing as a free lunch, it's always nicer and more efficient to allocate a specific block of frequency to specific device or application.

The Digital Radio (DAB [] ) standard in Europe uses the old Band-III channel (~200Mhz) that was once used for very old 405 line B&W broadcasts, I think the BBC used this frequency back in the 1930's.

but... (2)

PorcelainLabrador (321065) | more than 13 years ago | (#380479)

32768 Channels, and nothing on...


Of course it looks better... (3)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 13 years ago | (#380480)

You are displaying it on a $$$$ pricy TV! I am not sure that a standard sub $300.00 HDTV will look even near that good...

PAL plus (1)

havana9 (101033) | more than 13 years ago | (#380482)

This sound like the proposed (And used) PAL Plus
transmission. On a regular PAL satellite broadcast
was added an 'hidden' digital stream to enhance details of the analog signal.

This was abandoned because in a single PAL channel
you can transmit up to 16 MPEG2-encoded TV signals.

Only in Washington... (1)

ravi_n (175591) | more than 13 years ago | (#380483)

So, in other words, the spectrum given to the existing broadcast networks in order to encourage them to develop and deploy HDTV, was not just a multi-billion dollar giveaway to a special interest, it was a completely wasted multi-billion dollar giveaway (since this new tech shows how they could deploy HDTV without using additional spectrum).

Woo hoo! (2)

Arethan (223197) | more than 13 years ago | (#380484)

Corporate America overlays technologies again!

I figured we would have learned our lesson after the first wave of "new gui apps" that ran overtop of 5250 terminals came along. Now that we have a few million dollars in development invested in these sweet gui apps, we can never ditch the 5250 connections that they work over!

Is is just me, or is anyone else sick of nearly every company's urge to overlay new technologies on top of legacy technologies?

There's a reason that the intel chipset is so obfuscated, and this is a prime example.

Re:Unused closed caption space? (2)

TVmisGuided (151197) | more than 13 years ago | (#380485)

Closed captioning only requires two scan lines to encode...IIRC there are eight lines allocated. So where's the problem in putting the other six to use? Besides, it's not like there isn't enough to go around...of the 525 scan lines in the NTSC standard, only 480 are considered part of the viewable image (which is one of the places we get the VGA standard, btw!). The remaining lines are taken by closed captioning, VITS...and that's about it.

As I read the article, people with analog sets aren't losing anything, except the pressing need to buy an HDTV receiver within the next five years. And broadcasters don't have to buy as much new equipment to make the mandated cutover; just enough to maintain back-compatibility. I'm betting their transmitters are even up to the task with very little, if any, modification.

Just my two cents' worth...donate the change to your local TV station's equipment fund.

Who cares about terrestial? (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 13 years ago | (#380486)

I almost didn't buy a new TV in 1985 because I was going to wait for HDTV which was "just around the corner." 16 years later we're still waiting, and the holdup has been settling on a terrestial broadcast standard. Who cares about terrestial broadcast? If someone is willing to spend thousands of dollars on equipment just to get a more defined picture, are they really going to care about free programming?

No, of course not. The priority should have been LaserDisc (or variant, such as DVD) and (when it took off in the mid-90's) Internet delivery of programming. The delay in HDTV has saddled us with low-res DVDs instead of HDTV DVDs.

HDTV has been fumbled for 20+ years.

I'm torn (1)

mbourgon (186257) | more than 13 years ago | (#380489)

On the plus side
  1. Someone commented about how consumers change TVs every 7 years. But I don't want to buy a 3000$ TV right now! Yes, we have until 2006. But if I buy a new TV right now, unless I want to spend >$1000, it's non-HDTV. So when I buy my new TV in 2008, I will not have had TV for a year? Screw you.
  2. It works without requiring a massive overhaul.

On the minus side:
  1. Grey Letterbox? PASS. I have enough problems viewing the black ones. And I'm a home theater nut!
  2. Lower Resolution? Argh. Why were we going to HDTV again?
Overall, I think it's a nice compromise. It will work for a while, show the consumers what HDTV is capable of. Someone will buy a HDTV (or a big monitor and a Geforce card) and show off, and other people will upgrade also. This gives us more time.

Re:Yay! No obsolesence! (1)

CrazyD (125427) | more than 13 years ago | (#380490)

...saving millions of people the unnecessary expense of buying a new $3,000 TV

Here's what I don't get. If you're paying $50 a month for cable, then in five years... you've paid $3000 in cable. I expect any TV I buy to last at least five years.

Now why would you pay $3000 for the TV programming if you're only going to watch it on a crappy $300 TV?

Re:Wow! other perfect technologies we'll never see (1)

Edward_M (26167) | more than 13 years ago | (#380492)

>Beer is a WASTE product?

*cough* american beer *cough*

Re:Only in Washington... (1)

ahknight (128958) | more than 13 years ago | (#380494)

Yeah, basically. When they realized that budget cuts were coming they just kind of went, "How can we prove we need all this money? HDTV!"

We need to just start over again. Fire 'em all and re-elect from a new pool. (FCC board)

I'm hearing impaired -- will this harm me? (2)

Buran (150348) | more than 13 years ago | (#380495)

"Unused closed caption data space" ... Is this going to interfere with closed captioning transmission and/or viewing? If it does, then those of us who depend on those closed captions to watch television are out of luck -- and by law, those caption decoding chips must be in all TVs 13" and larger.

