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Are you still talking about 7.1 channel? Onkyo now has 9.2 channel! PR-SC5507

9.2-Channel A/V Network Controller

PR-SC5507

The PR-SC5507 is designed specifically for the serious home theatre enthusiast seeking a sophisticated pre-pro to partner a high-end power amp. You get the very best in video processing, with HQV Reon-VX and 1080p upscaling of all video sources via HDMI™ 1.3a, plus ISF calibration for fine-tuning of video parameters. Along with the latest high-def audio formats from DTS and Dolby, the PR-SC5507 handles Dolby® Pro Logic® IIz and Audyssey DSX™—two expansive surround formats that make use of extra vertical or wide channels in a 9.2-channel configuration. Alternatively, these extra surround channels can be used for playback of different sources in multiple zones in your home. As with Onkyo’s latest high-end receivers, the PR-SC5507 offers home networking capability that lets you stream internet radio or PC-based audio through your main system. Ultra-low-jitter PLL circuitry, gold-plated terminals, and XLR inputs and pre outs are testament to the unit’s audiophile build quality.

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Panasonic’s Big Daddy Plasma TH-103PF10EK

TH-103PF10EK

Professional Plasma

  • Resolution (1920 x 1080 Pixel)
  • 103 inch
  • 16:9 Format
  • Versatile input connections
  • Contrast Ratio (5.000:1)
  • The flagship model of the plasma series automatically attracts attention.
TH-103PF10EK
TH-103PF10EK 
 

103″ Full HD Plasma Display (1,920 x 1,080)

With the Full HD resolutions, a picture quality is achieved which previously simply inconceivable. Exquisite resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, allows the viewer to literally dive into a fascinating world of images. Inside, a 1080p processor works together with the new system LSI with HD optimiser. This detects the MPEG artefacts upon the receipt of digital HD signals, reduces them ensuring clean and clear pictures. In order to further increase the panel performance, the 1080p driver supports 16-bit image processing, guaranteeing super-crisp motion sequences.

4,096 brightness steps create pictures that are so vivid and realistic that they directly address the viewers emotions. In darker environments, the ‘Super Cinema Mode’ can achieve a particularly rich shade of black and an amazing contrast ratio of 5,000:1. Unique connection capabilities through the use of plug-in boards allow high-performance and flexible solutions for professional applications.

The display is rotatable by ninety degrees allowing full portrait mode

Panasonic demonstrates the degree of quality that can really be implemented with ‘HD-ready’ in conjunction with the applicable slot-in terminal boards…

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Oppo’s BDP-80 Universal Player — a Simplified BDP-83?

BDP-80
Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio

BDP80

  • Standalone Player & Digital Transport
  • 1080p Full HD, 1080p24 & Source Direct
  • Fast Loading & Response Times
  • SACD & DVD-Audio/Video
  • USB 2.0 for Media Playback
  • 1GB Memory & BD-Live

Overview
The BDP-80 is a full-featured universal Blu-ray Disc™ player that supports BD Profile 2.0 (BD-Live and BonusView), DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, Super Audio CD (SACD), HDCD, CD and other popular media formats such as AVCHD, MKV video files, digital photos and music. Sharing the same decoder and similarly optimized firmware as OPPO’s award-winning BDP-83, the BDP-80 features fast disc load times, quick response to user operations, and robust audio and video controls. In contrast to the BDP-83, which utilizes an onboard VRS by Anchor Bay video processor, the BDP-80 design has been optimized for use as a digital audio/video transport, emphasizing the accuracy of its digital audio/video outputs. At the same time, the BDP-80 is versatile enough to be used as a stand-alone universal Blu-ray player, thanks to its full array of output connections and audio/video decoding capabilities.

For video, the BDP-80 features an HDMI 1.3 port that supports 1080p Full HD, 1080p 24Hz, Deep Color and Source Direct modes. Component video, S-Video and Composite video connections are also available for legacy analog displays. In addition to its faithful reproduction of high-definition pictures on Blu-ray Discs, the player can up-convert DVD from standard definition up to 1080p to maximize DVD picture quality. Its “Source Direct” output mode makes the BDP-80 incredibly well suited as a digital transport to feed into an external video processor, a high-end A/V receiver or display device with built-in video processing. Unique features such as subtitle shift and vertical stretch zoom mode makes the player an ideal source component for home theaters with 2.35:1 CIH (Constant Image Height) displays.

