1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

An HD-ready PC?

Discussion in 'TVs' started by Desk, Dec 21, 2004.

  1. Desk

    Desk
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2002
    Messages:
    1,110
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    116
    Ratings:
    +843
    Hi folks,

    As this enquiry specifically relates to High Definition I hope you won't mind me raising it in this forum.

    I'm preparing to build a new PC, but want to make sure that it's future-proofed for HD. Sky is obviously going to be using its own self-contained HD system for UK transmissions come 2006, but I want something that can handle current European HD satellite broadcasts as well as HD-WMV films, and a system that I'll eventually be able to slot a Blu-Ray burner into.

    Would a Pentium 4 3.4Ghz or AMD 64 3500 processor give me enough "oomph" to cover the demands that the HD technology emerging over the next couple of years is likely to make on a PC?

    I was disturbed to learn that the very popular range of 6800 graphics cards will not decode certain HD formats, like HD-WMV.

    6800 128mb graphics cards are within the price range I was considering, so could anyone suggest an alternative? A 9800 Pro, perhaps? Given that I know very little about graphics cards should I be looking for one with certain outputs for High Definition display? Do any have HDMI outputs, for example?

    Are there any additional cards I'd need to plan ahead for?

    Any advice would be very gratefully received!
     
  2. Master Rahl

    Master Rahl
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Yes. For regular HD, a 2000+ is enough. If you're going to decode HD in mpg4 (such as WMV-HD, or XViD HD), you'll need something faster like a 3000+.

    Video cards don't decode mpg4. They usually assist with decoding mpg2. A video card is not really important, since even a Geforce3 or Radeon 9000 can output a signal that is 1920x1080. I have a Radeon 9600xt.

    I'm not aware of any cards that output HDMI, or plan on doing that. In fact, I'm not even sure HDMI will catch on here in the United States, but I could be wrong.

    Right now, my DVD player and HD satellite receiver connects to the HD television set I have with component cables. My computer connects to the television using plan regular DVI.


    EDIT: My specification, HD is mpg2. If I capture a raw stream from the satellite on my hard drive, a transport stream, it is basically a mpg2 stream. However, this is very big, and mpg4 is clearly superior. This is where WMV and XViD comes in. WMV and XViD basically makes HD smaller.

    For broadcasting, I doubt that WMV or XViD or some variant will be used soon. Mpg2 seems to be the standard now.

    For DVDs, well, this is now a fight between HD-DVD and BluRay DVDs. I don't know who is going to win, but either way, you will need some horse power to decode it.

    Video cards help with decoding mpg2 usually. None will do mpg4 or WMV.


    EDIT2: Actually, full hardware decoding of HD is coming. See this: http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2305
    So get yourself a nice ATI Radeon Xsomething, or wait a few weeks for this to come to light. :)
     
  3. HarshKarma

    HarshKarma
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2004
    Messages:
    82
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    Ashford, Kent
    Ratings:
    +0
    While this is true for the US, the UK (& Europe?) are more likely (almost certainly) to go down the mpg4 route.
     
  4. Master Rahl

    Master Rahl
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    So you're going to have completely different broadcasting equipment, satellite receivers, decoders, and the like? Hmm... talk about a way to artificially raise the prices...
     
  5. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2003
    Messages:
    6,080
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Ratings:
    +681
    Well in the UK most satellite receivers are subsidised by the broadcasters (if you susbcribe you are given one for free - though it then becomes your property so you keep it when you cease to subscribe) - and satellite is likely to be the first broadcast delivery method for HD in the UK (though download might be a narrowcast option that happens first)

    MPEG 2 is a pretty long-in-the-tooth standard - and requires quite a high data rate to deliver decent picture quality. MPEG4 is more modern - and the latest flavours (H264 AVC for example) - allow very high quality HD encoding at a lower data rate than MPEG2. This means broadcasters can probably come close to halving their transmission costs - as they will need fewer transponders to broadcast the same number of services at the same quality.

    Given that Europe will be going for 1080/50i or 720/50p (The Sky Digital HD receiver will be supporting both) then there isn't much scope for using US 1080/60i or 720/60p kit, and it is likely that the satellite (as well as OTA) standards are likely to be different. Sure the MPEG2 chips will be common - and they will be cheap - however MPEG4 is now implemented in hardware as well as software for decoding AIUI (though VC-1 aka Windows Media 9 is still an iteration behind?)

    I think that as we are likely to be going HD 8 years after the US it makes sense to go for a more modern system incorporating a further 8 years of refinement? It certainly sounds like HD DVD and BluRay are also going to support MPEG4 H264 as well as MPEG2 (and VC1) - so MPEG2 is no longer to remain the single universal HD format even in 60Hz regions I don't expect.

    The benefits of more efficient codecs are just too important to ignore.

    As for the receiver costs, it is likely that the first HD broadcast services in the UK will be operated by Sky. As I said they give away their SD receivers for free these days, and only charge a minimal amount (GBP99) for their basic Sky + PVR. I suspect the HD service will be branded as a premium service, and initially have a cost to buy a receiver - however Sky are very good at engineering good deals with manufacturers...
     
