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post #1 of 10 Old 03-19-2009, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
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I am trying to figure out what is the best streaming quality that I can get with a 6 Mbps U-verse internet connection. I am mostly interested in the PQ, but would also like to get decent surround sound as well. Right now, I have a Apple TV and a Roku box for streaming Netflix. I have a buyer for my PS3 in the works and was thinking of getting a Samsung 2550 BD player to dedicate to Netflix streaming duties. But, now I am wondering if maybe I should be considering a different option. That is where I would like some suggestions.

Based on my experience I can say that the Apple TV PQ is slightly better than the Netflix streaming -- and definitely more consistent. Of course, the Apple TV has DD 5.1, so it blows the Netflix stuff away. From what I have read the Apple TV HD movies are supposed to be better than the Vudu streaming HD. See this shootout link. I believe the Vudu is limited to a 4 Mbps bit rate -- whereas the Apple TV is somewhere between 5 and 6. Given that my internet connection is limited to 6 Mbps I'm seriously wondering if this is good as I am going to get with streaming.

Any other options out there? I am really only interested in HD movies -- I'm not a TV person. And I need to be able to watch instantly with no more than a minute or two wait. Given that I already have an Apple TV am I best off just sticking with my original plan to get a Samsung for the best Netflix streaming PQ?

Correction: Apple HD is actually up to 5 Mbps. Link.
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-19-2009, 10:43 AM
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That "shootout" is a year old. Vudu now has HDX which is supposedly the best streaming PQ out there.

But it's not really "streaming" from my understanding...more of a download so I don't think you can start watching in 1 or 2 minutes*

* Disclaimer: I don't have a Vudu, so I'm not sure my info on the download-to-watch-time is correct.
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post #3 of 10 Old 03-19-2009, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mproper View Post

That "shootout" is a year old. Vudu now has HDX which is supposedly the best streaming PQ out there.

But it's not really "streaming" from my understanding...more of a download so I don't think you can start watching in 1 or 2 minutes*

* Disclaimer: I don't have a Vudu, so I'm not sure my info on the download-to-watch-time is correct.

Has Vudu's HD streaming improved in the last year? Is there any more recent shootouts to look at?
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post #4 of 10 Old 03-19-2009, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by miata View Post

Has Vudu's HD streaming improved in the last year? Is there any more recent shootouts to look at?

Just do a Google on "Vudu HDX"....it came out around October (5-6 months after the shootout you link to).

Lots of info on it, and it significantly ups the quality of what they used to have, to supposedly the best quality out there (sub Blu-Ray of course, but from what I hear, pretty close)

I would check it out myself but I don't/won't pay $5-6 per rental.
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post #5 of 10 Old 03-19-2009, 07:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mproper View Post

Just do a Google on "Vudu HDX"....it came out around October (5-6 months after the shootout you link to).

Lots of info on it, and it significantly ups the quality of what they used to have, to supposedly the best quality out there (sub Blu-Ray of course, but from what I hear, pretty close)

I would check it out myself but I don't/won't pay $5-6 per rental.

The only problem with HDX is that you cannot stream it. The best quality that the Vudu supports for streaming movies is HD and the only comparison I've found on the web says that it is not as good as Apple TV HD. See my link above.
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post #6 of 10 Old 03-19-2009, 08:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miata View Post

The only problem with HDX is that you cannot stream it. The best quality that the Vudu supports for streaming movies is HD and the only comparison I've found on the web says that it is not as good as Apple TV HD. See my link above.

Vudu HD is 1080p but bit rate is < 4 Mbps average. O.K. for slow moving content, not the best for wild action. We do HD on the spur of the moment.

HDX averages 8-10 Mbps with 20 Mbps peaks I have read. We have to request DL 4.5 hours ahead of view time to get it 100% on the hard drive. I actually do it (start the DL) from work via a laptop.

SD is also watch instant (as HD) ... and the PQ is quite good. The wife/kids usually pick SD option. I pick HD and HDX, esp. on a planned movie night with friends coming over and we have an agreed title. (119" diagonal screen so I prefer HD but nobody else seems to care)

I have not tried AppleTV but it was one of my considerations until Vudu offered a $99 box over the holidays. I would sure like access to Netflix other than from an X-Box for the theater. These Vudu/Roku/AppleTV boxes are so small that 2 or 3 of them fit in the space of a DVD player. I have tried PSN for SD downloads and did not like the menu/procedure as much as Vudu. I also don't like X-Box for this reason.

I am considering Roku for Netflix access but not sure what titles if any are above and beyond Vudu.
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-19-2009, 09:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kevivoe View Post

Vudu HD is 1080p but bit rate is < 4 Mbps average. O.K. for slow moving content, not the best for wild action. We do HD on the spur of the moment.

HDX averages 8-10 Mbps with 20 Mbps peaks I have read. We have to request DL 4.5 hours ahead of view time to get it 100% on the hard drive. I actually do it (start the DL) from work via a laptop.

SD is also watch instant (as HD) ... and the PQ is quite good. The wife/kids usually pick SD option. I pick HD and HDX, esp. on a planned movie night with friends coming over and we have an agreed title. (119" diagonal screen so I prefer HD but nobody else seems to care)

I have not tried AppleTV but it was one of my considerations until Vudu offered a $99 box over the holidays. I would sure like access to Netflix other than from an X-Box for the theater. These Vudu/Roku/AppleTV boxes are so small that 2 or 3 of them fit in the space of a DVD player. I have tried PSN for SD downloads and did not like the menu/procedure as much as Vudu. I also don't like X-Box for this reason.

