Is SKY+ Pic Quality better than Sky?

Discussion in 'Sky Digital TV Forum' started by andyxxx, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. andyxxx

    andyxxx
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    Since purchasing a larger tv I am not happy with the picture quality from SKY.
    Is there any increase in picture quality from SKY+?

    I understand the SKY+ box has the option of running RGB cables (which I have read can improve the picture) wheras my SKy box does not have these sockets.

    Any other suggestions to receive a better picture would be greatly appreciated

    Regards

    Andy
     
  2. Strobe

    Strobe
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    The Sky+ box has RGB enabled scart so, if your old box didn't have RGB, then , yes, the picture would be better. Sky+ also has optical out for transmitting Dolby Digital broadcasts to your amp/receiver/surround sound system.
     
  3. andyxxx

    andyxxx
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    Strobe
    Sorry I know this sounds really stupid, but what does a 'RGB enabled scart socket' look like - a normal scart socket?
    Do you know if it is possible to purchase a sky receiver with this 'rgb enabled scart socket'. I do not really want to subscribe to SKY+

    I am not bothered about the optical out/Dolby digital.
     
  4. Starburst

    Starburst
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    Every SKY digibox has a TV scart which can output a RGB signal and when connected to a RGB scart on the TV should give you a better picture than other connection methods.

    SKY+ is just a STB, the various models contain the same components as a standard digibox such as a digital tuner, videoguard decoder and video/audio output stage. Depending upon the performance of the original digibox the SKY+ will either be worse, better or no different.

    The problem you are facing is that a larger screen will show up more errors/faults in the mpegII sourced image, extensive digital processing on modern TV's can also make a picture look worse. Of course this is not to say all large screen TV's show the same problems, they all have to deal with less than perfect sources but some are more adept at handling the video than others.
    So in this respect some older more basic televisions can make the picture look more acceptable since they hide the faults:)

    Until ALL digital broadcasters increase the bitrates of their channels and improve the encoding/transcoding you will never have a broadcast digital source (standard defintion) that can look as good as a DVD which is the benchmark for picture quality.
     
  5. Skunky Cubes

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    I didn't use my old STB through my new AV system so it's hard to compare. I will say that I get a better signal strength after my upgrade. The picture quality on recent films broadcast in Dolby Digital (I know this is nothing to do with the picture) is nearly as good as DVD on my 83" screen. Old TV programs and films however are still horrible
     
  6. docb

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    if your old sky box is analogue feed then the digital feed on sky+ will be much better.
     
  7. shymonk

    shymonk
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    I heard Sky+ was using mpeg4.....could be wrong
    ps...... all sky boxes ive come across output RGB
     
  8. Starburst

    Starburst
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    All SKY digital broadcasts use mpegII compression, the DVB standard.
    It is expected that SKY's High Defintion service will use mpeg4 or a variant which will give upto 1920*1080 resolution images from bandwidth which due to the more advanced compression is not significantly higher than the very best of the current mpegII channels.
     
  9. andyxxx

    andyxxx
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    Starburst/anybody-
    Do I understand correctly- the connection as I have it now (from my 3 year old Grundig sky digibox tv scart socket to my TV scart 1) is automatically RGB and can’t be improved – barring a dearer scart lead?

    I hear what you say about Sky+ receivers using the same components but docb goes on to suggest it will provide a better picture because of the digital feed – Which leads me to ask - can I purchase a SKY box to take a digital feed and have an aerial engineer fit a digital feed from the present dish?
     
  10. mambojambo

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    you have to go into services/picture setup and select rgb m8;)mine looks fine on an 8foot pj screen:D
     
  11. Starburst

    Starburst
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    As mambojambo says RGB has to be switched on from within the pictures setup menu and even with a cheap scart cable there should be a noticeable difference between that and the PAL setting assuming you are connecting the scart cable to a RGB socket on the TV.

    Barring that as I have said larger screen TV's and those that do extensive video processing can make a digital picture look worse than it would on a smaller more basic televisions. Just play a DVD via the same cable and socket, that will give you a good idea what the TV is capable of:)
    As for improving the digital source, well a scaler/deinterlacer would help but they are not cheap and probably better suited to a flat panel or projection system not a CRT.

    Have you watched SKY1 recently?
    The bitrates have increased dramatically and the picture to my eyes looks better than it ever has, interesting to see what you think when compared to the likes of the BBC, E4 and ITV1 etc.

    I think docb might be referring to an analogue SKY STB or perhaps just the usual analogue video outputs of the digibox compared to say a SDI modified SKY+.
     
  12. andyxxx

    andyxxx
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    Thanks chaps

    Starburst
    The RGB is switched on in setup. The scart lead was about £50 (perhaps a dearer lead would help?) The scart does go to the RGB scart socket on the tv.

    Picture quality via DVD is spot on which is why I have always suspected it is sKys quality of broadcast (or my setup)

    The tv is a DLP projector - so does that mean one of these scaler/deinterlacers could work improve matters?