Re:PAL plus (3)

Aztech (240868) | more than 13 years ago | (#380497)

I've seen a couple of Sony widescreen (anologue) PAL+ sets from about 1995, they were pretty smart, however as you said, it really ate up the spectrum. And the amorphic cropping didn#t look too smart when a standard PAL 4:3 channel was displayed.

The modern Sony WEGA [] 16:9 sets with intergrated digital tuners look way smoother, and the Dolby surrond beats the pants of NICAM. PAL+ obviously didn't have DigitalText either, but I think there was an incremental update to the old Teletext standard.

The Japanese HDTV standard from the early 90's was originally anologue just like PAL+, it flopped and a bunch of government back research went down the pan. However, they've seen sense and now use MPEG2 based broadcasts, but the US and Japan aren't using the COFDM encoding scheme thought because of the spectrum issues, IBOC sounds good, if the encoding actually works.

Re:PAL plus (Yes - I've seen some of this) (3)

lordpixel (22352) | more than 13 years ago | (#380498)

Channel 4 in the UK use PAL Plus for some broadcasts. e.g. they used to use if for their Sunday night movie, a couple of years back.

Basically the sidebands and used to store additional vertical resolution, taking PAL's 625 line res (compare 525 for NTSC) up to around 8-900 hundred lines (dunno the exact figure).

The best thing is that because its in the sidebands, it makes no difference to ordinary TV viewers. If your TV can use it, you're in luck, if it can't it has no effect. Cool.

All in all a bit link anamorphic DVDs.

I saw "The Shawshank Redemption" on a 16:9 widescreen TV, broadcast in PAL +. Easily the most beautiful broadcast TV I ever saw. It just looked wonderful (OK, well the source material isn't exactly poor).

Shame it never really caught on...

Lord Pixel - The cat who walks through walls

Forging more chains of legacy compatibility... (3)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 13 years ago | (#380499)

Okay, let me get this straight: We're reducing the HDTV spec (read the article: 1280x720 max resolution, instead of 1920x1080 for real HDTV) in order to allow it to be transmitted over NTSC-like signals?

How is this different from saddling all of today's computers with crap left over from 1980's systems?

People here have complained about being forced to buy a new TV by 2006. Why is that such a bad idea? The average buyer gets a new set every 7 years, I think that's part of why they figured that people would be able to switch by '06. "It's too expensive" people say -- well, it's cheaper today than it was a year ago, and as people buy it, it'll get cheaper. But if we allow backwards compatibility, we get cheapened signals, continued reliance on a 50+ year old standard, and STILL don't necessarily get cheaper HDTV sets.

I'm just confused. It seems to me that we've fought long and hard for a standard, and now people are trying to change that standard before it's even had a chance to gain momentum. What if all manufactures had stopped making normal DVD players when DIVX was announced? Would DVDs be anywhere nearly as successful as they are now? (I know it's not exactly the same thing, it's late and I'm rambling...)

Rather than trying to find new ways to send yet another different standard to the user, shouldn't the industry focus on getting cheaper chipsets and TVs on the market so that HDTV really takes off? I mean, geez!

MPAA (2)

AntiNorm (155641) | more than 13 years ago | (#380500)

Also, this new method only requires slight changes to current NTSC broadcast stations and HDTV receivers, and will not make current analog sets obsolete

Hence the reason the MPAA doesn't like it.

Check in...OK! Check out...OK!

I really hope they don't do this... (2)

Aggrazel (13616) | more than 13 years ago | (#380501)

Lets see... 80% of the quality and no one will notice? Umm... well I think I'd notice.

I mean, I've been suffering for years from my overseas friends lambasting me about the superiority of PAL vs. NTSC (Never Twice Same Color or whatever you want to call it). So now our "Americanized" HDTV signals are going to be crippled too?

Crud. Why don't they work on making a cheap way to convert true HDTV signals into something an old analog TV can understand instead of trying to keep the old technology working. Sheesh.

I can see it now, in the year 2056 we'll be buying our new super 3d VR televisions, but they'll have to make it so they conform to the old standard, which conforms to the older standard, ad infinitum, so that bubba can watch rastlin' on his 5" B&W TV.

Story has been retracted (5)

computer_chacham (111723) | more than 13 years ago | (#380502)

The inventor has disavowed the press release. Look down the middle of this page ml . This e/01-023.html is the original press release.

Nice tech, but too late (5)

Argyle (25623) | more than 13 years ago | (#380503)

The standards are set, the FCC & Consumer Electronics Manufacturers have spoken.

They are not going to change anything. The FCC already refused to changed the VSB format to the better CODFM transmission system.

There is no way in hell they are going to change the bandwidth allocations at this point.

