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Low-Tech Fun

The hi-def battle is on hi-boil. Despite Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s claims of HD "choices" when hi-def VOD titles are factored in, cable is behind DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) in terms of linear HD channels, even if all of the content on those channels isn't true HD but upconverted standard def -- it still looks better than plain old SD on a large HD screen.

Even Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is starting to chirp about its HDTV plans, announcing Thursday that it will offer 60 hi-def nets by this spring, and 150 by the end of 2008. It also couldn't refuse to give cable (OK, "some other service providers") a slap, saying Verizon won't "compromise quality by compressing programming into limited bandwidth."

Guess you can say anything you want when you've got the bandwidth gods on your side.

Of course, bandwidth isn't much of an issue when you can "enjoy" a movie in ASCII format, something that jumped into my head again as I gave some thought to the hi-def debate.

It's an oldie but a goodie, but perhaps you might remember this ASCII version of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

I think their interest waned, though, because the last scene (Luke finds the princess) was added in April 2006. But someone summoned up the energy in 1999 to create another scene that graphically (in ASCII terms) depicts Jar Jar Binks getting chewed up by the engines of a podracer. Come to think of it, some Star Wars fans, particularly those who think a good Binks is a dead Binks, might actually want to see that in hi-def... and pay a pretty penny for it.

While those are just rough reconstructions, here are two ASCII-generated scenes from two other flicks that look eerily like the originals: The Incredibles and The Matrix. Just give them a few seconds to load.

And you won't even need MPEG-4 or switched digital video to pull it off. Heck, I'd have little trouble producing it on my old Apple IIc… with memory to spare.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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