For audio, the BDP-80 supports internal decoding and bitstream output of the latest sound formats including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master audio. The BDP-80 also features a configurable 7.1-channel analog output that can be set as 7.1-channel, 5.1-channel, or stereo. When playing SACD, the BDP-80 can output DSD (Direct Stream Digital) over HDMI in its native format or convert it into high-resolution PCM. For compatibility with many legacy A/V receivers and DACs, the BDP-80 also provides an optical and coaxial digital audio output.

The initial setup of the BDP-80 is a breeze with its Easy Setup Wizard and well-written manual. Setup menus on the player can be accessed without interruption to disc playback. The front and back USB 2.0 ports enable easy access to music, photo and video files. The BDP-80 comes standard with 1GB of internal storage built-in so that no additional memory card or flash drive is needed to use BD-Live and BonusView features. Featuring a front panel with brushed metallic appearance and a dimmable display, the BDP-80 fits nicely in any home theater environment, ranging from simple to high-end.

Features
Complete Media Support:
  • Blu-ray Disc – The high definition Blu-ray Disc™ format provides pristine video and audio quality for your home entertainment.
  • BonusVIEW – BD “Profile 1.1″ enables “picture-in-picture” and secondary audio features for viewing director or actor commentary while the main movie is playing.
  • BD-Live™ – BDP-80 supports BD “Profile 2.0″ and contains all necessary hardware – audio/video decoder, Ethernet port, and 1GB of internal storage – for BD-Live.
  • DVD Up-Conversion – The BDP-80 up-converts DVD from standard definition up to 1080p output. The up-converted video maximizes DVD picture quality and bridges the visual gap from your current DVD library to Blu-ray discs.
  • DVD-Audio – The BDP-80 plays DVD-Audio and supports both stereo and multi-channel high resolution audio programs. Users can select whether to play the DVD-Audio or the DVD-Video portion of the disc.
  • SACD – The BDP-80 plays Super Audio CD (SACD) and supports both stereo and multi-channel high resolution audio programs. The BDP-80 can output DSD (Direct Stream Digital) over HDMI in its native format or convert into PCM. (Analog audio output for SACD supports PCM mode only, and is not available when DSD over HDMI is in use.)
  • Additional Media Formats – Additional disc and file formats, such as audio CD, HDCD, Kodak Picture CD, AVCHD, MKV, and other audio/video/picture files on recorded discs or USB drives can be played back on the BDP-80.
Excellent Video Quality:
  • Full HD 1080p Output – The BDP-80 features user selectable video output resolutions, including 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and up to 1080p 50 or 60Hz.
  • True 24p™ Video – Many Blu-ray Discs are recorded at 24 frames per second, the same frame rate as the original movie’s theatrical release. The BDP-80 can faithfully redeliver the original frames using 1080p 24Hz output (compatible display required) for smoother motion and a flicker-free, film-like home theater experience.
  • Source Direct Mode – For users who wish to use an external video processor, high-end audio/video receiver or display, the BDP-80 offers a ™Source Direct™ mode. The original audio/video content on the discs is sent out with no additional processing or alteration.
  • Multiple Zoom Modes – The BDP-80 supports multiple levels of aspect ratio control and image zooming, including a vertical stretch mode for customers with a 2.35:1 CIH (Constant Image Height) display system.
  • Subtitle Shift – The BDP-80 is able to shift subtitles up or down on the video screen. This feature makes it possible to see all subtitle text when using a 2.35:1 CIH display system.
  • HDMI – HDMI is an all digital interface for the cleanest possible connection. It delivers high-quality digital video and audio through a single cable. The BDP-80 features an HDMI v1.3 output with 30-bit and 36-bit Deep Color support.
High Fidelity Audio:
  • Dolby® TrueHD – Dolby TrueHD delivers lossless studio master quality audio designed specifically for high definition entertainment. The BDP-80 supports bit-stream output of Dolby TrueHD via its HDMI 1.3 output. It can also internally decode Dolby TrueHD into LPCM and output via HDMI or the 7.1ch analog audio output terminals. (Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus audio formats are also supported.)
  • DTS-HD Master Audio™ – DTS-HD Master Audio delivers an auditory experience that matches the lifelike images of high-definition video with up to 7.1 channels that are bit-for-bit identical to the studio master. The BDP-80 supports bit-stream output of DTS-HD Master Audio. It can also internally decode DTS-HD Master Audio and output via HDMI or the 7.1ch analog audio output terminals. (DTS-HD High Resolution Audio and DTS Digital Surround are also supported.)
  • 7.1-Channel Analog Output – Individual analog 7.1-channel surround outputs are ideal to connect to a 7.1-channel or 5.1-channel surround sound system. The BDP-80 delivers an immersive surround experience. For users with a stereo sound system, the 7.1-channel analog output can be configured to down-mix the surround audio into stereo.
  • Digital Optical and Coaxial Outputs – For easy connection to more traditional A/V receivers, the BDP-80 features both optical and coaxial outputs for digital audio.
Ultimate Convenience:
  • Dual USB Ports – Two USB 2.0 high speed ports are provided, one on the front panel and one on the back. Users can enjoy high definition video, high resolution photos and music directly from their USB drives.
  • PAL/NTSC Conversion – The BDP-80 supports NTSC and PAL systems for both disc playback and video output. It can also convert content of one system for output in another. (Subject to DVD and BD region restrictions.)
  • Glow-in-the-Dark Remote Control – The BDP-80 comes with a remote control with glow-in-the-dark buttons. With its ergonomic button layout and clear labeling, operating the Blu-ray Disc player is easy and intuitive.
  • Universal Power Supply – The BDP-80 features a wide-range world power supply that is compatible with the AC power of all regions. No worries about damaging the player due to incorrect power voltage.
  • HDMI CEC – HDMI Consumer Electronics Control simplifies the home theater by allowing a single remote control to operate multiple devices.
Specifications

