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Topic:
Cable/SAT Resolution versus Antenna
This thread has 14 replies. Displaying all posts.
Post 1 made on Tuesday February 7, 2012 at 10:12
NFASTRO
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I just picked up a large flat screen television which I have connected to both Rogers Cable and to antenna. I can easily switch input from antenna to HD cable to compare signal quality. I am in North York and can receive around 15 channels via antenna.

My question here is regarding cable resolution versus antenna. I used to think that antenna signal resolution was superior to cable or satellite. I was surprised that the cable signal was very close, if not the same as the antenna signal.

What experiences have others had in comparing the two. Has Rogers improved the quality of their signal over the last few months? Until now, I used to believe that cable signals were a bit compressed but it is not discernible.

On another note, I am quite disappointed how fuzzy the television shows SD signals. I guess its one of the problems that digital televisions have with SD. The digital artifacts are annoying and make the picture much worse than my old analog tv (35 inch) versus this new 55 inch high end LED digital tv.
Post 2 made on Tuesday February 7, 2012 at 13:04
keaster2000
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The only way I noticed that my antenna picture was just slightly better than my Satellite picture was after watching an NFL game on Bell in HD and then watching another game after that on WIVB--channel 4. I did notice that the picture was a bit sharper, but not enough that your "average joe" would be able to tell.

I do agree with you: watching SD content on a large HD screen does look bad: fast moving pictures like in football or an even better example: when the camera pans tha audience on The Price is Right, you notice a lot of tiling--for lack of a better word.

Now that I watch more HD than SD, I don't notice this as much: something I'm sure the industry has improved on over the past few years.

That's just my opinion.
Post 3 made on Tuesday February 7, 2012 at 18:57
rjdto
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channel 2,4,9,17,23,41,57 and the omni channels are the only aerial channels in 1080p resolution. Bell fibre TV broadcasts in 1080i. 1080p has double the refresh rate as 1080i. I,too can't see the difference: but there are extra channels off the antenna not available from cable or Bell TV. What does Rogers broadcast in?
rjdto
Post 4 made on Tuesday February 7, 2012 at 18:59
rjdto
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channel 2,4,9,11,17,23,41,57 and the omni channels are the only aerial channels in 1080p resolution. Bell fibre TV broadcasts in 1080i. 1080p has double the refresh rate as 1080i. I,too can't see the difference: but there are extra channels off the antenna not available from cable or Bell TV. What does Rogers broadcast in? 5,7,29 and 49 are in 720p.
rjdto
OP | Post 5 made on Tuesday February 7, 2012 at 20:18
NFASTRO
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I thought only bluray discs were 1080p. Everything else is 1080i or 720p. My atsc tuner on my computer displays the resolution for each of the stations. Most are 1080i. A few like the CBC have gone back to 720p which is a step backwards in my opinion. Ok for sports but their tv news or program broadcasts are fuzzier than before.

Really my original question was comparing the exact same station on antenna versus cable. In other words comparing CTV 1080i on antenna versus CTV 1080i on cable. With my setup, I can switch between antenna and cable for the exact same station and program instantly. When I do this, they appear almost equal, perhaps a slight edge to the antenna signal.
Post 6 made on Tuesday February 7, 2012 at 23:01
hd fan
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It also matters the scene you are watching while comparing. Fast moving scenes or sports are more demanding on bitrate than lets say, a newscast or a soap opera, therefore it will be more noticeable during sporting events. Big events like the Superbowl and the likes are not a good comparison since usually on those the pay providers will allocate more bandwidth for those becasue they know it has a bigger audience. Theoretically the maximun bitrate on an ATSC channel (read OTA) here in NA is 19.53 Mbps I think if the channel only broadcast 1 HD channel , no subchannels , no data casting, no other extra services. Rogers cable could operate on those limits as well specially after they get rid off the analog channels.

Hardcore HD fans will also try looking at the screen at far closer distances , like a few inches , looking for artifacts or lack of detail, (look at the logos and graphics) , but that is not te way the average eye will watch the TV show.

TV Station production, distriubution and broadcast equipment matters as well, usually CBS with ABC very close IMO, has the best picture quality everytime I have compared them during the State of the Union Adresses.

In any case the technology has evolved and encoders and related equipments are better now. I have no means to compare to Rogers or any pay provider now but I do can compare to the few master distribution signals up there on several satellites on C Band and it will also not be fair to compare them to even OTA ATSC. They usually use full TP bandwith (27 Mhz or more) on those C band satellite signals so only 6 Mhz OTA would not be fair to compare.

