February 04, 2010

BBC HD blog comments suspended

The BBC's Nick Reynolds posted today: "Sadly despite my final final warning people are still posting abusive comments. So I will close this post for new comments today. It will be closed for a week. I will then decide whether to reopen it again or whether there are better ways of continuing the conversation."
I'm kinda torn on this. Whilst I agree that some posts have been out of order, the frustrations for satellite customers, especially Freesat customers for whom BBC HD is the key service, are genuine and merit honest debate. Unfortunately the BBC's response has been to deny there is a problem with the picture quality and walk away. Very sad.
Funnily enough I've been watching a lot of BBC HD of late, and watching Great Rift: Africa's Wild Heart this week I actually had a few of those "wow" moments I used to regularly experience with series like Wild China and Galapagos. Okay, so us VM customers haven't been affected by the encoder change and bitrate drop, but some series on the channel last year (notably Life) did to my eyes lack the sparkle and sharpness of yesteryear. It's good to see that with some programmes the "wow" is back. What do you guys think?
(And has anyone experienced HD recording failures with any of the non-BBC HD channels? I'm starting to think that my V+'s wobbles are only with the BBC channel - everything else records perfectly each time.)


Erich said...

To be honest, the blog had just turned into a forum for angry people to abuse the BBC. It no longer served any real purpose.

As for the BBC HD quality on VM, I personally find it to be more or less the same it always was. Some things look great, others not so great. Same goes for the other HD channels. It's not unusual to see differences in quality within different episodes of a wildlife or documentary series, as they've often been filmed in very different conditions with very different equipment. I remember being particularly unimpressed with an episode of Life you thought looked great, so you probably have to take into account a certain degree of subjectivity as well. Either way, as long as you're happy, that's really the main thing.

As for your recording problems, perhaps your BBC HD channel is on a frequency with poor signal strength, which can cause stability problems that can affect recordings? A friend of mine had problems with failed recordings on certain channels, and one of VM's tech guys came out and adjusted his signal strength. Problem solved.

Nialli said...

Thanks - I had not considered signal strength, but that would not explain the haphazard nature of the failed recordings. One in four on BBC HD has failed this week so far. I have never had a failure recording off of ESPN HD, 4HD, FX HD or Nat Geo HD, hence my question.

Erich said...

Actually, depending on the severity of a signal problem, that's exactly what you would expect, and exactly what happened to a friend of mine. Some recordings would be fine, some would stop after just a few minutes, although he never noticed any problems while watching the channels "live".

I think he had problems with the Sky Sports channels, all of which were on the same frequency, but you may just not be using any other channels on the same frequency, since an HD channel takes up a lot of bandwidth, so you might not have noticed if other channels are affected.

Isn't there some way to check signal strength on the box yourself from one of those hidden menus? I'm sure I've seen it discussed somewhere, but I wouldn't know how to do it.

Anyway, just a guess, it might be something entirely different that's causing the problem.

Nialli said...

I will give VM a call at some point. Seeing as everything I watch on BBC HD is appearing in iPlayer HD at the moment I've always got that as a back up (although the PQ can be a bit suspect)

Erich said...

Yes, the quality on VOD often isn't great for HD or SD.

It's strange really. I don't know what bitrates the VOD content uses, but in theory, VM should be able to use VBR and multi-pass offline encoding on non-live content like that to deliver even better quality than the original broadcast.

In general, I really wish VM would sort out their VOD service instead of just bragging about how great they think it is.

Nialli said...

The Filmflex movies are very good PQ, especially the HD ones, but some of the iPlayer stuff is pretty ropey. I watched Hustle in HD on iPlayer this week (my failed BBC HD recording) and it was not impressive.
I wish they would sort out VoD too. A bit of care and attention and it really would be something to shout about.

Anonymous said...

It is not strictly true that "the BBC has walked away from this". In fact the other posts about HD on the BBC Internet blog are still open and Andy Quested is again responding to comments on this post:


Nick Reynolds (Social Media Executive, BBC Online)

Anonymous said...

Looks like the link doesn't work. Let's try this.

Tom Chiverton said...

I've only ever had recording failures for HD, standard ones seem to always work, and yeah, some of them were not from the BBC HD channel.

Classic V+ box, not one of the new Samsung ones.

Anonymous said...

I had my first failed recording on my lovely new Samsung box this week and it was on FX(HD).

I am also pretty sure it initially said it recorded fine and "broke" a few days later. Others (with SA boxes) have reported even watching a show and then, later, see it turn to "failed". So it cannot always be broadcast signal level.

Ian said...

Yes, had a few failed on BBC HD and one failed recording on 4HD. Can't really say much for the quality, I think it's quite good, though watched a prog on the VOD HD the other day and didn't see much of an improvement over SD.

BikeNutt said...

The Richard Dimbleby lecture with Sir Terry Pratchett (and Tony Robinson) was great - content & PQ. I missed the opening live so watched again on HD VoD. VERY disappointing PQ - the difference was night and day. It was almost as if the SD version was loaded by mistake.

I hope this WAS a mistake and not a sign of things to come...