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DISH first to broadcast live 1080p TV

updated 10:35 am EDT, Thu July 31, 2008

DISH 1080p TV

Satellite TV provider DISH Network today became the first known TV broadcaster to put out video in a full 1080p (1920x1080 progressive) resolution. Starting with an August 1st Video On Demand option for the movie I Am Legend, DISH says it will start offering 1080p whenever the content is available rather than the lower-resolution 1080i (interlaced) or 720p HD normally aired on DISH and other TV services. Using VOD effectively gives the image quality of Blu-ray but at a lower price than renting a disc, the satellite firm claims.

The upgrade in resolution isn't available for all subscribers but will be a no-charge addition for anyone who owns an HD DVR capable of playing MPEG-4 video. A software upgrade will be pushed out at the same time as the 1080p service that enables playing the video format, though no mention is made of supporting the HD resolution for recording regular TV shows.

Also launching today are a new set of channel bundles known as TurboHD that are purportedly the first in the market to offer customers a package that only contains HD stations. DISH doesn't say what the packages contain but explains that they start at $25 per month. Existing customers with a standard-definition bundle can pay an extra $10 per month to get extra HD content.

The advancement is described as possible courtesy of a new satellite addition that will significantly expand the number of HD channels DISH can carry to 150 by the fall.

Such a breakthrough closes one of the perceived gaps between TV and pre-recorded forms of HD such as Blu-ray and digital downloads. While downloads in particular are rarely offered in 1080p, both these and Blu-ray often provide better image quality than most live TV, which has been hampered by the frequent need to heavily compress the signal as well as a scarcity of channels. TV nonetheless has the advantage of reducing storage limits on the customer's end, which have contributed to the maximum 720p limit on Apple TV and Xbox 360 movie rentals.

by MacNN Staff



  1. randombob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    If they Compress 1080i...

    ... how much compression is the 1080p content going to endure?

    1080p is wonderful. Choppy, pixelated 1080p will suck at least as much as choppy, pixelated 1080i.

    Yay name-badging & Marketing, I guess :-(

  1. jhawk95

    Joined: Dec 1969



    If it is "I Am Legend", how is it "live"?

    Are Will Smith and the entire cast going to do a live telecast of the show?

    Live in TV Land means something happening at this minute, now, on location. An example will be the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics which will also NOT be broadcast live in the States due to the time difference with China. We will see it approximately 18 hours after it has happened.

    Please change your headline to reflect this is not Live 1080p Tv but the first full 1080p broadcast of a movie instead.

  1. csimon2

    Joined: Dec 1969


    1080i vs 1080p

    A common misconception is that broadcast 1080i is lower resolution than 1080p. If both formats are broadcasted at the same Hz, then this is correct. But all 1080i is broadcasted at 60Hz. While 1080p can be broadcasted at 60Hz, I seriously doubt that this is the case with Echostar (mostly because this is for VOD and not live events, and likely all of their VOD for this 1080p broadcasting is going to be film-based). Most likely, the 1080p is going to be broadcasted at 24Hz, and then decoded by the set top box with pulldown enabled to convert to 60Hz so that it will play back on most TVs correctly. And it is this method that can may or may not be beneficial for some TVs.

    1) If your TV can perform an inverse telecine on 1080i film-based material (thereby taking the 60Hz back down to its native 24Hz) and display at a Hz divisible by 24, then you're already good to go with the current 1080i method. 2) If your TV doesn't have this capability, then the 1080p method is the way to go. Motion won't be any better than 1080i but overall sharpness and clarity likely will be. 3) If the Dish STB can output at a native 1080p24 and your TV can accept the 1080p24 native signal and then display at a Hz that is a divisable of 24, then this is going to be the ideal method (because you won't have to rely on your TV removing all of the telecine material).

    The real benefit for Dish to broadcast at 1080p is that they will be able to get better compression efficiency and results than they would at 1080i. If Dish only has 8Mbps to broadcast at, having to encode the same content, once at 1080i60Hz versus another at 1080p24, they should see about a 25% better picture quality with the 1080p. And that is where the real advantage of broadcasting in 1080p for films will be. Dish should be able to push out better quality pictures at the same bandwidth than they were previously capable of doing with 1080i.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Live

    Please change your headline to reflect this is not Live 1080p Tv but the first full 1080p broadcast of a movie instead.

    No, they are saying it is 'live' as in "we broadcast it, you see it", as opposed to other things, where they 'broadcast' it by sending it to your DVR or AppleTV, say, and you can hit 'play' at some point after the download began (while the AppleTV can play while it is downloading - given enough lead time to not overtake your broadband speed, others don't allow you to play until it has finished downloading).

  1. G4_Kessel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What they don't tell you is their equipment and service is terrible. Our Aunt had Dish for a couple months. We told her not to go with them, but she did anyway because they were cheaper. After a couple months of DVR freezes, trashed recordings and terrible customer service, she cancelled and went to DirecTV. She's been 100% satisfied ever since. My wife and I have been with DirecTV since 1999. To me this is just Dish's way of trying to get more customers. All I know is DirecTV has a better DVR, better service and a h*** of a lot more HD programming.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: whatever

    Well, DirecTV HAD a better DVR, when it used TiVO. But the new ones just blew (it was like Vista - lots of things missing, lots of fluff, incredibly complicated to do something that should be easy, and lots of promises and talk about "It looks like it'll be great! I'm sure once they iron out the kinks, and add in the missing features, it'll be better than TiVO!".

    Then mine broke, and I didn't care anymore.

  1. muralia

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Dish TruHD va NTSC TV

    I have a NTSC only TV bought from USA. TV model is Sony bravia KDL-40v2500. This TV does not take PAL signal. Now , India's Dish TV has comeup with HD STBs, I would like to know if HDMI from the STB is connected to TV , will it be able to display correctly ? Dish TV TruHD has a HDMI setting in the STB to output at 1920x1080i@50Hz or 1920x1080i@60Hz. Since my TV supports 60Hz ( as its a NTSC TV) , if the output is set to 60Hz , will it work with my TV ? Any other HDMI requirements to be met ?

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