Odd Netflix issue - X-High/HD no longer available - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 429 Old 12-05-2012, 07:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reddice View Post

Also the big news now on Netflix is there exclusive deal with Disney...

Though the main part of that deal doesn't go into effect until 2016, after a similar arrangement with Starz expires, examining the latest "Family and Children" features on Netflix at TVandMoviesNow.com (here), it looks as though 23 Disney movies were added yesterday. Some goodies in there, though not the top shelf ones, like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Sleeping Beauty, etc.

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post #92 of 429 Old 12-05-2012, 07:39 PM
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Interesting. The eyeIO technology was first announced last February. During that announcement, eyeIO stated that Netflix had already started to deploy the technology to reduce the bandwidth required while maintaining quality. However, the evidence presented above by folks is undeniable. Perhaps eyeIO made a new rev of software available to Netflix. Or, perhaps Netflix had previously deployed it on only a small number of titles. Inquiring minds want to know more...

Here's an article stating Netflix had already started to utilize the technology:
http://paidcontent.org/2012/02/03/419-new-tech-partner-promises-to-cut-netflix-streaming-bandwidth-in-half/
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post #93 of 429 Old 12-05-2012, 08:58 PM
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Cool they already have "Alice in Wonderland" the classic 1951 film one of my favorite Disney films. I thought I would have to wait till 2016 which is four years from now to watch it. smile.gif

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post #94 of 429 Old 12-05-2012, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerOne View Post

Here's an article stating Netflix had already started to utilize the technology:
http://paidcontent.org/2012/02/03/419-new-tech-partner-promises-to-cut-netflix-streaming-bandwidth-in-half/

Perhaps they started deploying it in Latin America first, where the article states that they have a particular problem with limited bandwidth.

You have a contact at Netflix? Maybe you can get them to comment as a tech blogger.

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post #95 of 429 Old 12-06-2012, 05:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbrennan191 View Post

I'd like to think that theory that they reduced the bit rates while maintaining picture quality is true(...)

Respectfully I do not agree. I clearly can see degraded quality from X-High/HD to High/HD. There is no way I can say that the current High/HD quality is the same as X-High/HD.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbrennan191 View Post

(...)Additionally, it could just be in my head, but the quality just doesn't look as good as the old X-High streams...

Definitively the current High/HD quality is worse than the previous X-High/HD. The X-High/HD quality was visually on par with my cable TV HD channels (which allegedly uses a 6Mbps 1080i encoding). And now the Netflix High/HD is quite worse than the HD channels from my cable TV.

However notice I am in Brazil (our movies and shows catalog is much less than what you have there in US), so perhaps Neflix decided just to cap the bitrate here and decrease the quality.
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post #96 of 429 Old 12-06-2012, 08:05 AM
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The hypothesis that Netflix is using a new and more efficient encoding seems very plausible. A few months ago I watched several episodes of "Lost" and was extremely impressed by picture quality. Last night I watched another episode. I again found the picture quality very impressive; I would not want to bet money that objective measurements or a panel of expert picture-quality evaluators would find that PQ had declined. I repeated this experiment with "Warehouse 13," another show I had previously watched and thought had excellent PQ. Same result. So for me (PS3 and Samsung's top 58" plasma TV from 2010, viewed from 9-10 feet, Verizon FIOS 10Mbs download speed) the picture quality seems about the same as before.

How PQ is measured for the purpose of determining efficiency sounds like an interesting topic. It was mentioned that one aspect of PQ could be objectively measured as a signal-to-noise statistic calculated from still captures. Are similarly objective measures available for aspects like motion resolution? Also, I read in Wikipedia yesterday that subjective picture quality evaluations derived from panels of viewers are sometimes employed in determining encoding efficiency. That makes one wonder who populates the panels, experts or "typical" viewers, and what display/TV, "reference" or "typical," the panel members are looking at. It might be optimal for a profit-maximizing firm to use "typical."