For those interested in a brief history of HDTV, here it is:

Here's how it went:

Broadcast Industry asks for bandwidth for HDTV
FCC says "OK, we'll set aside bandwidth for HDTV"
FCC says "What standards?"
Industry says 'No Standards Please' and come up with EIGHTEEN recommended formats for HDTV. I am not shitting you.
FCC says "Isn't 18 different standards a bit much?"
Industry says "Shut the fuck up FCC, we know what we are doing. The 'market' will handle this!"
Consumer Electronics dudes whine "18 formats make every thing cost more, you are fucking us!"
FCC says "OK, it's your call on standards, 18 formats is fine, infact there are NO STANDARDS AT ALL, 'cause we are letting the 'market decide', but you start broadcasting HDTV now or we take back the FREE bandwidth."
Industry says "What? We really just want the free bandwidth. You really want us to do HDTV??
Congress says "Fuck you Industry. Broadcast HDTV or we'll legislate your asses back to Sun-day!"
Industry says "We're fucked. 18 formats? Why the hell did we do that? Let's change it."
Consumer Electronics dudes say "You ain't changing shit. We are already building the boxes you said you wanted built."
FCC says "Yah, ya boneheads we told you 18 was too many, now you gotta live with it."
Industry says "Well FCC, will you at least make the cable companies carry the HDTV at no charge?"
Cable companies say "Fuck you! You gotta pay! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!"
FCC says "Yep, no federal mandated on HDTV must carry, we are letting 'the market' handle that"
Industry says "We are so fucked. We are spending 5-10 million per TV station in hardware alone and have 1000 HDTV viewers per city, even in LA!"
Consumer at home says "Where is my HDTV? Why does it cost so much? Fuck it, I'm sticking with cable/DirecTV."

Consumer electronics dudes, broadcast industry, FCC, and congress all cry. Cable companies laugh and make even bigger profits.


Re:Wow! other perfect technologies we'll never see (1)

ahknight (128958) | more than 13 years ago | (#380507)

Yeah, that's about what you do when you drink it, though it's more like *urnrrrrl* *bluuuuuuuuuch*

Re:Forging more chains of legacy compatibility... (2)

mjphil (113320) | more than 13 years ago | (#380509)

Sorry, but the max HDTV res IS 720(P)- the 1080 figure is for the interlaced pic.

Re:Yet another example... (1)

CharlieHedlin (102121) | more than 13 years ago | (#380513)

Ah, but since it is backwards compatible the old equipment won't see the new signals to prevent pirating. HDTV doesn't give them capabilities that technology can't already give them on analog. The FCC hasn't allowed them to use Macrovision on the analog channels. The stations lost a court battle a long time ago.

The problem came up again when people could make perfect digitial copies. I hope the FCC descisions are overturned, but in the event they aren't we can still copy the analog stream for the purposes of time shifting.

I don't want to pay a TV tax like they do in the UK. If someone else wants to pay to beem this into my home, I will let them. I fast forward through my share of comerical because I can, but at the same time I will be very disapointed if it causes me to loose the programing I watch.

As for this more people paying for their signal, where did you find that? I think you are full of it. Cable and DSS aren't required for HDTV. My cable bill is not the same as the TV tax in the UK.

Why not change rather then complain!!!! (1)

Mastagunna (251788) | more than 13 years ago | (#380514)

I hate the idea of HDTV, until this came to light. I am all for better picture quality and better sound, but how many people wanna spent the 3000+ dollars on a new HDTV, only to have to spend more on a bloody decorder box. Its not to late, if everyone aproaches the powers that be, we can force the better idea through, giving tne people that want it thier HDTV and leaving the rest of us alone. I will definitly not pay people more bloody money to get a better tv picture, because most of the good stuff on TV, is either reruns of 70's and 80's shows, or Survivor, where nither will get any better with increase resolution. Why not rather then complain about new standards, or submitting snide remarks, we contact who ever is responsible for this expensive waste of money and force this standard to be adopted.

Re:Unused closed caption space? (1)

Buck2 (50253) | more than 13 years ago | (#380515)

Best way to kill a party is to turn on the tv.

Unless of course, you're trying to cull.

Which band is harder to crack? (2)

Bonker (243350) | more than 13 years ago | (#380516)

With all the 'copy protection' fizznits we've been heaving about being added to the HDTV standard, I think the ability to crack the signal is pretty important.

Will it be easier to crack CSS systems in the NTSC signal than the band allocated directly to HDTV broad?

Is this completely irrelevant?

Re:just like b&w - color (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 13 years ago | (#380517)

Well that was because a color picture was forced to fit within' the same specifications as a B&W picture.
Now doing that saved the populc millions of dollars and I don't think th TV comnpanies will let that happen a 2nd time.

Re:but... (2)

abischof (255) | more than 13 years ago | (#380518)

Yeah, but why would they use a signed 16-bit integer? Taking the bold assumption that there'd be no negative channels, a 16-bit unsigned integer would yield 65536 channels ;).

Alex Bischoff

Re:just like b&w - color (1)

Sigmon (323109) | more than 13 years ago | (#380521)

I used to work for the public television station in Arkansas and I got a lot of exposure to digital television. This new encoding scheme is never going to happen. It sounds like a good plan, but it's too little too late. Too many companies have invested too much money in existing systems for them to go and re-engineer their entire setup at this point. You are correct, however about color TV. The FCC mandated that B&W TVs must still be able to receive the color signal, and we have basically done the same thing again with DTV. I forsee even more problems for DTV in the future because, IMHO, we are trying to cram today's modern technology into technology from the 1920s!

Captioning FAQ, etc (4)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#380523)

There is an interesting Closed Captioning FAQ here [] . There is also an excellent collection of resources here [] at, with legal resources here [] . There is also a list of technical requirements here [] , which will answer more of the engineering questions.

That said ...

Why can I see the movie industry balking on this, fighting this technology?

Because a pure HDTV system that does not allow backward capability allows them to digitally block services according to their desires. Take a look at recent slashdot stories on Direct TV and HDTV. It takes a spanner (wrench) and throws it right into the gears of their plans to assert perfect control over copying, etc. Everyone can still make their tapes, and the old analog recorder might not even copy the HDTV code correctly to ensure watermarks, etc.

