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post #61 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by mproper View Post

...StarzPlay titles are always 16:9, regardless of OAR which is kindof annoying. I wish they'd just do their own encodes (or get them from a source which could maintain the OAR).

Starz Play is a separate service (see this) which Netflix bundles in with their streaming stuff--I'm sure that they just take what they get from them (and I think that you mean 4:3).

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post #62 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

Starz Play is a separate service (see this) which Netflix bundles in with their streaming stuff--I'm sure that they just take what they get from them (and I think that you mean 4:3).

Yes, I know that Starz Play is a separate service...hence why I said "I wish they'd (meaning Netflix) just do their own encodes (or get them from a source which could maintain the OAR)."

And I know the difference between 16:9 and 4:3, thank you. Pull up Pineapple Express or Miracle at St. Anna. OAR is 2.35:1. The StarzPlay versions are 16:9. I have not seen any 4:3 Starz Play titles, but I'm sure some older ones are...nothing I've watched though.
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post #63 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by mproper View Post

Yes, I know that Starz Play is a separate service...hence why I said "I wish they'd (meaning Netflix) just do their own encodes (or get them from a source which could maintain the OAR)."

Netflix' deal with Starz Play allowed them to offer those titles as streams, which include almost all of the most recent popular theatrical releases in their streaming catalog. I strongly doubt that they'd otherwise have managed to license most of that stuff.

I wonder if they can separately license titles in the Starz Play collection and offer their own encodings?
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And I know the difference between 16:9 and 4:3, thank you. Pull up Pineapple Express or Miracle at St. Anna. OAR is 2.35:1. The StarzPlay versions are 16:9. I have not seen any 4:3 Starz Play titles, but I'm sure some older ones are...nothing I've watched though.

The 4:3 Starz Play streams, some of which are fairly recent releases, have been a common complaint, which is why I thought that was what you meant--sorry.

I wonder if Starz airs those titles in OAR on their cable channels?

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post #64 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 01:03 PM
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I believe they air everything in the same stretched mode they use for netflix streams.... more than likely they get whatever starz gets.

But I agree with the sentiment..... hopefully whenever the starz/netfllix deal is renegotiated to add hd streams they will do something so that either starz starts providing oar sources or they give netflix the option to go to the studio to acquire better sources.

This is a total guess but I have to think the majority of movies watched are the starz stuff (since its more newer flicks). So having those feeds viewed more than anything else doesnt show netflix streams in the best possible way to convince the masses. Personally I think the good 720p content looks amazing (and is very close to bluray) but some people are forming their opinions based off the starz content. Ive actually had to do this for a few people..... they tell me how bad netflix looks, I ask them what they were watching (its usually starz), I tell them to go watch harpers island or serenity and they come back and tell me they were wrong. Its happened to me atleast 5 times already.
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post #65 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 03:17 PM
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For the past few days, I have been getting really poor video quality. The initial network/video quality check says nothing and whizzes past but video doesn't look good. This is in San Francisco. Net connectivity is comcast 12 Mbps and the player is Mac Mini with the latest Silverlight package. Anyone else experiencing similar issues?
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post #66 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

From the 6 November 2008 "Encoding for streaming" Netflix blog entry:
That's their excuse and they're sticking to it . It's interesting that some companies, like Amazon, are making downloads and streams available with AC3 surround, no doubt using WMDRM as well. (Is there any competing online media DRM system? If not, how does Amazon do it? Give us an investigative report on Engadget, Ben ). I do believe that most of the encodings have at least PL II sound, so they're not just flat stereo.

I don't find the selection to be too surprising, given the business model. Maybe they could add a certain number of more recent, popular films on some sort of premium basis, perhaps for an extra dollar or two per month.

Ahh yes, MS and AC3, the wedding that never made it to the alter. I totally should of known this, thanks for the link.

Basically what Netflix is saying is that the Watch Now feature uses Microsoft's Silverlight and WMV which means no AC3. Now my Pioneer AVR does support multi-channel WMA, but no doubt most don't.

This makes me wonder if Netflix is using the same stream for PC/Mac streaming as it uses for STBs. I'd assume it is, which means the player would have to have the ability to transcode the multi-channel wma into AC3. Now the 360 will output multi-channel wma to a receiver like mine, but it also seems able to transcode everything to AC3. And we know most Blu-ray player can do this as well because transcoding TrueHD to DTS is an option on most players.

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post #67 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdraw View Post

This makes me wonder if Netflix is using the same stream for PC/Mac streaming as it uses for STBs. I'd assume it is...

You assume wrong . The following is from my post in another one of the Netflix threads a few months back:
Quote:


Quote:


But it is interesting...I had no idea the XBOX was using different encodes than the other boxes.

