July 30, 2001
Tech-Note – 087
Sponsored by: Bloomfield & Associates
Thanks to our regulars and welcome to
the new folks.
When I said: “20/20 vision by definition and by Rayleigh diffraction limits resolves an arc minute, 291 microradian, or 60 arc seconds, not 0.5 arc seconds as typed in Notes, ” that's my mistake-- I meant 0.5 arc-minutes, not arc-seconds. I just went scurrying back to my Displays white paper to see if I'd screwed it up there, but fortunately I didn't. In any event, I'd really like to see a correction posted for this error.
Still, the rest of my comments still hold true. A little empirical observation will prove that a top-quality 30" HDTV-resolution screen can be moved as far away as twenty feet or so before a good pair of human eyes is no longer able to resolve the pixels. The "32 x 18 degrees" recommendation you make is far, far too large; HDTV at this angular size will show its pixels quite clearly to most people, especially on displays such as plasma and LCD screens that have clearly defined pixels.
(EdNote: The following is from three e-mail we received.)
I do not mean to nit pick. On first reading of your informative Notes I suspected a typo error somewhere or symbolic confusion with ' = arc minute or feet or with " = arc second or inches.
Yes distinct pixels in LCD, plasma and indeed in the thin film display in back of our eyes, the retina, are substantially different from CRT MTF modulation transfer function or shrinking raster method but the definition of 20/20 is best baseline for comparing new things and old. Your intended & corrected half arc minute confirms this.
As to subjective acceptance of pixelated displays up close, I still believe the empirical evidence from limited studio HD and DTV I have experienced since 1980 supports 32 x 18 degrees just as NTSC viewed from proper distance also is consistent with nominal 300 x 300 arc minute field of view of the fovea. (RAND, RCA EO Handbook)
You're also right that 30 inch set looks great at ten to twenty feet, including my 1990 Toshiba set with 1999 HDTV "Sparkle" converter to NTSC . A sharp engineer called it "magic" because it admittedly fools the eye. (One Tech-Notes editor) called it "a joke" because he thought I was fooling in offering to provide at chip cost ($13/half square centimeter) so present TV channels can be vacated in FCC auction for better uses of the spectrum.
Frankly, after 36 years in digital imaging I believe HD and DTV is more "contrast limited" than resolution limited, that is to say in order to meet or beat dynamic range (optical density) and resolution of film, we still need to integrate LCD between planar optics with pixelated backlighting by plasma or preferably OLED modulated by video--all for the price of $1-2 per square inch. That gets us back to the topic, low cost HDTV.
20/20 vision by definition and by Rayleigh diffraction limits resolves an arc minute, 291 microradian, or 60 arc seconds, not 0.5 arc seconds as typed in Notes. That is nominal 5 microns extent of two photodetectors in the retina divided by the focal length (f=5/0.291 mm) forms similar triangle with one TV raster line subtended by the viewing distance at the proper point of comparison. When or if this basic definition of 20/20 vision is employed for faithful evaluation of HDTV and standard analog television then we will finally produce the HDTV visual impact that is "bound to astound" (EETimes) namely 1920 x 1080 arc minutes or 32 x 18 degrees. That is the point missed by most. No wonder readers of NYTimes, Wall Street Journal etc obviously just yawn when they read the price of 1125 lines vs 525 TV lines or megadots vs dot coms.
It is true one might detect a single star subtending "0.5 arc seconds" (sic)or such acute disparity in stereovision, but when one speaks of resolution the Rayleigh diffraction limit in the eye is consistent with the "shrinking raster method" of measuring picture tubes. If the spot size equals the TV height divided by the number of active raster lines, the MTF modulation transfer function will be 40% or limiting resolution (2-2.5%) at double that number of lines. Assuming these things can be made readily equal, the awesome field of view is what our customers need to experience and our numbers must be basic and factual to induce them to visit places where the HDTV is viewed properly as in the home setting, not like bargain stores with hundred ugly pictures blamed on the antenna.
If and only if the FCC actually does auction off the present analog TV spectrum the memo would not be a joke. I seriously doubted since day one that FCC or Congress could or would obsolete 300 million TV sets.