    I mainly watch 1, 2, 3, 4, SKy1 and E4 (infact would gladly dump the other 30000 crappy channels!!) and can say they all seem to vary massively ie. they can be Ok (ish) in the morning or infact on one particular broadcast, then poor later on in the day
     
  13. Starburst

    Starburst
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    As I keep saying large screen televisions especially "exotics" such as DLP, LCD and Plasma thrive on high quality source material such as a well mastered DVD.
    All UK digital broadcasters to various degrees cut corners on the amount of bandwidth a channel uses which directly affects the picture quality although it does also depend on the actual image being broadcast.
    SKY1 over the last month has seriously increased the bitrate of it's broadcasts and I can see a difference on my LCD, if push came to shove I would also say there is an improvement on my 28" CRT as well but that could be wishful thinking:)

    A scaler/deinterlacer can work wonders with less than perfect source material, it certainly does a fantastic job on DVD's allowing you to scale the image upto 1920*1080 and turn an interlaced source into a progressive one most of the time better than the DVD player/TV owns hardware.
    Does your DLP have a VGA input?
    There have been good reports when using a RGB to VGA converter to feed a Plasma panel.

    Picture quality will vary across all the broadcasters and all the channels/programs of those broadcasters. Compression/bitrates for the most part are variable and change as the programming demands but many broadcasters chose to allocate a set amount which is then split between half a dozen channels.
    Simply put they never give enough bandwidth to make sure all the channels get what they need (mainly due to financial reasons) and the result is sub-standard digital pictures.
     
  14. andyxxx

    andyxxx
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    Starburst

    I'm afraid the only VGA socket is on the front of the set. I may look into scaler/deinterlacers. Thank you for your input.

    Andy
     
  15. Kier

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    Save your money, andy. Sky broadcasts a horrible quality signal and no amount of expensive kit will rectify that I'm afraid. As was mentioned before, the quality problem is due to over-compression, in order to fit a gazillion channels into a limited bandwidth carrier.
     
  16. 7Seven

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    Andyxxx, the only part of the picture quality you can improve is the colours, etc. You can't improve the actual quality if the pictures are kind of blurry (due to 'artefacts', 'pixilation') as this is the way Sky broadcast the pictures. It it okay for smaller TVs but I would say when you use Sky Digital and Freeview (and MAYBE digital cable) with a TV larger than 32 inches you DEFINITELY notice blurry pictues due to pixilation/artefacts. Sky (and Freeview) try to fit as many channels as possible using the available bandwidth so this lowers the picture quality. Sky has a lot more bandwidth than Freeview... but it also has a lot more channels.

    My advice, don't get a TV larger than 32 inches. Personally I wouldn't go over 24 inches as I notice some artefacts/pixilations on a 21 inch TV.
     
  17. Starburst

    Starburst
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    SKY of course have no control over the vast majority of channels on Dsat, the BBC for example decide what bitrates to use for their broadcasts, same goes for ITV, CH4 and the dozens of other independent broadcasters who provide channels for subscription packages.

    Nit picking I know but it's easy for people to get the impression that SKY are to blame for every single problem with digital satellite, most of them yes but not all :)
     
  18. andyxxx

    andyxxx
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    Thank for the replies - I now understand I cannot increase the picture quality significantly.

    -Which leads me to another couple of questions (slightly off topic)
    The analogue picture quality from my original coaxil cable was never brilliant-
    I know analogue is supposed to cease in 3 to 5 years(?) but during that time hopefully SKY will be broadcasting the main channels (1,2,3,4,) in hi def.

    So would it be wise to spend money on upgrading the analogue aerial/boosting the signal to obtain a better (than SKY) picture until hd arrives accross the main channels.
    In a nutshell - can a well received analogue picture be significantly clearer than SKY?
     
  19. 7Seven

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    Thanks for the info but I thought that the reason for the lower bitrates on most of the channels on Sky was that Sky want to fit as many channels as possible into the bandwidth that Astra, etc supply them with?
     
  20. Starburst

    Starburst
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    Not as such.
    The majority of UK broadcasters on Dsat lease their transponder capacity direct from SES and/or Eutelsat bypassing SKY altogether, they then make use of many third party uplinkers as well.
    SKY only come into the equation when a channel wants to be in a subscription package or needs regional mapping via the smartcard.
    A broadcaster choosing to use low bitrates is simply down to them refusing to lease enough capacity from the satellite owners, that goes for the channels that seem totally pointless to even those from the BBC and ITV!
    SKY have no legal or moral right to impose broadcast standards on the third party channels on Dsat, infact there is no regulation in regards to PQ at all which explains a lot:(


    In effect Dsat is a far more open platform than cable can ever be and far cheaper than DTT due to the multipule suppliers and capacity:)
     
  21. Starburst

    Starburst
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    I am currenly using a Iscan HD and getting very nice results upscaling SKY and DVD to 1920*1080 on my LCD, if you have a high res display and it's internal scaling isn't upto the job then perhaps a home demo of a scaler might be useful.