It was discussed in one of the other Netflix streaming threads back at the end of December. You can see an explanation of it by the same guy that I quoted above (Adrian Cockcroft) here in the Netflix Community Forums:
Quote:


...there are three different encodes:
  • Windows Media format: The original PC player, original Roku 1.01, Xbox 360, original LG and Samsung
  • VC1 Advanced Profile for Slverlight: PC/Mac Silverlight Player
  • VC1 Advanced Profile for embedded devices: Tivo, Roku 1.5, LG BD300 with .480 firmware, latest Samsung
Each encode is at up to 4 different speeds for standard def, plus two more for HD on the TV devices. See more details here http://blog.netflix.com/2008/11/enco...streaming.html .

([list] tags added by me--I couldn't resist ). The other embedded players switched to the VC1/AP encodes within a month or two of their launch (TiVo always used them); Xbox 360 is just now getting around to it, 8 or 9 months later .

Note that when I posted that I thought that the PC/Mac Silverlight encodings were in the new "Smooth Streaming" format, since the PC player tries to perform seamless switches to higher and lower bit rate streams as available bandwidth fluctuates, but I was wrong. IIS Smooth Streaming is part of Silverlight V3, and will be used for streaming delivery of 1080p24 video with 5.1 sound from the Zune Video Store when it merges-with/replaces the XBL Video Store (in November, I think). If you haven't seen it, check it out on this page--it's impressive.

So, what's your guess about how Amazon is streaming video with 5.1 audio (to the Roku box and Sony televisions with Bravia Internet Video Link)?

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post #68 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjavs View Post

For the past few days, I have been getting really poor video quality. The initial network/video quality check says nothing and whizzes past but video doesn't look good. This is in San Francisco. Net connectivity is comcast 12 Mbps and the player is Mac Mini with the latest Silverlight package. Anyone else experiencing similar issues?



Same here.. I get the network check then it jumps to the video. However, the video quality is very pix-elated. Internet bandwidth test tells me I'm running 18mbps.

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post #69 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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I watched some stuff via the 360 today and it looked fine.

I would contact Netflix and see if anything has changed on their end. At the very least they will have your feedback. They may even offer a credit if they believe the issue is on their end.
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post #70 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 06:01 PM
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Checking the current count of HD streaming titles indicated at the Netflix site (376), I notice that they now have the current seasons of both Dexter and Californication (seasons 4 and 3 respectively), with Sunday's season premiere episodes of each series online now. They've have the current season of several CBS series and a couple of NBC ones up, but this is the first I've seen them do that with cable network series, particularly premium cable network ones. Very cool .

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post #71 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 06:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

Checking the current count of HD streaming titles indicated at the Netflix site (376), I notice that they now have the current seasons of both Dexter and Californication (seasons 4 and 3 respectively), with Sunday's season premiere episodes of each series online now. They've have the current season of several CBS series and a couple of NBC ones up, but this is the first I've seen them do that with cable network series, particularly premium cable network ones. Very cool .

I don't know about Californication, but Dexter is only for the premiere and I think it expires in a week or two.

Still waiting for Dexter Season 3 for Watch Instantly...DVDs are in Very Long Wait...
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post #72 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 06:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

Checking the current count of HD streaming titles indicated at the Netflix site (376), I notice that they now have the current seasons of both Dexter and Californication (seasons 4 and 3 respectively), with Sunday's season premiere episodes of each series online now. They've have the current season of several CBS series and a couple of NBC ones up, but this is the first I've seen them do that with cable network series, particularly premium cable network ones. Very cool .

Don't get too carried away...Dexter is only available until 10/12.
It doesn't say anything about future streaming of episodes.
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post #73 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by fpconvert View Post

Don't get too carried away...Dexter is only available until 10/12.
It doesn't say anything about future streaming of episodes.

Neither does Heroes or any of the other current season series, but I assume that new episodes will appear, as they did for the past season. They title is Dexter, Season 4 with a single episode beneath it, not "Dexter Season 4 Premier". We'll see next week .

BTW, I got an e-mail from TiVo today pointing out that a streaming encoding of the new HD release of The Wizard of Oz will be available on Netflix for streaming for one day, tomorrow, 10/03. See this.

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post #74 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 10:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

Neither does Heroes or any of the other current season series, but I assume that new episodes will appear, as they did for the past season. They title is Dexter, Season 4 with a single episode beneath it, not "Dexter Season 4 Premier". We'll see next week .

BTW, I got an e-mail from TiVo today pointing out that a streaming encoding of the new HD release of The Wizard of Oz will be available on Netflix for streaming for one day, tomorrow, 10/03. See this.

