Reliance Big TV converts all 250 channels into HD, also ends LCD picture stretching

Dish TV may have increased their ‘HD’ channel count to 30, but Anil Ambani’s Reliance Big TV has just upscaled their entire 250 channels into HD, the company said.

Though only around half a dozen channels being beamed in India have an HD version, some Indian DTH providers have been providing dozens of HD channels. They do this by converting normal or standard TV signals into high definition signals through computer software.

Unlike normal or SD signals, HD signals can be watched on big screen TVs without the picture feeling ‘stretched’ or ‘zoomed’. Picture quality tends to be crisper on HD than on SD, when watched on big TVs like a 26 or 32 inch LCD TV.

True HD requires the original content to have been shot on HD cameras, but most of content shown on Indian TV, as much as 95%, is currently shot on normal cameras and not HD cameras. As a result, while DTH operators may want to offer HD channels, the content is just not available — except in case of channels like Discovery and National Geographic, and some movies.

Reliance said it is deploying a “world class cutting- edge technology” to convert normal signals into clearer and crisper, ‘non stretched’ HD signals “by enlarging and digitally processing the same 10 times over.”

The Anil Ambani group, of course, has access to a lot of high-end video processing software from its recent acquisitions of the British film processor ilab and other similar firms.

While the advantages of upscaled HD may be questionable, LCD TV users may be genuinely happy about a side-effect of Big TV’s move — all the TV channels on the platform will now be on the 16:9 ratio — which means that they will not appear horizontally stretched on LCD TVs.

Most of the current cable and DTH companies broadcast on the 4:3 ratio — which was suitable for the old cathode ray tube TVs, but leads to distortions on LCD and other panel TVs.