HDTV Answers for Ludwig
a little ludwig goes a long way: I'm getting HDTV lust. Well, John is asking the right questions about HDTV. Here are the answers as I know them:
When will DirecTV HD availability catch up to Comcast?
Great question and one of much debate. You have to divide the answer into two bucket. Getting network TV in HD and getting cable/premium channels in HD. The DSS folks like DirecTv had the edge for a while in premium, but lately Comcast has been roaring back. Right now the biggest different is sports (some NFL and NBA) and HD-NET (Mark Cubans stuff) for DirecTV vs. network stations (Comcast has KCTS and KOMO and is rumored to be getting KIRO and the other networks). It's unlikely you'll see satellite carry local. There is just not enough bandwidth up there to do that. Final point is that you can get HD over the air with an antenna. My dad has this, I doubt very much whether you can get this though, you have to have a very clear shot of Queen Anne Hill (I think you are masked by Capital Hill) since they are using UHF for this which is very line of sight.
When can I get HDTV Tivo?
This is rolling out with Comcast. Called the Motorola 6208 that is supposed to be rolling out here in 1Q04. Similar models coming for DirecTV I've forgotten the model number but can look this up if you want.
Are there such things as HDTV-encoded DVDs (I am aware this is a somewhat mangled expression of the idea) and where do I get them and what players play them?
A sore point, the movie folks are terrified about 1040i DVDs because they can get ripped off. There is something really evil called DVI/HDCP that all these boxes implement that will let someone in Hollywood flip a switch and down-res everything in every house in America automatically. I'm not kidding. All the new cable boxes have them and the new TVs have this thing as well. These things prevent copying, etc. The big fight is that folks with older analog TVs like mine (and your plasma) could get blown down from 1040i which you can see now to 480i (so back to 1970s) television by your set top box. So write you congressman.
There is a related technical question about how to slam more data onto a DVD. You'll see folks talking about a blue laser DVD. The current DVDs carry about 4.3-4.7GB per layer to a maximum of 18GB (two sides and two layers). But, you need much for HD-DVD. There are two solutions: a) higher performance encoding that both Microsoft does and DiVX does and b) higher density by going to a higher frequency laser (e.g., blue) that has more density.
I can troll some site for this if you want.