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I can't help myself but share my recent experience asking Austar when they will release a box with something better that S-Video, hoping to improve the picture quality. Here is my original email to them;

My query is, when will Austar bring out a box that really is Digital? At the moment the only connections for video from the box I have is RCA or S-Video cables which are both Analogue connections. I currently use S-Video to try and get the best picure. I have recently purchased a Plasma television which has really shown up how bad the picture broadcast by Foxtel/Austar really is. In comparision with normal Digital TV where I have a set top box connected via DVI input (which IS Digital), the difference is chalk and cheese. DVI inputs completed solve the polarisation problems which I get when watching Austar. It especially noticeable on overseas recordings such as Golf where the players faces when moving around look like there are wearing clown masks!

If you are really offering a digital service, it would be appreciated that you can advise when a digital box will be offered with DVI outputs. Even if this isn't possible, something better than S-Video such as Component Video or RGB outputs would be 1000 times better.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Here is their reply! :P:blink:

Thank you for your email.

AUSTAR decoders already have capacity to display the widescreen format

(16:9) in a multitude of ways. The widescreen format can be displayed in the following ways:

As a "letterbox" on a 4:3 display

As a 4:3 "centre cut" image on a 4:3 display

As a widescreen 16:9 image on a 16:9 display

To get into the aspect ratio, you will need to go to the home page, arrow accross and highlight SETUP, this will bring aspect ratio up on you tv scree, by using the down arrow button highlight this option and press select/OK button and you are in the menu.

We do not provide AC3 audio, ie. 5.1 channel surround sound,because our decoder box does not have the necessary hardware or software for customers

to decode the AC3. Our AUSTAR Decoder does not have the necessary

hardware or software to provide customers with 5.1 channel surround sound (also known as AC3 audio)

The AUSTAR Decoder has stereo output which can be interfaced into a surround sound system

At present, AUSTAR does not have any high definition channels.

All AUSTAR customers already receive a digital satellite service. Our digital satellite service was launched in 1995.

Dolby Digital 5.1(also known as Dolby AC3) is not provided for on our platform and won't be for the foreseeable future.

However Dolby Analogue surround sound (Dolby pro-logic) is supported by our platform. This means any source material containing a Dolby pro-logic encoded audio signal will pass through our platform to the Left and Right outputs of our set top boxes. A pro-logic decoder is still required to decode the surround sound.

From Sunday, 4th July the following channels started broadcasting in

widescreen format (16:9): Showtime, Showtime 2, Showtime Greats, Movie One

and Movie One Take 2.

For customers who do not have a widescreen television by default,the

decoder displays 16:9 images on a 4:3 television as "Centre Cut", which is

option two from the below list. On decoders other than ST20, letter box

format is available as well.

Widescreen Image that has been displayed in 4:3. impact is the entire

image is visible, the image is distorted - people look tall and thin.

4:3 image created by cropping the original widescreen image. Part of

the image is lost from either side.

Letterbox image, created by reducing the size of the image while

retaining the correct proportions. This leaves a "gap" at the top

and bottom of the image.

For any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us on 132 432 available 7 days per week from 6am until 11pm EST.

Kind Regards

Levonne

Austar Communciations

:P Boy, was I kacking myself. I sent another email asking them where in my first email did I mentioned anything about 16:9 or 4:3. Here is their 2nd reply.

Thank you for your email,

We are looking at new decoders similar to the new ones that Foxtel have but they won't be available until sometime in 2005.

For any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us on 132 432 available 7 days per week from 6am until 11pm EST.

Kind Regards

Levonne

Austar Communciations

I'm thinking this is more of a palm off to me as they probably have no idea.

Has anyone had any experience with Foxtel? Do the digital Foxtel boxes offer anything better than S-Video?

Mossy

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I'm thinking this is more of a palm off to me as they probably have no idea.

Has anyone had any experience with Foxtel? Do the digital Foxtel boxes offer anything better than S-Video?

On the first point I guess you'd be right, the bloke obviously worked for a politician before the CES sent him to Austar, as he didn't even answer your questions.

On the second point, the Foxtel Pace and Uec boxes have scart connections with RGB out picture is quite good (although some of the channels are crap, but most of the movie channels seem to have reasonable bandwidth) and 5.1 sound through coax digital out.

I have the UEC box and some of the movie channels do broadcast in 5.1 sometimes.

You can always get your own box, the Austar card will work in a lot of aftermarket boxes too.

Mind you its probably easier to go down to the local video shop and hire the movie.

Circuit

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I have bad news for you boys.

The quality problems with Poxtel – Austar have NOTHING to do with the connection method used on the set top boxes.

Svideo is MORE then good enough for FULL PAL resolution.DVI, Component and VGA connections are for HD video and would be a complete waste of time and money for PAL resolution broadcasts.

