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Old 2017-10-29 , 11:07
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Sandtonman Sandtonman is offline
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Default Video Quality and standards: Where are we? Stranger Things, indeed! :)

OK, so I stumbled across a trigger for this thread by accident and decided to research it bit further. I find the topic of video quality fascinating and it raises some serious questions, particularly here in SA where internet bandwidth is still at a premium to most South Africans, but we frequently get “last year’s model” TVs at an affordable price.

I recently purchased a mid-priced LG Super UHD TV, only having done some basic homework but, with a lot of brand loyalty, due to personal experience over many years, both here and in the UK. When I started using the new telly seriously, I discovered a couple of things I did not really understand. I’ll limit this discussion to “Video quality and standards”; though there are plenty more cool things that a half decent 2016+ Smart TV offers.

I hope that my thread might stimulate some discussion on the Forum, so here’s a summary of what I’ve found.

What is SUHD, Super UHD, 4K and what are the differences? I started off being confused by the naming conventions, used by different manufacturers, as to what appeared to be the same stuff; so, to save you some time, (and to save me some time explaining), here is a great short article that demystifies much of the UHD jargon (note the shortened URL Optimist – Thanks! ).....

https://goo.gl/nq3ioS

OK so we know that all domestic UHD tellies have a resolution of 38402160 pixels. So, what makes some of them S or Super UHD? It’s primarily about High Dynamic Range (HDR); so, exactly what is that?

HDR capable TVs have the same basic resolution of 38402160 pixels as any UHD TVs; but they have additional on-board functionality, to substantially increase the contrast ratio and colour accuracy of the displayed picture.

Again, to save some time, here is another excellent short article that explains the 2 leading standards of HDR, HDR-10 and Dolby Vision, now widely available on mid-range TVs.....

https://goo.gl/FJpdth

Here are some of the key questions raised

What does all this S-UHD stuff mean in practice, does it matter to me?
Yes, for sure it matters. To future-proof any TV purchase you may be considering as Santa’s annual visit is approaching, you should absolutely look to buy a Super UHD TV that states explicitly that it supports HDR-10 or Dolby Vision. TIP: This will typically focus your search on international brands such as LG, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic. You may pay slightly more than with an emerging Chinese brand but, you will know exactly what you will be getting and what to expect from your purchase. 2016 and later models from top brands will typically comply, but check the detailed specifications on manufacturers’ web sites. Also check the top UK review sites as our TVs are all UK standard.

Is there any legitimate content available in SA?
Well, surprisingly yes; and that’s how I arrived at this thread.
Apart from Showmax, I also subscribe to its primary SA competitor. I also watch quite a bit of YouTube content.
Showmax does not currently support 4K but, if you search for “4K” on either of the other two services, a fair amount of results will return. It’s for free on YouTube and there are some amazing TV manufacturers’ and other videos, mainly documentaries. Your subscription service however, will need to be upgraded to receive UHD content; but it’s only a couple of quid a month and the content available is increasing daily. The video quality is spectacular, even to my tired old eyes, so well worth it if you’ve already invested in an appropriate telly.

I’d already seen quite a bit of UHD content available on my paid SA Streaming service however, last night I started watching season 2 of Stranger things. I was pleasantly surprised when my TV popped up the logo on the attached pic, for a couple of seconds, when I started to play the first episode.

Yip, in addition to regular 4K content, Dolby Vision (and HDR-10, selected automatically according to your TV type), is also starting to appear in subscription services; even here in SA!

I’ll not dwell on the picture quality of the content other to say that it’s amazing, the skin tones appear spectacularly good and I suspect that is due primarily to the increased dynamic range.

What are the broader ramifications?

OK, well I wonder when Showmax will follow suit with some UHD content for starters?

I don’t expect too much broadcast content anytime soon, few people in SA have invested in UHD TVs at this point; broadcast UHD is still taking off very slowly in the UK (Sky Q box required) with most UHD content currently being offered by streaming services.

There are also some quite expensive UHD Blu-Ray players available and some content rolling out for them. Blade Runner is already available, for example and gets great quality reviews.

What are the bandwidth implications?
Well, that’s where it starts to hit home. The general recommendation for UHD streaming is a 25Mbps connection. I have 20 at present, and it has been rock-solid; no buffering at all in a full evening’s UHD viewing. I’m unsure if the service provider reduces quality to compensate; I saw no indications that this was the case. The picture was amazing and 5.1 sound solid.

But what about broadband usage? I hear you ask! That’s the biggie, for sure.

I checked on my MWEB account this morning and I had used 21.4Gb yesterday and I only watched 3 episodes of Stranger things plus a bit of SD stuff, estimate 3 Gb max.

So, that’s roughly 6Gb per hour of UHD viewing.


Do your personal calculations but, I know I could easily exceed 500Gb for an average month. I think that would blow my “fair usage” limit even as an “uncapped” subscriber. So, a significant consideration.

Well, that’s my Sunday morning blog; I hope it’s of use and will save you some research.

Please contribute and I'll be glad to try and answer any questions you raise.'

Cheers, K.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Dolby Vision.jpg (214.0 KB, 12 views)
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Old 2017-10-29 , 11:43
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Optimist Optimist is offline
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Hi Sandtonman, thanks for this interesting info.
I haven't read further re the info your links supply yet, but would be interested to hear where 8K fits into all of this (as seen on BBC World's Click many months ago) if not already covered.
To me, at the time 8K sounded like a largely over the top waste, and even the presenter seemed to suggest much the same, but on the other hand these quality enhancements you've mentioned did seem to offer the next best move forward and now you have confirmed that.