On Vudu HDX vs Netflix 1080p: Many months ago I watched the 1975 classic "Chinatown" on Vudu HDX. A few days later I discovered that Netflix streamed it, at x-high if I recall. So I watched the first 5-10 minutes again. Good PQ, but definitely not as good as Vudu.
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post #97 of 429 Old 12-06-2012, 11:39 AM
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That's the problem. Picture looks degraded to me as well.
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post #98 of 429 Old 12-06-2012, 12:08 PM
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FWIW, I confirmed on the Oppo BDP-103 that X-High-HD is only available on the "example" streams and high-HD is the best I can do on any other 1080p/5.1 title.
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post #99 of 429 Old 12-06-2012, 08:21 PM
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Let's review the evidence supporting the theory that Netflix is switching to a lower bit rate set of encodings:

  1. The bit rate when output of a device is constrained to 720p is observed to be 27% lower than when output is set to 1080p (completely repeatable on both a PS3 and a Roku as posted back here)
  2. "High/HD" is a higher bit rate than the previous top 720p bit rate, by about 8%
  3. The high 720p bit rate in the web player's list of encodings has changed from 3600 Kbps to 3000 Kbps, as I posted back here; it's still 3600 Kbps for the example clip which shows X-High/HD in the players with stream status displays
  4. It was announced that Netflix had purchased technology with which to do this back in February, so that they've apparently begun to roll it out in the US 10 months later should come as no surprise (what I find surprising is that the reduction in bit rate isn't greater than the 15-20% were seeing, since the makers of the tech brag that they can equal quality of older encoders with half the bits)

The question that remains in my mind is whether the new video encodes are actually as good as the old (what eyeIO has claimed is that they can do better with a 20% reduction and as good as older encoders in as little as half the bits). Obviously some of you don't think so, but we have no basis for objective evaluation since we can't do side-by-side comparisons. I've asked forum member msgohan to do some screen caps with his HDMI capture card for comparison with his old captures of the same frames. Hopefully he'll agree to do that. Additionally at least one tech blogger is pinging his Netflix contact for some info on what's going on.
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post #100 of 429 Old 12-06-2012, 08:39 PM
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MichaelScott (and others),

Great stuff! This is why I love AVS (and I'm pleased to find a thread without childish bickering). I noticed this a few weeks ago and just got around to searching for it.

My 2 cents...I checked my stream quality because it wasn't as crisp as I remembered(with no knowledge of this issue)....that's the only way I found out I wasn't getting x-high.

It certainly seems like they switched encoding/streaming tech, but I only checked the quality because it seemed softer-looking to me. More efficient, maybe, but not able to achieve the same quality at the max bitrate they chose to use.

anyway...thanks again for your work on this. fun read.
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post #101 of 429 Old 12-06-2012, 09:31 PM
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Forum member RangerOne posted in his TechofTheHub blog about this today. He got a "no comment at this time" response when he asked Netflix about it (as distinct from a definite "we haven't changed anything").

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post #102 of 429 Old 12-06-2012, 10:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

FWIW, I confirmed on the Oppo BDP-103 that X-High-HD is only available on the "example" streams and high-HD is the best I can do on any other 1080p/5.1 title.
Same on LG BP620.
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post #103 of 429 Old 12-06-2012, 11:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

FWIW, I confirmed on the Oppo BDP-103 that X-High-HD is only available on the "example" streams and high-HD is the best I can do on any other 1080p/5.1 title.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gushin View Post

Same on LG BP620.

So the question for both of you is what do you think of the picture quality?

Is it degraded - or same as before?

From michaelscotts analysis it seems likely you are still getting 1080P streams.

What do they look like - ignoring whether the player is reporting 'X-High-HD' or whatever?
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post #104 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 03:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