I don't think we will be getting either series the entire time. That would be awesome if that were the case, but I am thinking this is more of a way for Showtime to lure in new subscribers.

The Wizard of Oz is going to be available to everyone, even those who do not subscribe to Netflix. VERY cool!!
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post #75 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by PSound View Post

I don't think we will be getting either series the entire time. That would be awesome if that were the case, but I am thinking this is more of a way for Showtime to lure in new subscribers.

Examining the pages for those series, I think that you're right. Oh well--it would have been nice, though admittedly it didn't make sense .
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The Wizard of Oz is going to be available to everyone, even those who do not subscribe to Netflix. VERY cool!!

Huh? How would a non-Netflix-subscriber stream it?

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post #76 of 6804 Old 10-02-2009, 11:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

Huh? How would a non-Netflix-subscriber stream it?

By visiting Netflix.com tomorrow:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1177673
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post #77 of 6804 Old 10-04-2009, 11:44 PM
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I just re-joined Netflix about a week ago after several years away and was happy to see the "watch it now" section. I went out and bought a Samsung 3600 to take advantage of this feature. My internet service is via fiber optic cable at 13-15 mbs with upload speeds near 10 mbs. Most of the content so far has been near DVD quality. I am Lovin my Netflix!!
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post #78 of 6804 Old 10-05-2009, 09:02 AM
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I've been enjoying NetFlix streaming offerings for a few weeks now. My player is a TiVo HD and my broadband is a DSL modem that varies from 2.0-2.5Mbps depending upon the day and time of day. The TiVo HD is connected via hardwired 10/100 router.

It's not bad when the source material is 720p (1280x720p60), but there are relatively few movies like that. Most films stream at 720x480i60 and are 16:9. This is one step below conventional DVD quality and 'scope films ARE cropped, but it's watchable on the medium-sized TV in the family room. In fact I have been watching mainly a few older 4:3 television series and it's fine for that - stuff I enjoyed years ago but not enough to buy on disk. The relatively few new HDTV series like Showtime's Dexter Season 4 are perfect 720p presentations, better than DVD quality, and available about a year before the Blu-Ray hits the street. I started this by watching the last season of NCIS in perfect 720p, after viewing the prior seasons on DVD - the 720p streaming version was distinctly better.

The DSL bandwidth is not an issue. I consistently get all 10 bars on the SD titles and all 10 bars plus the HD symbol for the HD titles. The direct-connected EtherNet is trouble free and although I have tried the PC player and WiFi, I much prefer the TiVo HD and wired connection for my 1080p display. Sound is stereo but again that is not a problem in my family room.

The bottom line is that I was already a NetFlix subscriber and I had a rooftop antenna for OTA HD which I viewed on the TiVo HD. Now I have (for the cost of an EtherNet cable) all the streaming offerings.

My DVD/Blu-Ray orders to NetFlix are much reduced. I still order the Blu-Ray and occasional DVD of anything I want to view in the Home Theater on the front projector, using surround sound.

The only technical issue is an occasional disconnect about 3/4ths of the way through a movie. I think this has happened four times now, always on weekends and never more than once a day - I think it is related to network traffic. The TiVo HD allows you to "Resume Play" at the exact spot the disconnect happened, after going through the "Now Playing List" menu to the NetFlix folder to the streaming title again.

I like it, and feel the TiVo/NetFlix combination may well be the best player implementation. I also have access to the Playstation Network but I seldom bother to use that, because almost all of that content is PPV. Sony, take note you are losing the Marketing war.

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post #79 of 6804 Old 10-05-2009, 09:05 AM
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I've found there are much fewer streaming offerings of what is in my queue than I had originally assumed. Directly transferring my 217 movies from blockbuster, only 22 are streaming and I think only a couple of those are in HD. Disappointing, especially since I know a lot of them are available in blu-ray. However, I just decided I'd go through the library and add stuff to stream only. Then I'll focus on blu-ray on my rentals.

the HD streaming looked very passable to me, even as a videophile. Nowhere near Blu, but very very nice. More like fuzzy cable HD.
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post #80 of 6804 Old 10-05-2009, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

You assume wrong . The following is from my post in another one of the Netflix threads a few months back:Note that when I posted that I thought that the PC/Mac Silverlight encodings were in the new "Smooth Streaming" format, since the PC player tries to perform seamless switches to higher and lower bit rate streams as available bandwidth fluctuates, but I was wrong. IIS Smooth Streaming is part of Silverlight V3, and will be used for streaming delivery of 1080p24 video with 5.1 sound from the Zune Video Store when it merges-with/replaces the XBL Video Store (in November, I think). If you haven't seen it, check it out on this page--it's impressive.

