Originally Posted by KLJ
will any hi-def material be available?
Let me give you an answer from someone who has been watching Netflix streaming more or less since it became available (I watched my first stream on PC on 5 May 2007, some 2 years, 5 months ago and more than a year before the service became available on embedded devices).
Yes, Netflix Watch Instantly includes some titles with HD encodings, though they are a small percentage of the 18,600 streams available. Right now, there's 480 titles with HD encodings; if you are currently logged in to Netflix and have an HD-capable streaming device registered (right now, anything except a PC) you can see them listed at http://netflix.com/WiHD
. Be sure to click the "Show Rated and Seen Titles" check box to the right of the page to see the full list. (For some reason they won't show that list to anyone who hasn't made an investment of time and cash in getting set up to view them, making it a bit more difficult to make the decision of whether you want
to make that investment
. Thanks to mproper for his correction in the post below--I'd forgotten that you have to have a registered HD streamer to see that list).
Every title has several streams so that they can be watched by people with a wide range of connection speeds; picture quality increases with bit rate. There are standard definition streams (both widescreen and 4:3) encoded in VC1AP at .375, .500, 1.0, and 1.5 Mbps and the aforementioned 480 titles have HD resolution streams (720p at 24 frames/sec) encoded at 2.6 Mbps and 3.8 Mbps. Before it starts streaming it tests your connection speed (not the rated line speed of your service, but the actual speed of your current connection to their server); it will send you the highest quality version of the stream encoded at a bit rate which doesn't exceed 80% of the tested speed. Since the streams are encoded at variable bit rate, they can momentarily exceed those average rates that I quoted; the requirement for a 20% higher bit rate gives the stream some breathing room. Consequently, you need a connection of at least 3.25 Mbps to get the lower bit rate HD encoding and 4.75 Mbps to get the higher bit rate HD encoding. Again, that's connection speed, not the rated line speed of your service. Your service might be rated at 10 Mbps but, for numerous reasons, to some sites you might get a lot less than that. If you connection speed drops below what it first tested as, the player will pause and select a lower bit rate (also lower quality) version of the stream. The PC player uses Silverlight and can sense when the connection speed rises again and switch back to a higher quality encoding; none of the others can (though I suspect that the newer version of the Xbox player might
be doing it).
For some reason they do not give the PC player access to the HD resolution streams. It probably has to do with Hollywood paranoid thinking that someone will come up with a method for capturing the "high value" HD resolution streams, if they're being sent to a general purpose computer. I believe that they'll eventually get over it
Obviously, at 3.8 Mbps and 720p24, these streams are not going to come close the quality of Blu-ray, which are 1080p24 at 15 Mbps up to quite a bit higher. That said, some of them look quite sharp--certainly better than an upconverted DVD and about as good as most HDTV.
Originally Posted by Joe_Blow_1974
As I look through my blue-ray Nextflix account, I cannot see any Blue-ray movie that says "Play".
Things available on my DVD Queue which are available on Blu-ray disc and as a Watch Instantly stream:
- Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - 2007
- The Orphanage - 2007
- National Treasure: Book of Secrets - 2007
- Step Up 2 the Streets - 2008
- Humbolt County - 2008
- Special - 2006
- Splinter - 2008
- Two Lovers - 2008
- The Great Buck Howard - 2008
Things on my Instant Queue (but not DVD queue) that are available on Blu-ray and as a stream:
- Heroes: Season 3 - 2008
- Serenity - 2005
- CSI: Season 9 - 2008
- Star Trek: Season 1 - 1966
- Flawless - 2007
- Monsoon Wedding - 2001
- The Secret - 2007
- A Few Good Men - 1992
- Ghost Busters - 1984
There are about 20 other titles on my Instant Queue available as HD streams but not on Blu-ray. (Two of the titles in my Instant Queue are only
available as streams Heroes: Season 4
(2009) and Amazing Stories: Season 2
(1986). Heroes: Season 4
isn't available on video disc because it's the current season; new episodes become available for streaming on the day after they air and HD encodes for all of the episodes are available (I forget whether that's true for Amazing Stories: Season 2
Not counting the PC, I currently have two embedded Netflix streamers: TiVo Series3 and Xbox 360; when this PS3 disc ships, I'll have three. I like the Xbox GUI best of the two I already have, but mine is a noisy early model and I sit fairly close to it and the monitor, so it can be more pleasant to use TiVo for the purpose.