Let's review the evidence supporting the theory that Netflix is switching to a lower bit rate set of encodings:
  1. The bit rate when output of a device is constrained to 720p is observed to be 27% lower than when output is set to 1080p (completely repeatable on both a PS3 and a Roku as posted back here)
  2. "High/HD" is a higher bit rate than the previous top 720p bit rate, by about 8%
  3. The high 720p bit rate in the web player's list of encodings has changed from 3600 Kbps to 3000 Kbps, as I posted back here; it's still 3600 Kbps for the example clip which shows X-High/HD in the players with stream status displays
  4. It was announced that Netflix had purchased technology with which to do this back in February, so that they've apparently begun to roll it out in the US 10 months later should come as no surprise (what I find surprising is that the reduction in bit rate isn't greater than the 15-20% were seeing, since the makers of the tech brag that they can equal quality of older encoders with half the bits)
The question that remains in my mind is whether the new video encodes are actually as good as the old (what eyeIO has claimed is that they can do better with a 20% reduction and as good as older encoders in as little as half the bits). Obviously some of you don't think so, but we have no basis for objective evaluation since we can't do side-by-side comparisons. I've asked forum member msgohan to do some screen caps with his HDMI capture card for comparison with his old captures of the same frames. Hopefully he'll agree to do that. Additionally at least one tech blogger is pinging his Netflix contact for some info on what's going on.

Excellent summary. Just notice that this is being rolled out not only in US, but at least in Canada and Brazil as well. We have no report from UK so far.

BTW, I have the Netflix App in my iPhone, and this morning I got an update to a newer version.

I am wondering that soon we will be getting updates for PS3 and for other devices, and in this case the player will start showing X-High/HD for 3000 Kbps birates (this is probably hardcoded in the software, and with a bitrate of 3000 Kbps the current players are showing High/HD as we are seeing).

I also managed to use the "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Up, Up, Up, Up" in my Samsung BD-E5300 and it showed the software version (as documented in Netflix website support for LG and XBox).

Tonight I will try the above trick in my PS3, and I will also connect an USB keyboard to the PS3 to check if some the secret keys combinations that works in the web player (Ctrl+Shift+Alt+S/D/P/L) will work in PS3 so we might know which is the maximum bitrate on PS3 (I don't think they will work, but I will give a try anyway).
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post #105 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 06:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by undecided View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

FWIW, I confirmed on the Oppo BDP-103 that X-High-HD is only available on the "example" streams and high-HD is the best I can do on any other 1080p/5.1 title.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gushin View Post

Same on LG BP620.

So the question for both of you is what do you think of the picture quality?

Is it degraded - or same as before?

From michaelscotts analysis it seems likely you are still getting 1080P streams.

What do they look like - ignoring whether the player is reporting 'X-High-HD' or whatever?

1080p or 720p isn't really the question. 720p with adequate bit rate can even look better than 1080p with low bit rate.

I'd have to say that it looks a bit softer than it used to. I don't currently watch enough Netflix streaming to really be sure. But I'd also say that my expectations are always low for streaming PQ.
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post #106 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 07:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by undecided View Post

So the question for both of you is what do you think of the picture quality?
Is it degraded - or same as before?
From michaelscotts analysis it seems likely you are still getting 1080P streams.
What do they look like - ignoring whether the player is reporting 'X-High-HD' or whatever?
I can definitely see the picture being softer than before. It's still acceptable, but there was just an extra clarity when playing in HD/X-High over just HD/High.
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post #107 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

1080p or 720p isn't really the question. 720p with adequate bit rate can even look better than 1080p with low bit rate.
I'd have to say that it looks a bit softer than it used to. I don't currently watch enough Netflix streaming to really be sure. But I'd also say that my expectations are always low for streaming PQ.

This might well be exactly a side-effect of the EyeIO technology (lower bitrates with supposedly the same image quality).

See the picture below (from this article), where a lower bitrate image using another technology similar do EyeIO (called "Digital Blonde") is compared with a higher bitrate video using a regular H264 compression engine.

It is interesting to notice that the side-effect is exactly a softer image:

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post #108 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 09:08 AM
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If someone here already uses Windows 8, then is possible to access the 1080p stream.

It has to be done via the new Netflix app for Windows 8, not from a web browser.

Netflix Features on the Windows 8 App

Unfortunately, I only have access to Windows 7 PCs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

Sadly the web player can't access the 1080p encode--if it could, the Stream Manager presumably would have shown its bit rate (if it's the same 80% of the old, it'd be 3840 Kbps).

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post #109 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 09:31 AM
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I watched Phineas & Ferb the series yesterday which always only goes up to High/HD and it did only go to High/HD and the PQ was the same. What I am saying is that if the bitrate was cut with a new codec then it should have showed up as Medium/HD since X-High/HD content shows up as High/HD which has me thinking that all the HD videos on there except for the example short are really 720p. Unless anyone here wants to try Phineas & Ferb to see if it plays at 3000 kbps or 3800 kbps.

