Why does Hopper 3 record at such poor resolution? Rather than record 16 channels at once, I'd prefer a single recording have the highest resolution. Anything recorded is horribly compressed. Especially noticeable on a decent OLED TV. For example, programs recorded from HBO are noticeably worse than viewing via HBO on demand, which in turn is worse than live TV quality. Blacks are crushed, lots of color banding, etc. Same is true of recordings from any channel.
It doesn't really matter that Hopper 3 is "4K capable" if we can't view anything at even 1080p quality.
Technically correct, and entirely beside the point. The issue is compression and bandwidth, whether we use the shorthand of 1080p, 1080i, or even 480i. If you compress a signal into 100Kbps, you can still show a bunch of gray blocks updating 3 times a second and call it "1080i", and too many consumers are none the wiser. Any upscaling at the display device is irrelevant, there is simply too little information in the data stream.
Does anyone (knowledgeable) happen to know what bitrate the Hooper 3 DVR is using to record? It's obviously considerably less than the already-subpar OTA and on-demand streams.
The Hopper 3 will record what is coming over the satellite. Does it pixellate and macro block on live TV?
If so you may need your dish peaked for a better signal. Now on fast action you can't avoid it. Both Dish and DirecTV highly compress their signals. There is back and forth who has the better picture. But they both highly compress and with sports (especially) or other fast moving action, it is not possible to avoid the macro blocking.
Both will tell you blah, blah, blah we have the best mpeg4 compression and it doesn't do that. Bull!!!
Don't believe it, they highly compress the signals coming down off the satellite to save bandwidth.
To their defense, even cable companies and OTA compress their signals. But not near as bad as the satellites.
It should be barely noticeable except in the action scenes or massive movement in several parts of the screen. If it is more than that have your dish peaked.
Local OTA stations run into this problem when they run several sub channels. They have to take bandwidth away from their main channel to give it to the sub channels and they swear it makes no difference.
They will blame your TV, your reciever, the cables, blah blah. None will admit it is due to signal compression.
On Demand looks good because it is not compressed near as much. It comes over the internet to your DVR.
What gdisarray says is correct. As far as I know, there is no additional compression going on when a recording is being saved to the DVR. The streams that come down are simply stored on the HD, and then played back directly.
BUT, you make a good point. There is a maximum amount of bandwidth on the satellites, and to cram in more channels, they original signal is compressed. That is where the [poor] compression takes place. Last time I saw the Dish Head End, they used statistical multiplexing for each transponder stream. This basically groups a number of channels into the available bandwidth on that satellite transponder. The problem is, that a channel's need for bandwidth is not constant. It goes up and down with things like more motion or detail. Statistical multiplexing does a first pass encode on a set of streams, and then adjusts the compression factors to up bandwidth to some channels and lower it from others and encode a second time for broadcast. It usually works fine, but sometimes all the channels need more bandwidth that just is not there, and you get compression artifacts like blocks and blurring of the video.
Then, more channels come along, as well as higher resolutions channels, which means Dish needs more bandwidth, and until they put up more satellites (and yet larger antennas that can point at more satellites), they have to rely on heavier and heavier compression which results in more and more artifacts in the video.
I agree with you, the compression is awful, and I am particularly sensitive to it. I was a digital TV engineer, built some of the first stat-muxing head ends (one of our designs was a model for Dish's head end many years ago), and I also ran a compression and encoding suite for digital TV. I have seen this happen over and over. Better compression technology has helped with better results, as have new types of codex, but most compression is basically a loss process, throwing away something from the image to fit into the bandwidth allocated. On playback, you may see that.
I have seen other tricks used by broadcasters, such as anamorphic crush (they crush a 16:9 video to 4:3, compress it to save bandwidth, and then expand the image during playback. I do not know if Dish does this, but it also adds digital noise.
Lastly, as screens get larger, they not only increase the image size, they increase the compression "noise" like digital compression artifacts, which become more apparent on these screens.
Sadly, as more and more 4K signals are broadcast, other channels will suffer. Not much you can do about it. And it is not just Dish that has this issue. DirecTV has the exact same issues. As does cable and even broadcast. They all compress for digital transmission. However, cable does have the advantage of being able to add bandwidth with less cost, like fiber to the curb, or fiber to the home as is happening in some communities.