Designs and specifications are subject to change without notice.

Disc Types* BD-Video, DVD-Video, AVCHD, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD, HDCD, Kodak Picture CD
CD-R/RW, DVD±R/RW, DVD±R DL, BD-R/RE
BD Profile BD-ROM Version 2 Profile 2 (also compatible with Profile 1 Version 1.0 and 1.1)
Internal Storage 1GB (Actual available storage varies due to system usage)
Output Analog Audio: 7.1ch (also supports 5.1ch and stereo modes)
Digital Audio: Coaxial, Optical
HDMI Audio: Stereo, up to 7.1ch high-resolution PCM, up to 5.1ch DSD, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, and DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream output or decoded into LPCM.
Analog Video: Composite, S-Video, Component Video (Y/Pb/Pr, 480i/480p, 720p/1080i available for non-restricted content only)
Digital Video: HDMI with HDCP (NTSC: 480i/480p/720p/1080i/1080p/1080p24, PAL 576i/576p/720p/1080i/1080p/1080p24)
Video Characteristics Composite Video Amplitude: 1.0Vp-p (75Ω)
Component Video: Y: 1.0Vp-p (75Ω), Pb/Pr: 0.7Vp-p (75Ω)
Audio Characteristics** Frequency: 20Hz – 20kHz (±0.3dB)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >115dB (A-weighted)
THD+N: < 0.008% (1kHz at 0dBFS, 20kHz LPF)
General Specification Power Supply: ~ 100V – 240V, 50/60Hz AC
Power Consumption: 30W (< 1W Standby)
Dimensions: 430mm x 281mm x 53mm, 16-7/8 x 11 x 2-1/8 inches
Mass: 3.5kg / 7.7 lbs
Operating Temperature 5°C – 35°C
41°F – 95°F
Operating Humidity 15% – 75%
No condensation

* Compatibility with user-encoded contents or user-created discs is on a best-effort basis with no guarantee due to the variation of media, software and techniques used.

**Nominal specification.

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HDTV – Technical Details

Current HDTV broadcast standards include ATSC (North America, parts of Central America and South Korea), DVB (Europe, Australia, New Zealand, parts of Asia, South America and Africa), DTMB (China, Hong Kong and Macau) and ISDB-T (Japan, Brazil, Peru). HDTV signals and colorimetry are defined by Rec. 709.