Also finally a blog post with something about this problem. Where do you find these links? When I search on Google I keep getting annoying crap about Apple TV this and mobile devices that. Hello if I wanted to search for the crappy Apple TV I would have put the word Apple TV in the search result. mad.gif Anyway end of rant. Glad for this great community otherwise if I relied on these tech sites I would have been in the dark and I would have thought it was a problem on my end TWC throttling my connection or something.

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post #110 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reddice View Post

I watched Phineas & Ferb the series yesterday which always only goes up to High/HD and it did only go to High/HD and the PQ was the same. What I am saying is that if the bitrate was cut with a new codec then it should have showed up as Medium/HD since X-High/HD content shows up as High/HD which has me thinking that all the HD videos on there except for the example short are really 720p. Unless anyone here wants to try Phineas & Ferb to see if it plays at 3000 kbps or 3800 kbps.

I've found that some titles still have 3600 Kbps encodes instead of a 3000 Kbps one. Poking around through my Instant Queue for a few minutes, I find that these include Mad Men, Law & Order: SVU, Doctor Who and others. Curiously they include the very recently added The King's Speech and The Artist; whatever they're doing it's a work in progress. (You can determine if a title has one by playing it in the web player, left-clicking once it starts to give the player keyboard focus and typing CTRL-SHIFT-ALT-S). Curiously these still don't get above High/HD when viewed on the PS3, but if only their 1080p encoding has been replaced then a switch to it wouldn't change the indicator.
Quote:
Also finally a blog post with something about this problem. Where do you find these links?

I'm in touch with that blogger who told me about that post; he can't post links to his own blog in this forum because it's against the rules. He just added that one yesterday so you wouldn't have found it in your prior searches.

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post #111 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaioTheBrain View Post

If someone here already uses Windows 8, then is possible to access the 1080p stream.
It has to be done via the new Netflix app for Windows 8, not from a web browser.
Netflix Features on the Windows 8 App
Unfortunately, I only have access to Windows 7 PCs.

Huh. I thought that I'd read that the Windows 8 Netflix app still only goes up to 720p. (Strangely there's a bunch of titles which can only be viewed on PCs at SD resolution; must be due to licensing agreements with paranoid rights holders rolleyes.gif).

Anybody running Windows 8? I was considering "upgrading" to Windows 8 Pro soon, taking advantage of the $40 upgrade offer.

From my measurements, if they haven't change the bit rate of the, I'm anticipating that the new 1080p video bit rate is something between 3810 Kbps and 3890 Kbps. Of course, Dolby recently announced new encoder tech for DD+ which doubles its efficiency, so they might be screwing around with that as well.

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post #112 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 02:31 PM
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The bitrate of the X-High/HD 1080p has always been 4800 kbps, therefore its new bitrate should be 4000 kbps (4800 / 1.2), as long as 3000 = 3600 / 1.2.

The new 3000 kbps bitrate is for High/HD 720p.

About the steps to access the disconnect option, and by consequence some software information, on a Samsung BDP or HT, you can view here:

Disconnect Samsung Blu-ray or Home Theater from Your Netflix Account

There is also a page to access that option on a Sony PlayStation 3, but I'm not sure about it showing any software info:

Disconnect Sony PlayStation 3 from your Netflix Account
Quote:
Originally Posted by drdsouza View Post

I am wondering that soon we will be getting updates for PS3 and for other devices, and in this case the player will start showing X-High/HD for 3000 Kbps birates (this is probably hardcoded in the software, and with a bitrate of 3000 Kbps the current players are showing High/HD as we are seeing).
I also managed to use the "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Up, Up, Up, Up" in my Samsung BD-E5300 and it showed the software version (as documented in Netflix website support for LG and XBox).
Tonight I will try the above trick in my PS3, and I will also connect an USB keyboard to the PS3 to check if some the secret keys combinations that works in the web player (Ctrl+Shift+Alt+S/D/P/L) will work in PS3 so we might know which is the maximum bitrate on PS3 (I don't think they will work, but I will give a try anyway).

