Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse

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Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse

For some reason, I believe it is best to post this here - with the unrealistic hopes that someone with enough technical knowledge at AT&T can answer my question, providing enough background information.

 

Let me start by saying I'm very happy to no longer have to deal with Time Warner. When I was approached about AT&T Uverse, it was just as I had moved into a new house, and hadn't made the decision of which provider utilize. The persistent, but pleasant Uverse rep who repeatedly visited my house didnt understand my various IP configuration and internet latency questions (Oh, yeah - I'm a netadmin) - but she was quick to get them answered for me, so that I would purchase the service. Something that seems to be rare in salespeople nowadays.

 

I've always been a bit of a "techie", I suppose, enough to understand bitrate, compression, and terms like this. Aside from this, I've also set up my share of video streaming systems.

 

Now that I have AT&T, I am becoming increasingly annoyed with the lack of video bandwidth. It seems like they are using low fixed bit-rate MPEG4 compression - on both regular TV and HD, when not a lot is happening on the screen - EXCELLENT picture. BUT, as soon as many things change on the screen, MAJOR jpeg-like pixelation, and the color gamut is reduced (instead of 16 levels of black, you see 2 - I've noticed that some of you think this is HD TV calibration. normally, yes - but not in AT&T's case) - tell-tale fixed bit-rate. For those who don't notice - possibly the majority - good for AT&T. I can understand the tradeoff for QOS (Quality of Service).

 

Local stations look TERRIBLE; but I suppose that's their[local station's] fault for providing AT&T with a badly encoded stream. 

 

This is where I will have to say - I miss Time Warner. For those of us who know better - at least Time Warner seemed to provide a picture that didn't sometimes look like a low-quality mpg video emailed to you by your cousin Stevie. For the most part, broadcast (antenna) where it is still available is better quality. Watching, '"Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" on HBO on demand was great, until the very end where everything moves in the store - well I'm not sure, I couldn't make it out. 

 

I suppose, at current, I'd rather have better customer service (AT&T) and occasionally bad picture quality than to have to deal with Time Warner's lack of customer records retention, and satisfaction. Uptime is better, and the 2WIRE device is outstanding for administration/wireless.

 

In the end, however, I'd really like an answer as to why I'm paying the same amount for lower quality - I wish to know if there's anyone else out there experiencing this, whom understands bitrate/compression and how the "channels", or streams - work amongst their home network.

 

Thank you for your time,

 

-Todd Potter 

 

 

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Re: Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse

I could be wrong but I thought that the cable companies with the exception of FIOS was using MPEG 2 and AT&T was using MPEG 4.
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Re: Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse

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Re: Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse

I have seen articles like this. I beleive the benefit of MPEG2 is region shifting without loss of color gamut. So, yes, more pixelation - but if the color gamut is still there it is less noticable.

 

In the end, this articles mentions nothing about CTV variable bitrates.

 

-T

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Re: Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse


tpotter wrote:

I have seen articles like this. I believe the benefit of MPEG2 is region shifting without loss of color gamut. So, yes, more pixelation - but if the color gamut is still there it is less noticeable.

 

In the end, this articles mentions nothing about CTV variable bitrates.

 

-T


 

First of all I have to tell you that I am not with AT&T. I have been around TV for quite some time though.

 

As far as gray scale range and color gamut, there is no difference that I can discern. This is based upon my own test images from Flicker as well as having watched a lot of tv with both TW and U-verse.

 

I did find that some adjustment of the black level was required. With this change, I find U-verse quite comparable to anything else with the exception of the way motion artifacts show up. There are several common things that are different from TW. For one, static fine detail is subject to an update rate of about once per second. This shows up as a slight once per second jump in the fine detail areas. With TW, this same sort of detail would be very squirmy and difficult for me to watch so I prefer U-verse here. There are times when transparent detail like fog or clouds seem to be treated in a similar way. This does not seem to happen very often but it does cause cloud motion to also jump about once per second.

 

As for pixelation, it generally appears to me that it starts to become visible slightly sooner with U-verse vs motion but it never gets as bad as fast motion with TW. For example with football, I can sometimes discern pixelation at the edges of a runner in a fairly wide shot.

 

From time to time I do see terrible pixelation in the fine detail background of some video but I'm not so sure that it is actually a fault of U-verse. I seem to be seeing more and more of this with all sources. Even OTA does not seem to be immune to this and I have seen examples of this that are far worse then the norm for U-verse.