Digital compression methods such as MPEG-2 and H.264/MPEG-4 AVC allow the bandwidth of a single analog TV channel (6 MHz in the US) to carry up to 5 standard-definition or up to 2 high-definition digital TV channels instead. Initially MPEG-2 was most commonly used as the compression codec for digital HDTV broadcasts. Although MPEG-2 supports up to 4:2:2 YCbCr chroma subsampling and 10-bit quantization, HD broadcasts use 4:2:0 and 8-bit quantization to save bandwidth. The Chinese HDTV system uses an MPEG-2 codec that although free of intellectual property issues may have some coding interoperability issues with current DVB codecs

The introduction of DVB-S2 has aided the use of the more bandwidth-efficient H.264/MPEG-4 AVC compression both for HDTV and next generation SD broadcasts by satellite. The majority of HDTV 2 is restricted to a handful of channels only.

Some broadcasters are still using DVB-S (with MPEG-4) because their HD channels share transponders with existing SD channels broadcasting to legacy receivers without DVB-S2 capabilities (eg BBC HD on Astra 2D).

For terrestrial HDTV, some services already in operation (such as in France) are using MPEG-2 with DVB-T but the establishment of DVB-T2 has meant that most European terrestrial HDTV is likely to use MPEG-4 and some countries, such as the UK, have committed future plans to this standard.

HDTV is capable of “theater-quality” audio because it uses the Dolby Digital (AC-3) format to support “5.1″ surround sound. The pixel aspect ratio of native HD signals is a “square” 1.0, in which each pixel’s height equals its width. New HD compression and recording formats such as HDV use rectangular pixels to save bandwidth and to open HDTV acquisition for the consumer market. For more technical details see the articles on HDV, ATSC, DVB, and ISDB but the ISDB-Tb used primarily in Brasil uses HE-AAC that is more flexible than AC-3 and lower royalty fees.

Television studios as well as production and distribution facilities, use the HD-SDI SMPTE 292M interconnect standard (a nominally 1.485 Gbit/s, 75-ohm serial digital interface) to route uncompressed HDTV signals. The native bitrate of HDTV formats cannot be supported by 6-8 MHz standard-definition television channels for over-the-air broadcast and consumer distribution media, hence the widespread use of compression in consumer applications. SMPTE 292M interconnects are generally unavailable in consumer equipment, partially due to the expense involved in supporting this format, and partially because consumer electronics manufacturers are required (typically by licensing agreements) to provide encrypted digital outputs on consumer video equipment, for fear that this would aggravate the issue of video piracy.

Newer dual-link HD-SDI signals are needed for the latest 4:4:4 camera systems (Sony Cinealta F23 & Thomson Viper), where one link/coax cable contains the 4:2:2 YCbCr info and the other link/coax cable contains the additional 0:2:2 CbCr information.

Often, the broadcast HDTV video signal soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, enabling full, surround sound capabilities, while STBC television signals include either monophonic or stereophonic audio, or both. Stereophonic broadcasts can be encoded with Dolby Surround audio signal. Brasil opted to upgrade the ISDB-T Japanese standard to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC in the video compression and HE-AAC for audio compression because Dolby is not open and the royalty fees are more expensive than that of H.264 and renamed the upgraded standard to ISDB-Tb that now became the International ISDB-T standard.

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Three Major Parameters of HDTV

HDTV broadcast systems are identified with three major parameters:

  • Frame size in pixels is defined as number of horizontal pixels x number of vertical pixels, for example 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080. Often the number of horizontal pixels is implied from context and is omitted.
  • Scanning system is identified with the letter p for progressive scanning or i for interlaced scanning.
  • Frame rate is identified as number of video frames per second. For interlaced systems an alternative form of specifying number of fields per second is often used. Recently the uniform notation of specifying number of frames per second both for progressive and interlaced video has become increasingly popular.

If all three parameters are used, they are specified in the following form: [frame size][scanning system][frame rate]. Often, one parameter can be dropped if its value is implied from context. In this case the remaining numeric parameter is specified first, followed by the scanning system.

For example, 1920x1080p25 identifies progressive scanning format with 25 frames per second, each frame being 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high. The 1080i25 or 1080i50 notation identifies interlaced scanning format with 50 fields(25 frames) per second, each frame being 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high. The 1080i30 or 1080i60 notation identifies interlaced scanning format with 60 fields (30 frames) per second, each frame being 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high. The 720p60 notation identifies progressive scanning format with 60 frames per second, each frame being 720 pixels high; 1280 pixels horizontally are implied.

