April 17, 2009

BBC iPlayer in HD arrives...or does it?

According to a number of sources, the BBC's online version of iPlayer is now delivering high definition programming.
BBC iPlayer Labs report that the new "high-quality stream" has a 1,500kbps bit-rate. Hmm. That's not HD in my book - YouTube HD maybe. A somewhat liberal use of "HD" if you ask me. It's better than the previous "High Quality" streams but most definitely not true HD. Think DVD rather than Blu-Ray.
No word on when real HD programming will be made available via iPlayer on Virgin Media (or other platforms).

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmm BBC news story http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8000556.stm and other sources mention the HD and gives the new Doctor Who as an example, but the iPlayer labs page do only seems to talk about HQ, and Doctor Who doesn't appear at better quality/resolution than Eastenders.

No wait, "Doctor Who, Kerwhizz, and Dragons' Den [are] all slated for HD release." So that means the actual HD is coming later and the publicity is just a bit ahead of themselves?

Still, 832x468 1500kbps h.264 on all programmes (not just the HD ones) is nothing to sniff at, even though it's not HD. Almost certainly looks better than VM's blocktastic MPEG2 VOD, even if that's 576p.

Anonymous said...

I've read that Doctor Who is really available in HD. 3200 kbps 1280x720 H.264, the 1500kbps is for the HQ SD.

tvsersity said...

Given that DVDs run at 8-10 mbits (albeit in prehistoric MPEG2) this sounds very unimpressive. HD for me means a minimum of 720p at 20-30mbits, but preferably 1080p at 45mbits.

Anonymous said...

"Given that DVDs run at 8-10 mbits (albeit in prehistoric MPEG2) this sounds very unimpressive. HD for me means a minimum of 720p at 20-30mbits, but preferably 1080p at 45mbits."

Video bitrate on a DVD is in practice less than that, usually more like 4-6 mbits, and H.264 is really a LOT more efficient than MPEG2 and needs much lower bitrates at the same resolution for similar source transparency. 3 mbits for 720p isn't bad, try Doctor Who if you have the bandwidth: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00jz2t4/Doctor_Who_Planet_of_the_Dead/

And I think you'd be shocked by the MPEG2 bitrates used by VM for BBC HD and VOD and the MPEG4 bitrates used by Sky HD. The numbers you're talking about are bigger than used on blu-rays (more like 30mbit 1080p) so you're probably never going to be satisfied with broadcast HD!

Anonymous said...

Um, I think you'll find broadcast HD is around 16-20mbps even in H.264. See http://www.linowsat.com/hdtv/hdtv/hdtv.shtml

Anonymous said...

16mbps is the high end for sky, check some of the other HD channels, 9-12mbps is much more common http://www.linowsat.com/0282/tv/all.html