Scan lines vs. Skills

Ever since we got HDTV last September we’ve been watching most of our television on HD channels, switching to SD channels only when necessary such as for Battlestar Galactica or British TV on BBC America. In fact, we sometimes watch shows just because they are in HD!

Thanks to the Winter Olympic in Turino, Time Warner Cable <sarcasm>generously</sarcasm> added Universal HD channel during February for the Olympic coverage in HD along with NBC HD. When Universal HD is not showing Olympic events, it shows syndicate shows from the NBC/Universal network which includes the repeats of Battlestar Galactica in full HD glory. What a difference a few extra scan lines make (Ok, a lot of extra scan lines)! The image is sharp with great colour rendition but without being a distraction. Compare this against the blurry, low contrast, washout image from the Sci-Fi Channel I won’t have spent a minute to watch the show if not for the skills of the scriptwriters and the actors.

This just shows that great writing and acting can still attract viewers, verse high production values. Just look at The West Wing and ER. Two shows that were once great but now we only watch them because we used to and that they are on HD. At least West Wing is on its final season but ER is still limping along.

As for the Olympic coverage it is very uneven. Quality range from nice HD image from indoor events such as figure skating and speed skating, to just widescreen SD image (albeit good quality) from outdoor events. Of course only a small percentage of the population in the U.S. (even less for the Europe) own a HDTV set and nearly half of these owners don’t even know they are not watching HD unless they are using a HD set-top box and tuned to HD channels! Oh well, their lose if they don’t want to do some research for their expensive HDTV purchase.

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