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Austar digital SD quality?


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Have read the latest Austar brochure, not in front of me at the moment, but saw a claim that the PQ is equivalent to SD TV.

Don't have Austar, never have, but when viewed at other people's it seems that this is not so, particularly when watching monochrome movies on TCM.

Doesn't seem to be any different to when it wasn't Austar digital (yes, know it has always been digital) - does the digital marketing refer to more channels in a bouquet with a lower bit rate per channel or what?

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Marci they are not even comparable. I have both Austar and SD FTA signals coming into my panel via RGB and the difference is considerable. You have to bear in mind that Austar (just like Foxtel) are very liberal with the truth. They most certainly don't sell the product they advertise.

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Have read the latest Austar brochure, not in front of me at the moment, but saw a claim that the PQ is equivalent to SD TV.

Don't have Austar, never have, but when viewed at other people's it seems that this is not so, particularly when watching monochrome movies on TCM.

Doesn't seem to be any different to when it wasn't Austar digital (yes, know it has always been digital) - does the digital marketing refer to more channels in a bouquet with a lower bit rate per channel or what?

The 'digital' service gives you access to more channels. Quite a few of extras are in the same transport stream as the 'non-digital' ones, so its not more channels squeezed into a given space, they were always there, you just couldn't view them before.

A typical 4:3 service is run as 544 x 576 at an average of around 2.5Mbit, peaking somewhere around 3.5-4. Some 4:3 are run as 480 x 576 with a lower bitrate. 16:9 channels are run as 720 x 576 av around 3.5-4Mbit, peak around 6 (that includes the 'Best Pictures' and 'Best Sound' Fotel box office - best.. suuuure, pull the other one, it plays jingle bells). While those peaks might seem high enough to give good quality, 90% of the time the streams never make it there due to the temporal and spatial blurring of the video.

All in all, if you watch it on a 4:3 SD TV, it'll look ok (but still noticeably less PQ than analogue FTA). Watching it on a LCD or plasma panel shows just how poor it is compared to SD digital FTA.

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it all depends on the orginal broadcast. Live soccer on fox looks like crap. you cant even make out the players numbers sometimes (samsung 76cm 100hz HDTV being used with component video). but on the other hand as an example music videos on club v look real nice widescreen. on the average its on par with SD free2air.

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it all depends on the orginal broadcast. Live soccer on fox looks like crap. you cant even make out the players numbers sometimes (samsung 76cm 100hz HDTV being used with component video). but on the other hand as an example music videos on club v look real nice widescreen. on the average its on par with SD free2air.

The music channels IMO are pretty poor. Comparing any of the clips to Rage is just not possible, except if you are blind :blink:. If you've ever seen NiteLife (?) music VCDs, thats about the quality of the music channels. The music channels are 544 x 576 4:3 ~2.5Mbit/sec on Foxtel / Austar btw.

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The music channels IMO are pretty poor. Comparing any of the clips to Rage is just not possible, except if you are blind biggrin.gif. If you've ever seen NiteLife (?) music VCDs, thats about the quality of the music channels. The music channels are 544 x 576 4:3 ~2.5Mbit/sec on Foxtel / Austar btw.

I don't want to be defiending the picture quality of the Austar/Foxtel picture quality here, but on some of these lower class channels, its completely understandable to run a resolution of 544x576 on 4:3 channels.

After all, commercial FTA digital networks EFFECTIVELY run that resolution for 4:3 programs also as the continue to transmit a pillarboxed anamorphic transmission on 4:3 programs (which I agree with BTW, too complex to switch on the fly).

Also, some channels that are not produced in Australia will generally be carried with the same poor picture quality around the globe, CNN, BBC world, MTV etc, why bother giving more bitrate to a dodgy picture, garbage in, garbage out.

However, channels such as Fox Sports 1/2, Fox 8, Showtime, Movie One etc should be ran at 6Mbps simply because the programs either come live or off tape within Australia and they have full control of providing a decent source. Basically all the 16:9 channels should be 6Mbps.

Danny.

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So I take it from everyone's comments that Austar Digital is not as good quality as SDTV. Does anyone know what type of sound comes out of Austar Digital, stereo, prologic or digital 5.1?

I'm tossing up if I should pay $70 to switch to digital here in Darwin or just cancel my subscription and go back to SDTV.

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Does anyone know what type of sound comes out of Austar Digital, stereo, prologic or digital 5.1?

Stereo mostly and 5.1 sound on FBO (if it's similar to Foxtel).

Generally I think sound is on par with the video quality - crap.

Showtime has AC3 run at 384k, sometimes 5.1 but usually 2.0 as well as MPEG at 256k. FBO has AC3 also at 384k, usually 5.1 sometimes 2.0, but also sometimes only MPEG at 256k. Everything else on Foxtel/Austar is 256k MPEG or 192k or even 128k (bleah. 'radio' is all 128k).

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Its all a question of bandwidth rather have less channels and get rid of those that chew up bandwidth and improve picture quality but as usual Foxtel/Austar are only interested in pushing the Red button on the remote to order a pizza :blink:

cheers laurie

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I thought I'd back up my statements that Foxtel/Austar have lower PQ than FTA analogue, so here's my proof. Clearly the FTA analogue image has far more fine detail, while the pay one (extracted direct from the MPEG PS), is clearly severely filtered (in more ways than one). Movie channels (including FBO) receive similar treatment, although not to the same extreme - go rent the DVD)

Dialup users, note that the files are ~300k each

http://www.users.on.net/~alfalfa/analogue_fta.png

http://www.users.on.net/~alfalfa/pay_mpeg_direct.png

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Hi guys,

My family currently subscribes to the AUSTAR Digital TV service and I cannot say uniformly that the picture and/or sound quality are below the desired level.