    The picture of a good analogue source compared to a digital source is very subjective, they tend to have different plus and minus points.
    Analogue is uncompressed but can suffer from ghosting and of course no 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. Digital suffers from over compression and can suffer during very heavy snow/rain storms.

    Personally I would go digital everytime, have you considered DTT (although that to is over compressed but due to it's regional nature is not put under so much pressure by the BBC and ITV.
     
  22. andyxxx

    andyxxx
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    Starburst
    I bought a DTT receiver 2 weeks ago (Primarily cos I am having major lip sync problems with this new Optoma tv - it made no difference) and the picture was slightly worse though I havn't had a digital aerial fitted yet (cos the best quote has been £200)

    I have just read about the Iscan HD (and see that it would probably cure the lip sync problem) and they claim it will improve the picture significantly. It's more than I wanted to spend (£700ish?) but if I know for sure that I will see an increase in pq I would go for it, as it seems there are few options. Therefore I need a demo.

    - does anybody know of any companies that do home demos of Iscan HD in South Yorkshire? or similar products?
     
  23. 7Seven

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    How does the Iscan HD improve the the picture quality if that's the quality it is broadcast at? I'd like to understand how this works as it's interesting. Have you got a link for the item and a link for a basic idea of how it works?
     
  24. Starburst

    Starburst
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    It's not so much as improving the basic picture quality but making the best job of matching the input source to the final resolution of the display you are going to view on such as a high def LCD, Plasma or DLP panel.
    It really does make a standard resolution DVD look stunning on a higher resolution panel and as long as a digital broadcast is within acceptable terms it makes a good job of scaling an image upto HD standards without adding any more artifacts and errors.


    Anyhow, have a read and perhaps you can understand the actual specifics more than I do:)

    DVDO Iscan HD
     
  25. Starburst

    Starburst
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    Long term a good aerial for DTT is going to pay off, that platform will only get stronger and no doubt in time will also carry High Def:)
    Yep the Iscan has the ability to manipulate digital audio, not had a need for it yet I am pleased to say but it's good to have the option.
    Another device such as the product from Felston is a viable alternative for STB's that have digital audio outputs and feed an amp.

    Might be worthwhile asking for pointers on retailers offering demos in one of the three Tech Talk forums.
     
  26. David PluggedIn

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    Hi 7Seven,

    while it is true that Sky does have limited bandwidth compared to say DVD, some of the channels/programs are very good indeed. A lot of the problems that people see are (as Startbust points out) digital artefacts that are introduced when the video signal is fed in to their display, which particularly on high-end sets can have all sorts of video processing modes, many of which look truly awful! Quite often these problems are blamed on low bitrates / poor quality from Sky but certainly on the mainstream channels this usually isnt the case.

    The cheapest option is to ensure that you are set to RGB and that you set has RGB enabled scart connections, and then switch off all digital noise reduction features etc on your TV. If that still doesnt look good then a good external video processor will make a big difference.

    cheers
     
  27. 7Seven

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    You've made a good point there cos I suppose I have been laying most (maybe all!:)) of the blame on companies trying to fit more channels into their available bandwidth. I am aware of the issues you've raised, people with 100Hz TVs have had problems with digital tv pictures as well so it also comes down to the technology not quite clicking together.

    Digital TV comanies like Sky, etc should share some of the blame cos artefacts can be seen on normal TVs but I do realise that they are not responsible entirely. The reason you see more artefacts on larger screens is partly due to the high compression used to fit more channels but ALSO because the video processing used by newer TVs like you say. The video processing 'exaggerates' the picture quality issues I guess.

    More and more people are taking up digital tv so problems like this need to be fixed. HDTV will 'fix' some of the artefacts problems but not the video processing used by the newer, larger TVs. I would personally buy a LCD HDTV compatible tv in future cos I don't wanna get the issues raised.

    The TV manufacturers need to do something aswell cos the video processing used is not always what you would like it to be. Could be teething problems of a new technology but I'll stick to a max of 24 inch TVs for now.
     
  28. ancientgeek

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    andyxxx

    Nobody has actually spelled it out that you may have to select the RGB input on the TV as well as selecting RGB out on the Sky box. You just might still be using composite, which is really poor by comparison.
     
  29. andyxxx

    andyxxx
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    Ancientgeek

    The scart lead is plugged into the the tv via a socket marked RGB. I don't think there are any controls on the tv to alter this setting (like on the setup in SKY)so I assume it must be doing it automatically?
     
  30. David PluggedIn

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    Hi Andy

    not necessarily - it may still be in composite mode on the socket, you need to check your TV options. An easy way is to change the Sky box back in to composite from RGB, if you are watching RGB then of course the picture should go off, and then you can have fun getting it back again :)

    cheers
     

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