So, what's your guess about how Amazon is streaming video with 5.1 audio (to the Roku box and Sony televisions with Bravia Internet Video Link)?

The quoted link actually states my suspicion which is that MS doesn't support AC3 which means Netflix doesn't. MS wants you to use WMApro for surround sound and since most receivers can't decode it, all the players would have to have the ability to transcode to AC3. The Netflix article says it is related to WMDRM, but I suspect it is actually the container -- the container is only mentioned in "First Gen" section, which is ASF. I know WMV doesn't support AC3, but some MS containers do, like dvr-ms and wtv for Media Center, both of which are related to ASF and support MSDRM.

As for Amazon, I have no idea how their streaming works, but I'll do some research. At this point I suspect they are using a container that supports AC3.

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post #81 of 6804 Old 10-05-2009, 09:46 AM
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After some more research, it appears Amazon is using WMApro to deliver 5.1, which means the player is transcoding to AC3. It appears there are different streams depending on if the file is being downloaded vs streamed. Evidently the streaming doesn't do 5.1, but the download does.
http://unbox.typepad.com/amazon_unbo...video_qua.html

Perhaps the reason Netflix doesn't do 5.1 is because the MS codec used for streaming can't contain WMAPro, while the downloadable files can.

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post #82 of 6804 Old 10-05-2009, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdraw View Post

After some more research, it appears Amazon is using WMApro to deliver 5.1, which means the player is transcoding to AC3. It appears there are different streams depending on if the file is being downloaded vs streamed. Evidently the streaming doesn't do 5.1, but the download does.
http://unbox.typepad.com/amazon_unbo...video_qua.html

Perhaps the reason Netflix doesn't do 5.1 is because the MS codec used for streaming can't contain WMAPro, while the downloadable files can.

The blog entry at that link is 2.5 years old; at that time, Unbox only supported downloads for PC, TiVo and PMPs, with no HD content and no streaming to embedded players, which they've since added. (That blog seems to have been abandoned--there hasn't been a new post there since January).

On pages for available Amazon VOD items (likethis one for an HD episode of Heroes), there's a section labelled "Video Format Details". For each viewing option (Online Viewing, PC Download, TiVo Box, Portable Device, Connected Device) it gives the audio and video format; if you roll the cursor over one of the sections a little pop-up appears giving the file size, bit rate, AR and number of audio channels. They claim to have 5.1 sound in the PC and TiVo download files and for streams to embedded devices. I don't have one of the embedded streaming players, but I can attest that there is 5.1 sound on TiVo downloads. I suppose that it's possible, but I have a hard time believing that TiVo can handle WMA Pro transcoding--I don't think that it can do it in hardware--and I doubt that the embedded devices can do it either. (Back in the time of that blog entry that you cited, they were packaging TiVo downloads in "Best Quality" recording format. The HD files available now have to be encoded in VC-1 or AVC--5 Mbps HD-res MPEG2 would be an unwatchable mess).

They're apparently using Adobe Flash video for streaming delivery to PC and Mac, with Flash DRM. The Flash wrappers can handle H.264 and AAC--I wonder if the hardware embedded streaming players can handle Flash Video?

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post #83 of 6804 Old 10-05-2009, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdraw View Post

As for Amazon, I have no idea how their streaming works, but I'll do some research. At this point I suspect they are using a container that supports AC3.

IIRC, from home use, many titles D/L from Amazon have 384 Kbps 5.1 WMA surround sound. I don't stream but rather have a D/L rental put on a hard drive to playback with WMP or the Amazon unbox app. My PC has DD live, so the WMA 5.1 gets converted to AC3 for output to my AVR via S/PDIF.
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post #84 of 6804 Old 10-05-2009, 05:32 PM
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I have had the Netflix service for a couple of years along with the Roku player.
The SD picture quality has always been very watchable on a Samsung 720p DLP television and the HD content is very good.
I have a 4gb internect connection and the Roku is connected via wireless G.
It is always four dots unless Netflix is having an issue (very rare).
As others have mentioned getting the 5.1 channel sound track would be a very nice addition.

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post #85 of 6804 Old 10-06-2009, 12:25 PM
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Out of the blue Amazon sent me a $5 credit for VOD today so I downloaded an episode of the office in HD with 5.1. According to WMP it uses 384kbps WMAPro 5.1. This is exactly what I suspected. Interestingly I can't get it to play on my 360 via either MC or the dashboard, the screen is just black and the scrub bar never progresses.

I suspect there is some limitation in MS streaming and 5.1, but then like you say how is it that the Roku can do it? The only thing I can think of is that MS now has a solution and Netflix has yet to adopt it.

