Monday, January 21, 2008

Quality Issues

Being a Patriots fan, I was too busy celebrating the 18-0 season to be bothered to stay up until the early hours of the morning to find out who the opponents would be in SuperBowl, so I 'tuned' into NFL.com this morning and I was appalled at the quality of the video they're presenting.

I've commented regularly on how, as an old TV hand, how surprised I am about how people are willing to accept grainy, barely visible clips on their PC, especially as we enter the era of HD broadcasting.

The MPEG 4 (H.264 codec) version of Flash has been out in demo form for a long time now. Here's an example. Why is no one using it ?

In the meantime, Microsoft's VC-1 codec remains dominant in the quality stakes, but is not really a cross platform option, so internet TV channels are forced to compromise in one direction or another.

Beyond the efficiency of the codec, the way the video is encoded also matters greatly - content that is shoved through a hardware accelerated transcoder is never going to be as good as those processed over a longer period of time.

Apple has persuaded YouTube to use H.264 in order to be compatible with Apple TV, but, for once, I'm amazed how slowly everyone else has been in jumping on the H.264 bandwagon, especially since it's probably the key technology to bring about convergence between traditional TV system and internet TV management tools.

It's time to campaign for quality..

3 comments:

Observations from the land of confusion said...

A Patriots fan? Please. Let's go Giants!!!

But I agree on H264. There are still potential issues with older computers getting hung up on the processor intensive codec, but it seems to be clearly the wave of the future for the reasons you outline.

For entertainment quality content, H264 seems like a no-brainer to me.

Jason Jack said...

The quality of NFL Video here in Southern California is very good. I expect they are geo-throttling (a new term?) and sending low quality to anyone outside US (much like the BBC News video was saying they would do).

Request: Can you do a review of geo-spoofing tools please?

Iolo said...

See previous post at:

http://iptvtimes.blogspot.com/2007/11/geospoofing.html