As to the proven display of 2 megadots of HDTV on NTSC sets and VCR, it was called "magic" by sharp TV engineers, not a "a joke." Admittedly we fool the eye, not the engineer nor the public. When the Russian engineers working for me in Toronto call to tell me "Sparkle works" I did in fact say, "you are not joking, are you?" (The patent was filed five weeks earlier)
The "magic" or "joke" of $39 cheap chip converter of HDTV is that it appears flicker free at 30Hz/9 rate where there is no motion and remarkably good when each 3x3 array of HDTV is decimated to one NTSC pixel where there is motion.
"Things too good to be true" often are too good to be true therefore we avoided publicity and have made several private demonstrations in Canada, NY and NJ. If the "joke" is on me, I will have lost over $320,000 and four years work, but at least I did not try to fool any investor and admit that Sparkle fools the eye. If you know any "angels" or VC on west coast maybe we all can cooperate and collaborate to resolve the catch-22 chicken-egg situation with HD DTV politics.
John J. Stapleton -- StapleVision Inc
You said: :Now there is talk of extending our area codes to 4 digits and requiring each user to dial all numbers, including area code each time they make even a local call. Thank heaven for speed dial.”
A worthy speed dial trick:
Instead of setting up specific numbers, I have most of my speed dials assigned to dial 9 for an outside line, then 1 and an area code. By pressing "2" I get 91212 dialed, and then fill in the rest of the Manhattan number I want. Although each button is only a 5:1 keystroke ratio, I use them so much more than any individual numbers that the bottom line keystroke savings are greater this way.
By Larry Bloomfield
Word on the street is that NBC has had an epiphany – a wakeup call – or what ever you want to call it, and has decided to compete, for a change, in the HDTV programming market by increase their HDTV offerings beyond the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Remember, this is the network that had the dancing cameras and microphones before they got the peacock feathers to fly in your face before every show when they were trying to sell their parent company’s Color TV sets. You can bet your bottom dollar that if GE had a similar interest in today’s digital TV sets, of an HDTV persuasion, the NBC program schedule would make the magnificent efforts of CBS seem like a token gesture.
A good neighbor here on the Central Coast of Oregon is Dale Cripps who publishes The HDTV Magazine. Cripps has been kind enough to permit us to share some of the coments his readers have made on this and other issues. “NBC really decided to join the 21st Century? What could possibly be next..........FOX???” as one reader put it and yet another said: “Well - isn't it about time!!!! Now if we could only get a VCR to record HDTV for later viewing!” Granted there are VCRs that will do the HDTV trick, but, like the HDTV sets, it will be a while before they come down in price enough where most folks can afford them.
At the station level, we’re well on our
way to the percentage that must be met by 2006 at which time broadcasters
will have to return one of their two 6 MHz channels back to the FCC. There
is so much speculation on this issue that it makes ones head spin. Some
stations are very proud of their achievements in this area. Case in point:
KPBS-DT in San Diego obviously with a call like that, a non-commercial
member station of the Public Broadcast Service. Chief Engineer John Fulsom
must be proud of their web sight where they’ve taken the time and effort
to maintain a diary of their birth. Check it out:
On the other side of that same coin, there are some stations that just don’t seem to want to go with the flow. Case in point here is, KPHO-DT17 in Phoenix, AZ. According to our sources, “this station will not allow CBS HDTV signals to pass through the stations DTV transmitter and will not authorize their signal to be carried by any DBS in the Phoenix area.”
Owned by Meredith Broadcasting, KPHO-DT17 has a web site also: http://www.KPHO.com/Global/story.asp?s=258715 and you’d never suspect this from what they say there.
Their web site brags about being one of Arizona’s first digital broadcasters and directs viewers attention to the DT-17 added to their legal station ID “at the top of each hour.” They go on to speak of HDTV programming being “broadcast in wide screen aspect ratios, the highest resolution formats, and Dolby Digital audio. It is the finest signal available through DTV.” Then speak to the differences between SDTV and HDTV.
Despite the fact that they will not permit the plethora of CBS HDTV programs they have available to them to be aired on their equipment, they sing HDTV’s praises. Is this a marketing mistake or what?
