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Comcast HD Quality Reduction

Picture_2 There's a great post on the AVS forum about Comcast HD Quality going down, featuring screenshots and analysis.

A few months ago, I switched from Comcast to FiOS for more HD channels and a lower monthly price and I did notice that non-HD channels definitely looked better and HD channels were about the same. I have wondered how Comcast keeps playing catch-up with FiOS and the Dish Network -- in my last month or two of having Comcast it seems they were adding new HD channels every month. I know fiber has a ton of bandwidth available, but I wasn't sure how Comcast was figuring out how to stuff more channels into their old coax lines. Looks like according to this AVS forum post, they're reducing the quality of the HD channels to fit more channels in their available bandwidth.

March 31, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (6)

Comcast Testing Embedded Cameras in your Living Room

Scary new technology out of Comcast's labs according to NewTeeVee

At the Digital Living Room conference today, Gerard Kunkel, Comcast’s senior VP of user experience, told me the cable company is experimenting with different camera technologies built into devices so it can know who’s in your living room. The idea being that if you turn on your cable box, it recognizes you and pulls up shows already in your profile or makes recommendations.

That sure doesn't sound "Comcastic" to me, it sounds more like a frightening privacy invasion for very little gain in convenience. Can't I just rather pick out my profile name when I start up their DVR? [via laboratorium]

March 22, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (10)

YouTube coming to TiVo

TiVo announced YouTube support coming to Series 3 and HD TiVos and Google themselves have a short case study on the project.

Sounds like it'll be a lot like the AppleTV feature which I personally like, but only occasionally use. It's great to be able to add something to a youtube playlist on your PC, then walk over to your TV to view it, especially for longer videos that play like TV shows, so I suspect this feature will get quite a bit of uptake when it rolls out to newer TiVos.

March 12, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (7)

Today's Woot: TiVoHD for $180

The deal-a-day site Woot is currently selling a refurbished TiVoHD for $179.99 + $5 shipping while it lasts. This probably won't last too long, so if you're considering one and don't mind buying a refurbished unit, I'd say jump on it asap. Discussion of the deal is here.

March 5, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Digital TV Crash Course: 10 years later

CringleyIf you've ever looked at the (American) local public television schedule, you've probably seen something listed late at night called "Digital TV: A Cringley Crash Course". My local PBS station plays it pretty much everyday between the hours of 2am and 5am, so the other day I decided to record it and watch it during a more reasonable hour.

Filmed in 1998, it's a half-hour introduction to HDTV and though many aspects of it are deliciously quaint (like the price and size of HDTVs mentioned), I was pleasantly surprised at how much this future-forward introductory show got right. Here are the highlights and lowlights of the show, with ten years of hindsight:

Predictions it got right

  • A nice history of aspect ratios is explained and TVs of the future would all be 16:9.
  • I was surprised that this show actually describes resolution up to 1080p as the high end. Given the limitations of 1998 technology, I figured they would discuss 480p and maybe 720p at most.
  • High resolution video will be delivered on fiber optic lines (as a new FiOS TV customer, I would say this is spot-on).
  • The show predicted most people would have HDTV sometime in the 2000s and talked about the 2006 digital TV switch (which was pushed to February 2009) which looks like it will finally happen.

Predictions it got wrong

  • All during the 1990s, everyone seemed to predict interactive TV was just around the corner. This section of the Cringley Crash Course site explains what was predicted on this show: shows would include all sorts of helpful metadata about what you were viewing. They even showed a demo during a cooking segment (with Julia Child!) where the full recipe was shown in an optional window, and any ingredient could be drilled down for more info. This has never happened and I don't know if it ever will (I'd rather use my laptop to look at google/wikipedia instead of my TV).

Overall, the show still holds up pretty well, giving an introduction to what HDTV means and for the most part accurately predicts what the TV world will be like in the 2000s.

March 4, 2008 in Op-Ed | Permalink | Comments (2)