The larger the TV screen the more artifacts you will see, and I do not know why but usually the Sony's are the worst ones displaying SD content among the big manufacturers. IMO Samsung does way better job displaying SD, but this is all subjective of course.
Post 7 made on Wednesday February 8, 2012 at 10:01
isotack
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Lets put is this way...I have an HD FTA reciever that records both sattellite or OTA signals. When I record a movie from stttellite, the file size on the hard drive for a two hour movie is about 4 gigs (give or take). When I recorded the Letterman Show, the other night (1 hour) OTA from channel 4 in Buffalo...the file size was over 8 gigs.

OTA has much more data and is not compressed. Satellite's picture is fine, but it is still compressed. Cable, from what i have seen is even worse. In other words it is more difficult to see the difference between sat and OTA, but there is a noticible difference between cable and sat.
Post 8 made on Wednesday February 8, 2012 at 13:46
keaster2000
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"| OTA has much more data and is not compressed. Satellite's picture is fine, but it is still compressed. Cable, from what i have seen is even worse. In other words it is more difficult to see the difference between sat and OTA, but there is a noticible difference between cable and sat."

I couldn't agree more. My brother installs cable for a living and he'll tell you like it is...even HE doesn't have cable.
Post 9 made on Thursday February 9, 2012 at 02:43
Ernie Gilman
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On February 7, 2012 at 10:12, NFASTRO said...
On another note, I am quite disappointed how fuzzy the television shows SD signals. I guess its one of the problems that digital televisions have with SD. The digital artifacts are annoying and make the picture much worse than my old analog tv (35 inch) versus this new 55 inch high end LED digital tv.

We don't usually know that AM radio can sound pretty good because, in my opinion, once FM was the main band to listen to, manufacturers really cheapened the AM sections of tuners.

I think a similar thing has happened as regards conversion of analog SD to higher definition, or even to 480i digital. Analog looked much better when it was all analog. The real evidence of this is the romantic closeup where you see two faces close together, and the people are holding totally still but their noses are wandering around a bit. Yesterday I recorded an SD program of Guy Lombardo music just to see what it was. There was a piano solo, and the video rendition of the piano looked like a piano with the keyboard in the foreground, overlaid by small ocean waves lapping upon the keyboard. The entire damn piano was waving!
A good answer is easier with a clear question giving the make and model of everything.
"The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." -- G. “Bernie” Shaw
Post 10 made on Saturday February 11, 2012 at 14:05
Anthony
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cable/sat and antenna all get the same feed from the same source. So technicaly they can be exactly the same (and even in theory anyone can be higher).

But to understand the topic the best way to start is from the beginning. Let's say someone is watching Hockey Night in Canada (since we are Sat and in Canada). CBC sends a "high quality" feed to all the stations from the arena, the station gets it and adds local advertisement and stuff and you get your CBC station (for example in Toronto I think it is ch.5 for OTA) now technically it could be possible to get a direct signal to the cable/sat companies and not be limited by the OTA BW/specs, but what really happens is that the Cab and sat companies get that same OTA signal. Since they work off that channel they are limited by that channel. Now they get CBC Toronto as well as many other channels and they need to send them down the pipe to you and everyone else. So what happens is the cable /sat companies take that signal and re-compress it and that is done unevenly, some show/channels are compressed more than others depending on several factors.

That is why people talk about OTA being higher quality. Is it necessarily always there? no, is it a lot or a bit when it is there? that depends on the difference and how much you care.

I think the biggest reason people talk about it is that in the old analogue days the cable & sat companies had fine tuned directional antennas to get the signal and so Joe with his rabbit ears was getting snow, ghosting ... while the guy receiving cable/sat had a clear image. This has engrained the notion in many that cable and sat must look better. So people feel the need to point out that not only is it not true but that the opposite is true.
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Post 11 made on Saturday February 11, 2012 at 15:24
hd fan
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On February 11, 2012 at 14:05, Anthony said...
cable/sat and antenna all get the same feed from the same source. (Not necessarilly true, I beleive for instance TVO sends a different feed to the rest of the province transmitters and they use shaw direct for that)So technicaly they can be exactly the same (and even in theory anyone can be higher) (Not OTA , it is limited by the bandwitdh of an ATSC channel , that is 6 Mhz, sat/cable could change those internally).