While 50Hz systems have only three scanning rates: 25i, 25p and 50p, 60Hz systems operate with much wider set of frame rates: 23.98p, 24p, 29.97i/59.94i, 29.97p, 30p, 59.94p and 60p. In the days of standard definition television, the fractional rates were often rounded up to whole numbers, like 23.98p was often called 24p, or 59.94i was often called 60i. High definition television allows using both fractional and whole rates, therefore strict usage of notation is required. Nevertheless, 29.97i/59.94i is almost universally called 60i, likewise 23.98p is called 24p.

For commercial naming of a product, the frame rate is often dropped and is implied from context, e.g. a “1080i television set”. A frame rate can also be specified without a resolution. For example 24p means 24 progressive scan frames per second, and 50i means 25 interlaced frames per second. Most HDTV systems support resolutions and frame rates defined either in the ATSC table 3, or in EBU specification.

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Pioneer BDP-320 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player

320Pioneer’s BDP-320 Pioneer BD-Live Blu-ray Disc Player, featuring 48-bit deep color and 7.1-ch analog outputs, is built for entertainment junkies who seek cinematic-quality performance along with a premium and unique user experience. Pioneer’s players combine supreme features, sophisticated internal construction with a rigid chassis design ensuring the highest quality playback of Blu-ray Disc, DVD and CD entertainment. The BDP-320 is also outfitted with built-in memory to deliver on the promise of BD-Live right out of the box.

Immediate BD-Live Enjoyment
BD-Live is the interactive component of the Blu-ray Disc format that gives home audiences the innovative opportunity to download and enjoy bonus trailers and movie features, participate in online gaming as well as synchronize viewing, chat live and video message with other BD-Live players. Providing immediate enjoyment of these exciting entertainment capabilities, the BDP-320 has one GB of internal on-board memory, eliminating the need for consumers to purchase additional memory for basic operation of BD-Live. An integrated USB port allows connection to flash drives as well as hard drives for additional BD-Live storage. An Ethernet connection port lets owners seamlessly upgrade their player with the latest firmware updates as soon as they are available online.

Premier Picture and Sound Quality
The new the BDP-320 combines a state-of-the-art chip set and video processing solutions with Pioneer’s 1080p True24FPS (frame per second) feature to deliver detailed, natural imagery that is unmatched by other players.
Recognizing that high end home theater is as much about sound presentation as on-screen images, the BDP-320 fully supports new high resolution audio formats, and also provides Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD bitstream output, and 7.1-channel analog output (for compatibility with non HDMI equipped receivers and preamps).

Premium Convenience Features
Pioneer’s BDP-320 provides functional advantages when used in conjunction with Pioneer’s Elite A/V receivers and KURO displays. KURO Link is an exclusive synergy feature that allows users to easily maneuver between connected Pioneer products with just a single remote control. By connecting the BDP-320 to a Pioneer KURO flat panel TV or monitor and a compatible Pioneer A/V receiver, KURO LINK lets you operate the entire system’s basic functions such as power on/off and playback through KURO’s remote control. The new KURO Link Video Adjustment System automatically switches to optimal video settings adjusted by unique parameters developed by Pioneer KURO and Blu-ray Disc player engineers. The BDP-320 also delivers significantly reduced power on, disc load, and power off times.

Customizable Viewing Experience
For those updating a home theater system, the Pioneer BDP-320 features sleek, slim form factors and gives consumers the confidence that comes with a heralded 30-year leadership in optical disc innovations. The Pioneer BDP-320 also gives cinephiles a series of picture adjustment features for an optimum customized entertainment experience including:

