Is HD iplayer and recording worth it? Well, the London fireworks should help answer that one!

Jonathan H lardconcepts at
Thu Jan 2 14:57:17 EST 2014

I think it might have been this list that I saw someone recently
saying they never bothered using "best" mode. I was reminded of that
when a friend remarked today how "rubbish" the London fireworks looked
on iplayer. It transpired that he never bothers with HD, "can't see
the difference".

His TV is newish, 42" LED. Mine is 5 year old 32" LCD, albeit HD.
Perhaps I have particularly good eyesite, but for me here's a perfect
example! The London fireworks.
Watch 30 seconds of each, full screen.

I've linked to a point during the countdown so no need to scroll along.

Standard definition:

Now watch the same 30 seconds in HD (and the rest if you like - it IS
fairly spectacular!)

To me, in the SD version, Big Ben and The Wheel turn completely to a
blur of mush when the fireworks are in full blast. The HD version is
pretty pinsharp.

That said, the get_iplayer version looks even better than the "proper"
online iplayer version.

I wonder if that's because we're in a poor broadband area and only get
4Mb? Once get_iplayer has transcoded it, VLC shows the firework-heavy
scenes pushing about 6Mb/sec. Could it be that iplayer is serving a
"less HD version" to us slowcoaches, and get_iplayer pulled a better

Or is the get_iplayer transcoding somehow "smoothing" the image?

Anyway, I think those two comparisons neatly put the HD vs SD argument
to bed! Great fireworks - definitely worth watching. In HD :)

Happy New Year!

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