While it will allow the more rapid adoption of HDTV, it will also reveal their plans to rip off the consumer by covert standards. It slaps them up side the head.

This is something that should be urged for adoption as quickly as possible. It is the best good for the public. The media moguls will fight it tooth and nail.

I shed no tears.

You may want to share your opinion on this with your political representative.

The real appeal of HDTV is simulcasting. (1)

oooga (307220) | more than 13 years ago | (#380524)

Hell, I could care less about improved picture and reception. I watch tv on a 9 inch black and white in my office I picked up for 6 bucks at a yardsale. But what interests me the most is simulcasting, or the ability for a station to show 4 or more programs at once, depending on bandwidth. If this isn't supported, I don't see much benefit.

Re:Forging more chains of legacy compatibility... (1)

Justin_Schuh (322319) | more than 13 years ago | (#380526)

I totally agree with you here. If you've ever taken a look at the NTSC (Never The Same Color) spec you realize that it's an absolute kludge that sacrificed significantly better picture quality for backwards compatability. I'd hate to see the same thing happen to HDTV. This technology has been hovering for the past twenty years and the only thing stalling it has been competing standards and backwards compatibility issues. The current spec is damn good; it dumps the evolutionary baggage and provides ample time for people to adapt. Besides, the cost issue will most likely evaporate once production increases.

this is a very cool hack, but... (1)

kawaldeep (204184) | more than 13 years ago | (#380527)

for once, can we move forward?

Color tv was an awesome hack: the fact that all the b&w televisions could handle the color signal was great. For those that don't know, the color signal was encoded YCC (Y-luminance, Cr and Cb for color) instead of RGB. This allowed the b&w tvs to use the luminance channel as a signal, and still allow the gamut needed for color. And you wonder why digital images (on a computer) and video don't go hand in hand...

HDTV is NTSC space is an even cooler hack, but how long are we going to keep doing this? Are we going to have holographic tv in 6 Mhz of bandwidth?!

Support new standards for HDTV! Progressive scan, high res, component i/o for devices, and the like. Let us move forward without the limitations of the past. We don't need no stinkin' backwards compatability.


Re:Wow! other perfect technologies we'll never see (1)

Segfault 11 (201269) | more than 13 years ago | (#380529)

Actually, I thought the names sounded the same when read as they do coming up... Buuuuuuuusschhhhhhh!!! Paaaaaaaabbbst! Blaaaaaaaaaaatz!

Then, of course, there's Schlitz (no comment)...

Why the f*ck is LANL working on this? (1)

AlphaHelix (117420) | more than 13 years ago | (#380531)

Why the f*ck is LANL working on this shit? Does this benefit national security or humankind? Why is the government investing money at a national lab that designs nuclear weapons into studying how to rebroadcast high quality digital signals that nobody wants anyway?
* mild mannered physics grad student by day *

^^^ MOD THIS UP ^^^ (1)

Jammer@CMH (117977) | more than 13 years ago | (#380533)

His comment is important.

If the inventor doesn't allege that his work is relevant to the current digital HDTV discussion, it probably isn't.

Channel compression (1)

michael_cain (66650) | more than 13 years ago | (#380534)

Another reason that many companies will be against this is that it doesn't provide any channel compression. Pure digital TV allows multiple standard definition streams to be delivered in a single 6 MHz piece of spectrum. Direct broadcast satellite (eg DirecTV) and digital cable operate as high as 12:1 channel compression -- twelve digital channels in the same spectrum that carried a single analog channel.

Over-the-air broadcasters expect to be able to achieve at least 4:1 compression of standard definition signals. This allows many additional revenue opportunities during those times when they aren't broadcasting high-def content. Given that high-def production costs are significantly higher, there will continue to be a lot of standard-def stuff around.

Re:Now the broadcasters can use (1)

swb (14022) | more than 13 years ago | (#380535)

They've been carping about HDTV for a while, I think you're right on track. The CATV people don't want to carry it at all, they want to use the extra signalling for value-add services (phone, internet, other channels, etc).

Another well-intentioned scheme that turns into corporate welfare. Wonderful.

HDTV over Analog TV Spectrum (1)

OpenSezMe (311686) | more than 13 years ago | (#380536)

As I understand it, the primary push for Digital (HDTV) was to vacate the current TV spectrum space for sale to commercial users, i.e., to generate $$ for the FCC. The minor fact that the current Digital TV method covers less than 60% of the current Analog TV area didn't seem to move the FCC to adopt the Brits version which actually works. Stupidity & Greed are a powerful pair. Don't expect to see this on my set any time soon. ----

Hollywood will ignore this technology. (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 13 years ago | (#380537)

Hollywood and the consumer electorics industries already have too much invested to abort a full out switchover to "real" HDTV. An analog signal is not going to carry the digital content managment information to make anti-copy schemes work. As Linux users, we are only too aware of the lengths to with the MPAA will go to controll your ability to read, store, and copy, content that you paid for.

Also, if analog TV continues to work as always, there is no urgency for the consumer to buy the (overpriced) new TVs. VCRs will continue to work (and we can't have that). Big Mega corps want to send internet, instant messaging, and cookies to your TV. That doesn't work with analog.

The government will continue with the conversion to full HDTV because:

Inertia makes it the easiest path.

