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BBC iPlayer gets high definition update
Thursday 16 April 2009 14:19:21 by John Hunt

Users of the BBC iPlayer will be able to watch content in High Definition in an upcoming update to the iPlayer platform. Doctor Who, Kerwhizz and Dragons' Den are all due to be released in high definition which will allow users to stream or download these high quality versions for the first time. The update also includes a diagnostics tool that examines the users Internet connection and automatically switches streaming to the best option to provide the highest quality possible. A resizable window that allows users to adjust the viewing size to some suitable for their monitor also features in the update.

The announcement by the BBC doesn't, however, include a date of when the new features will be available, but they are expected soon.

"The new adaptive bitrate technology and speed diagnostics page help optimise the viewing experience, while the resizable window gives users flexibility to switch between different quality streams, hopefully leading to a more satisfying experience overall."

Anthony Rose, Head of Digital Media Technology (BBC)

The long awaited cross-platform download version of iPlayer, known as BBC iPlayer Desktop, will also be fully released which will allow users of Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems to download programmes to their computer, including the HD versions. Plans are also included to roll out HD streams to other devices such as the Virgin set top box and the PlayStation 3, although no date for this has been confirmed as yet.

Users should of course be aware that viewing video on iPlayer will eat in to their monthly download allowance from their broadband provider, and the new high definition versions will use more than previous versions. To help keep track of your usage, download our free broadband meter.

Comments

Posted by uklad77 over 6 years ago
The full version of the iPlayer Desktop can be downloaded from the site now (even thought it still says the latest release is 0.8

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/install/bbc_iplayer_desktop
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
we can't even stream the ordinary version so no hope for the HD one. No hope for many rural areas, the digital chasm opens wider every day...
Posted by uklad77 over 6 years ago
The HD content will downloadable with the iPlayer Desktop - so even those on slow connections will be able to watch it!
Posted by dicko1975 over 6 years ago
@uklad77 yes they can, if they can tie up a 0.5mbps connection for a few hours!!
Posted by sparky_132 over 6 years ago
@dicko1975 leave it running overnight?!
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
it takes 47 hours to download open office using mobile broadband here, adsl nearly as bad (if you can get it)so how long would it take to download a HD film?
Posted by miketuck3r over 6 years ago
Amazing positive announcement people moan typical
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 6 years ago
cyberdoyle - Quite, and the UK's broadband reach is exceptionally broad. People as usual totally ignore that when they look at headline speeds from other countries.
Posted by danman7_200 over 6 years ago
Cyberdole, I just downloaded Open Office in under 2 minutes. The install file was 142MB. One could download 142 MB on dialup and it wouldn't take that long. A minimum of a 4Mb connection I think will be needed for an acceptable "HD" picture quality. Which means
Posted by danman7_200 over 6 years ago
on ISP's using BT wholesale products a 5Mb sync will be needed. However, many ISP's are not even able to max out line speed, as they have bottlenecks/throttling else where. If you want a decent ISP, which pretty much gives you, your full line speed 24/7 are o2, sky, entanet resellers. Not Orange, Tiscali, Talk talk etc. I have to say I've been extremely impressed with sky. I've had my connection nearly two years now, I can't ever remembering
Posted by danman7_200 over 6 years ago
it being down, whilst I've been using it, and it always downloads at my max speed of 10Mb. Not once has it ever dipped below this. I make very good use of it. And it's £10 a month unlimited downloads (on top of sky tv)
Posted by Bruce over 6 years ago
I used iPlayer to download a program last night. An average of 4Mb/s on my TalkTalk service. It's "free", so I'm very happy. TT might have been poor to begin with, but I can't complain with what I'm getting. Certainly shouldn't be lumped in with Tiscali ;)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 6 years ago
This is excellent news, the only thing im concerned about is the codec and bitrates which will be used, anyone know?? (IE is this just hype or will it be a substantial difference or anything close to real HD, Youtubes newer content certainly is not HD even though its been given that tag).
Posted by CARPETBURN over 6 years ago
@ cyberdoyle & Dawn Falcon...
No idea what either of you are talking about, as danman7_200 points out the latest Openoffice is only 142Mb for that to take you 47hours your connection must have something seriously wrong with it...
Posted by CARPETBURN over 6 years ago
The average size for a current download (obviously depends on the show) is around 400Mb, even if that more than doubled in size and an episode was 1000Mb on a more than common slow 1Mb connection a download that size by my rough calculations would still only take around 6 hours and you wouldnt have to tie up the connection for a continuos 6 hours as with Iplayer desktop you can pause and resume downloads, you could download half in the day and half over night if you wanted.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 6 years ago
There is nothing wrong with this development its a very good move from the BBC the content is free, and delivered resonably quick with a decent connection (downloads around 10-12Mb on my max 18Mb connection). Digital divide?? That makes no sense you can still watch Iplayer content. The standard or 'normal' streaming versions only use around 512k of bitrate anyone with a connection of 1Mb or more should have no issues watching it, if you do its your ISP at fault, my god i could even watch the standard versions of content when i was on a FIXED rate 1Mb service from Pipex.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
It streams at just over 3Mb and a pretty decent quality. Finally I can add it to my list of everyday sources of TV programming.