With out speaking to KPHO’s John Sutton, a damn fine Chief Engineer, I would suspect that Meredith has failed to spring for the microwave interface necessary to get the HD signals where they have to be in order to get them up to South Mountain and into their digital transmitter.
Permit me to digress, briefly: For those of our readers who don’t understand digital, the path is like a road; it doesn’t make any difference what kind of vehicle uses the road. It can be a motorcycle or an 18 wheeler, but you’ve got to have a proper road. If you’ve been dealing in a world where a basic two land highway meets your needs, and that’s what you’ve got, all well and good. But what happens when you try to put the kind of traffic they have on a Los Angeles Freeway at 5 PM commute time on the same little road? That the comparison between standard definition and high definition is like that; the traffic becomes humongous or unmanageable in comparison to standard def. Also notice that I did not say what was in or on those vehicles – it doesn’t make any difference; it can be audio, video, data, control signals, whatever, so long as you have a big enough road to handle the traffic.
What is interesting, the KPHO-TV/DT web site even speaks about multicasting: “Broadcasters will have the option of showing several SDTV programs or one or two HDTV programs, all with a single DTV channel.” And they conclude by warning their viewers there are some changes in the not too distant future: “Today's analog televisions will work for years to come. At the very least you will receive broadcast analog signals until 2006, and your sets will be able to receive DTV signals after that with the addition of a set-top decoder. What’s more, today's television sets will continue to work with today's VCRs, DVDs and other players forever. That goes for the kids Nintendo, too.”
I have no doubt that CBS is working with Meredith Broadcasting to make this transition to HDTV happen. The folks in New York City are well aware of this situation, which dominates the various HDTV and home theater Internet forums. It has even led to the formation of an association of HDTV owners in Phoenix, possibly as a lobbying group.
What is really interesting in all this is this is the home stat for Senator McCain, one of the biggest voices in our government when it comes to the transition to digital. Although he may have a lot of weight to throw around, it is unlikely that he would threaten Meredith over this issue - in the broad telecomunications industry perspective, it's not important enough, and Meredith is a fairly large corporation who is no doubt politically well-connected in Washington, DC.
It is important to keep in mint that there is NO law -- NONE -- that requires ANY broadcaster to transmit programs in HDTV. The FCC mandate is simply to convert from analog to digital by 2006.
Despite the many letters and e-mail we have gotten and the ones Cripps had told me about, the most prudent thing at this stage of the game is to let CBS and Meredith work this out. It does not hurt, of course, to let the folks at Meredith and KPHO know your feelings on the matter.
I’ve been told that currently, Meredith (like a lot of other broadcasters who have taken the plunge to transmit HDTV) is not convinced that broadcasting HDTV can generate any income stream, and they don't want to make the investment in the additional equipment needed without any possible ROI in sight. With this in mind, the giggle of a few shekels would, without question, get the bean counters at Meredith to stop their bottom feeding, as most all bean counters do, and reconsider the priorities. If they though for one moment they’d loose some bucks from the local home theater and electronics retailers - plus any advertiser who might want to take the plunge with some air spots in HDTV, who knows.
From: Des Chaskelson , SCRI Research Director http://www.scri.com
SCRI International, Inc. announced the results of a new DTV Migration Survey of Broadcast and Production/Post Facilities, which shows that the FCC's DTV timetable is in jeopardy of being met.
Almost two out of three US TV stations do not expect the FCC timetable to be met by all stations, while only one in four expects the FCC timetable to be met. Among the production and post facilities, the majority either do not expect the FCC’s FTV timetable will be met by US TV Stations (59%) or are unsure (24%).
As go the broadcasters, so goes the non-broadcast support organizations. As the May 2002 date for all 1,288 commercial TV stations to have their digital equipment up, running and on the air draws rapidly near, the situation looks bleak. As of May 15th, less than 16 percent have accomplished the feat. Simple math says that an average of four stations per day have to make the move for all to reach the deadline on time.
As of July 25, 2001 the number of local broadcast stations that have made the DTV transition totals 201. The 201 DTV stations are located in 67 markets across the U.S. serving 69 percent of all television households.
About 17% of public television licensees (31 out of 177) are equipped for DTV. Of course, given that there are 375 public-television stations, that percentage is somewhat lower. These non-commercial public television stations have until May 2003 to get with the program, so to speak.