Hollywood money has already paid off the right people.

All of these new toys the CE inustry wants to sell you are going to generate alot of $$$, and that's good for the economy, and it's taxable.

Copyright issues are at steak, and the government has been on Hollywood's side so far, there is no reason to believe that's going to change.

Re:I don't mean to be a putz (1)

perky (106880) | more than 13 years ago | (#380538)

Isn't making NTSC sets not obsolete bad for the economy?

No. Most television sets in use in the states are Japanese as will the new HDTV ones. Consequently this technology will improve America's balance of trade. This is generally considered to be a good thing. Of course it also saves a shit load of energy and prevents a massive amount of waste, but Americans don't generally care about pollution anyway.

Re:Wow! other perfect technologies we'll never see (1)

Segfault 11 (201269) | more than 13 years ago | (#380539)

Beer is a WASTE product? Well, I suppose if it tastes like the stuff that comes out of St. Louis [] or Milwaukee (various)...

It will never happen (1)

Derek (1525) | more than 13 years ago | (#380540)

"this new method only requires slight changes to current NTSC broadcast stations and HDTV receivers, and will not make current analog sets obsolete."

If this is true, then I can think of several large electronic companies that will try to push this standard into history as quickly as possible. Can you image the how giddy the Sony, RCA, Hitachi, etc... executives were when they knew everyone was going to have to buy an expensive new TV (or converter) within the next 5-6 years? What a windfall! Now, image what they will try to do to a new technology that threatens all that.


Re:Yay! No obsolesence! (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 13 years ago | (#380541)

How else are we gonna stimulate the economy to rescue it from going into the shitter?

Re:...but you can't control analog distribution (1)

Grelli (98061) | more than 13 years ago | (#380542)

only requires slight changes to current NTSC broadcast stations and HDTV receivers, and will not make current analog sets obsolete

In other words, we'll never see this. Ever.

Is it really (2)

maggard (5579) | more than 13 years ago | (#380543)

OK, I admit my knowledge of HDTV is limited. Likely more then random folks but still not up there with the videophiles.

First off it's my understanding that there are multiple HDTV formats, not just the single 1,280x720 one listed in the article.

Second the visual content of HDTV is, according to all reports I've heard & demos I've seen, dramatically better then what we see with NTSC video. This story presents this flavor as being almost as good ("you can barely tell the difference") which begs the question: Why bother?

Third the whole price theme seems to be irrelevant in most other parts of the world where better-then NTSC/PAL/SECAM TV is available. True this sort of stuff comes out in high-end video first but apparently the majority of TV purchases in the EU are now their better-flavor.

Fourth why are my tax dollars paying for research & developments that I need to pay for again to use? Hell - I already paid for it to get it invented. If manufacturers want to do their own R&D and pass the costs on to me fine but I don't see why a Federal Lab is patenting & licensing the products of it's publicly financed work.

So, for those who do know more then I about HDTV what are the advantages of this almost-as-good format, how does it stack up against "real" HDTV, how interoperable is it (since HDTV is more then just the broadcasting but also the recording & editing) and finally will anyone care since HDTV is already rolling out?

Re:I don't mean to be a putz (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 13 years ago | (#380544)

I think for DoE to come out say "Hey we developed this cool technology for nuclear tests, but it would work great for this private sector technology," is a huge step in the right direction. How much money will taxpayers save if they aren't forced to buy new TV in 2005?
Spin off technology from the space program has been a huge boost to the economy, and to the wellfare of the US as a whole.
New plastics, life saving devices, and yes, fun toys.
Don't forget the spave program is resopocible for many kids becoming scientists.

Yay! No obsolesence! (4)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 13 years ago | (#380545)

Maybe this will put an end to the FCC's idiotic forced obsolesence of analog TV, saving millions of people the unnecessary expense of buying a new $3,000 TV to watch "Oprah" and "Friends."

Granted, the TV manufactureres would have their "subsidy" reduced by this, but that's a good thing!

- - - - -

Unused closed caption space? (2)

monsted (6709) | more than 13 years ago | (#380546)

You know, there are a lot of hearing impaired people out there that use close captioning. It seems selfish to take their bandwidth away just for a better picture on a $5,000 TV. Now, if all the hearing impaired were given broadband so that they could download the closed captioning, that might work.

Plus, I like to turn on closed captioning at loud parties, so you can still follow the flow of teh show and laugh at the mispellings.

Equalizing effect (2)

Happy Monkey (183927) | more than 13 years ago | (#380549)

But if only the rich people are able to watch TV, then the poor people won't have the stupidifying effect. They will advance through society through pure ability, until they become wealthy. Then they will buy HDTV's, and become ensnared, making room for the next wave of smart poor people.

This new encoding scheme breaks that plan completely!

Too much TV (1)

alsta (9424) | more than 13 years ago | (#380550)

I would like to know what people would do without TV or infotainment... Read books and become smarter, driving the country forward?

Re:Unused closed caption space? (1)

Zarquon (1778) | more than 13 years ago | (#380551)

Well, I studied this for the software CC decoder I'm writing. CC data is on Line 21 of one field, EDS (V-chip, time signals, other stuff) is on the other. CC data contains control codes, that specify what 'channel' the CC data is. CC1 is the normal 'captions' channel. CC2 is occasionally used for bilingual CC, but I have never personally seen it. The URLs and game show data is often on TEXT2. The peak throughput (disregarding necessary control codes) is 60 Bps (7-bit text, even parity). CC data is 'bursty', but I doubt they replace the signal when not used, as there is a good chance of it detecting garbage data. Most likely they use some of the other lines of the VBI, like the 'Internet-over-TV' channels do.

