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Re: NAB Demonstrations

On Tue, 31 Mar 1998 04:23:21 -0800, you wrote:
>Two things at NAB which may be of interest to this group:
>1) The Gang of Four will make an appearance in the Microsoft booth.   This
>is a relatively objective comparison, side-by-side, of 480/30I, 480/60P,
>720/60P and 1035/30I.   
This was an interesting demo, although in typical NAB fashion not
completely what it seemed.  The graphics surrounding the monitors clearly
stated that each of the four screens contained footage shot in native
format, but the person doing the demo (I believe it was the same Mr McMahon
who posted the original message) admitted that the footage I was seeing was
shot single source and converted to all the other formats.  Hardly the same

The footage and accompanying discussion was vaguely (and sometimes overtly)
slanted towards the format endorsed be the company doing the presenting
(Microsoft and 720p in this instance), which was the same situation in
almost all the demos around the floor, with the exception of companies
showing converters, who didn't care what format you used as long as there
were many from which to choose so they could keep on selling converters.
The one universal truth about the converters seems to be that they all have
problems if you start out with an interlaced image source. Upconverting
interlaced NTSC is not working well with any of the converters that I saw.

Also, the Microsoft demo (like almost all of them) ignored the practical
aspects of the comparison: on a 20-27 inch monitor viewed at 10-12 feet
with ordinary picture content, there isn't a real discernible difference
between 480/60P, 720/60P and 1080/30I.  If you stick your face into the
monitor you can clearly see differences, but people don't watch TV that

Where the differences start to really show up is when picture size gets to
be on a bigger screen like the 45-60 inch boxes many people are expected to
buy when the DTV thing gets up to speed.  At 60 inches, and about 15 feet
away, on a bright, sharp display, the 720p and 1080i formats clearly pull
away from 480p. It is still difficult to tell the difference between 720p
and 1080i at that point, which I guess is one of the things the computer
jockeys pushing 720p have been saying.  But it's difficult to REALLY know
what's going on because everyone was yelling that we shouldn't pay any
attention to the man behind the curtain.  Viewed image quality is highly
dependent on where the stuff came from and how it got there, but that info
was difficult to get, and difficult to believe.

Again, this is from the perspective of the end user, not the TC or editing
suite (where people DO stick their faces into 20 inch monitors all the

And finally, there were a couple of booths in the Hilton showing off-air
reception from local UHF stations on large screen monitors of musical
concert footage that apparently originated in and was sent out 1080i. Just
beautiful. Definitely did not look like anything off-air I'd ever seen.
Made my jaw drop.
>2) A "Bellevue" (code name) system will be shown in the Compaq booth.  This
>is a broadcast PC equipped with an 8 VSB "tuner" and a low-cost hardware
>MPEG decoder, enabling it to receive 480/60P transmissions and display them
>natively at 720/60P (or any display resolution for that matter).    The
>inclusion of a scaling engine in the receiver enables this machine to
>present video unlike any you've ever seen on a PC or a TV.  Bellevue is a
>prototype of the PC99 specification which was described at the WinHEC
>conference last week.  If you've ever doubted John Watkinson's assertions
>that 480P in the transmission channel with a proper rescaler in the receiver
>is all most consumers will ever need you must see this demo.
This image looked surprisingly good, although all the hardware was hidden
and so it was difficult to tell exactly what was actually happening.  The
footage being shown was very limited, and I suspect that like all the other
demos I saw over three days, was selected specifically for content that
went well with the format being evangelized.  I went back for a second look
after seeing the Gang of Four demo in the Microsoft booth, but just as I
entered the booth the man doing the demo drew a half inch static spark from
his finger to the keyboard, and the system went belly up.

Which brings up an interesting point. Sony and several of the set top box
manufacturers have licensed or cross-licensed Windows CE as the OS for
their systems. As more and more high end consumer stuff is being controlled
by this and other bloated, slow, and sometimes buggy software, I'd like to
hear from this group how many times you feel your lovely new DTV set will
have to lock up and have to be rebooted in the middle of some pay-per-view
extravaganza before you dip your torches in kerosene, light them, and storm
the Redmond castle with all the others villagers who are having identical

Needless to say, none of the manufactures whom I've disparaged are giving
me anything (although a guy from Fujinon did buy me a beer even after I
told him his HD lens prices were outrageous), and Microsoft is no longer
allowing me to participate in betas because I've been way too vocal in past
betas about reproducible bugs actually needing to be fixed before product


Bob Kertesz
BlueScreen LLC

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