  6. JayX

    JayX
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2002
    Messages:
    339
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    29
    Location:
    c-town
    Ratings:
    +30
    master rahl: don't forget.. the US is usually the first to implement something.. then we improve on it ;)
     
  7. beeblebrox12

    beeblebrox12
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Master Rahl, VOOM will be using MPEG4 in the States in mid-late 2005, at least they say so. Previously they said first quarter. They'll be sending a memory stick that will plug in the socket of their Motorola receivers and thus get MPEG4 functionality.
    If they live to see late 2005, that is :)
     
  8. Master Rahl

    Master Rahl
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    I have VOOM, and had no idea they were switching to mpg4. Hmm. Maybe DirecTV and Dishnet will follow suit.
     
  9. Starburst

    Starburst
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2000
    Messages:
    17,838
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Ilkeston
    Ratings:
    +979
    Doesn't matter what country or what company it is, being first to launch a viable system doesn't mean in 5-10 years it will still be the cutting edge of technology.
    The UK led the way in nationwide DTT but it's far from perfect, no doubt other nations have looked to the UK and how we set the system up and learnt not only what to do but what not to do:)

    It's the dilemma of an individual buying into new technology, do you deny yourself some goodies or go without and get something better/cheaper years later, the same applies for national broadcasting.
    The question is...
    Would the UK/France and Germany be even this close to HD if the US broadcasters/government had not forced the issue 3-4 years ago and manufacturers using the available mpegII based technology invested the R&D into the required displays and STB's.
    I don't think so:)
     
  10. Master Rahl

    Master Rahl
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
  11. Starburst

    Starburst
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2000
    Messages:
    17,838
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Ilkeston
    Ratings:
    +979
    Digital Terrestrial Television.

    I called it "nationwide" but in truth 6 years or so after launch it still only covers around 75% of our very small country:)
     
  12. Master Rahl

    Master Rahl
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Oh. I don't know if we have that. I don't even have an antenna up. I get most of my TV on VOOM, and for local channels I have a cable subscription.
     
  13. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2003
    Messages:
    6,080
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Ratings:
    +681
    If you are in the US you do have it. It is the ATSC 8-VSB HD system that is received via a conventional antenna (or aerial as we call them) rather than cable or satellite.

    I think that Voom are able to move to MPEG4 because they planned for their receivers to be software/firmware upgradeable, whereas the other digital satellite providers launched earlier, and their current receivers are hardware MPEG2 only I believe. This means that any move to MPEG4 will probably need a swap out of existing receivers, with them being replaced with new ones capable of decoding MPEG4?
     
  14. JayX

    JayX
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2002
    Messages:
    339
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    29
    Location:
    c-town
    Ratings:
    +30
    any manufacturer who offers expensive equipment that isn't firmware upgradeable these days needs their heads checking. they can even charge for the updates if they want, it'd certainly be a lot cheaper and widespread than buying new receivers everytime they change technologies. and with the ability to send software over satellite now, theres zero excuses not to include it imo.
     
  15. beeblebrox12

    beeblebrox12
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Switching to MPEG4 is not just firmware upgrade. Like when Dish Network added 8PSK (another signal modulation algorithm allowing for putting 2 or 3 HDTV channels on one transponder), they had to distribute plug-in adaptors. I don't see how you can do hardware decoding of MPEG4 if you don't add silicon, or if the receiver already doesn't have it. Don't mix this with the monthly software upgrades DBS satellite companies send down to their receivers.
     
  16. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2003
    Messages:
    6,080
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Ratings:
    +681
    Whether you can upgrade a receiver to MPEG4 from MPEG2 depends on the way the MPEG2 decoding is implemented. Some manufacturers are using DSP-style solutions to implement MPEG2 - which means the DSP firmware can be upgraded to MPEG4 if there is enough "spare" processing power to cope with the extra demands.

    For low cost receivers dedicated, non-upgradeable hardware (not DSP+Firmware) decoding is still cheaper on a "cost per receiver" basis. However if it is likely that receivers will need to be replaced in a short period of time, then firmware upgradeable receivers may be cheaper than supplying 2 separate receivers, especially if you are also reducing your transmission costs by increasing the number of channels you can broadcast for a given transponder capacity.
     
  17. beeblebrox12

    beeblebrox12
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    I'm not very familiar with the hardware of the currently used HDTV sat receivers, but think it would be safe to assume that none of them are capable of doing MPEG4 without hardware upgrade. I don't know what will happen to VOOM, yesterday we heard they are up for sale and maybe their MPEG4 plans will never see the light of day. Dish Network, their most probable buyer, has different options. One is to upgrade the hardware for the exisiting HD subscribers (they are not that many compared to their 10 mln SD customers), the other is to launch new modern satellites that will allow them to stick to MPEG2 forever. They've announced some satellite expansion plans so far.
    I don't know much about cable providers'. DirecTv has also announced huge satellite capacity expansion plans, so they are unlikely to go the MPEG4 route. Cable providers have huge advantage here, since they won't have to carry the hundreds of local HD channels that sat providers will be mandated to.
     
  18. Master Rahl

    Master Rahl
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    mpg4 over mpg2 is already more intensive. With the bigger resolution, you'd be hard pressed to put that into a regular box today. And I'm not going to buy a new box just so I can receive mpg4 signals. And I like my VOOM!
     

Share This Page

Loading...