Yet another example... (3)

Wind_Walker (83965) | more than 13 years ago | (#380552)

This is another example of great progress being made in the fields of technology. I'm happy to see that we (human beings, of course) can now transmit high quality television through the old standard bands (NTSC).

With the addition of HDTV signals, digital information can now be decoded easily, without clogging up the already-crowded airwaves. In addition to this, transmitters can now encode into their signals specific copy-protection schemes so that people receiving HDTV signals cannot use them illegally.

By making this transition painless for the everyday user, HDTV can now incorporate more heavily-enforced copy protection schemes, preventing pirating of signals. I look forward to this happening. Less signal pirating will lead to better programming, because more people will pay for their signal instead of getting it for free. More money leads to better talent, which will lead to more money...

Bring on HDTV, I say!

That's just the way it is

Re:This is great.. (1)

Sigmon (323109) | more than 13 years ago | (#380554)

Heh... As if ANY VCR manufactured within the past decade COULD last that long anyway. I bought a VCR last year. I don't expect the thing to last more than 3 or 4 years before it breaks. Regardless, you can still use your good old VCR with digital television. All DTV set-top receivers are going to have composite outputs and/or RF-modulators so you can hook your old NTSC TV up to them and watch the digital signal. You could also hook your VCR to them! It just won't be in high definition. (Digital doesn't necessarily mean high definition anyway.)

Re:Yay! No obsolesence! (1)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 13 years ago | (#380555)

Perhaps the moderator who marked this as "troll" would like to explain?
Maybe this will put an end to the FCC's idiotic forced obsolesence of analog TV, saving millions of people the unnecessary expense of buying a new $3,000 TV to watch "Oprah" and "Friends." Granted, the TV manufacturers would have their "subsidy" reduced by this, but that's a good thing!

- - - - -

Re:I really hope they don't do this... (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 13 years ago | (#380556)

I'm in Oz which is a "world leaderd in HDTV" because they wanted to do it before the olympics. HDTVs here cost about the same as a new car.

I keep hearing about how great PAL is but the only problem is I have not seen a decent picture on any TV in oz yet. Most of the broadcast stuff has funky frame rates (are they using 30 frame transmission stuff and then cutting it to pal?), the convertion from film (24 fps) to PAL (25 fps) is done by speeding up the movies. That tends to change the pitch of all the audio and things just don't seem right. American (can Canadian) TV is the major source of programs and every time anything is supposed to move fast, it gets blocky or jittery. Even locally produced stuff is done at 30 frames since they can't sell 25 fps stuff to the US market. Same is true in NZ. Zena is done at 30 fps, not 25. The sports boradcasing always has mpeg blockyness and there just isn't smooth action.

Re:Wow! other perfect technologies we'll never see (1)

ahknight (128958) | more than 13 years ago | (#380557)

"Miiiiiiiiiiiil!! ... urrrrrrrrrrrr...."

"Buuuuuuuuud!!! Whahz!! ... urrrrrrrrrrrrrrr"

Doesn't seem to stop.... Intersting theory. =)

Re:Yay! No obsolesence! (1)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 13 years ago | (#380558)

Apparently we're not allowed to criticise moderators. All hail the infallible moderators! Bastards!
Maybe this will put an end to the FCC's idiotic forced obsolesence of analog TV, saving millions of people the unnecessary expense of buying a new $3,000 TV to watch "Oprah" and "Friends." Granted, the TV manufacturers would have their "subsidy" reduced by this, but that's a good thing!

- - - - -

Re:Yay! No obsolesence! (2)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 13 years ago | (#380560)

For the record, here's the moderation on the original post:

Moderation Totals:Flamebait=1, Troll=1, Funny=1, Underrated=1, Total=4.

... it would be nice if this was shown on all the postsm all the time, rather than just the last moderation.

- - - - -

Re:Yay! No obsolesence! (1)

ahknight (128958) | more than 13 years ago | (#380561)

Because the average person does not save for five years to buy a television nor does the average person use the time/money logic to justify a needless expense on a television when the cheaper one will do.

No matter how long I expect to have it, if it looks good, then it's good enough. Now what "looks good" is is up to the reader.

Re:Equalizing effect (1)

Wm.G (320802) | more than 13 years ago | (#380562)

read your dickens, young one.

Re:Yay! No obsolesence! (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 13 years ago | (#380563)

There is such a thing as metamoderation, which stands to punish the ignorant fools who moderate poorly. Wasn't there a mention in the moderation faq that suggests to "mod up or not at all", except in cases of abuse like boring first posts and whatnot ? Well some people don't bother reading that FAQ. Perhaps metamods should select an appropriate FAQ section to justify negative metamoderations, which would then be shoved in the accused moderator's face the next time he/she logs on. It is simply too open to abuse all over the table.

Wasn't it supposed to be that way from the start?? (1)

tuxlove (316502) | more than 13 years ago | (#380564)

Way back when, HDTV signals were supposed to be backward-compatible with analog. Then one day they changed all that. Now they're talking about putting it back the way it was. I'm very confused.

