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Typical Boeing 702 satellite
More bandwidth could mean better quality

Millions of Americans use DirecTV's satellite network to enjoy digital programming. The shift from Standard Definition to High Definition has boosted demand for more bandwidth, especially for channels in 1080p. More bandwidth also reduces the need for signal compression, mitigating the risk of unsightly artifacts.

The company claims that their new DirecTV 12 satellite will boost their HD capacity by 50 percent and enable them to dish out more than 200 national HD channels and 1,500 local HD channels. DirecTV currently offers around 130 national HD channels.

DirecTV 12 is a model 702 satellite built by Boeing in El Segundo, California. It will join four other DirecTV satellites in broadcasting HD signals to North America, including Hawaii and Alaska. 131 national and spot-beam Ka-band transponders are used, while the payload includes two 9.2-foot reflectors and nine smaller antennas.

"With the successful launch of our DirecTV 12 satellite, we will have the capacity to dramatically expand HD and movie choices for our customers and further extend our content and technology leadership," said Romulo Pontual, DirecTV's Chief Technology Officer.

"With a robust fleet of 11 satellites, including five spacecraft delivering HD programming, advanced transmission and set-top box technology, we are able to provide our customers with an unparalleled viewing experience and maintain a significant competitive advantage for many years to come."

DirecTV 12 is currently being maneuvered into a circular orbit at 102.8 degrees West longitude for testing. It is expected to begin regular broadcast operations in the second quarter of 2010.

Dish Network, DirecTV's primary competitor, recently began broadcast operations on Nimiq 5, a Loral FS1300 satellite that uses 32 Ku-band transponders. That capacity was originally supposed to be used by Canadian satellite TV provider Bell TV, but a last minute deal resulted in Dish Network leasing that capacity instead. Meanwhile, Bell TV has resorted to heavy signal compression as it awaits the launch of a substitute satellite.

There are currently no plans by DirecTV for more satellites, according to a company spokesperson.



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RE: lets not be naieve
By Spuke on 12/30/2009 12:59:29 PM , Rating: 2
DirecTV HD is one of the few HD offerings that's NOT ridiculously compressed. They do downrate the incoming signal from 1920x1080 to 1440x1080 and that signal is re-encoded in MPEG4. Unless you have a keen eye and a 60" TV, you won't notice the difference. Supposedly Verizon FIOS passes the original signal unmolested.


RE: lets not be naieve
By omnicronx on 12/30/2009 3:20:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
DirecTV HD is one of the few HD offerings that's NOT ridiculously compressed. They do downrate the incoming signal from 1920x1080 to 1440x1080 and that signal is re-encoded in MPEG4.
By nature, anytime you are downsampling, you are most likely re-encoding (i.e its is very much so compressed) the video, which will add artifacts and such.

That being said, this is the old system. DirectTV 1080p via MPEG4 (which requires new equipement) is the real deal, no downsampling at all.(i.e real 1920x1080)

No TV company sends their signals down unmolested (thats the nature of compressed formats), it all just depends on how much ;) From the little I have seen of FIOS though, it looks like they are pushing MPEG2 pretty much as far as it can go with very bitrates in the mid to high teens.(mpeg2 doesnt scale very well at higher bandwidths )


RE: lets not be naieve
By Spuke on 12/30/2009 4:26:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That being said, this is the old system. DirectTV 1080p via MPEG4 (which requires new equipement) is the real deal, no downsampling at all.(i.e real 1920x1080)
That's not what I read but feel free to post some links to that info. I would appreciate it.

quote:
which will add artifacts and such.
IMO, regardless of the 60" TV and keen eye requirement, I doubt anyone can see artifacting as a result of MPEG4 compression on DirecTV without specialized equipment. Connection glitches or TV issues are confusing people IMO.


RE: lets not be naieve
By Sivar on 12/31/2009 3:12:31 AM , Rating: 2
Specialized equipment? Are you kidding? I was looking at my parent's DirecTV HD setup today, specifically at ESPN HD. The quality was horrible -- like when you set a JPEG photo to quality 5 (of 100) in Photoshop.
The text at the bottom was the most obvious -- black text on a white background should be clean and have no ghosting or blocking. Not the case. Worse though, any grass shown looked like artifact soup when any motion was present. It was like a YouTube video.

Many commercials did look pretty good though, so it could be that ESPN HD's original signal is the problem and not DirecTV. Discovery HD looked better than ESPN, but was still really obvious. The standard-def channels looked extremely overcompressed as well.

Am I picking the wrong channels, or are most people strangely blind to gigantic blurry blocks of color in their picture?


RE: lets not be naieve
By Spuke on 12/31/2009 12:03:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Am I picking the wrong channels, or are most people strangely blind to gigantic blurry blocks of color in their picture?
It's either your antenna or your TV. My picture is perfect. Contact your installer. There are numerous pics comparing DirecTV to other networks on AVSforum. DirecTV is well known to have excellent HD PQ.


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