Okay--my DMP-BDT110 came yesterday and I've played around with it some. It seems to run the same Netflix player as the PS3 (though it performs a bit differently) and has access to the 5.1 soundtracks and closed captions available on some titles. AFAICT, the presentation is pixel-for-pixel identical to the PS3's--it's an HTML5 app, much of which is dynamically downloaded at startup (which is why there are still multiple variants of it running on the PS3).
I ran a handful of experiments and the player apparently does not have access to 1080p encodings (or, as some would have it, the higher-bit-rate-720p encodings
). It does seem to use the same "DASH"-like tech the PS3 player does, though it doesn't perform quite as well. (DASH, or "Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP", is an emerging ISO standard for adaptive bit rate video streaming; Netflix and several major tech concerns are supporting the effort--see this
). The PS3's player seems to use the adaptive bit rate streaming tech to start streams very nearly instantly (typically 3 seconds or less after pushing PLAY); the BDT110's stream start time is very average, usually 15 seconds or more. The PS3 switches between encodings of different bit rates seamlessly--you can see that it's happening, but it's so smooth it's a bit like watching the focus of a lens sharpen and soften. The BDT110's encoding switches often involve a skipped frame or two, the entire screen flashing black for a fraction of a second. During my playing around with it, conditions on my connection were never so turbulent to make it happen more than a couple of times during stream start--if I saw a lot of that, I'd probably stop watching. The algorithm might be sensitive to that possibility and have provisions to deal with it.
Here are some graphs of bandwidth consumption during Netflix play, 10 minutes of a long high-action sequence at the beginning of The Good, the Bad, the Weird
starting about 3 minutes in (I chose it because its PQ has received a lot of praise in these forums). 5.1 audio was explicitly selected (strangely it was the default on the PS3 but not the BDT110). My method was to push PLAY, start a stopwatch when the video appeared and snap a picture of the bandwidth usage graph at 13 minutes. I'd run this before on the PS3, but I did it again as a sanity check--the results turn out to be highly repeatable. If you blow this page up to fill the screen, you'll see the graphs from a single machine displayed side-by-side. The scales are not the same--there doesn't seem to be any way to control that in my router's monitor; pay attention to the TX numbers (in these, the router's reporting bandwidth of data transmitted to the attached devices):
The Roku's buffering algorithm is obviously different; it seems to be loading up and playing until some low-water mark, then loading again, lather, rinse, repeat
Here's some graphs of the HD version of The Dark Knight
as streamed from Amazon on the Panny and the Roku. No 5.1 on this one, but some Amazon streams do have it. Pretty damn decent PQ for the bit rate, though I don't know that I'd feel like I got my money's worth for a $5 new release rental. Again, the Roku's buffering pattern is distinctive:
Note that all of these streaming players start by downloading a large bolus of data--with my Network service it was a 25+ Mbps spike for a couple seconds.
I'm probably going to keep the Panny and return the Roku--I only bought either device to get access to Amazon streaming (a weak excuse for buying a new toy
) and I certainly don't need both. The Roku has more apps (mostly junk), but the Panny does everything I need it to do and has VUDU (VUDU surprisingly gave me another $6 credit for registering a new device on my existing account--sweet
). The Panny has a bunch of other capabilities that I haven't explored yet, like an ability to play content from DLNA servers (not to mention 3D BD playback, though I'm not interested in that). I also got a coupon with the Panny good for a free copy of the 3D Avatar