Why is this so complicated? They should embed HDTV signals inside the analog ones like good little boys, so as not to force people to spend thousands of bux on a new set. It shouldn't even be up for question - just do it right, and people will eventually all have HDTV sets.

I don't see much difference between this and the color/black-and-white issue. Originally color TV signals were not backward compatible with B/W, but they realized that for wide acceptance it would have to be. They fixed it. Now something like 99.9% of all TV sets are color. However, B/W sets still have their place, and may always, who knows? The same will be true for HDTV if they make the transition in the same fashion. I don't see the need to screw over the consumer to try and force near-immediate acceptance.

BTW, is it just me, or do current HDTV sets have crappy pictures? I'm not sure that flatscreen technology is quite there yet. CRTs just seem to have a much brighter, crisper picture (on good sets), while flatscreens seem so dull. It will be a long time before I get used to the wideness as well, but I'm sure that will pass with time.

One last note regarding closed-captioning, etc. I don't imagine that embedding the HDTV signal inside the analog signal would take 100% of the available bandwidth. Closed captioning can't possibly require much bandwidth at all, and surely there would be enough left over. I can't imagine that they'd nuke this critical feature just to make way for HDTV.

Let's hope this fails (1)

milliyear (132102) | more than 13 years ago | (#380565)

I sure hope this never catches on. I've been looking forward to true DTV since they started this stuff, but now they want to give us a blend of the worst of both worlds. There's enough overlap in the old and new bandwidths that nobody has to worry about a 'brand new' TV set being 'suddenly' obsolete. At worst, you might have an 8-year old analog TV that no longer has analog signals to receive, but how often does a TV last longer than that? Even if the TV still worked fine, people usually want to replace by that time anyway, since the shadow mask is usually starting to warp, and there's some nifty new featurette that you just can't live without. And it's only capable of carrying 80% of the info that REAL HDDTV can carry? What's that? I want it all!! That's the whole point of going digital!!!

tv manufacture (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 13 years ago | (#380566)

and will not make current analog sets obsolete.
Then why would a TV manufacture want this? There the ones that want HDTV to be manditory, there sales need boosting.

Re:Not Bloody Likely (1)

khyron664 (311649) | more than 13 years ago | (#380567)

I'm not sure if you were being serious or not, but you do of course realize that we don't need TV. As such, if HDTV is forced down people's throats like it is trying to be, all TV's could disappear. Not many people who can afford to are willing to pay the $3000 to buy a new TV. I know I'm not. If I can't watch TV because of it, then I won't have TV. What is trying to be done with HDTV is acinine and will not succeed if they try to obsolete all current TVs. They couldn't obsolete TVs when color came out and they can't do it now. Notice how the FCC mandate moved from it's original date (2000) because it wasn't going to be possible? The FCC date will continue to move back if they try to force the switch to HDTV. Yes, all the TV companies want to see more TVs, but they also don't want to sell NO TVs. If they try to force HDTV, they could very well be selling close to no TVs. If HDTV is going to make it, something like this will have to be adopted. The current plan will never work.

I've been wrong before though.


Re:Nice tech, but too late (2)

alexburke (119254) | more than 13 years ago | (#380568)

Brilliant! Excellent summary of the comedy of errors we're saddled with. Moderators, mod that up please!



Picass0 (147474) | more than 13 years ago | (#380569)

Sarastic humor, yes. Troll No. He makes a point and does it with brevity. Shame on the moderator who trolled that reply.

Re:This is great.. (3)

geekoid (135745) | more than 13 years ago | (#380570)

No, its not to late, but it will require us to act now. Right a letter to your Govenor, Congress, the President, and the FCC. I mean a hard letter.
when your over at someones house that will be hard put to spring for a new HDTV in 2005, tell them about how there going to have to shell out for a new TV.
Turn the current FCC mandate into a PR nightmare. There have been many instance in american history where a graa roots effort has made large change to the course of history.

lo-res DVD's... (1)

RoninAdmin (322783) | more than 13 years ago | (#380571)

Umm... Actually, most DVD's are in the high-definition catagory. It is a limitation of the TV, or a cheap DVD player. "HDTV" ready displays conntected to a quality DVD player yield sharper pictures than any other consumer electronic set-up (other than actual film projection).

Re:Unused closed caption space? (1)

Misch (158807) | more than 13 years ago | (#380572)

There's actually space in the signal for 6 (8?) different sets of captions set aside. Only 2 of them are used with any frequency at all. The rest aren't used. They're jsut re-allocating the space to other purposes.

...but you can't control analog distribution (4)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 13 years ago | (#380573)

That's all well and good, but who wants to continue analog transmissions. After all, you can't use your Digital-TV-version-of-SDMI if the old analog sets can still pick up the signal!

Gasp! People might record shows and (horrors!) watch them again, or cheat hard-working sponsors by skipping the commercials!

This is a neat innovation to be sure, but I'm sure the subversives who created it will swiftly be brought to justice. After all, conceiving of a technology that, if it were implemented and distributed, could conceivably be used to violate the DMCA is undoubtedly illegal under the DMCA.