  • New–KURO Link Auto Picture Adjust:  By connecting the BDP-320 to a Pioneer KURO flat panel TV or monitor and a compatible Pioneer A/V receiver, KURO Link lets you operate the entire system’s basic functions such as power on/off and playback through KURO’s remote control. The new KURO LINK Video Adjustment System automatically switches to video settings best suited for the connected KURO.
  • New–Simultaneous Video Outputs: Watch your Blu-ray disc movies while watching the bonus features at the same time (Picture-in-Picture). 
  • 48-Bit Deep Color Support: By improving subtle color gradations, this feature produces an unprecedented level of hues and shades that ensure a vibrant viewing experience
  • Spectacular 1080p Picture Quality: The BDP-320 provides up to 1920x1080p resolution for unrivaled picture quality. And with True 24fps, you can now see your movies as the director intended.
  • x.v.Color: An advanced feature which greatly broadens the color space input to include 1.8 times as many natural colors than standard RGB signals.
  • HDMI Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS) Jitterless Transmission (2-ch):
    By HDMI connection with a compatible Pioneer A/V receiver, CD music is precisely reproduced with minimum jitter.
  • Picture Control Suite: Users can tweak 13 video adjustments to create a finely tuned image, delivering on the promise of stunning HD picture quality
  • Noise Reduction Circuits: Offering three different adjustments, the enhanced circuitry significantly updates the image quality of lower-quality DVD content
  • Internal Audio Decoders: The BDP-320 features internal decoding of all advanced audio formats including Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD High Resolution, and DTS-HD Master Audio.
  • BD-Live Compliant (Profile 2.0): Enjoy special disc contents in Picture-in-Picture form, and also download additional content from the internet to the built-in 1GB memory, such as the director’s interview and languages not contained on the disc. Note: BD-Live only available on compatible discs and playable features depend on the disc contents.
  • Triple High-Definition NR: Component Frame NR lowers Gaussian noise without blurring the picture while Block NR minimizes block noise (mosaic-like artifacts) and Mosquito NR reduces the fluttery noise around the edges of objects.
  • Picture Control Suite: 13 different video adjustments (Progressive Motion, PureCinema, YNR, CNR, BNR, MNR, Detail, White Level, Black Level, Black Setup, Gamma Correction, Hue, and Chroma Level)
  • Multi-Format Compatibility: You can play high definition DVD discs recorded by digital video cameras in AVCHD format. You can also play BD-R/RE, DVD-R/RW, etc. recorded using Blu-ray Disc recorders or DVD recorders as well as CD/CD-R.

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History of HDTV high-definition television

The term high definition once described a series of television systems originating from the late 1930s; however, these systems were only “high definition” when compared to earlier systems that were based on mechanical systems with as few as 30 lines of resolution.

The British high definition TV service started trials in August 1936 and a regular service in November 1936 using both the Baird 240 line and Marconi-EMI 405 line systems. The Baird system was discontinued in February 1937. In 1938 France followed with their own 441 line system, which was also used by a number of other countries. The US NTSC system joined in 1939. In 1949 France introduced an even higher resolution standard at 819 lines, a system that would be high definition even by today’s standards, but it was monochrome only. All of these systems used interlacing and a 4:3 aspect ratio except the 240 line system which was progressive (actually described at the time by the technically correct term of ‘sequential’) and the 405 line system which started as 5:4 and later changed to 4:3. The 405 line system adopted the (at that time) revolutionary idea of interlaced scanning to overcome the flicker problem of the 240 line with its 25 Hz frame rate. The 240 line system could have doubled its frame rate but this would have meant that the transmitted signal would have doubled in bandwidth, an unacceptable option.

Color broadcasts started at similar “high” resolutions, first with the US’s NTSC color system in 1953, which was compatible with the earlier B&W systems and therefore had the same 525 lines of resolution. European standards did not follow until the 1960s, when the PAL and SECAM colour systems were added to the monochrome 625 line broadcasts.

Since the formal adoption of Digital Video Broadcasting‘s (DVB) widescreen HDTV transmission modes in the early 2000s the 525-line NTSC (and PAL-M) systems as well as the European 625-line PAL and SECAM systems are now regarded as “standard definition” television systems. In Australia, the 625-line digital progressive system (with 576 active lines) is officially recognized as high definition.

Analog systems

In 1958, the Soviet Union created Тransformator (Russian: Трансформатор, “Transformer”), the first high-resolution (definition) television system capable of producing an image composed of 1,125 lines of resolution for the purpose of television conferences among military commands; as it was a military product, it was not commercialized.

In 1969, the Japanese state broadcaster NHK first developed consumer high-definition television with a 5:3 aspect ratio, a slightly wider screen format than the usual 4:3 standard. The system, known as Hi-Vision or MUSE after its Multiple sub-Nyquist sampling encoding for encoding the signal, required about twice the bandwidth of the existing NTSC system but provided about four times the resolution. Satellite test broadcasts started in 1989, with regular testing starting in 1991 and regular broadcasting of BS-9ch commenced on 25 November 1994, which featured commercial and NHK programming.

