HD-Lite: A Not So Dirty, Little Secret
Cable and satellite providers are coming under fire for delivering subpar high definition television.
Beware, not all High Def is created (or transmitted) equally. Channel compression can play a big role in your picture quality.
April 04, 2008 by Ben Hardy

Getting the Most Out of Your HD Experience
Start by purchasing the right HDTV for your viewing scenario. Too many consumers rush into the box store and buy the biggest screen displaying the biggest picture. For 1080p, you should be sitting 2.5 to 3 picture heights away from the screen. For 720p, it’s around 3.5 picture heights away. (For more tips, read “Angle, Distance Key to Home Theater Design” or “Ten Tips for Buying a TV.”) Make sure you are using HDMI and not composite cable or coaxial. 

When choosing a service provider, find someone you know who is currently subscribing to a provider’s HDTV, and decide for yourself if the image on all the channels is acceptable. Be sure to watch HD channels that feature a lot of motion – these are the channels that usually suffer the most from HD compression and content alteration. Remember, more is not necessarily better. More HD channels can mean creative compression and bit-rate shaping, which can result in a degraded image. Consumers with fiber-delivered content (like Verizon’s FiOS) seem to be standing by that provider’s HD quality, although service is still limited to only 13 states in the U.S. If you don’t currently like the HD quality of your current provider, say something about it. If nothing changes, take your dollars elsewhere. The race for more HD channels means quantity over quality, and the race will continue so long as consumers flock to the provider with more HD, not better HD.

Feel like your cable or satellite provider isn’t delivering true HD? Are some HD channels much worse than others? Let us know in the comments forum below.

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Ben Hardy - Contributing Writer
Between watching re-runs of the The Jetsons and convincing his Insteon and Z-Wave controls to get along, Ben Hardy is immersed in the world of home automation, home control, and home networking.

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