The 59th Grammy Awards

I just watched the first hour and five minutes of the Grammy Awards, and I made it a point to watch them on my . I do not feel like writing which channel I used to do so, and one reason is the fact that by the time the reader reads this, the Grammy Awards Show will be over.

I do want to note that the performance of this device was good. There were some brief interruptions due to buffering, but this is easily explained by the extraordinarily high number of viewers who tuned in, just to stream them over the Internet.

The Grammy Performances were indeed very good.

Dirk

 

1970s TV was usually not distributed on videotape.

I am detecting that our present, retro-style depiction of how life worked in the 1970s, often assumes details which may not be 100% accurate historically. And one such detail would be, that if television stations in the 1970s were disseminating an analog signal, that signal must have been recorded on videotape.

Videotape existed at a much earlier point in time, but was hamstrung in its conception, to not being able to cover color signal-formats. This was due to an inability of the playback-device, to ensure a stable frequency for the color sub-carrier. It was only a much later development, that color videotape formats became possible, because of the ability to use VCOs, PLLs, and other elements of a feedback loop, to Heterodyne the frequency of the color information on the tape, and then to produce an output which had strict control over its frequencies, based on the accuracy of a single quartz crystal in the playback device. We needed numerous Integrated Circuits to accomplish that, and the earliest videotape machines only had tubes.

Early radio-transmitters also needed to have one quartz crystal, for every frequency it was licensed to transmit on. It required later technology, to be able to transmit on numerous accurate frequencies, yet only to possess one quartz crystal. And quartz crystals tended to be expensive, before they started to be mass-produced to resonate at one standard frequency.

What TV stations in the 1970s had was a device, into which 16mm emulsion film was fed, which was also a standard photographic film-format at the time, and that captured video from this photographic movie-film, translated it into an analog video signal – in color – that signal to be transmitted as it was being output from this machine. So content was actually distributed to the TV stations, on film.

And the notion did not exist yet, that in order to capture the film content would require scanning it with a laser. Instead, the same type of video-capture tubes were used in this machine, that were used in video-cameras for live broadcasting, which were also quite large and bulky. And Yes, this required one video-capture tube for each primary color – in practice though not in theory.

For TV, the image on one frame of the film was brought into focus – using a lens – on 3 capture-tubes, the light-input to which was split by reflectors.

This also affects how we watch the old movies today.

Continue reading 1970s TV was usually not distributed on videotape.

Internet TV and Bit-Rates

When we hook up our Internet TV box for the first time, we are allowed – in most cases – to set our TV resolution to 1080p. But the reality today is, that this resolution does not by itself state the picture quality.

Such video streams are sent to the receiver in compressed format, and the compressed bit-rate is a more accurate indication of what the actual picture quality will be. I.e., even if the basic format is 1920×1080, by compressing the stream more, lower bit-rates can be achieved, at the expense of picture quality.

Modern Internet TV boxes are quite intelligently programmed, to be able to change the bit-rate in mid-stream. Thus, when my ‘‘ started buffering, during an initial test, it did not only allow for its buffer to catch up with the point in the movie I was watching, but also noted that the real bit-rate of my connection was not high enough to support the highest quality level, available at 1080p. Immediately after that, the picture seemed slightly less sharp, but as I continued to watch, the overall quality of the picture started to recover again.

My has never had a streaming-interruption since then.

In fact, the way it is with HDMI connections to our TV, it is impractical for the source of the stream to change the picture-format in mid-stream. It tends to stay fixed.

And when we compare – which is a service offered by my ISP, also to stream TV to me via DSL – its reason for maintaining a consistent picture-quality is actually different. In this case, the bit-rate of the stream is reserved at the Modem / Router, which also belongs to Bell. I.e., the Bell Modem can ensure that a certain rate of bits per second are available for TV, and can do so at the expense of actual computers also trying to communicate. My is counted by the Bell Modem, as just another connected WiFi client.

What this actually means, is that if another person is considering buying a , but worried that his Internet is not fast enough – as long as he does have some form of high-speed Internet – he need not worry much. The receiver would detect his slow connection, and adjust the picture quality to suit.

Also, with a , we get to set the picture format to 720p instead, so that the required bit-rates start at a slower one.

If my TV was a 4K TV, I could set the format accordingly, but then I would worry, that this might be time and money wasted, because then, the picture quality on my network might not keep up with the 4K format.

Dirk

 

The Roku Remote

I feel like I might want to add some constructive criticism, about the new playback device, of which I just bought one, as described in this posting.

The designers have made some progressive statements in how they designed this hardware, that range from only taking up circuit-board space with modern, HDMI output, to designing a novel remote-control. I think that although I like many of the concepts that wen into the remote, there is some room for improvement.

This remote has a headphone-jack, so that we do not need to plug any headphones into our TV or into our stationary devices, which may be located on the other side of the living room, from where we sit. The first thing I would typically test about that, is whether the sound from the TV actually does mute, when we plug in headphones. And in fact, this works as it should.

That headphone jack came bundled with headphones for me to use, right out-of-the-box. I suppose this comment might seem petty, considering that this is a standard jack, into which I could plug an any headphones I supply. But in the included headphones, the Right ear-piece could be labeled more clearly, to distinguish it from the Left ear-piece. They look nearly identical, and the tiny ‘R’ stamped into the Right piece, might be hard for people to read, whose vision is not 100%.

Okay, but now I am done with the trivial details.

The remote has 4 pre-assigned buttons, for 4 possible channels, which the designers felt that their users would want to visit most-frequently. Netflix is one of them, but there are 3 more. These buttons save us the possible hassle, of navigating a menu, to the channel we want to view most-frequently.

The problem with this is, that depending on what a certain user prefers, the other 3 channels might not be set up. They are, as usual, free to install, but then we need to enter the log-in information into our , to connect to each of the accounts. What if we do not have these accounts? For example, ‘‘ was randomly chosen to deserve a button on its own, and yet I would find it impractical to set up a account, to use for the duration.

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