Of course at 3Mb it's not really HD. More like 'high resolution SD' but I'll keep it in mind for when two Sky+ tuners, two DTT tuners and a freesat tuner aren't enough :D
Posted by whatever2 over 6 years ago
i'd keep hold of the old application... like a fool i've uninstalled it.

old app using p2p... 1-2MB/s.. now it's going to the bbc, i'm lucky to see 100kB/s
Posted by Gzero over 6 years ago
Huh, I must be missing something, stream from BBC website, I can't find any content over 832x468. At least the bitrate is half decent at 1500kbps.

Still don't think that resolution counts as HD.

Posted by CARPETBURN over 6 years ago
quote"It streams at just over 3Mb and a pretty decent quality. Finally I can add it to my list of everyday sources of TV programming.

Of course at 3Mb it's not really HD. More like 'high resolution SD' but I'll keep it in mind for when two Sky+ tuners, two DTT tuners and a freesat tuner aren't enough :D"
Thanks for the info AndrueC agree thats still not technically HD material (which is what i feared hence asking about bitrates and codecs etc)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 6 years ago
However this is a leap forward, certainly better than watching some of the 128k poop ITVs site gives you ;) Finally it seems things like Iplayer are being taken seriously, lets hope it continues improving :) (Just got to get them to remove the annoying DRM from downloads now see we dont have to waste the few seconds it takes to strip it hehe)
Posted by Gzero over 6 years ago
And add more to the programmes you can actually watch... oh and you can't download Heroes, silly copyright laws :p
Posted by CARPETBURN over 6 years ago
^^^ Yep have to agree about some of the programming you cant download... Highly annoying, they do it with certain sporting advents also, though most of those you can normally watch the streaming versions.
Films is another example, you miss a film alot of the time its tough as they dont even show a streaming version.... And then the likes of the BPI, MPAA etc wonder why people go off to a torrent site!
Posted by g-bhxu over 6 years ago
Why can't you just ask for the programme to be sent to you on DVD?
Posted by Gzero over 6 years ago
DVD's don't do HD :p
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 6 years ago
Sure they do Gzero. You can get HD-format video on DVD's. Sure, you get a much shorter playtime...
Posted by CARPETBURN over 6 years ago
quote"Sure they do Gzero. You can get HD-format video on DVD's. Sure, you get a much shorter playtime... "

Technically true you could put some HD video on a dvd disk (its only basically data after all) but seeing as a DVD PLAYER wouldnt play HD content recorded onto the DVD disk it is as Gzero states and basically pointless.

The next recordable breakthrough is going to be writable bluray players/recorders which will handle AVCHD material and more.
Posted by Gzero over 6 years ago
Found the HD section of BBC iplayer. You can stream it if you need to.
Big but.
There is nothing exciting to stream. I don't watch Robin Hood.
I used the show Gardener's World as a tech demo for my dad. It was in 720p with a bitrate of 3000kbps h264. Looked good, and the audio was a decent bitrate, I don't have anyway of making it work in 5.1, so I could only have stereo and will never know if more is available.
Posted by Gzero over 6 years ago
He's not into gardening, but he did like the sharpness of the picture as we had just streamed Click(that was one dull ep).
Posted by comnut over 6 years ago
well actually you can get an HDMI video card for a PC - that is how to play a totally non-standard(its only data, not ISO) DVD with HD content on it....
Posted by comnut over 6 years ago
you may find these more interesting..
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/tv/bbc_hd

NO download or fancy hardware needed, if you have a powerful enough PC... It all loaded and played on my old 1.5gig P4 with ancient G400 vid.. mmmmm, jumpy video... :P

min specs..
http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/help/about_iplayer/watch_hd
Posted by CARPETBURN over 6 years ago
quote"well actually you can get an HDMI video card for a PC - that is how to play a totally non-standard(its only data, not ISO) DVD with HD content on it...."

That still makes it pointless.... You could only shove a few mins of TRUE HD content on a recordable DVD-R 4.7gig disk..... And err i have no idea why you would buy a card complete with extra cost HDMI connector, integrated graphics cards nowadays have enough juice to play HD content and most modern PCs have DVI. If ya gonna mess about with content like this you may as well stream it to your TV.
Posted by wychdoctor over 6 years ago
glad to see the iPlayer desktop is soon to be available for Mac (and Linux). The advice to keep track of usage is very relevant, so whe is the 'free broadband usage meter' going to be made available cross-platform too?
Posted by Gzero over 6 years ago
There's already a bandwidth calculator for Ubuntu:
http://packages.ubuntu.com/search?keywords=bandwidth&searchon=names&suite=jaunty&section=all
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 6 years ago
Carpet? No, the next step involves properly open standards, not another Sony/Panasonic one. Heck, many AVCHD devices are incompatible.

There are other, better implimentations of h.264
Posted by CARPETBURN over 6 years ago
quote"Heck, many AVCHD devices are incompatible."

No they are not. Its the container used that makes AVCHD incompatible with some devices. The same as an xvid encode with a MOV container wouldnt play on a Xvid/divx compatible player as it relies on the AVI container also...... Its nothing new.
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