Is it Virgin Media at fault or broadcaster when HD is not HD ?

Merlin

Member
Hi,
Just got brand new HD tv panasonic.
Now enjoying HD channels. Found just 9 of 28 supposed HD channels in full crisp pin sharp HD, quite a few in semi HD (someway towards HD from SD but certainly not as detailed and with the clarity of HD) and some clearly SD quality, sharing same matching pic as the SD channel of the same name.
I am VERY shocked to see that Channel 4 HD is not in HD I have yet to find it in true HD. Tonight I am watching Snow White and the Huntsman, a film totally able to be in HD, filmed a few yrs ago, yet its in soft HD, not quite SD but certainly not HD, having played BBC1 Michael Macintyre show which is crisp perfect HD makes my HD look like 4K. Dragons Den is in HD as is The Repair Shop. superb quality looks as good as shop displayed 4K fed 4K signal.
Eden HD yesterday was not HD, today it is., ditto Dave HD.
Broadcasters are putting a label on their channel of HD but then NOT transmitting in HD. If its Morecambe and Wise one might expect it to be the original footage redigitised as HD, but looking softer being unable to attain the detail a movie filmed back then designed for a massive screen and digitised as HD would give. However its as soft as hell, so no accessing original and digitising it as HD. Surely though a movie filmed for a big screen is capable of being broadcast as true HD, instead they take the SD version and transmit it to the HD channel. its a con.

Just why is the aforementioned Snow White and the Huntsman in semi HD on 4HD though.

9 out of 28 HD channels with crisp HD at time of survey earlier today, is appalling.

Should Virgin Media make comment of this to the channel broadcasters , as they take our money, and charge more for access to HD channels.

Who polices the broadcasters putting out less than true HD ? Its not as if the signal is less than 1920x1080, (or maybe it is) but they havent taken the prime quality original and turned it into 1920x1080 with settings that retain max detail.

I see that they deny me ITV 2 ITV3 and ITV4 all in HD, must pay us more they say.
having yet to see ITV (113) showing true HD I am disinclined now to even want to pay more for what could be more semi HD if that.

All in all I have a HD tv and only 9 channels to choose from. and as for 4K buyers where 4k upscales x2 HD, hate to think what they see .

Merlin
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
HD is defined by its resolution (1080i in the case of UK HD TV broadcasts) and not by the bit rate. Standard definition UK TV is made up of 576 horizontal lines of pixels, but a high-definition TV screen uses either 720 or 1080. The broadcaster supplies the feed and the bitrate associated with one channel is not and will not always be the same as others. This is irrespective of the resolution.

If the video being received by your STB is natively 1080i then it is HD. No, Virgin Media are not upscaling the SD feeds and advertising them as HD. The broadcaster supplies individual feeds for their SD and their HD variiants. Neither do Virgin Media have any control over the bitrate of the feeds being supplied to them. Some broadcasters compress the signal more than others to reduce bandwidth on their own hardware.

You may find the following of interest:

No one polices the broadcasters. They are under no obligation to provide you or anyone else HD channels. Virgin Media don't charge you anything extra to access the HD channels that would otherwise be available to you via Freeview.
 

mikeysthoughts

Well-known Member
I was initially surprised at how poor the majority of channels were when I took out a VM subscription. The major programs, films, sporting events are sharper with better PQ but as you'll see from many comments in other similar threads about Virgin PQ, overall it's not as good as a TV's built-in Freeview HD tuner.

Part of the problem is thought to be the cheap V6 box - have you set up with the best resolution output settings? Basically uncheck everything apart from 4k (or 1080 if you don't have a 4k TV) in the output video settings.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
Virgin Media picture quality is about the same as you'd get via SKY. THe feeds are the exact same feeds and the broadcasters are not supplying SKY with higher quality video.

Unchecking everything aart from the 2160p option simply means that the STB is upscaling everything apart from natevely encoded UHD content to 4K. Most content you watch will be 1080i in nature as opposed to being UHD.

To get exactly what is being broadcast without any additional upscaling being carried out, set the video output as follows:

snapshot002.jpg


and:
snapshot001.jpg



The STB will now not play any part if processing the video and you'll get native 4K when available, 1080i in association with HD channels as well as just 576i in association with SD channels.

Scalling up video dosn't improve its quality. You only get the same quality as what was put in! Garbage in will result in garbage out.

If the box itself isn't configured to scale or process the video then how is it the box's fault for the poor video quality it outputs?


Part of the problem is thought to be the cheap V6 box - have you set up with the best resolution output settings? Basically uncheck everything apart from 4k (or 1080 if you don't have a 4k TV) in the output video settings.
You are suggesting that the box is the solution and that the solution is to use the V6 box's upscaling? This is despite also suggesting that the box itself is at fault?