While the industry is not optimistic about
US TV stations meeting the FCC deadline, there is considerable activity
already in the works for the inevitable migration to H/DTV among television
stations and both TV stations as well as the video production and post
community are gearing up for this new phase in the industry's development.
The DTV Migration Reports show how these sectors are planning for H/DTV
in terms of format and standards selection, product purchase plans, budgets,
and other key factors."
SCRI International (www.scri.com) has just completed a large-scale quantitative study of US TV Stations regarding the transition to digital and high definition. Data for this report was derived from an extensive survey of US television stations from November 2000 through April 2001. The 65-page report contains survey data, charts, tables as well as commentary by Larry Bloomfield, Technical News Editor at Broadcast Engineering, Co-Publisher of DTV Tech Notes, and former Chief Engineer at several TV Stations. View table of contents at:
SCRI also has product reports. Data for these reports was derived from an extensive survey of US television stations from November 2000 through April 2001. Product Reports include a written category analysis, plus quantitative summary tables and charts showing installed base and annual purchases (units and dollars) fro SD and HD, 2001-2003, brand shares, average prices, incidence of purchase etc. Product Reports are available for 23 product categories -- view table of contents online at:
By Larry Bloomfield
Congress and the FCC see the spectrum being allocated to over the air television as something that can be sold off to help pay for their irresponsible spending. It would appear that if digital can cut down the usage of TV spectrum, surely it can do the same for VHF amateur radio types, taxicabs and buses, airliners and air traffic control, and military platforms.
The following table shows what is being used in the frequency range of 30 MHz to 1300 MHz:
30-50 20 Land Mobile
From the list above, it is plane to see that the spectrum hogs are television (470-806), aeronautical (960-1215) and military (225-400). I'm not sure what 960-1215 is actually used for. 225-400 is used for military air-to-ground and navigation beacons, but that doesn't fill up 175 MHz of spectrum.
There was a proposal to use ACSB (amplitude companded single-sideband) for land mobile applications. The rumor was that it was killed by Motorola, who perceived it as a threat. ACSB works quite well, if you have technicians who know how to set it up properly. I did research many years ago and a paper on it in college; even sold it when I owned a 2-way radio shop for over 20 years. You can fit as many as 5 channels of 2-way radio into what one takes up today.
The 420-450 amateur band has been a tempting target for some people. The problem is that 440-450 is heavily used for NBFM, and the rest of the band is an important allocation for fast scan TV, wideband data links and weak signal work. Lower frequency amateur bands are restricted to narrowband modes. Taking this spectrum would be absolutely foolish as amateur radio operators, in their experimentations, have developed any number of useful bits of technology that are in current use.
I will admit that, as an amateur radio operator, I am biased. I am still upset by UPS lobbying the FCC to take part of the 220-225 amateur band, which they never used. It killed the band, just as it was becoming popular.
At the end of the day, there is no question that broadcast television is still the number one spectrum hog, with the UHF band an embarrassing example of how to waste spectrum. Much of the empty spectrum, today between channels is used as guard frequencies because the tuners in the TV sets are incapable of being made selective enough to receive only the 6 MHz they are tuned to. In addition to this, the suppression of signal outside the allotted 6 MHz is no bargain either. Much of slop into adjacent channels has been reduced in digital television. There are situations where this slop can create a very serious interference problem. An example of equipment designed to prevent this slop into adjacent spectrum can be seen in a story I helped write for WKBD/WKBD-DT in Detroit, MI. (Go to the Tech-Notes web site www.Tech-Notes.tv and click on my name. Select the Dielectric story on my home page.)
Much of this thinking is a carry over from the good old days of AM radio when adjacent or near adjacent signals would beat together and produce a very annoying whistling noise in the receiver. Similar issues exist in anything relating to analog, especially any form of amplitude modulation, which NTSC is – vestigial sideband.
It is quite possible to serve our nation with a good variety of over the air television stations in each market, once the move to digital has been made, while taking up significantly less spectrum in the process.
We killed spark, why not kill NTSC and get on with digital? Let’s hear your opinion.
From: Andy Funk, Asst. News Operations Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
The problem of analog cellular both going away, and being more expensive (at least when roaming) than digital, is a real problem for IFB.