In 1981, the MUSE system was demonstrated for the first time in the United States. It had the same 5:3 aspect ratio as the Japanese system. Upon visiting a demonstration of MUSE in Washington, US President Ronald Reagan was most impressed and officially declared it “a matter of national interest” to introduce HDTV to the USA.

Several systems were proposed as the new standard for the USA, including the Japanese MUSE system, but all were rejected by the FCC because of their higher bandwidth requirements. At the same time that the high definition systems were being studied, the number of television channels was growing rapidly and bandwidth was already a problem. A new standard had to be radically efficient, needing less bandwidth for HDTV than the existing NTSC standard for SDTV.

Rise of digital compression

Since 1972 International Telecommunication Union‘s radio telecommunications sector (ITU-R) ITU-R has been working on creating a global recommendation for Analogue HDTV. These recommendations however did not fit in the broadcasting bands which could reach home users. The standardization of MPEG-1 in 1993 also lead to the acceptance of recommendations ITU-R BT.709. In anticipation of these standards the DVB organisation was formed, an alliance of broadcasters, consumer electronics manufacturers and regulatory bodies. The DVB develops and agrees on specifications which are formally standardised by ETSI.

DVB created first the standard for DVB-S digital satellite TV, DVB-C digital cable TV and DVB-T digital terrestrial TV. These broadcasting systems can be used for both SDTV and HDTV. In the USA the Grand Alliance proposed ATSC as the new standard for SDTV and HDTV. Both ATSC and DVB were based on the MPEG-2 standard. The DVB-S2 standard is based on the newer and more efficient H.264/MPEG-4 AVC compression standards. Common for all DVB standards is the use of highly efficient modulation techniques for further reducing bandwidth, and foremost for reducing receiver-hardware and antenna requirements.

In 1983, the International Telecommunication Union‘s radio telecommunications sector (ITU-R) set up a working party (IWP11/6) with the aim of setting a single international HDTV standard. One of the thornier issues concerned a suitable frame/field refresh rate, with the world already strongly demarcated into two camps, 25/50Hz and 30/60Hz, related by reasons of picture stability to the frequency of their main electrical supplies.

The WP considered many views and through the 1980s served to encourage development in a number of video digital processing areas, not least conversion between the two main frame/field rates using motion vectors, which led to further developments in other areas. While a comprehensive HDTV standard was not in the end established, agreement on the aspect ratio was achieved.

Initially the existing 5:3 aspect ratio had been the main candidate, but due to the influence of widescreen cinema, the aspect ratio 16:9 (1.78) eventually emerged as being a reasonable compromise between 5:3 (1.67) and the common 1.85 widescreen cinema format. (It has been suggested that the 16:9 ratio was chosen as being the geometric mean of 4:3, Academy ratio, and 2.35:1, the widest cinema format in common use, in order to minimize wasted screen space when displaying content with a variety of aspect ratios.)

An aspect ratio of 16:9 was duly agreed at the first meeting of the WP at the BBC‘s R & D establishment in Kingswood Warren. The resulting ITU-R Recommendation ITU-R BT.709-2 (“Rec. 709“) includes the 16:9 aspect ratio, a specified colorimetry, and the scan modes 1080i (1,080 actively-interlaced lines of resolution) and 1080p (1,080 progressively-scanned lines). The current BBC freeview trials of HD use MBAFF, which contains both progressive and interlaced content in the same encoding.

It also includes the alternative 1440 x 1152 HDMAC scan format. (According to some reports, a mooted 720p format (720 progressively-scanned lines) was viewed by some at the ITU as an “enhanced” television format rather than a true HDTV format, and so was not included, although 1920×1080 and 1280x720p systems for a range of frame and field rates were defined by several US SMPTE standards.)

Demise of analog HD systems

However, even that limited standardization of HDTV did not lead to its adoption, principally for technical and economic reasons. Early HDTV commercial experiments such as NHK’s MUSE required over four times the bandwidth of a standard-definition broadcast, and despite efforts made to shrink the required bandwidth down to about two times that of SDTV, it was still only distributable by satellite with one channel shared on a daily basis between seven broadcasters. In addition, recording and reproducing an HDTV signal was a significant technical challenge in the early years of HDTV. Japan remained the only country with successful public broadcast analog HDTV. Digital HDTV broadcasting started in 2000 in Japan, and the analog service ended in the early hours of 1 October 2007.