As I already said, garbage in results in garbage out. Upscaling a lesser resolution to a higher resoution cannot account for or remedy the data absent from the incoming signal or restore information already lost due to lower bitrates and compression. Your TV will scale the video to fit its panel anyway and most modern TVs now include very capable scalers of their own. It is unlikely that the V6 box's scaler will be superior to that incorporated into your TV?
 
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thedude

Distinguished Member
U have to admit, the quality of VM appears to me to be rubbish. Sky was far better and the uhd did greatly help that fact. But VM seems soft and washed out and almost lazy in comparison
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
U have to admit, the quality of VM appears to me to be rubbish. Sky was far better and the uhd did greatly help that fact. But VM seems soft and washed out and almost lazy in comparison
Really?

The channels VM show are supplied to them at the same bitrate they are supplied to SKY. SKY's own channels are some of the most heavilly compressed available with visible artifacting. Virgin have no channels of their own so cannot really be held responsible for the compression being applied by the channels supplied to them by the likes of SKY and others. Even the BBC are guilty and quality of HD broadcasts is lower now than it was when the BBC first introduced their dedicated HD channel. TV video quality is actually decreasing despite resolutions increasing.
 

thedude

Distinguished Member
you mentioned this before and i agree that it shouldn't be their fault, but its odd that its worse than sky. And i have found that bitrates have dropped and there is no way of checking how bad they are now.
 

thedude

Distinguished Member
Me!
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
Who says that the picture quality is worse than that associated with SKY?

My Neighbour has a 4K Tv that also has a freesat tuner, The Virgin picture is terrible, the Freesat one is excellent. Have virgin now stopped using mpeg2 for HD and is now using H264/aVC. If so it's way worse than the same content viewed using the Freesat tuner.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member

That is your opinion, but the facts suggest that the video is the same signal regardless of the platform you access it via.

Just as many people suggest the video they get via cable is as good if not better than that they get via SKY.


Regardless of whether you are accessing your TV via Freeview, Satelite or cable …

…they are all vrap.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
My Neighbour has a 4K Tv that also has a freesat tuner, The Virgin picture is terrible, the Freesat one is excellent. Have virgin now stopped using mpeg2 for HD and is now using H264/aVC. If so it's way worse than the same content viewed using the Freesat tuner.
Virgin Media are now fully H264 compliant. and the not compliant STBs are no longer in use.

You used to however get better quality BBC broascast using MPEG than you now get using H264. VM are now having to use the poorer quality variable bitrate video feeds from the BBC.

H264 doesn't give you better video and simply allows for more compression. THe broadcasters haven't maintained or increased their bitrates while using H264 and have simlply used it to allow them to decrease file sizes and data traffic. The ideal was to use H264 to increase the bitrate and quality while not having to use more bandwidth or increase the file sizes.
 
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thedude

Distinguished Member
No one suggests that virgin is on par with sky q for video quality. I've looked high and wide and there isn't anyone.

And see old Graham agrees
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
My Neighbour has a 4K Tv that also has a freesat tuner, The Virgin picture is terrible, the Freesat one is excellent. Have virgin now stopped using mpeg2 for HD and is now using H264/aVC. If so it's way worse than the same content viewed using the Freesat tuner.
THat is your opinion, but the facts suggest that the video is the same signal regardless of the platform you access it via.

Just as many people suggest the video they get via cable is as good if not better than that they get via SKY.


Regardless of whether you are accessing your TV via Freeview, Satelite or cable …

…they are all vrap.
The neighbour asked me why the picture quality on my TV was so good, She her TV picture was nowhere near as good as it looked in the showroom.said it was nowhere near as good as it looked in the shop. She also has netflix 4K and that also looks great. The virgin pictures are dreadful. Lot's of mpeg artrfacts. Either low bitrate or poor encoders being used. I know for a fact that the used mpeg2 for a long time. Basically DVD quality rather than blu-ray.

Just confirming that the OP is not alone. Two of us can attest to this.

Switching to the Freesat box instantly solved the problem. She has ditched the crap V6 box and is more than happy with the freesat signal.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
No one suggests that virgin is on par with sky q for video quality. I've looked high and wide and there isn't anyone.

And see old Graham agrees

SKY use the same feeds. Not at all sure how you think they are getting better video?
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
Virgin Media are now fully H264 compliant. and the not compliant STBs are no longer in use.

You used to however get better quality BBC broascast using MPEG than you now get using H264. VM are now having to use the poorer quality variable bitrate video feeds from the BBC.