Perhaps the simplest way to use digital phones for IFB is with handheld phones, held or clipped on by the reporter, with an adapter cable. Audio Implements sells an adapter cable, that plugs into a standard cell phone headset jack (2.5 mm stereo) and has a jackk for an earpiece on the other end. Or, make your own adapter. We use 3.5 mm (1/8") IFB cords, so our adapters are: Tip and Sleeve of 2.5 mm plug are connected, together, to Sleeve of the 3.5 mm jack; Ring of the plug goes to Tip of the jack. There appear to be a few ways to have digital vcellualr on "one end" and RJ-11 on the "other end" -- adapters and units from Tellular. I'm still researching Tellular's units, but it seems they make cell phones which don't have handsets, just RJ-11 jacks. In the past they didn't make tri-mode units (PCS, digital and analog cell), but I believe this may have changed.
As far as adapters go, I just got one which seems to do the trick. It's called a "MyLink," made by an Israeli company called Quasar Communications Systems, Ltd., and distributed here in the states by The High Tech Store. See their web page at http://www.thehightechstore.com/mylink.html. I've tested this unit on the bench, and it really does provide RJ-11 in and out of a cell phone.
But there are other adapters designed for use with PBXs which may be more robust than the MyLink. These are marketed to companies which have a lot of cellular users whose service plans have free cellular-to-cellular calling, as they provide an incoming cellular number and PBXs can be programmed to route outbound calls to cellular prefixes to the adapter. I'm still researching, and haven't tested one of these yet. If anyone else has, please let us know!
One important note: there is a an AD/DA delay inherent in digital cellular phone calls, so mix-minus, like for satellite shots, is needed when using digital phones for ENG IFB.
I'd appreciate hearing from anyone else who is also researching this!
From: Fred Lawrence
Research firm CENTRIS recently went out to small dish consumers and asked the question, "Why do people get DBS?"
What the company said it found was considerable differences in the primary reasons for getting satellite among various household segments. "What is noteworthy about this most recent wave of findings is the general consistency of motivators or perceived benefits afforded by DBS over the past couple of years and how they have shifted since the initial wave in 1998 when the early adopters were surveyed," said Jerilyn Kessel, author of the study and co-founder of CENTRIS.
"Quality of picture" continues to be the lead category with four out of five subscribers mentioning it as a reason for getting DBS, a figure CENTRIS said hasn't changed since its last study in 1998. "Greater number and variety of channels" follows at second. "Dissatisfaction with cable" ranked fourth with just under half citing it as an important reason for getting satellite.
Pay-per-view availability was cited by less than one- third as being an important reason, a figure that continues to decline. However, households with children were significantly more likely to site pay-per-view movies and "cost and value," professional sports and dissatisfaction with cable than were households with no children, CENTRIS said.
"As is true of most new technologies, once the installed base expands beyond early adopters, it is no longer a homogenous customer base so the products offered and the marketing messages must be tailored to the various customer segments," Kessel said. "There are some key differences why DirecTV and DISH Network households got a dish, which is not surprising given the geo-demographic difference between each of their customer bases."
I have a couple of observations: First, how come the folks who ran those physic hot lines didn’t know they were going to get busted? Next, the COE of Sun Microsystems, Scott McNealy, really put it well when he said: “People are claiming that they're seeing the bottom. I don't know where they're getting that data. They certainly didn't see the cliff, so how in the world can they see the bottom?” With that in mind, I present to you some other thoughts: Are they letting the wrong people go?
It’s been over twenty five years sense I was in the U.S. Navy, but my 16 years in Uncle Sam’s canoe club taught me a lot of things that still play a major role in the way I think even today. There is one incontrovertible fact that I’ll always remember and that is; the captain of the ship, or skipper, ran the show; without question!
When things didn’t go right, it was never the deck department, the operations department or any other part of the “ship’s company” that would get the blame; it was the captain! When operational commitments weren’t met, there was never a reduction in forces; it was the captain that got the ax or reprimanded. In fact, the worst thing to happen to a ship’s company was, and still is, a reduction in personnel.
