There’s currently something of a squabble taking place between Echostar’s DISH Network in the US, and the supporters of Blu-ray. Echostar is claiming in its publicity that its “full” HDTV 1080p/25Hz image (snappily described as Turbo HD) matches Blu-ray. The Blu-ray Disc Association insists its members’ output is better.

The Blu-ray Disc Association has strongly objected that the Echostar services (and DirecTV is about to do the same) deliver “full” HDTV images and audio equal to that supplied by Blu-ray Disc, in the process misleading consumers. Strategy Analytics, in a note last week, said it believed that DISH and DirecTV are competing primarily with cable and newcomer IPTV companies, and not with the Blu-ray Disc format itself.

"1080p, or Full HD, is the video quality benchmark set by the Blu-ray Disc format," notes David Mercer, Principal Analyst at Strategy Analytics. "It was inevitable that television service providers would seek to emulate this standard, but their aim is primarily to increase the pressure on rival services, rather than compete with Blu-ray itself."

Now Tandberg TV has entered the argument. Eric Cooney, its president, says his company’s ‘Golden Eyes’ technicians “can absolutely see a difference with 1080p. It simply makes the picture better,” says Cooney. “The simple rule of thumb is that you put more video information into the signal and you’ll get a better picture. For the consumer it is worth keeping in mind that at the end of the day your video experience is always subject to the weakest link in the chain. This might be the TV set and whether it supports these new video standards, or the bad link might be an aerial or poor co-axial cable. The signal is also dependent upon the bit-rate.”

“The fact is that 1080p does deliver a better video signal and this is already being used as a marketing message to differentiate service providers. If NBC, for example, is producing and transmitting in 1080p and sees this as a benefit for its viewers, and Echostar is doing the same in order to differentiate itself from its competitors, these benefits will play themselves out for the viewer. Ultimately I see Europe’s operators especially in Pay-TV moving towards this technology,” Cooney added.