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May 24, 2006

BBC HD on my Skystar card?

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Will I be able to watch the BBC HD trial on my Skystar card?

This is a question that’s been asked on a lot of forums, but the bottom line is only just starting to fall into place - so here’s the latest word from the street.

The BBC have now started their HD trial using DVB-S1, and will move to DVB-S2 at ‘some point in the future’. This is pretty well accepted now, as more than one independent source has confirmed this as coming directly from the BBC in 1:1 correspondence.

That ‘some point in the future’ will hopefully be after the World Cup, but that is NOT a ‘given’.

The Skystar 1 and 2 cards (including all variants thereof) will not handle DVB-S2, so based on what the BBC have stated above, this is therefore not a long-term solution for BBC HD reception.

The main reason then, that a whole heap of effort is going into keeping the Skystars afloat on the Hi-Def sea, is the hope of watching the World Cup. If you’re not a footy-fan, you may want to switch off now!

The BBC transmissions will be in MPEG-4 and not MPEG-2 (the originally intended mode of the Skystars) from day one.

Many people think that because the current decoding capabilities of the Skystar cards are limited to MPEG-2, that it’s just not possible to push MPEG-4 encoded video into the front end of your card and get true Hi-Def out of the back of your computer.

They think that High Definition means MPEG-4 and that MPEG-4 decoding is in turn solely a function of the chipset.

The fact is that neither of those two statements is true. The first is known not to be true by many Skystar owners, who have been watching MPEG-2 HD test transmissions for some good while now.

High definition simply means a ‘High Definition’ picture - a high resolution. It’s not synonymous with MPEG-4 or DVB-S2 per se. It would be misleading though, to suggest that the future will not see these two standards adopted across the board for HD. MPEG-4 has many compression advantages (especially when combined with DVB-S2). That means less bandwidth, and that in turn means either more channels per transponder, or less cost per channel for the broadcasters.

Read the full article on the Satellite TV Forum

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