With that in mind, it is difficult to understand the recent headlines that have been burning across the front pages of America’s newspapers and the lead stories on the nightly news: Lucent will be cutting 12,000 to 15,000 jobs or Hewlett-Packard reporting that it is cutting 6,000 jobs. HP even had the nerve to brag that this is the biggest job reduction in their 62-year history. These two companies are not the only ones who have had major job cuts; the list is obscenely long, in recent months.
This brings up the question: if these companies can exist with fewer people, why in hell did they hire them in the first place? If they really needed these folks to get where they are today, then how can they continue to function properly without them? What the bottom-feeding, scum-sucking bean counters and human resources people don’t tell you in these job-cut reports is that these are human beings not just numbers or statistics. The impact is fathomless. Many of the severed employees have families; nearly all have devoted their energies, given unbridled service and carved trenches of loyalty for their employers while making their companies the great successes they are today.
Seldom, if ever are these job cuts at the top of the chain. They are usually from the lower echelon; people whose annual salaries are in the $25,000 to $100,000 range. It would seem more logical to take the Navy’s approach. Go after those guys who got the company where it’s at. You know, the upper echelon, the skippers of the corporations; the guys whose salaries are in the upper half of the six figure range and on into seven figures – the one responsible for navigating the company into its condition. Just think, if the job cutting is a money savings issue, how many of the essential worker bees you could keep if you got rid of the guys at fault who make in the neighborhood of a million. If you took the Navy’s approach, you’d still have the folks who could perform and get things back on track. Perhaps these companies should look at the excess of human resources personal. After all, if the company is hurting, they’ll not be need needing but a small percentage of them. The same is true of the bean counters.
I remember when we had a particularly talented person in our crew; we’d do everything we could to keep them. When work was slack, we took the time to train and get ready for the next evolution of things. It would seem to me that there are certainly many jobs these talented thousands of people could do within the company to help retain them. One answer could be to loan them out to other companies; sort of a TAD situation. You could call them back when you needed them.
One company, so as not to loose their brain pool, had a heart-to-heart talk with their employees and let them know things were a little rocky. They had a play; those who’d cooperate could stay. Each person would take a cut in working hours to four days a week instead of five. Of course there was a corresponding reduction in pay, but it sure beats the hell out of hitting the bricks looking for a new job. Needless to say they were also promised a return to “normality” when things got better.
Just think of all the time it will take to get back up to speed and the expense of finding and or training replacement personnel, once the lull is over. The only time I can recall reductions in our personnel is when the command was being deactivated or the ship was going into mothballs. That’s tantamount to going out of business. I don’t believe Lucent or HP plan to do that; at least not right away.
Unless I’m mistaken, it’s the marketing department’s job to access the market their company sells to, come up with the products and services necessary to fill those needs and do what is necessary to let the world know what they’ve got so the sales department phones ring off their hooks with orders. Perhaps this is an oversimplification of the situation, but it is often wise to get back to basics. Do any of these marketing types remember the old saying: “Build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door.”? I’ve always held the philosophy that when things get tough, the tough get going – and I don’t mean out the door.
I can’t help but think that these RIFs (reduction-in-force) are the wrong way to go. Perhaps it’s time for a court of inquire, but in business, this is something that the stock holders have to bring about. Unfortunately things are so orchestrated in business today that this is nearly impossible. We can thank the next level up in the chain from those scum suckering bottom feeders mentioned above for this inability; these are the plethora of corporate attorneys. None of these folks are very productive when it comes getting the product out the door or the services rendered.
True this is not exactly a technical issue, but it is nearly inseparable from it. These two companies, and the others taking the same action, are so intertwined into the fabric of broadcasting that we must sit up and take notice. It will sooner later have its effect on us. It’s like unto a cancer and we all know that cancer must be stopped at all costs or it will destroy all that it encounters. I don’t pretend to have any answers to these observations, but I still can’t help but feel that we’re just not doing it right.
Yes, I think it’s time to take a lesson
from our seagoing mates and when things don’t go right, let’s start to
look at the skippers. Perhaps instead of getting rid of the people who
do the actual work, it’s time to new skippers who can successfully navigate
the company and get them off the rocks. That usually begins with a change-in-command
That’s it for this time; let’s go to press!
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