My other question - do any of the new features you've ended up with help enhance existing pictures or sound we receive from DStv?

TIA
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Old 2017-10-29 , 12:00
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Originally Posted by Optimist View Post
I haven't read further re the info your links supply yet, but would be interested to hear where 8K fits into all of this (as seen on BBC World's Click many months ago) if not already covered.
Answered IMO.
From what I recall about it it looks to me like it was already covered in your first link's article, but only just and not really part of that discussion;

Quote:
In fact, the resolution of most “4K” displays is 38202160. This is known in broadcast as UHD-1. There IS a 4K specification that reaches 76804320 known as UHD-2, but currently there aren’t any consumer level displays that support that specification, and there isn’t any readily available consumer content to view it on.
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Old 2017-10-29 , 12:28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Optimist View Post
My other question - do any of the new features you've ended up with help enhance existing pictures or sound we receive from DStv?
Hi B, regarding your second question concerning MC's Broadcast content.

Decent UHD TVs have up-scaling engines built in, these operate continuously; so, if you watch normal broadcast HD content, from MC on an HD TV, side by side with a UHD TV you'll notice the improvement in resolution – even though the source isn't native 4K!

Another good reason to choose a TV from a reputable manufacturer. LG , Samsung, Sony, Panasonic. The old Afrikaans saying "goedkoop koop, is duur koop" applies here!

Regarding sound quality, no difference. 5.1 is 5.1 and that's what we currently get from both MC's broadcast services and from the Streaming service providers; though Netflix apparently has some Dolby Atmos audio; I've not come across it and, in any case, do not yet have the necessary kit to receive it.

Who knows what we will get down the line......
Sky-Q supports UHD and has recently launched Dolby Atmos audio support.
Pure speculation, but I would imagine that MC will need to provide an up-rated "Supa-Explora" -- a "Marco Polo" box similar to the Sky-Q box, in order to support UHD and Dolby Atmos. Again I speculate such UHD channels will utilise true high-band services at some future point; lots of bandwidth required as I've stated previously.

But that's digressing from this topic a bit.
Cheers, K.
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Last edited by Sandtonman; 2017-10-29 at 12:44. . Reason: Dolby Atmos Update on Netflix,
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Old 2017-10-30 , 08:29
Geoff D Geoff D is offline
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Very interesting summary thank you K.
As you all know, I don't comment directly on these quality threads because I do not have any interest in changing my TV until it is absolutely required.

And then I do the research required and will then purchase the best TV within budget that I can get.
And yes we are all being led around by the nose when it comes to what low end market TVs can deliver.
And honestly, after seeing what a top of the range SS TV gives you from available broadcast sources, there is no need for anyone that does not have access to the bandwidth required to go and spend the funds these TVs ask for.

What are warranty periods offered by the top brands?
The HISENSE TVs manufactured locally in Cape now offer a standard 3 years with an extra year if you register.
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Old 2017-10-30 , 10:48
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Stranger things indeed. Thanks for the informative discussion K. Also about to start watching ST 2.

I am still using a 2K Samsung but my son has a UHD set. Will ask him to have a look at what his set is capable of decoding.

Still amazed at what the N codec can do across my copper adsl link. I do feel the pic quality is far better from N than DStv broadcasts.
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Old 2017-10-30 , 11:35
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Originally Posted by Geoff D View Post
What are warranty periods offered by the top brands? The HISENSE TVs manufactured locally in Cape now offer a standard 3 years with an extra year if you register.
Hi Geoff, I am not really influenced by warranty periods. I think the LG is 2 years. Quality stuff, without moving parts, tends not to break unless it does so very quickly and that's rare these days.

My past experience of the Chinese TV brands (wherever manufactured) has been shocking; we've discussed it elsewhere. Bad, both in terms of reliability and meeting specifications and standards. So, I'd always pay a little more and go for a brand I know and trust. In my case its LG.

Cheers, K.
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Last edited by Sandtonman; 2017-10-30 at 11:49. .
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Old 2017-10-30 , 11:45
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Originally Posted by chrisvdh View Post
.... Still amazed at what the N codec can do across my copper adsl link. I do feel the pic quality is far better from N than DStv broadcasts.
Yip, I fully agree, Chris. The quality of N's streamed services in HD is amazing. You'll be blown away by Dolby vision, or even standard UHD on your son's set. I'd like to have a couple of sets side-by-side to do some comparisons.

I'm unsure if N is automatically slugging the UHD because I currently only have a very solid 20Mbps link and they recommend 25 Mbps minimum for UHD. If so, I can see no evidence of it and am experiencing zero buffering and absolutely no blocking that I see on other services with poor download capability.

Cheers, K.

PS really enjoying ST-2 k
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Last edited by Sandtonman; 2017-10-30 at 12:01. .
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Old 2017-10-30 , 19:56
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Originally Posted by chrisvdh View Post
....... my son has a UHD set. Will ask him to have a look at what his set is capable of decoding.
.......... .
Checkout Star Trek Discovery, too. Also in 4K and Dolby Vision. Amazing picture quality. Because the ship is designed with lots of bright colours and bags of contrast it's particularly suited to the Dolby Vision format. Cheers K.

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Old 2017-10-30 , 20:42
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Also enjoying Stranger things 2 after we have watched all 9 episodes of season 2. Then we have to watch beyond strangers things the after show
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