High Def At My Desk

I’m at my desk this Sunday evening and not away at dinner because of strong wind and rain moving through Connecticut.

Say what you will about my job, there are some benefits. While the radar loops in a monitor to my right, I’m watching the Sunday night football game on NBC in HDTV. That’s right, somehow I’ve been blessed with an HDTV set at my desk! It’s an LG 20LS7D, which I assume means it’s a 20″ screen.

Football in HD is amazing, but not 100% what I expected. There are lots of compression artifacts whenever there is motion. You can especially see it where there is high contrast.

By compression artifacts, I mean slight video distortion where an approximation of the actual picture replaces the full fledged version. If you play with JPG images, you’ve probably seen something similar.

It’s possible this degradation of the picture isn’t the TVs fault or the fault of HDTV in general. I’m getting this via an unencrypted feed on Comcast. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were taking what they get from the local broadcaster and compressing it a little more to save on precious bandwidth.

Whatever it is, HDTV ends up as M(edium)DTV.

That being said, the picture seems sharp because of the astounding contrast. The blacks are blacker and whites whiter than what I’m used to seeing on TV. That brilliance makes the picture jump out at you.

To your eye, high contrast implies high resolution, even when high resolution isn’t there. Programs like Photoshop create this effect with a filter called ‘unsharp mask.’

I’ve been surprised to see the programming on our local PBS station. They seem to be running a full HDTV feed (still with artifacts) which differs from the PBS programs being run on their standard definition channel.

I spent a good 45 minutes watching this PBS feed a few evenings ago, staring at penguins and seals on South Georgia Island, not far from Antarctica.

Someone who walked by my desk said he’d pretty much watch anything in HD. I think I understand.

I’m not ready to bite the bullet and go HD at home. A set large enough for our family room is still prohibitively expensive for the amount of use it would get.

After seeing this presentation, I’m glad to say we’re not in HD at work yet. I’m not sure my trowel-like application of makeup would serve me well. The world is a better place with a slightly fuzzy Geoff.

3 thoughts on “High Def At My Desk”

  1. Most of the local news here in the LA/OC area have HD channels, as does the national news. Cable News Network, however, does not, which seems strange to me given the higher-income audience I assume they’re after. Do you know why?

    Another question: some networks look better than others, even in non-HD. In particular, HGTV looks clearer and sharper than any other non-HDTV network. Do you know why?

    And I think you’ll look just fine in HD.

  2. “I’m not sure my trowel-like application of makeup would serve me well.”

    I’ve heard makeup for HD is a whole different beast than makeup for SD.

    Then again, I saw the news down on ABC 7 Chicago last night (yes, the newscast where the car went through the studio window!) and I must say, the weather looks AWESOME in HD.

    I know we don’t have plans to go HD at my station, though, I hear the sister station in LaCrosse is nearly there. I guess when their switcher took a dump they spent money to get the control room & studio HD ready.

    @Michael: I believe Cable News Network in HD is launching in 2008. (Why is the abbreviation for that cable network a “questionable” term on the comments section?)


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