Money and profit are the problems here. These companies want to make a profit, and adding bandwidth is very costly. And truly, most people do not notice the digital artifacts of compression, and think the image looks fine. There are not a lot of us who find the quality unacceptable sadly, so not much will be done about it.
And forget about going to the internet for streaming. Those streams are compressed even more than satellite and cable, and have amazingly bad signal to noise issues. Want to see it, put a YouTube 1080 stream on your big screen. You will see just how bad it is.
A good way to explain compression is take a video of a guy walking to a roller coaster.
The way mpg compression works (simplified..lol, I don't know the technicalities) is that going from frame to frame, only the pixels that change are being transmitted. If something in the next frame is the same as the previous, then it is just left there. Nothing new is sent.
Take the guy walking to the roller coaster.....As he walks across the screen, the background is constant so there is nothing transmitted for the background (unused bandwidth) The only bandwidth used is for changing the guy walking and the background immediately in front and behind him. Very little bandwidth usage. But then he gets on the roller coaster and it takes off. The camera pans to follow the coaster. Now the coaster is moving around in the middle of the screen a little bit, the guy is pretty still, but the background is constantly changing. So much of the picture is changing it needs a lot of bandwidth to transmit all of the pixels to provide the next frame.
Well the TV providers steall some of that unused bandwidth in the first part. Most frames don't change a whole bunch.
When the stolen bandwidth becomes visible is when the camera starts following the roller coaster. Since the bandwidth it needs has been robbed to be used elsewhere, it cannot transmit all of the changes it needs to transmit. And you end up with missing data frame to frame. That shows on your tv as pixellation and macro-bocking.
It is also really visible in sports.
Most sports are broadcast in 720p because because it is the best quality picture and, supposedly, there is no noticeable increase in quality for the additional bandwidth to go to 1080p. The problem is broadcasters still don't dedicate enough bandwidth to provide even for a fast-changing 720p picture. With the addition of sub channels, even OTA channels suffer here because they rob bandwidth from their mainline channel to provide the sub channels. It is doubly bad for downstream. The originating broadcasters are not providing the full bandwidth, and then the carriers (Dish, DirecTV, Comcrap) are then compressing the pictures yet further. So it is a double whammy to a pure picture.
Watch for when there is a lot of fast action all over the screen and you will see crappy macro blocking. If you didn't see it before, I am sorry for making you notice it from here out!! hehe
As mentioned in the post above 4K is getting more popular. Sadly the only way you are going to watch real 4k is to download it or some other digital means. We will never see real 4k over the satellite or over cable.
@Major Havoc wrote:
And forget about going to the internet for streaming.
Have to disagree there. 4k streams on Netflix and Amazon can look fantastic, second only to UHD Bluray.
And there is definitely additional compression going on somewhere with the Dish DVR. Anything recorded looks noticeably worse than the live channel. Seems obvious they're cramming it down during recording, in order to claim a gazillion hours of recording. Unfortunately, the mob rules, and most would seem to prefer recording many channels at once versus a single quality signal.
Trust me, it isn't the TV. Simple way to prove this is to pull up the guide, or the menu, and see how fantastic the quality and clarity the text of the screen/images are. That means it comes right from the DVR itself through the HDMI cable to the TV. It isn't a SAT picture you are looking at or DVR stored SAT recording.
Then, look at the SAT picture live, it is poor quality and not sharp at all.
This is a known issue with Satellite images, and really a known issue with the Hopper 3 which I've had for 3yrs now, and tired of it. Compression, encryption, de-encryption and de-compression of the SAT image along with the Hopper 3 equals a terrible live/DVR picture.
Also, just pull up a streaming service and run side by side the same show, and switch between inputs, the streaming picture is miles ahead, even my daughter noticed and said how much better the streaming service picture is.
Many people are buying UHD high-end TVs, only to have the Hopper 3 downgrade and make it horrible looking. I'm pretty much done with Dish, the DVR/service/channel lineup is great, but I can't deal with the picture quality any longer myself.