Admittedly I am not that worried about having ultra-high quality picture and sound because I do not have the necessary equipment to maximise their effects anyway, but I can say without a doubt that some channels have far superior picture/sound quality than others, for example Soccer matches on RAI International are far more inferior than their Fox Sports 1/2 counterparts.

As someone previously mentioned, this can be most probably put down to poor digital standards in the host nations.

For me, however, the main purpose for getting Digital Pay-TV is the unrivalled choice of content provided, not the quality. Although, I can fully see the point of the people who are annoyed with the quality. Paying for inferior quality is not very attractive to consumers and needs to be rectified to avoid having serious impacts on the providers from customer dissatisfaction.

Just my two cents on the issue...

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Mr Murdoch was and is well aware of the quality issues. Rupert had attempted to persuade the regulators to put all the FTA SD broadcasts onto a single frequency so each HD channel could have its own frequency. Now that sounds like a wonderful idea, HD would finally be all that it can - until you read into things.

a) FTA HD is not and will not be the focal point of the market for some time. Foxtel does not provide HD content.

B) Foxtel SD vision is noticably lower quality compared to a good FTA analogue service.

c) Foxtel is aware that people are now seeing what FTA SD looks like and are complaining about how poor Foxtel looks (Don't believe me? Read some other forums to get an idea).

c) Running 6 (ABC, SBS, SBS 1, 7, 9, 10) SD services in a single 19Mb (or 23Mb for that matter) channel would require quality comprimises along the lines of what Foxtel does.

So there you have it, Rupert wanted to required FTA SD quality to be reduce to what Foxtel broadcasts, while using HD which Foxtel didn't support at the time the decisions were being made and still doesn't support, to obscure his actual motives.

Will Foxtel quality improve? When Optus puts up a new sat, pay TV will no doubt be taking a slice of the capacity, but that will no doubt just be to jam in more FBO channels. I don't see them increasing the bitrate of the channels (ie increasing each channels cost to them) happening. Perhaps if they migrated to a MPEG4 platform you'd see a quality improvement, but probably not. More than likely, the MPEG4 rate would be so low as to give the same visual quality as the current MPEG2 services.

I find myself watching pay and thinking hmm, thats not such a bad picture...until I flip back to FTA and then (to me atleast), its all too clear.

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As someone previously mentioned, this can be most probably put down to poor digital standards in the host nations.

thats is right, but after just watching nfl on fox2 live they quoted it was being broadcasted (in america) in 720p "the highest quality". the qaulity being shown was ok, but sure wasnt as clear as say nbl or nrl games are.

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Just remember with some channels the feed comes from overseas and they just relay the feeds as they are as there is not much they can do. And for TCM they are old movies some of which have never been digitaly upgraded but they have made the expense to add captions on most movies I have noted. And another thing I just thought of is in the USA the dont have sd tv. So the only w/s shows are hd. Like most sport (all that I have seen) news talk shows etc. All non digital. Even in poor old Australia we can do sd tv on most new shows (except ABC news has no w/s as the cameras are expensive Ive been told but will change soon.).

Zos

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The problem with Austar. Probably the same wih Foxtel is the bandwidth issue. It all comes down to economics. The pay providers will try to squeeze as many channels into the available bandwidth (pipe) at the expense of picture quality. The most obvious artifact is the ghosting of many images during movement. This is an unfortunate byproduct of the compression algorithms used.

My main annoyance with payTV is the lipsync problems between the audio and video.

Most noticeable is on BBC world, but happens on other channels as well. It's almost unwatchable. I complaind more times than I care to remember and had 3 replacement Atlas decoders and 1 replacement LNB for the receiving dish.

Finally I convinced the support girl to check her downlink of BBC and she confirmed that there was a lipsync problem.

I think they made a very slight timing adjustment, as the lipsync is slightly better but still noticeably out. I requested to speak to one of there technicians/engineers in there technical department or master control but was told that would be unlikely. Not good public relation as far as I am concerned. I'm still wainting for some feedback on my complaint from a few weeks ago.

These sort of obvious errors should be immediately picked up by the technicians and operational staff. Without we the public complaining.

Audio level issues, particularly as you surf past the games channel are also annoying. I assume they use Orban Digital Optimod processors on each channel for the audio. Why arn't the output levels correctly adjusted? The games channel audio is several dB higher than other channels.

Some of the picture qualities can be attributed to standards conversion from NTSC to PAL, and the conversion of 525 lines resolution to 625 resolution. Just look at the insert picture quality on the Bloomberg financial channel. But the other issues are not excusable.

All I can suggest is that if you have issues with picture, sound and sync problems, that you keep contacting them, over and over. If enough of we paying customers complain then they have to eventually address our concerns. Otherwise I will cancel my subs.

As it stands at the moment. Pay picture quality is not even in the ball park when compared to FTA digital, and doesn't even come close to FTA analogue picture quality.

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