 

U-verse does use a capped variable rate scheme so there is really no way of knowing what the actual bit rate might be. It is believed to be capped at 6Mbs for HD but that is not to say that all HD might actually peak at 6Mbs or that it might not actually exceed that at times. From what I have read, AT&T actually has more concerns about the capacity of their network than the local connections so that may drive them to use lower bitrates for some programming while allowing higher bitrates for others. This may be especially true for the program providers that require a minimum level of quality.

 

My bottom line is that I see some difference but I find the picture more viewable than TW. I also like the fact that the DVR does not crash if you use it a lot and all of the other issue that went with TW.

 

I also fine the SD PQ to be substantially better than TW particularly on the TW channels that are still analog. IMHO FWIW

Message 5 of 12 (2,262 Views)
Master

Re: Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse

fwiw i do not think it is capped   imho

 

graph.jpg

http://192.168.1.254/xslt?PAGE=M01

 

 

 

my slant

randy

 

Message Edited by randyl on 03-15-2009 05:36 PM
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Re: Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse

I know the hd I am getting is not as good as the cox I replaced, very noticible, but I guess it's a trade off for more channels at a lower price.

 

 

when not a lot is happening on the screen - EXCELLENT picture. BUT, as soon as many things change on the screen, MAJOR jpeg-like pixelation, and the color gamut is reduced (instead of 16 levels of black, you see 2

 


 

 

Exactly.

Message Edited by xsquid on 03-15-2009 05:15 PM
Message Edited by xsquid on 03-15-2009 05:17 PM
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Re: Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse


randyl wrote:

fwiw i do not think it is capped   imho

 

graph.jpg

http://192.168.1.254/xslt?PAGE=M01

 

 

 

my slant

randy

 

Message Edited by randyl on 03-15-2009 05:36 PM

The Internet connection speed is not strictly capped. It is allowed to use bandwidth allocated to the video if it is not required by the video and if the average transfer rate does not exceed the subscribed tier of Internet performance. I see this too. I have the 6Mbs Internet and I see it peak at over 20Mbs if there are transmission delays. Even with two HD streams running it will still peak at over 15Mbs at times. The video or phone does take priority over the Internet though.

 

The video is supposedly capped at some limit. From what I have read, the cap is about 7.5Mbs for an HD stream with up to 1.5Mbs of this dedicated to Multi-channel audio. I believe that this is where the 6Mbs number comes from. SD is allowed 2Mbs and the Internet 6Mbs. From my math this adds up to 7.5 + 7.5 + 2 + 2 + 6 = 25Mbs. Since the video bandwidth required at any one instant in time is quite variable, this allows a large amount of it to be available for use by the Internet connection.

 

 

Message Edited by lrdiver on 03-16-2009 12:26 AM
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Re: Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse

fwiw

 

 

 

to me its a very large variable and swings alot depending on  the scene (whites)  etc

try the link and test your therories ?

 

 

my slant

randy

Message Edited by randyl on 03-16-2009 12:30 PM
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Re: Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse

Yeh, I think Randy proved it was variable a while ago.

 

I also switched from Time Warner and noticed major problems combined with some extremely good foreground images.  The pros just outweigh the cons for me.

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Re: Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse


randyl wrote:

fwiw

 

 

 

 

to me its a very large variable and swings alot depending on  the scene (whites)  etc

try the link and test your theories ?

 

 

my slant

randy

Message Edited by randyl on 03-16-2009 12:30 PM

Thanks Randy! I was not aware of that screen. It's quite interesting.

 

It was not my theory. It was from a power point presentation from AT&T a few years ago. Looking at those graphs, it looks to me that the video can indeed peak at much higher data rates than what I claimed. I suspect that possibly they have improved their QOS algorithm since that presentation. Then again, the presentation may have been inaccurate. :smileysad:

 

I see some HD channels that peak at well over 10Mbs so the claim of 7.5Mbs is certainly too low. Of course the data rates are so variable with an MPEG 4 stream that I am not surprised that they would try to take more advantage of that. 

 

Thanks again!

 

 

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Re: Bitrate/Picture quality TimeWarner vs Uverse

Help.  I had u-verse for 6 months, it was a mess, after 16 techs and 3 dvrs I was finally told I was to far away from the junction box to ever get good service.  Now, it looks like a new box was installed just around the corner from me, many days of ATT trucks out there and all of a sudden a box that was not there before has appeared.  No one at ATT can tell me if it is a new box, don't want another tech out, but would go back to ATT in a heartbeat if I knew a closer box was available.  Can anyone help me figure this out???  Thanks to all ideas.

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