H264 doesn't give you better video and simply allows for more compression. THe broadcasters haven't maintained or increased their bitrates while using H264 and have simlply used it to allow them to decrease file sizes and data traffic. The ideal was to use H264 to increase the bitrate and quality while not having to use more bandwidth or increase the file sizes.
It's still crap. And your comment is incorrect. H264 can use lower bitrates and get much higher quality than mpeg2.

Changing the modulation from DVB-T/DVB-S to DVB-T2/DVB-S2 also greatly increase the capacity of a mux.

Guessing VIrgin still using DVB-C.

The quality of the broadcaster encoders makes a big difference, The BBC have newer encoders than the others and have the lowest bitrates at around 7000kbps and still have superior pictures to the others.
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
SKY use the same feeds. Not at all sure how you think they are getting better video?

How can Sky possibly use the same feeds ? HD channels use DVB-S2 modulation. Virgin has to use a DVB-C variant so will have to re-encode the broadcaster streams regardless of the encoders used.
 

thedude

Distinguished Member
Oooo interesting
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
Sorry, but you are talking crap. They are forms of compression and not improvements in video quality. You can get the exact same if not better quality from either dependant on the compression ration and the file size. I can have an MPEG file with better bitrates that H264 and better video quality depending upon the file size.

Yes, H264 can attain the same bitrate at a smaller file size, but using it will not automatically attain better video quality. The quality is dependant upon the compression ration applied and ultimately the bitrate of the video.

I'm also perfectly aware of the newer encoders the BBC use, hence why I said that Virgin Media were getting better, higher bitrate feeds from the BBC than eeveryone else when not getting the more compressed H264 feeds many complained about when the BBC first started using those encoders. THe beeb now use a variable bitrate in order to try appease those who complained, despite not actually acknowledging that there was an issue: Virgin Media now use the same variable bitrate H264 feeds as everyone else.
 
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dante01

Distinguished Member
How can Sky possibly use the same feeds ?
Well the broadcasters definately aren't providing Virgin Media with special one off feeds are they? THe previous arrangement with the BBC was a specialone off arrangement and this is no longer the case or a reqyurement.

So you are suggesting the channels are sending Virgin media different encodings of the exact same content?


I'm also uder the impression that Virgin use DVB-C (256QAM) which as a bitrates over 50Mbit/s. No idea as to the exact version of DVB-S2 SKY use, but whatever it is, it cannot have a bitrate per channel of more than 50Mbit/s.

Virgin Media currently utilises 256-QAM enabling a single one of those 8MHz carriers in the 750Mz spectrum to deliver a bit rate of around 55Mb/s. There are 1024 and 4096 modulation schemes on the horizon too: DOCSIS 3.1 supports 4096-QAM with allowances for up to 16384-QAM but as the specification was only made official last October, it will be some time before both cable customers and providers get to experience the benefits.
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button • The Register


Note that Virgin have also overhauled their entire network since that article was written.
 
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dante01

Distinguished Member
You can find the birates for some channels attained via Virgin Media's service here:


The bitrates per channel appear to be about 4Mb/s higher than you get relative to the channels you'd get via satellite?
 
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thedude

Distinguished Member
Here's two!
Interesting to look at the last hour.
The average of virgin is totally skewed by the one spoke at 11mbs.
Where as sky is for more consistent.

I wonder if the adverts are the peeks or the troughs
 

Attachments

dante01

Distinguished Member
Regardless, the bitrates are abysmal compared to over 10 years ago when you'd get near enough 19Mb/s in association with the BBC's HD channel. Quality is deteriorating and not getting better regardless of the improvement in compression technology.

Give an idiot a knife and he'll cut his own throat rather than make you a meal.
 

thedude

Distinguished Member
The bitrates are terrible. Although encoding has improved I agree its a sh*t shambles of what's happened and more of a joke where as Netflix and amazon try and improve (although they did drop recently) it shows how companies rest or laurels. I wonder if sky cable dropped because of 4k however there is zero content on virgin
 

chopples

Distinguished Member
I don’t want to comment really on whats best as I don’t know, but beyond bitrate there is also a couple of other factors which determine the quality of the final image we see. The signal received will likely be 1080i. Typically nowadays customers do not set their boxes to match the incoming broadcast signal, firstly there will be deinterlacing going on, in addition users tend to set the resolution to the max capabilities of the STB, which in this instance would be 4K. Both these things (deinterlacing and upscaling) require some picture processing, the capabilities of which will be different dependent on the STB being used

@grahamlthompson told the anecdote of a freesat user using a built in tuner from a 4k TV. I can totally believe the image will be better in this instance as the TV will have better picture processing capabilities compared to the STB’s being discussed.
 

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