But to understand the topic the best way to start is from the beginning. Let's say someone is watching Hockey Night in Canada (since we are Sat and in Canada). CBC sends a "high quality" feed to all the stations from the arena (from the arena it goes to CBC master control , I would assume, and then it gets "produced" and distributed), the station gets it and adds local advertisement and stuff and you get your CBC station (for example in Toronto I think it is ch.5 for OTA) now technically it could be possible to get a direct signal to the cable/sat companies and not be limited by the OTA BW/specs, but what really happens is that the Cab and sat companies get that same OTA signal. Since they work off that channel they are limited by that channel. Now they get CBC Toronto as well as many other channels and they need to send them down the pipe to you and everyone else. So what happens is the cable /sat companies take that signal and re-compress it and that is done unevenly, some show/channels are compressed more than others depending on several factors. (exactly but they do not say that on their ads ,or do they?, sorry but english is not my native language, lol)

That is why people talk about OTA being higher quality (because it acctually is, period). Is it necessarily always there? no, is it a lot or a bit when it is there? that depends on the difference and how much you care. (it depends on so many factors acctually, and yes everyone should care)

I think the biggest reason people talk about it is that in the old analogue days the cable & sat companies had fine tuned directional antennas to get the signal and so Joe with his rabbit ears was getting snow, ghosting ... while the guy receiving cable/sat had a clear image. This has engrained the notion in many that cable and sat must look better. So people feel the need to point out that not only is it not true but that the opposite is true. (and now that you mention analog , hold your horses, because a good analog signal could blow out of the water almost any digital version you see out there, ask the japanees @ NHK about their Analog HD trials)

As I have said before it is all about how the technology is implemented. Unfortunaelly it is all about maximizing their profits at the cost of quality for the end user, but heck we already knew I was so naive even to expect otherwise, lol.  
Post 12 made on Sunday February 12, 2012 at 14:40
rjdto
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I use OTA and Bell Fibre TV. The signal quality is identical 1080i. Bell fibre TV comes over the phone lines. There is a display in Future Shop where you can compare Shaw and Bell satellite service side by side. I have never seen Rogers digital.
rjdto
Post 13 made on Sunday February 12, 2012 at 21:40
isotack
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On February 12, 2012 at 14:40, rjdto said...
I use OTA and Bell Fibre TV. The signal quality is identical 1080i. Bell fibre TV comes over the phone lines. There is a display in Future Shop where you can compare Shaw and Bell satellite service side by side. I have never seen Rogers digital.

1080i has nothing to do with signal quality. They can still compress the data and your resolution will be 1080i.

I suspect that Bell fibe is compressed just like sat and not as much as cable. OTA is the absolute best.
Post 14 made on Monday February 13, 2012 at 22:03
rjdto
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Both Bell fibre and OTA use mpeg2. Flipping between Bell and OTA I cannnot tell the difference. Both satellite providers produce an inferior signal because they have to use added compression ( sometimes mpeg4) as all their channels have to be broadcast simultaneously from their satellites. The fibre TV signals are sent out over fiber optic to the OPI (those brown Bell boxes by the side of the road ). Fibre then sends out only requested channels to receivers in the house over dedicated wires. This uses much less bandwidth. Rogers also uses fiber optic to their OPI (green boxes by the side of the road). From there the signal uses a common coaxial cable to all the houses.
OTA has the advantages of being free and with added channels. Bell and Shaw satellite use different compression algorithms producing noticeable differences.
rjdto
Post 15 made on Wednesday February 15, 2012 at 22:58
Anthony
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(Not necessarilly true, I beleive for instance TVO sends a different feed to the rest of the province transmitters and they use shaw direct for that)

when I said source I meant the local channel i.e. in the example I gave earlier it would be CBC 5 Toronto not CBC as a network. Right, if you watch on cable or sat CBC it will be the CBC of an area. For example my sister in Ottawa has Bell Sat and so when I am there watching CTV Montreal, I am watching what CFCF is broadcasting, not what Toronto is broadcasting or Vancouver or some generic CTV out there, and that means they are limited by what CTV Montreal sends out. An even better example would be Videotron here and VPT-33 in the US. Videotron shows what plays onmn 33.1, they don’t show 33.2, 33.3 ,33.4 but because they get the same feed as I get OTA their signal cannot be of higher quality than mine and my antenna.

(Not OTA , it is limited by the bandwitdh of an ATSC channel , that is 6 Mhz, sat/cable could change those internally).

what I meant is that theoretically the high quality feed could be mixed with the ads and sent as is (uncompressed further) to the BDUs instead of the BDUs getting the same OTA feed and quality that I do, if they would do the former rather than the later they could technicaly have higher quality. But that does not tend to happen which is why OTA is the best quality since it is the first limiting factor in the chain.

As for the 6mhz you are right that is the definition of a channel since NTSC but ATSC is ~20Mbps because of the modulation done on that 6mhz if one day there is ATSC* with a different modulation it might technically be higher. (the same way dial-up modems kept increasing until 56k modems, also in 2008 ATSC added h.264 to the specs so if stations used that even if the BW did not increase we would technically get better video (on the other hand most tuners don't support it so that won't happen any time soon.)


(from the arena it goes to CBC master control , I would assume, and then it gets "produced" and distributed),

you most likely got me there, but in my defence I was trying to be precise.

it depends on so many factors actually, and yes everyone should care

agree
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