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A Lot of Pressure

A Lot of Pressure
by Gary Woods

Actually what I'm talking about is not pressure but compression. If you've got a High Definition TV you've probably noticed that some of your shows don't look quite as cool as they used to. What's going on is there is only so much bandwidth and cable companies are obliged to compress their signal in order for you to have more High Def programming.

We've known for a long time that digital TV content is compressed and decompressed often several times before it reaches our home. This compression starts as early in the production chain as the camera which takes the pictures. After that the network satellite systems take over after which it is delivered to the distributors. Each one of these steps adds and subtracts from the programming.

There's a big argument in the broadcast community about whether it's better to deliver the whole 19.2 megabits for a single HD channel or whether by using other standards of compression you "can get away with" delivering a high-definition signal and one or two standard-definition signals using that same bandwidth.

Personally I'd rather see more High Def content with a little less quality than one great looking channel. My friends who have the satellite dish all rave about how much better quality they have. But the coolest place in town appears to be the Mesa because there you can put antennae up which can see clear to San Diego and get uncompressed gorgeous High Definition pictures direct from the broadcasters.

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at or see my column on the Internet at or call me at (805) 729-0910

Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc