Comcast Hi-Def Expansion: Even more HD on the way?

December 19, 2010 by  
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We applauded Comcast’s efforts to expand their HD lineup a few months back, and now they’re looking to do even more, it appears from recent reports.

Comcast reports it added 50 new High-Definition channels in Philadelphia, making it the first Comcast area to offer 150 HD channels, and the new channels include BBC America HD, DIY HD, Ovation HD, PBS Kids Sprout HD and Smithsonian HD, all channels with niche content, but more HD is more HD, and we welcome it with open arms.

Comcast’s Xfinity promotion says it will dramatically boost the HD lineup in more cities in 2011, and that is long overdue and welcome news, indeed. Many markets got by with 30-50 total HD channels for years now, and now it seems they’re making up for lost time.

We Can Get Satisfaction: Survey reveals best and worst TV providers

October 9, 2010 by  
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A recent survey conducted by a major company highlights two things: The cost of TV and HD service is much too high for many people’s comfort nowadays, and the quality of a TV provider’s service can vary widely by region, it appears.

AT&T and Verizon customers are more satisfied with their HDTV service than their cable or satellite counterparts, according to J.D. Power and Associates, which measures customer happiness among many different products and services.

In 2010, AT&T’s U-verse ranked first in satisfaction among HDTV viewers in the West, South and North Central regions of the country. Verizon finished first in customer satisfaction in the East, while DIRECTV and Dish Network finished second and third respectively in the East. In the South and West, Verizon was second with DIRECTV third. So it seems to vary widely depending on where you are in the US.

But J.D. Power said that residential TV service customers are much less satisfied with the cost of their programs compared to 2009 ratings. The customer satisfaction score for all TV providers combined was 541, compared to 555 in 2009, so they have a little ground to make up. Cable customers in particular seemed to voice their objections to prices, but we have little confidence that companies will lower prices unless they need to.

Chicken Noodle Hi-Def: E’s The Soup now airing in HD

September 21, 2010 by  
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We rarely mention specific shows in these columns, but this one is a personal favorite: E Channel’s The Soup, a show that makes fun of reality shows and pop culture in general that’s pretty much right on for the most part. It’s hosted by sarcasm master Joel McHale, who has made a living out of being a snarky commentator.

In related news, after being on in SD since 2004, the show is now being produced in HD starting this week, and is airing in many markets in HD as of this writing. It’s about time, as the show has been pretty late about arriving in HD, and is a welcome addition for anyone who laughs at pop culture at large on a regular basis.

Oddly, DirecTV does not carry the show in HD, in yet another war with Comcast, one of its chief rivals.

More HD: Comcast adds up to 80 HD channels in many markets

August 7, 2010 by  
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We reported Comcast was scheduled to add up to 80 HD channels in many markets as of August, and indeed that did happen. What’s interesting is the way it was done: in two ‘pieces’, and the way it was done was awkward to say the least.

In mid-June the first ‘wave’ came of 60 HD channels, but they were spread around the 700′s and 900′s in very confusing fashion in many markets, and it made for a sloppy transition to say the least. We like the idea of more HD channels, but implementation can sometimes make or break a newer format, and the rollout of this was stinky, to put it nicely.

Now in August the channels were finally placed together and the remaining 20 channels were added, making for a very nice (if overdue in many markets) influx of HD content the likes of which many paying high Comcast bills had not seen previously. More HD is always good, we say. Hopefully future expansions and changes are done in a more organized manner.

Comcast Is The Greatest – Retraction Edition: 61 HD channels…eventually

June 21, 2010 by  
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Remember when I raved about Comcast finally waking up and adding more HD channels to many underserved HD markets? Well, they did it. Sorta.

It seems that now (according to their recent press release anyway) they’re splitting the addition of the channels into two ‘phases’: one where they add 45 or so channels right now, and adding 16 more channels…in August. In the meantime, there’s two sections of HD, one in the 700′s, and one still left over from its original home in the 900′s. It’s a royal mess, to say the least, and leaving it this way another month+, even more of a mess.

Well, we’ll get our HD, which is a good thing. But i’m personally not crazy about the way they’re implementing it at all. It’s screwy and disorganized, but some new channels is better than none at all.

Big HD Changes: Comcast/Xfinity getting into the swing of high-def

June 13, 2010 by  
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In the coming weeks, the landscape of HD will be undergoing a big change, at least in the world of cable/Comcast. Starting next week, many markets will be adding lots of HD channels to their lineups, using the freed bandwidth from the digital transition.

Talk about changing the game: most markets will add 30-50 new HD channels that don’t have them already, and it’ll be a bright new HD world for many US citizens. We celebrate the courage and forward thinking of Comcast (now branded Xfinity in some markets) to add some much-overdue content to many systems. This writer has endured 2 years+ of a paltry 32 HD channels, with little to no changes. The added 40+ channels will really do me personally some real good, and (in my area anyway) will be added June 16th, as will much of the Southwest.

It should also help push up the market for HDTV sales as well, as more content always leads to more sales.

More 3D Joy: AT&T U-Verse to offer ESPN 3D right away, for a small fee

June 10, 2010 by  
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We’re just 2 short days away from the launch of the first full-on 3D HDTV channel in the US, and U-verse will be ready to rock and roll, if early reports are to be believed. The third broadcaster to announce it will carry ESPN 3D after DirecTV and Comcast already jumped into the party, it did stand out from the crowd by also announcing it will charge an extra fee to people requiring the 3D mojo on their systems, the only one to do so.

$10 per month adds the “3D Technology Package” to your U-verse viewing package — similar to Comcast and different from DirecTV’s approach, it will work with existing boxes but will require a switch to “3d” mode on the box, which is an interesting compromise without needing to replace existing boxes, which we like.

Color us a bit skeptical even so about the future of 3D TV in the mainstream, even if others think differently, including ESPN. Here’s to hoping this HD 3D trend doesn’t fade into the sunset in the near future, wasting millions of dollars in the process.

Slow Road to Ruin: Comcast loses subscribers, growing trend

April 30, 2010 by  
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Comcast this morning has announced some rather grim numbers (and shouldn’t shock any who follow the technology trends): it lost 82,000 video/TV subscribers in the first quarter, which follows an even larger loss in last year’s fourth quarter. The issue (seemingly): slow adoption of HD channels in many markets, not to mention growing cost.

The numbers: Comcast lost 199,000 video customers in the fourth quarter of 2009, meaning the company lost 623,000 TV subs for all of 2009, which is a pretty large number and would really hurt most companies. The setback follows a substantial decline in 2008 when it lost 575,000 video subscribers, which together is over 1 million customers. You would think Comcast would get the message (lower rates and more HD would have kept many of those customers, more than likely).

Comcast really needs to step up their HD adoption in many big markets, where it still averages around 50 or fewer channels, including large states like FL, MI and CA, to regain back some of its lost market share.

More?: Comcast possibly to compress HD further

March 22, 2010 by  
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Comcast_logoIt’s been rumored (and only rumored) that Cable supplier Comcast is looking for methods to compress HD channels even more than they already do, according to various sources. Because this isn’t quite true anymore.

Their HD is already fairl compressed, and there are other alternatives to this sort of action: weaning off analog channels, deploying SDV and still others move VOD to IP or they could start using more efficient codecs like H.264 for their signals.

As supporters of HD in general, we oppose this sort of thing on principle. Hopefully, Comcast rethinks this sort of action, even though it may result in more choices and channels being carried to subscribers, because the more compression, the lower the quality. We like HD because it looks sharper and clearer, not similar to analog channels because of excess compression.

Comcast HD Channel Expansion: It’s About Time

November 30, 2009 by  
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084_comcastThe rumor mill is flowing, and its been confirmed: Comcast plans on almost doubling the HD channel lineup in Maryland in these coming weeks, to about 90. About 46 new HD channels in Baltimore County, Maryland, which is something Comcast customers have been complaining about for some time now.

Channels will include Bravo HD, Hallmark Movie Channel HD, HSN HD, MGM HD, Nick HD and The Weather Channel HD (??), mostly useful and solid channels. Now we’re hoping this is a successful, easy launch, so that they’ll think about making this expansion spread westward and all over the US.

Some areas are still stuck with minimal selection of channels, and that more than anything is contributing to people not being too excited about HD in those areas.

We wait and watch anxiously.

Same Day Service: Comcast promising more ‘Same Day as Shelf’ VOD HD releases

November 8, 2009 by  
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12-11-07-comcast_logoThose of you who are lucky enough (or unlucky, depending on where you are in the US) to have Comcast cable TV may find solace in their very nice On-Demand services, and now they’re promising even quicker VOD delivery to their systems, in some cases the same day as it comes out on video, which is quite a promise.

This week for example, Angels & Demons and Bruno are among their releases “same day” on their VOD system, almost making up for the $5-6 price tag for 24 hour “rentals” on their system. Their HD  does look very nice admittedly, and for 99 cents we’d be all over them.

That being said, some consider the convenience worth it. Your mileage may vary.

News: HD channel expansion on the way

August 16, 2009 by  
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cs_hdtvIt seems that Comcast and DirecTV are finally getting the picture and expanding their HDTV lineup in several states, which no doubt will trickle into other states as time goes on. No timetable as of yet for spreading the love to other states, but we assume its only a matter of time.

Tennessee and Florida are both getting big HD lineup boosts this month with the addition of 13 new HD channels in Nashville, and 6 new HD channels coming in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s a huge hurdle for Comcast, as some subscribers have complained of languishing choices in some markets, and this will (hopefully) put those complaints to rest.

More HD channel news details here.

Thought: Is there such a thing as just HD TV service?

July 29, 2009 by  
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dish_network041108We’ve gotten this question a few times, just because some of our users and readers won’t watch anything below 720p as a matter of principle.

As far as we know, Dish Network’s TurboHD is the only sort of service like this we know of, and its a shame. There now would be a market for this kind of thing, assuming other providers would jump in. It seems many are happy with the service, but wish that Comcast or some other large provider would provide a service like this.

We don’t blame users, but feel free to chime in: would you pay for a high quality all HD service with hundreds of channels? Or did the failure of previous attempts seal the fate of ventures like these?

Stepping Up: AT&T adds 6 new MTV-based channels to their U-verse packages

May 15, 2009 by  
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1-15-09-mtv_low_resMore HD channel choice is a rallying cry we’ve been shouting for awhile now, and some companies are really listening (and some aren’t, as we’ve reported). AT&T has started to listen, adding 6 new HD channels to their U-Verse packages.

The channels: MTV HD, VH1 HD, CMT HD, Nickelodeon HD, COMEDY CENTRAL HD and Spike HD add up to lots of music and entertainment in HD, which always sets our pulse to racing.

Hopefully other companies sit up and take notice, while AT&T now has packages offering over 100 HD channels, which should bring in a few customers, we would think. We’ll keep an eye on other companies and see how they respond to this shot over the bow aimed at Comcast, DirecTV and other providers.

Out On A Limb: Akamai predicts more HD video online

April 24, 2009 by  
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20071030-akamai_hd_webSure, Akamai helped put together a IDC whitepaper finding smooth playback and high res is important to the majority of online audiences — services it provides, of course, but the results are pretty much common knowledge anyway. This article is relevant mainly because the more HD expands to various audiences – both online and offline – the better positioned it’ll be in the future.

Last year a survey they conducted (also rather self-serving) found 75% of broadcasters wanting to do HD online and in the last year, we’ve had a huge revolution in HD content on the net, from the Olympics to the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and cable/satellite providers adding more selection in HD like DirecTV, DISH and Comcast.

The gist of this report: Publishers need to release and continue to advance HD streaming to keep up with the the Joneses, video quality is really key to a user’s experience, and HD means users will be happier. We could’ve told you that, minus all the legwork that went into this paper.

Changes: Comcast digital transition to add more HD channels, among other goodies

April 18, 2009 by  
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12-3-08-comcast-dtaThis has nothing to do with the regular TV switch to digital, but could impact our HD choices on cable in the future (which is in need of an upgrade, seriously). Comcast is ready to start weaning customers off of analog equipment and starting to make room for more HD channels (yes!), DOCSIS 3.0 high speed Internet and digital wonders we all like to hear about, and it’ll resume with Boston and Atlanta, as of several sources.

Called internally “Project Cavalry” it’s not removing all analog channels, but it appears around 40 of them, and as the FCC has directed giving customers two digital terminal adapters (seen in the pic) and a fully digital box for free — so long as you subscribe to Comcast. It’s a big step forward to TV and digital HD in general, and it’s about time.

According to the blog Cable Digital News, Chattanooga, TN managed to gain 22 new high definition networks and 50Mb Internet service after this same Comcast revamp, and that’s enough to make us pretty excited for this to happen all over the country.

Panasonic announces Tru2Way HDTV line

October 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Panasonic, Product News, TV Brands

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Panasonic and Comcast, one of the largest cable providers in the United States this week announced the launch of the first Tru2way HDTVs in the US, the Panasonic TH-42PZ80Q and TH-50PZ80Q models. Tru2way is the name for a technology from CableLabs that its marketers say will eliminate cable set top boxes completely; it will be built into the TV itself.

Comcast customers in the Chicago and Denver regions will be the first in the U.S. to have access to tru2way digital cable service with additional cities expected to be added in the coming 3-6 months. No cable company in Canada has announced that it would participate in the Tru2way technology for now.

According to both companies, the Panasonic tru2way HDTVs will allow cable subscribers to access all the services they currently receive through their set top box including all on-screen guides, and on demand services. The main purpose for consumers is the removal of the bulk and cables associated with a traditional external cable set-top box.

The Panasonic TH-42PZ80Q and TH-50PZ80Q will be add-ons to Panasonic’s VIERA series of Plasma HDTVs. The TH-42PZ80Q and TH-50PZ80Q plasmas will sell for $1,599.95 and $2,299.95 USD respectively.