Is Europe Finally Going HD?

A

admin

Audioholics Robot
Staff member
You may assume that because we have a relatively high amount of HDTV content here in the US that the same is true for all other Western countries. This is not only far from true, it's... well, yeah it's pretty much just far from true. Residents of the UK, for example, have not had much access to HDTV programming for various reasons - most of them infrastructure based... and even some ultimately political in nature.


Discuss "Is Europe Finally Going HD?" here. Read the article.
 
B

Buckeye_Nut

Audioholic Field Marshall
You may assume that because we have a relatively high amount of HDTV content here in the US that the same is true for all other Western countries. This is not only far from true, it's... well, yeah it's pretty much just far from true. Residents of the UK, for example, have not had much access to HDTV programming for various reasons - most of them infrastructure based... and even some ultimately political in nature.


Discuss "Is Europe Finally Going HD?" here. Read the article.
Isnt TV broadcasting in Europe largely government funded & controlled by government flunky's compared to the the USA?

Because of that, they're lagging behind in a self induced public broadcasting stone age?
 
Last edited:
Clint DeBoer

Clint DeBoer

Banned
Lol... I had a whole long conversation with Stuart over at AVForums.com in the UK. They have some very strange ideas over there (in an American's opinion, mind you) but one thing I realized is that their system has ALWAYS been that way. They didn't go from free market TV to where they are - TV was always taxpayer funded.

We are co-authoring a VERY cool article on it so that people get a glimpse inside of what UK consumers experience every day.
 
S

sploo

Full Audioholic
We're certainly lagging behind in terms of HD here in the UK, however it's worth pointing out that we have had commercial TV since 1955! The BBC is state owned, and started TV broadcasting in 1932 (according to wikipedia) and was joined by the commercial company ITV a bit over 20 years later.

We have a nationwide analogue terrestrial broadcast system (very much SD), consisting of a small number of channels, and a digital terrestrial system called Freeview. There is a much larger selection of channels on Freeview, but it is SD, and the bitrate is pretty low.

There are other offerings - numerous cable and satellite systems, but HD broadcasts haven't been available for that long, and I understand there's not that much content in HD (apart from films).

The price of kit here in the UK is certainly a problem, but I do wonder if the size of UK TVs is also an issue. Having seen a couple of HD movies at a friend's place (on a mid/high priced 32" LCD) I was impressed, but not enough to go out and spend money.

Due to the lack of space, I believe the trend in the UK is that new houses are being built smaller than old ones, and even in my (by UK standards) large living room, I don't think anything much bigger than 36" would be practical.

So far, I'm not totally convinced that a HD source on a 32" display offers enough over a high bitrate progressive DVD picture to justify spending lots of cash.

HD consoles like the PS3 may help accelerate the push, but the 60GB unit will set you back over 850USD here (without any games/movies).
 
Last edited:
D

djoxygen

Full Audioholic
We were in London in March. I want to point out that the dollar-to-pound conversion isn't as simple as saying a $1500 HDTV costs the equivalent of $3000 for a Brit.

The best way to compare isn't exchange rate, but "Purchasing Power Parity". I won't go into the details of that measurement, but will present some real-world examples.

I wouldn't buy one even in America, but we saw ads for a KFC sandwich that would have cost us $6 to "enjoy". Prepared food for an American tourist in London seems insanely expensive, but people there don't get paid, say, 15,000 pounds for a job that would pay $30,000 in the States.

We also saw ads calling for teachers. Starting pay for a fully qualified K-12 teacher was around 20,000 pounds. It's tough for a K-12 teacher in the U.S. to ever make $40,000/yr.

Many things are also far less than dollar-for-pound. To keep our food expenses down, we hit a nearby grocery store and stashed some chow in our hotel room 'fridge. The number at the bottom of the receipt was about .75x what it would have been in Minneapolis, so around 50% more expensive in real dollars, but probably quite close to Purchasing Power Parity for a UK resident.

Electronics are more subject to the whims of currency exchange because they're more global products than the food examples. There are consistent complaints that consumer electronics are too expensive across the pond. But when the buying power of a pound is compared to the buying power of a dollar, it's not nearly the 100% premium the dollar-for-pound comparison implies.
 
S

sploo

Full Audioholic
Some good points there - especially about electronics. Last time I was in the Czech Republic, my Czech friends told me there was roughly a 5 to 1 ratio in terms of wages and goods prices to the UK. Sure enough, most stuff was really cheap - except for electronics, which cost about the same as the UK - hence they are hugely expensive for Czechs.

However... comparing prices/wages in London isn't representative of the rest of the UK. London prices are very high, and we have a term 'London weighting', which is 'an allowance paid to staff working in the UK capital to help offset the additional expense of living in the city.'

The 'Purchasing Power Parity' concept is an interesting one. Us Europeans are always comparing wages/tax/costs within the EU - the grass is always greener and all that...
 
C

corey

Senior Audioholic
I do wonder if the size of UK TVs is also an issue. Having seen a couple of HD movies at a friend's place (on a mid/high priced 32" LCD) I was impressed, but not enough to go out and spend money.