As for transcoding from WMApro to AC3, I suspect it is pretty trivial to do in hardware and know the TiVo can encode AC3, I mean how else could the boobps and bobs come across? At the same time we know it won't take AC3 and add the sound affects and then encode to AC3 again or you'd get the noises when you fast forward content with AC3.

The only way to know for sure would be to look up abilities of the Broadcom BCM7401 chip it uses to see if that ability is included.

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post #86 of 6804 Old 10-11-2009, 08:25 AM
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I have owned a Roku player for a few months now. HD picture quality was outstanding in the beginning but now it is deteriorating and has becoming unwatchable, especially night scenes. I tried to troubleshoot the problem with Roku and Netflix but to no avail. My Internet speed 16 Mbps (Comcast) and nothing has changed in terms of hardware from my end that could cause the deteriorating picture quality. I get 4 dots HD all the time, according to the Roku box, but the PQ is not what it used to be. Lots of digital noise and compression artifact now. I also live 15 miles from the Netflix servers, so I don't know what else could be causing this deteriorating picture quality. I have no choice now but to try out another hardware and was thinking of getting either the LG390 or the Sammy 2550 or another brand that are considered to have the best image quality for Netflix streaming. So does hardware does make a difference here? If I had not seen the picture qulaity of the HD streams, I would just dismiss it and move on. But after experiencing that HD qulaity picture, losing it is very frustrating. I desperately trying to get it back.

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post #87 of 6804 Old 10-11-2009, 04:13 PM
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I have owned a Roku player for a few months now. HD picture quality was outstanding in the beginning but now it is deteriorating and has becoming unwatchable...
I have no choice now but to try out another hardware and was thinking of getting either the LG390 or the Sammy 2550 or another brand that are considered to have the best image quality for Netflix streaming.

If your picture quality was outstanding, but has recently deteriorated, that sounds more like a network streaming issue than a hardware issue. In fact, the Roku hardware has better control over the stream selection than either LG or Samsung.

Try setting the stream selection to 3.5 Mbps using the Roku debugger screen. That should force the Roku to use the highest available bitstream from Netflix. If the HD stream now looks better but pauses for rebuffering during playback, then you've got a connection speed issue to Netflix CDN servers. If the picture quality is poor, that means Netflix just doesn't have a better quality stream currently available, something different player hardware won't fix.

In either case, Roku is the only Netflix player that allows debugger control over the stream selection to diagnose / fix these types of issues.
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post #88 of 6804 Old 10-11-2009, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by lassen View Post

If your picture quality was outstanding, but has recently deteriorated, that sounds more like a network streaming issue than a hardware issue. In fact, the Roku hardware has better control over the stream selection than either LG or Samsung.

Try setting the stream selection to 3.5 Mbps using the Roku debugger screen. That should force the Roku to use the highest available bitstream from Netflix. If the HD stream now looks better but pauses for rebuffering during playback, then you've got a connection speed issue to Netflix CDN servers. If the picture quality is poor, that means Netflix just doesn't have a better quality stream currently available, something different player hardware won't fix.

In either case, Roku is the only Netflix player that allows debugger control over the stream selection to diagnose / fix these types of issues.

The problem actually started when I selected 3.5 Mbps stream from the debugger screen. Initially it was set to auto. The PQ was inferior to what I was getting when set to auto, so I set the stream selection back to auto but failed to get the PQ I used to have. The material was the same. Heroes-season 3 in HD which has excellent video quality (near blu-ray quality as a matter of fact). I dismissed this as the cause, as changing the stream selection can't possibly change the picture quality permanently. Since that day every HD or SD movie I stream looks like crap even though Roku debugger indicated I stream @3.5 Mbps and I get four DOTS HD. I bought another Roku buy the problem is still there so I RMAed it back. I really don't know what else to do from here.

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post #89 of 6804 Old 10-11-2009, 07:40 PM
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Strange problem.

Might be a dumb suggestion, but maybe check to make sure you didn't accidentally change the display resolution setting on the Roku?

I don't really have any other thoughts...if the Roku is saying it's getting the best quality feed, but it's still looking worse than it was, then it must be something else.
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post #90 of 6804 Old 10-11-2009, 08:04 PM
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Strange problem.

Might be a dumb suggestion, but maybe check to make sure you didn't accidentally change the display resolution setting on the Roku?

I don't really have any other thoughts...if the Roku is saying it's getting the best quality feed, but it's still looking worse than it was, then it must be something else.

Checked all settings and connection, all OK. Did a soft and hard reset but nothing is working. Yeah, it is very strange.

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