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Making HD Boxes: Motorola’s Neil Brydon

Feb 28, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The player: Neil Brydon, product marketing manager of Motorola’s MPEG-4 encoding solutions group
The play: Brydon helped develop Motorola’s MPEG-4 digital video recorder set-top box, which compresses signals enough to process high-definition data as quickly as standard-definition was processed two or three years ago. Motorola has made about 1 million set-top boxes for AT&T customers while also working with HD broadcasters such as HBO, Brydon said.
The pitch: Motorola boxes compress signals at about a 200-to-1 ratio, or double the compression rate of three years ago, allowing the prices for such boxes to drop, Brydon said. “HD has become mainstream in cost because many of the technical issues have been beaten,” he said. “And once you get used to watching HD, you start turning your nose up at standard.”
The challenge: As HD becomes the norm, more households will have many televisions processing HD broadcasts, increasing the amount of data that must be compressed into a single household without sacrificing processing speed. “There’s pressure to deliver multiple signals into a home,” Brydon said. As for Japan’s intention to develop an ultra-high-definition standard, “It’s just silly,” he said. The 1080i standard “is remarkably good. Anything beyond that is science fiction.”
The format war: Blu-ray’s emergence as the next-generation DVD player format “is good news” because a single format will help high definition become established in most households. “Multiple standards confuse the customer,” Brydon said. “
Backstory: Brydon, 45, has worked in HD development for almost two decades, beginning with London-based Thames Television in 1988. “We were using cameras that cost 800,000 pounds ($1.59 million),” Brydon said. “This was experimental stuff.” The Scotland native, who’s based in Sunnyvale, Calif., joined Modulus Video about four years ago. Motorola acquired the closely held company last July for terms that weren’t disclosed. Brydon received his training at RGIT in Aberdeen, Scotland.

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