I am considering Roku for Netflix access but not sure what titles if any are above and beyond Vudu.

kevivoe,

I was really impressed with everything I read about Vudu. It sounds like a very nice system -- especially at the current prices. I was really hoping that the streaming HD would be better than the Apple TV, but it sounds like the encodes are bit starved even though they are at 1080 resolution. I wonder if there are any plans to increase the bit rate to provide higher quality instant playback for people with cable or 6 Mbps connections like me.

I've been impressed with the Netflix selection. Here is nice way to look at the list of movies available: http://instantwatcher.com/
I bet the better Netflix HD movies are pretty close to the Vudu streaming HD stuff.Sure many of the movies are a bit old, but there is some good stuff there. I just wish there was more HD and also that there was at least DD 5.1 audio. Still, the price is hard to beat.

If you are considering the Roku box you might also want to look at the Samsung 2550 Blu-ray player which you can get refurbished for only 2 times as much as the Roku player -- and is supposed to have better PQ -- not to mention that it is also a decent Blu-ray and DVD player. I'm on the waiting list for one now and will likely go that route unless I find a better instant streaming solution to complement my Apple TV and Roku player.
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-20-2009, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by miata View Post

kevivoe,

I was really impressed with everything I read about Vudu. It sounds like a very nice system -- especially at the current prices. I was really hoping that the streaming HD would be better than the Apple TV, but it sounds like the encodes are bit starved even though they are at 1080 resolution. I wonder if there are any plans to increase the bit rate to provide higher quality instant playback for people with cable or 6 Mbps connections like me.

I've been impressed with the Netflix selection. Here is nice way to look at the list of movies available: http://instantwatcher.com/
I bet the better Netflix HD movies are pretty close to the Vudu streaming HD stuff.Sure many of the movies are a bit old, but there is some good stuff there. I just wish there was more HD and also that there was at least DD 5.1 audio. Still, the price is hard to beat.

If you are considering the Roku box you might also want to look at the Samsung 2550 Blu-ray player which you can get refurbished for only 2 times as much as the Roku player -- and is supposed to have better PQ -- not to mention that it is also a decent Blu-ray and DVD player. I'm on the waiting list for one now and will likely go that route unless I find a better instant streaming solution to complement my Apple TV and Roku player.

As far as best streaming service (I have all 3) on my 12/2 cable connect:

Vudu wins in overall experience, user interface, selection (movies) and quality. Negatives are it is not as good as blu-ray, PPV, delayed viewing of HDX, it is a start-up.

Netflix wins in price. They also have a good selection of TV shows. The quality ranges from dvdish on their "HD" titles to unwatchable.

Not sure exactly where appletv competes except that it is a multifunctional device and has the support of apple with I imagine what is the largest installed userbase.

I use netflix dvd/bd by mail the most, vudu 2nd, netflix streaming rarely, and basically never use the appletv.

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post #9 of 10 Old 03-20-2009, 08:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bald View Post

As far as best streaming service (I have all 3) on my 12/2 cable connect:

Vudu wins in overall experience, user interface, selection (movies) and quality. Negatives are it is not as good as blu-ray, PPV, delayed viewing of HDX, it is a start-up.

Netflix wins in price. They also have a good selection of TV shows. The quality ranges from dvdish on their "HD" titles to unwatchable.

Not sure exactly where appletv competes except that it is a multifunctional device and has the support of apple with I imagine what is the largest installed userbase.

I use netflix dvd/bd by mail the most, vudu 2nd, netflix streaming rarely, and basically never use the appletv.

bald

Once again, it seems that the only other device worth considering is the Vudu.

Bald - Did you ever do any kind of comparison to the Apple TV? I still haven't heard how the HD to HD streaming compares to the Apple TV. I just know that new titles cost 1 more.

I find that lately I am watching stuff the following order of frequency:

- Netflix rented Blu-ray
- Netflix HD streaming
- Owned Blu-ray or DVD
- Netflix SD streaming
- Apple TV HD streaming ("although they are technically downloads")

The logical thing to do would be to get the Samsung since I watch so much Netflix streaming, but the Vudu interface sounds really nice and I am a sucker for new gadgets. I did pull down the Vudu owner's manual and I do have one question though. The manual says:

"The Movie Details screen presents important information about each movie, including its genre, synopsis, running time, country of origin, and a preview, when available."

Do most of the HD movies have a preview?

The only reservations I have is around the quality of the HD streams compared to the Apple TV and the fact that they cost $1 more. I just checked and the local Best Buy has these Vudu boxes in stock at the $150 price. I am tempted to go down and pick one to do a comparison with the Apple TV for myself. Decisions, decisions...

Update:
I answered my own question about previews by running down to Best to play with a Vudu box that they had on display. It seems that many of the newer movies have previews, but few of the foreign or less popular movies do. Overall, I like the interface of the Vudu more than the Apple TV for browsing movies. The filtering capabilities are really nice. However, the Apple TV wins when it comes to previews, since it has previews for all movies and they are all full screen. Unfortunately, I was not able to watch any movies to evaluate as this was a demo only box.
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-20-2009, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miata View Post

....

Bald - Did you ever do any kind of comparison to the Apple TV? I still haven't heard how the HD to HD streaming compares to the Apple TV. I just know that new titles cost 1 more.

....

Do most of the HD movies have a preview?

A good Vudu HD transfer and a good apple HD transfer are close. I give the edge to vudu. HDX is easily better than apple hd. The Vudu is also a lot more enjoyable to use than the atv interface. For some reason, my download speeds are also more reliably maxed out on the vudu than with the apple. Not sure if that's due to the p2p on the vudu, or specific to my location/connection.

WHat you said about previews is probably fair. Most of the new movies seem to have full screen previews, some are windowed, and some older/less popular films dont have trailers.

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