In Europe, analogue 1,250-line HD-MAC test broadcasts were performed in the early 1990s, but did not lead to any established public broadcast service.

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HDTV High-definition television in the United Kingdom

High-definition television in the United Kingdom is currently at an early stage of adoption. The first broadcasts began in 2006 and the number of channels has grown to 32 as of late 2008.

Most channels in the United Kingdom remain broadcast, and largely viewed, in standard-definition but most major broadcasters have begun or are soon beginning their initial forays into high-definition television. Similarly, the vast majority of viewing still takes place in standard-definition though penetration of high-definition displays and receivers is increasing.

High definition broadcasts are currently available over digital satellite, both subscription and free-to-air, as well as digital cable. Limited trials of over-the-air high-definition television broadcasts have been undertaken and there are plans for permanent broadcasts following digital switchover.

Current status

High-definition broadcasts are available on free-to-air digital satellite, the Sky+ HD satellite service and Virgin Media (cable) with BBC, ITV and Channel 4 channels available under contracts that expire in 2008. A new service, called Freesat launched on 6 May 2008, initially carrying the BBC HD channel. ITV have been trialling part-time HD broadcasts via the red-button service, ITV HD at first exclusively available on Freesat, although the service can now be manually tuned in on certain other satellite receivers including the Sky+ HD box. Channel 4 broadcasts selected programmes in HD via Sky HD and it is anticipated that they will eventually also broadcast over Freesat.

The BBC HD channel is available without subscription on digital satellite, and may be received by anybody with suitable equipment — a high-definition satellite receiver and a satellite dish. Many satellite viewers currently opt for a full Sky subscription which provides extra channels.

 Broadcasters

BBC

The BBC initially operated BBC HD on a trial basis on Sky Digital & the Telewest cable (later Virgin Media) platform. Following full approval by the BBC Trust, the service is expanding its hours and aims to become a full-time service.

 ITV

The ITV Network started broadcasting a trial service on digital cable television as well as on the Digital Terrestrial Television trial in London during the 2006 Football World Cup. The service ceased after this period, but a new HD service began to be made available with the launch of Freesat, on 7 June 2008, where selected programmes are offered in HD format, and accessed by the red button on Freesat receivers. ITV intended to spend £10m during 2008 on supporting ITV HD. Currently, there are no plans to launch via Sky.

Channel 4

Channel 4 launched its HD service on digital satellite in December 2007. The channel is encrypted, but is available with a free-to-view viewing card. There is some speculation that the channel may go free-to-air alongside BBC HD when its current contract with BSkyB expires.

Five

Five does not yet operate any HD service, but has been awarded a licence for HD transmissions on Freeview from 2010. The content is expected to be a simulcast of its main channel, with own productions and US acquisitions in HD.

Sky

British Sky Broadcasting began HD transmissions of several channels in May 2006.

Platforms

Terrestrial

As yet, there have been no full-time terrestrial HD transmissions other than two low-power trials in London. Although the spectrum used to broadcast digital television is currently too limited to allow HD transmission, the industry expect that new transmission and compression formats will allow full-time HD channels as early as late 2009.

Satellite: Sky HD

Sky+ HD has been carrying HD channels since May 2006. The platform now has a mixture of 33 free and subscription channels broadcasting in HD.

Satellite: Freesat

Freesat launched on 6 May 2008. It provides a subscription-free alternative to Sky and includes support for HD (BBC HD & ITV HD are available to receive with the Freesat HD box).

Freesat is a not-for-profit company formed by the BBC and ITV, marketing itself as being completely free from subscription charges or contracts, although viewers of course are obliged to purchase a suitable satellite receiver and have a satellite dish installed if they do not already have one. Freesat receivers are available in both standard definition and high definition cable versions. HD channels are available only when the satellite receiver is capable of supporting it.

Cable: V+

Virgin Media cable carries the BBC HD channel and on demand content from several broadcasters as part of its V+ service.

IPTV: BT Vision

BT Vision, a hybrid digital terrestrial and IPTV service, carries pay-per-view high-definition programmes, which the viewer downloads to the BT Vision set-top-box then watches when the download is complete. The HD service launched in February 2009.

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