Originally Posted by mrsmith
I've just talked with Netflix and they tell me they get the films from the studios encoded the way the studios want, and Netflix has no say in the matter(i.e., Netflix does not do anything with them themselves
If you're watching on a big screen(such as a 65-inch plasma), the difference between the two encodings(and assuming a steady 5MB broadband connection) can be dramatic. 'Amadeus" I've watched at their 1080p, and 'The Great Train Robbery at what must be 720p are hugely different; the former is terrific, the latter lousy on that big a screen. I've asked Netflix to just put the difference next to their HD titles(as does Dish VOD), since the encloding is already identified on the source from the studio, if that's what they're saying. On the plus side, the 5.1 audio on Roku2 XS is almost universally excellent regardless of image quality. Perhaps if enough AVS forum members request this additional image info from Netflix, it will happen(?) As to 5.1 Roku2 connection, it can be optical or analog, both work just fine.
That post of mine that you quoted was for 10 December last year--11 months ago. In general it's not worth quoting year old posts about technology.
Who did you talk to at Netflix who told you that they get the titles pre-encoded from their content providers? I'm fairly certain that that's not true. Netflix has to create a set of 4 or 5 SD encodings at various bit rates, and, for the titles which have HD encodings, 2 at 720p and 1 at 1080p. It's my understanding that Netflix gets various types of source material from their content providers, but AFAICT without testing all 4000 of them, the vast majority of HD titles have 1080p encodings. Is all of the the source material worth encoding as 1080p? Who knows. It's definitely true that some of those 1080p encodings are better than others. From the last detailed thing that Netflix had to say about their encoding efforts, the 3 y/o "Encoding for streaming
" blog entry:
Our best sources are electronically delivered mezzanine files, or high quality D5 tapes, and the highest bitrate encodes of these sources really look as good or better than DVDs. Digibeta tape sources can also generate good encodes, but some sources just are not as good, regardless of the bitrate used for encoding. We also encode from DV tape and even on occasion from DVDs. We get HD sources for many titles, even if we only have the rights to stream SD. The HD sources permit a better SD encode than working from SD soures.
I went through a few dozen HD titles at random once and all of them had 1080p encodings (i.e., they got up to an "X-High/HD"). I myself have not yet randomly come upon a title which didn't have a 1080p encoding, though someone pointed out some anime titles that didn't have 1080p encodes (some other related anime titles from the same company did have 1080p encodes).
What HD titles have you watched that you don't believe have 1080p encodings? Again, some are better than others as is true of Blu-ray. There are some really horrible encodings on BD, some for fairly famous films, like The Girl Who Played With Fire
and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
; both are very unimpressive, though there's some suspicion that they may have been shot on 16mm (the first film of that cycle, Dragon Tatoo
, is pretty sharp). In generally, you need better than 5 Mbps to get 1080p from Netflix if there's any action involved. Netflix has stated that you need 8 Mbps, but that's a bad overestimation. The players which can play the 1080p encodings will dynamically switch to lesser and greater quality (lower and higher bit rate) encodings as available bandwidth on the connection to Netflix's servers fluctuates. Unless you always have more bandwidth than is necessary on the connection, you can be watching 1080p one minute and drop down to 720p or even SD the next.