Unless they decide to increase the data rate considerably over what they are currently running, we are stuck with not much better then VHS resolution.

That is pretty sad in a HD TV world.

The decoders are capable of the same quality as terrestrial free to air digital TV decoders if the same data rate was used.

Even if maximum data rate was used, the best we will ever get is standard PAL resolution with DVD quality and that does not need DVI, Component or VGA connections.

So, you are backing up the wrong tree asking for a set top box with DVI output.

What we should be clamoring for, is much higher data rates to allow true DVD quality. Or even better, some true HD channels.

Regards,

Owen

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The quality problems with Poxtel – Austar have NOTHING to do with the connection method used on the set top boxes.

Svideo is MORE then good enough for FULL PAL resolution.DVI, Component and VGA connections are for HD video and would be a complete waste of time and money for PAL resolution broadcasts.

Unless they decide to increase the data rate considerably over what they are currently running, we are stuck with not much better then VHS resolution.

That is pretty sad in a HD TV world.

The decoders are capable of the same quality as terrestrial free to air digital TV decoders if the same data rate was used.

Even if maximum data rate was used, the best we will ever get is standard PAL resolution with DVD quality and that does not need DVI, Component or VGA connections.

So, you are backing up the wrong tree asking for a set top box with DVI output.

What we should be clamoring for, is much higher data rates to allow true DVD quality.

I agree with what owen is saying above.

With my teac SD box(dvb400) I had it hooked up on RGB via scart to my panel - great pictures. The teac has component, composite & s-video and the manual says RGB via scart is the highest quality available from this box - all comparitive testing I did proved this to be the case.

Have you tried hooking via the scart on RGB I can assure some of the best SD pictures I seen is possible with this connection.

and ofcourse the palm-off job you got from that foxtel numbnut is inexcusable.

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Thanks for that.

I did hear off a friend that the case of the pad picture quality was because Foxtel/Austar didn't broadcast their signals at a higher definition.

It is a pity to have a nice plamsa screen and I can only watch free to air digital that has a perfect picture. Then I have to pay over $60 per month for a crap picture from pay TV! Work that one out!

I also understand that a Plasma shows up the deficiencies of a bad broadcast more than a standard CRT. However it would be nice if Foxtel/Austar started to think that as plasma's are becoming more affordable, why not broadcast in a higher definition?

Mossy

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Thanks for that.

I did hear off a friend that the case of the pad picture quality was because Foxtel/Austar didn't broadcast their signals at a higher definition.

It is a pity to have a nice plamsa screen and I can only watch free to air digital that has a perfect picture. Then I have to pay over $60 per month for a crap picture from pay TV! Work that one out!

hence why lot of people do not bother getting foxtel/austar

the scary part is that the way foxtel digital is marketed a lot of people who have no idea about digital television - think it is digital television and that you have to pay to get it! - very good marketting on foxtels behalf (a very good con job more like it!).

And very poor marketing on behalf of the dba. Guess its foxtel which has the huge marketting dollars which they can use to ram their message home to pull a few more suckers in.

The only saving grace is that foxtel I'm pretty sure has a trial period so you can give it the flick after your first free month after you realise how poor the audio visual quality of broadcast is.

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Whilst I agree with point made about PAL resolution and the MPEG 2 stream being under par with DVD MPEG 2 quality never the less we need to totally free up the hardware access for those with larger screens.

A few things come into play here:

When a large HD display is feed SVHS PAL singal, the post processor HD rescaler cuts in the display to reprocess in an attempt to improve the picture quality.

This limits your options in PRE-processing situations.

There are literally hundreds if not thousnads of avid home theatre buffs who would dearly love to take up the Foxtel/Austar option but are demanded to use ONLY there supplied boxes for fear of breaking there encryptions.

What we need is to FREE up this monopoly allowing other players into the market with BOTH better pre-processing STB's (perhaps creating a combo FTA digital and SAT/CABLE digital combo) ultising a decent decent video pre-process video upscaler.

As well lets not forget those with centric HTPCs who have got excellent results with SDTV upscaling via DVI or RGBHV on there huge displays also want to see an end to this monopoly on STB's.

How about it Foxtel and Austar freeing up your monopoly at how we watch your services through your crippled STB boxes only suitable to 76cm widescreens. Of we PAY for the subsription but you bring you bring to market a PCI based DVB-s and DVB-C decent computer insert card and whatch your market increase user base increase by the ten of thousands.

The Foxtel advertising is a joke. Seen the ad. They flash up a large cinema experience and then flash back to this tiny widescreen display sitting in the lounge room. What about? Let's get some sense out of oyur matrketing hype and add substance to how your going about it.

Regards

DA

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