There is no tweaking you need to do to your TV, well, except I always do custom tweaks personally and adavanced white balance etc..videophile thing. But that won't fix the Dish SAT picture quality issues ever. Also, just use your TV with a streaming service or Netflix 4K show, isn't the picture amazing!! Yet, flip to the Dish SAT...picture is garbage.
As an audiophile/videophile and IT professional, I can assure you, it is 100% Hopper 3 related and SAT technology.
As much as the DVR/features and channel lineup is the best in the business..the picture quality and price are making me move to a combo of YouTube TV and Philo. You get nearly all the same channels compared to SAT/Cable, and a way better picture. They have their issues as well, a bit of a hassle moving around apps and the features aren't as good as a regular Hopper 3...but hey, you save $60+/month and the picture is amazing.
Again, you are entitled to your opinon. I do not work for Dish, and believe me, I have issue swith their equipment as well. But image is not usually a problem. As a broadband engineer, designing set tops and head ends (one design which was used by Dish) what you claim is not in fact what is happening. I think somethign is wrong with your box. As a test, I just ran the video signals through a scope, and compared the original with the DVR playback. With a few excepetions, I could not see a difference.
I appreciate that you do indeed see something wrong. It is just too costly for the set top to have to re-encode the incomming signal sent to the set top a second time when placing them on the internal drive. The signal already being received by the set top is already encrypyeted and encoded, so it is just copied to the HD. The set top simply keeps the PIDs specified by the channel map and moves them to the DVR as is.
Some DVRs actually show you the playback all the time (A TiVo patent), such that the satellite or off-air signal is received, pushed to the disk, and then played back to the TV. That is how they pause, start and stop so quickly. I know that Dish used to do this before a few patent infringement cases, so do not know if they still do that. But the behavior of the DVR and some of its glitches makes it look to me that they still do this. And IF they are still doing this, then you should indeed see the same signal originally and from the DVR, and they should both look bad. (This does not apply to off-air signals, which are received in 8-VSB. I do not know if they convert them, or are just capable of playing them back directly.)
As for overall quality, I will agree that some satellite channels can look like crap. Sadly, satellite has a maxium amount of bandwidth, and even with tricks like statistical multiplexing, they still compress the hell out of the original signal. This is done on expensive two pass encoders at the head end, so the quality is quite good. And as I said before, as more channels of 4K are added, which need a LOT more bandwidth, regular HD channels are going to suffer becuse no additional bandwidth is available, and we can expect Dish (and DirecTV) to turn UP the compression, making most channels look worse. But I see no difference on original to DVR.
As for Internet based televisions, good luck with that. Hopefully you have a fiber connection, because you are going to need it to get any kind of reasonable HD or 4K signal over the internet. The average file size of a 4K movie is estimated to be around 100GB. Theoretically you could download a 4K movie in less than a second with 1Tb/s fiber (if you got all the bandwidth), but that is not the reality. I have viewed a number of 4K streamed channels, and the compression artifacts are horrible. HD is a bit better, but not better (IMO) than satellite. Remember, the services are compressing the signal for average bandwidth speeds, which as of today, are around 18.7 megabits per second. That does not handle 4K, and for HD, it is enough only if nothing else is going on your network (or your neighborhood's network if on cable.)
One other consideration is your 4K TV. As SD looked horrible on HD TVs, I suspect (since I do not own one) that HD looks horrible in the same way on 4K TVs. If you final image is a 4K set, and you are upsampling to make all your output work at 4K resolution, you are going to add noise to the picture. Can you try your tests again but lock your TV into HD resolution when not viewing 4K material?
I get that you don't like the image (and at times, nether do I), but it sounds to me that something in your chain is not working correctlly. I would suspect a problem with your set top. We have two here, and the playback looks the same as the original.
FYI: I view my content on a 1080p projector onto a 90" wall video. One thing a projector does is increase noise as well as signal, as not only is the image increased in size, but so is the noise. I just compared a number of channels before and after DVR, and sorry to say, I still see no difference. They both look failry sharp to me. I just tested with Ohio St vs UCLA basketball game on CBS as sports is usually the worst for compression noise. I don't see it.
Hopefully you find something that works for you. I have used Hulu and YouTube and their comression artifcacts are disgustingly horrible.