Due to the lack of space, I believe the trend in the UK is that new houses are being built smaller than old ones, and even in my (by UK standards) large living room, I don't think anything much bigger than 36" would be practical.
One of the advantages of HD is that you can sit closer to the display & still have good image quality. HD is can have more benefits for small spaces than large.
 
Geno

Geno

Senior Audioholic
Socialism doesn't make things free

With all the talk about the U.S.'s staggering healthcare costs compared to Europe, do Europeans really think their healthcare is "free"? ;)
 
S

sploo

Full Audioholic
One of the advantages of HD is that you can sit closer to the display & still have good image quality. HD is can have more benefits for small spaces than large.
That's a fair point - I was taking a close look at a mate's PS3 game (on his 32" HD LCD) and you could see that there's plenty of detail. Freeview pictures (SD) often look pretty ropey on a 32" TV if you get up close.

I run a projector down the length of my living room, and with a screen size of around 100" you can certainly see the need for HD over SD DVDs.

With all the talk about the U.S.'s staggering healthcare costs compared to Europe, do Europeans really think their healthcare is "free"? ;)
*LOL* I was considering making a sarcastic comment about healthcare in one of my earlier posts. :p

It's mixed, if you're in a serious accident and need treatment right now then the UK health system is usually pretty good - basically, the more serious the injury the higher the priority, and you will get treated for free.

If it's not life threatening, then you can expect to wait many months for treatment, so if you consider it serious (and want treatment faster) then you might end up paying anyway.

EDIT: *LOL* Just noticed your subject line "Socialism doesn't make things free". I think you need to take a closer look at European politics over the last twenty years. Just because Bush/Cheney are slightly to the right of Genghis Khan doesn't mean the EU is socialist. Privatisation, selling important basic services off to corporations, the frequent fellation of Rupert Murdoch. Doesn't sound very lefty to me...
 
Geno

Geno

Senior Audioholic
EDIT: *LOL* Just noticed your subject line "Socialism doesn't make things free". I think you need to take a closer look at European politics over the last twenty years. Just because Bush/Cheney are slightly to the right of Genghis Khan doesn't mean the EU is socialist. Privatisation, selling important basic services off to corporations, the frequent fellation of Rupert Murdoch. Doesn't sound very lefty to me...
Good point. In fairness, both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. I prefer the free-market approach, even though it often leads to some pretty horrific situations, like selling off mining & timber rights in our National Parks.:eek:
 
S

sploo

Full Audioholic
Yea, I'd definately put myself in the capitalist, rather than socialist, camp. Unfortunately, western capitalism seems to be a process by which those at the top rip us all off in order to line their pockets. Unlike the communist regimes which, oh, err, rip their people off in order to line their pockets. :rolleyes:

When you talk to people from around the world (I've got friends from the former Soviet bloc nations, eastern Europe, Iran etc.) you'll begin the realise the following:

1. People are pretty much the same all round the world - they just want to live in peace.
2. Governments/leaders all over the world tell us that 'the other lot' are evil/dangerous/out to get us all etc. etc.
3. A sufficent number of civilians in most countries are dumb enough that their leaders can get away with that deception.

Anyway... HD... there must be some fellow Europeans here that will get us back on topic!
 
A

AdrianMills

Full Audioholic
Anyway... HD... there must be some fellow Europeans here that will get us back on topic!
Um, well, ex-pat Welsh bloke here living in Norway.

The broadcasting system here is very similar to the UK. It's a little more behind in HD though (if that's possible) and it’s only recently that a few HD channels have become available from some of the commercial providers. Cannal Digital is one of them but I think they've had some teething problems with their set-top boxes; I saw a demo a few months ago and really, HD looked very poor and I’ve heard that SD is supposed to look worse on their new boxes than their old so I'm giving it a miss for a while. I think the rest of Scandinavia is in a similar state.

Cheers.

A.

PS. Um, Norway has very heavy socialist leanings and you know, it's not half bad here, better than any other country I've lived in anyway, UK included. There are very good reasons why it's at the top of the U.N.'s QoL list...
 
D

Diapason

Audioholic Intern
I agree that TV size and room size has something to do with it -- really huge TVs just aren't so popular here. Of course, we also have PAL (576 lines) rather than NTSC (480 lines) as standard, so the need for more resolution may not be *quite* so pronounced. Honestly, SD looks pretty good on most TVs here, and like mp3 vs CD, the vast majority of people think it's good enough.

Naturally, that's changing, but it's at a more gradual pace. Having said that, very few people are buying TVs that are anything other than HD ready at this point, and people have been buying 16:9 TVs for ages. Most broadcasting over here is now 16:9, and I find it strange when I see (mainly US) shows in 4:3.

Is HD in the US sufficiently mainstream that regular primetime shows are now broadcast in HD?

Si
 
M

mfabien

Senior Audioholic
Here is a schedule of HD programs in the US (day selectable).

http://www.hdtvgalaxy.com/whatson.php

In Canada, we have access to the major US networks, including PBSHD, plus our own Canadian Networks with HD programming in Prime time. And us men love our sports in HD and there are networks for that.
 
D

Diapason

Audioholic Intern
Thanks, I didn't realise that Leno, Letterman, Conan etc were available in HD, nor some of the comedies.

