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Saturday, 19 April 2008

Reader mail: Got a 1080p set, so where’s my 1080p picture?

Reader inouh82cme writes: I switched to HDMI and the picture quality result is amazing. My only concern/frustration is I bought a brand new LCD TV for the living room. I made sure it was the best, top of the line, and was 1080p. The problem is that my HD PVR and TV both still indicate 1080i.

I contacted the cable provider (Rogers) and was told that Rogers does NOT broadcast in 1080p!!! What is the point of everyone touting 1080p and selling 1080p TVs when the MAJOR cable company in Canada does not broadcast 1080p?

First of all, congratulations on your new 1080p LCD TV and HDMI cable (and please tell me you
didn’t pay more than $20 or so for the cable, by the way). Resolution questions aside, I hope you’re enjoying the picture.

So, to your question: No, you’re not going to get a 1080p signal from your cable operator (same with satellite and broadcast). All broadcast and cable/satellite networks (where in Canada or here in the U.S.) deliver their feeds in either 1080i or 720p, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

Why? Well, it’s mainly a matter of bandwidth; for now, cable and satellite carriers are still struggling to cram as many bandwidth-hogging 1080i/720p networks into their channel lineups as possible (and as Chris writes, some carriers have been accused of
skimping on bandwidth to pack in more channels). While there’s talk of satellite operators offering 1080p channels in the next few years or so, don’t hold your breath.

That said, keep in mind that only a 1080p set is capable of fully resolving a 1080i image, while 720p HDTVs must downscale 1080i signals (used by such networks as NBC, CBS, and many others) to match their native resolutions. Another benefit is that the pixels on your 1080p set are more tightly packed together than on a 720p set, thereby reducing the "screen door" effect your might see on larger 720p displays.

If you really want the “1080p” icon to light up on your HDTV, you’ll need to get a Blu-ray (or now-defunct HD DVD) player, which can play movies that have been natively authored in 1080p (over HDMI, of course). PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 gaming consoles also support resolutions up to 1080p, but know that most games are simply upscaled to 1080p to keep frame rates up and action smooth.

Personally, I'm pretty happy with my 1080p LCD HDTV (46 inches), even though I'm only getting 1080i or 720p from my cable box. What's your take?

Posted by: aroeltsm, Updated at: 12:31 am

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