All citizens reading the referenced article are expected to report to reducation centers for cumpulsory brainwipes. Failure to do so will result in summary termination.

just like b&w - color (1)

duber007 (180719) | more than 13 years ago | (#380574)

Seems like the same thing that was done when broadcast transmissions switched from black & white to color - if you had a color TV, you saw a color feed, but if you still had an old b&w, you could still watch the same channels. Essentially the same problem. In retrospect, I'm kind of surprised this wasn't put forward sooner.

who Won with HDTV but manufacturers, anyway? (1)

Kwantus (34951) | more than 13 years ago | (#380575)

Good! There goes one of the most blatent pieces of gratuitous enforced obsolescence... heehee

(first post? nope, drat :p)

Nuclear tests??? (4)

PorcelainLabrador (321065) | more than 13 years ago | (#380576)

"According to the lab, the technology used in the compression algorithm was initially invented there for processing images from nuclear tests."

Riiiight... I'll bet it was technology stolen from the webcam in the rec-room.


I don't mean to be a putz (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 13 years ago | (#380577)

but shouldn't the Dept. of Energy be putting it's energy (read: taxpayer money) into matters of national security? Isn't making NTSC sets not obsolete bad for the economy? (Joe Sixpack doesn't have to go out and buy a new TV now.)

It's kind of like the argument for space: We wouldn't have all this cool technology if were weren't pouring billions of dollars into space exploration. This shit came out of processing nuclear test images. Wacky...
Lord Omlette
ICQ# 77863057

Wow! other perfect technologies we'll never see... (3)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 13 years ago | (#380578)

In other news, a car propelled entirely by water has been developed. The only waste produced by the vehicle is Beer.

Please note that the HDTV over analog and water-powered car inventors have been shot. All documentation has been destroyed, we now return you to your regularly scheduled channel (one of which we got for free!)...


Re:Yay! No obsolesence! (1)

ahknight (128958) | more than 13 years ago | (#380579)

But that would mean that Slashcode would have to make sense?

Story has been retracted (2)

computer_chacham (111723) | more than 13 years ago | (#380582)

The inventor has disavowed the press release. Look down the middle of this [] page. This [] is the original press release.

Cost of HDTV? (1)

image (13487) | more than 13 years ago | (#380584)

I would definitely love to get an HDTV system, but right now I find the cost prohibatively high for the amount of broadcast service available in most areas. For example, a good sized high resolution television would set you back about US $3K, and a set top receiver would be about $1K.

What are the estimates for when those systems will be comparable in price to a nice 32" Sony Wega of today ($1.4K with free home delivery [] at Outpost)?

Re:Hollywood will ignore this technology. (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 13 years ago | (#380585)

We still need to fight it, and it can be changed. Instead of boohooing and grossing about how bad life is , perhaps you should right letters, let people know how much money there going to be spending? Turn this into a PR nightmare, they will change.

Re:lo-res DVD's... (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 13 years ago | (#380586)

RoninAdmin writes:

Actually, most DVD's are in the high-definition catagory

Yes, DVDs are higher-res than NTSC, but not as high as HDTV.

Re:Let's hope this fails (1)

BartManInNZ (316272) | more than 13 years ago | (#380588)

Let's hope it does for all concerned. They talk about a 'One World' government let's have a 'One World' TV standard. I have PC and fast internet therefore I have TV. Let's get the internet to *everyone* wether it's DSL/Sat./whatever no more PAL NTSC HDTV etc cut the crap - one for all (and all for one?)

Story has been retracted (2)

computer_chacham (111723) | more than 13 years ago | (#380589)

Sorry, I'm new at this. The inventor has disavowed the press release. Look down the middle of this [] page. This [] is the original press release.

Re:Nice tech, but too late (2)

iceT (68610) | more than 13 years ago | (#380590)

The scary thing is.... once you actually SEE HDTV, in your home, with the shows you watch, you don't want to watch anything else. It's all crap. Even DirecTV (of course, DTV quality RULES over cable) can't carry a torch.. (unless you get HD-DTV...)

Hell, even RETRANSMISSION of NON-HD shows (4:3) is better than without it.

And, did I mention the dolby digital 5.1 audio stream on that HD signal...

Now the broadcasters can use (1)

Jammer@CMH (117977) | more than 13 years ago | (#380591)

their new digital bandwidth, that's supposed to carry HDTV, for anything they wish (pagers, wireless, etc.), and still broadcast HDTV on the analog bands that they're supposed to give back.

Any bets as to whether they give back the digital, or just keep it for a side business? It sure won't be used for digital broadcast, not when there's so many more lucrative uses.

Is anyone else envisioning astroturf-roots campaigns to save the old TVs? "Don't obsolete our TV, use the HDTV NTSC. Let the broadcasters do what they want with the digital bands, it's good for America!"

Re:Unused closed caption space? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 13 years ago | (#380592)

I doubt the closed caption signal takes up THAT much bandwidth. it's jsut plaintext and position data, I'm sure there is rom somewehre to squish it in.
=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\= \=\=\

Ahh, a decent use of the VBI. (1)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#380593)

Now that Intel Intercast and WaveTop are dead as doornails, we can put that unused real estate to a better use!

Re:Unused closed caption space? (2)

tuffy (10202) | more than 13 years ago | (#380594)

I don't think they are eliminating the closed captioning (which probably isn't legal anyway), but are using space that closed captioning doesn't use (presumably it is unneeded, for whatever reason) for additional HDTV signal.

At least that's the impression I get.

Before now (2)

SheldonYoung (25077) | more than 13 years ago | (#380595)

Why didn't they think of this before now? Surely it's not like cramming more stuff into the existing signal is a new technique - it's we got <b>color</b> television after all.

While I like the start-fresh approach, there's a lot to be gained by piggybacking the signals. At least temporarily.

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