Still, the gap doesn't seem so huge to me. Here's a sampling of what's available on Sky HD in Europe. Granted, there's not as much content as in the US, but it doesn't seem a million miles behind:

http://sky.com/hd/what-can-i-watch-channels.htm

Si
 
M

mfabien

Senior Audioholic
Your BBC network has produced the extraordinary series "Planet Earth" which I saw on CBCHD and currently on SRCHD in Canada.

And the 11 episodes will start shipping (from Amazon) in 4 HD DVD disks starting tomorrow (April 24) and will be available in BR also. Sales of the series in HD format are in exceptional volume.
 
B

Buckeye_Nut

Audioholic Field Marshall
Um, well, ex-pat Welsh bloke here living in Norway.

The broadcasting system here is very similar to the UK. It's a little more behind in HD though (if that's possible) and it’s only recently that a few HD channels have become available from some of the commercial providers. Cannal Digital is one of them but I think they've had some teething problems with their set-top boxes; I saw a demo a few months ago and really, HD looked very poor and I’ve heard that SD is supposed to look worse on their new boxes than their old so I'm giving it a miss for a while. I think the rest of Scandinavia is in a similar state.

Cheers.

A.

PS. Um, Norway has very heavy socialist leanings and you know, it's not half bad here, better than any other country I've lived in anyway, UK included. There are very good reasons why it's at the top of the U.N.'s QoL list...
It should go without saying that a leftist political body, such as the UN, would vote a nanny state as "best place to live". Apparently, the UN doesnt think a nations citizens having the latest technology made available to them is worthy of 'quality of life' voting criteria:eek:

On the other hand......Government owned oil, government owned child care, government owned utilities, government owned HC, government funded television, lifetime welfare & unemployment benefits, etc, etc, etc, are high on the UN's "quality of life" list........... And no.... it's obvious why Norway is even lagging behind GB, and it's of no surprise. It's true that GB leans to the left pretty hard, but the Scandinavian region is in an entirely different league.

PS.... how much do you pay for a liter of that government supplied gas?


PPS.... I dont know what you were watching, but it wasnt HD. If it was true HD, you wouldnt say the picture looked "very poor". On the other hand, maybe it was true HD....only it looked 'very poor' because the Norwegian HD source was supplied by the government? :D
 
Last edited:
S

sploo

Full Audioholic
Thanks, I didn't realise that Leno, Letterman, Conan etc were available in HD, nor some of the comedies.
I think that's probably one of the big differences at the moment - 'mainstream' programs appear to be available in HD, whereas here in the UK it tends to be only films and specially produced programs, like the "Planet Earth" series mfabien mentioned (which was pretty stunning in SD... I'd love to see it on a decent HD system).

It should go without saying that a leftist political body, such as the UN...
Not sure I agree with your assessments/logic there.

The criteria for calculating rankings included things that are pretty ambivalent to models of public/private ownership: life expectancy, education, income etc.

Also, how does having the latest technology improve your quality of life? Assuming you're not living in a mud hunt and picking fleas off your kids, do you really enjoy life more because you've got a newer TV than someone else? I know it's not a big driver for me.

BTW - for the 2006 ratings, the USA scored pretty highly (8th), well in front of the Scandinavian country Denmark (15th), so that doesn't quite map with your assertions about the UN's ranking system.

...It's true that GB leans to the left pretty hard...
How so? That doesn't really map with the current UK political landscape. Both main parties are now largely center right, and the government has been introducing more and more 'capitalist' measures, such as the public private partnership scheme (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public-private_partnership). From what I've seen, the private companies involved have obtained valuable assets, having been heavily subsidised by the tax payer, not very left leaning...
 
A

AdrianMills

Full Audioholic
Hm, I'm so amused by this highly inaccurate and ignorant invective that I don't know where to begin. :D

It should go without saying that a leftist political body, such as the UN, would vote a nanny state as "best place to live". Apparently, the UN doesnt think a nations citizens having the latest technology made available to them is worthy of 'quality of life' voting criteria:eek:

On the other hand......Government owned oil, government owned child care, government owned utilities, government owned HC, government funded television, lifetime welfare & unemployment benefits, etc, etc, etc, are high on the UN's "quality of life" list........... And no.... it's obvious why Norway is even lagging behind GB, and it's of no surprise. It's true that GB leans to the left pretty hard, but the Scandinavian region is in an entirely different league.

PS.... how much do you pay for a liter of that government supplied gas?


PPS.... I dont know what you were watching, but it wasnt HD. If it was true HD, you wouldnt say the picture looked "very poor". On the other hand, maybe it was true HD....only it looked 'very poor' because the Norwegian HD source was supplied by the government? :D
No, really. lol :rolleyes:
 
Clint DeBoer

Clint DeBoer

Banned
Politics aside, realize that the UK has ALWAYS had ~commercial-free state-sposored television that was paid for by a "TV tax" for users. You can't compare it to the US - it evolved much differently.
 

newsletter
  • RBHsound.com
  • BlueJeansCable.com
  • SVS Sound Subwoofers
  • Experience the Martin Logan Montis
Top