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post #113 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Despite the talk of the supposedly better compression, is there any proof we are actually getting 1080p, or just a better encoded 720p?

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post #114 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 04:46 PM
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Forum member RangerOne (aka Gabe Gagliano) got a response from Netflix on this issue and updated that TechoftheHub blog entry that I linked to above:
Quote:
Mystery Solved! Netflix got back to us today and stated they have started to roll out eyeIO’s new more bandwidth efficient encoding. Netflix also said that the new encodes deliver better quality at lower bit rates. Thus, allowing customers with slower connections to receive 1080P video streams. They also stated that the new encodes should provide “additional detail in the textures, shadows, skies, and particularly faces”.

There was a conscious decision made to label these new encodes as “High” instead of “X-High” by Netflix. Responding to a follow-up question, Netflix wouldn’t commit to whether or not they are developing encodes with higher bitrates. However, given that they left “X-High” open, I believe that Netflix is working on rolling out a higher bitrate 1080P encode. Hopefully, this would be superior to the old “X-High” with the same amount or less bandwidth. Higher quality 1080P would be a big winner for customers! Stay tuned and keep streaming!

So, I was right about them rolling out reduced bit rate video encodes created with eyeIO tech. Interesting that the "High/HD" label for 1080p is intentional (I need to check that out by playing one of those titles which still have a 3600 Kpbs 720p encode with platform video output constrained to 720p; it should still show up as Medium/HD). I wonder if they'll relabel the 2350 Mbps 720p encode as "Low/HD". Obviously many of you would disagree with their assertion that these encodes have “additional detail in the textures, shadows, skies, and particularly faces”. I reserve my opinion until I can compare frame captures, which hopefully msgohan will provide (he hasn't responded to my PM yet). An old standard of encode sharpness was The Good, the Bad, the Weird, which still looks pretty crispy (though just as "shuddery" in fast motion scenes as it always was).
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post #115 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 05:03 PM
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I notice the wording: "the new encodes deliver better quality at lower bit rates"
Which is not the same thing as saying: "equal quality at a lower bit rate".
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post #116 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

I notice the wording: "the new encodes deliver better quality at lower bit rates"
Which is not the same thing as saying: "equal quality at a lower bit rate".

To me that says "better than our old encodes at higher bit rates". The decrease in bit rates seems to be about 20% and eyeIO has claimed that they can do better than normal encoders with 20% fewer bits and equal their quality with half the bits (as quoted in tech blog articles like this one). Netflix obviously agrees though some who've posted to this thread would disagree.

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post #117 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 05:52 PM
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I keep hoping for Netflix to update the app to 2.11 for the PS3 everyday. Maybe when they do update the app to 2.11 it will start showing X-High with the new encoders.

So is the new High/HD 720p or 1080p?

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post #118 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

Interesting that the "High/HD" label for 1080p is intentional (I need to check that out by playing one of those titles which still have a 3600 Kpbs 720p encode with platform video output constrained to 720p; it should still show up as Medium/HD).

Well, now I've tried it and titles with 3600 Kbps 720p encodes will get "High/HD" with video output resolution constrained to 720p whereas for those with 3000 Kbps 720p encodes, the indicator stops at Medium/HD. I still think that what's displayed for that is completely determined by the current encode bit rate and that the correspondence between rates and labels hasn't changed yet..

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post #119 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 05:57 PM
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So is the new High/HD 720p or 1080p?

As I posted above it would seem to be both. For the titles which still have 3600 Kbps 720p encodes those will still show up as High/HD as will the new 1080p encodes which I estimate to be around 3800 Mbps. For titles where a 3000 Kbps encode replaces the old 3600 Kbps one, the 3000 Kbps will show as Medium/HD. I think the switch is a work in progress.

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post #120 of 429 Old 12-07-2012, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

As I posted above it would seem to be both. For the titles which still have 3600 Kbps 720p encodes those will still show up as High/HD as will the new 1080p encodes which I estimate to be around 3800 Mbps. For titles where a 3000 Kbps encode replaces the old 3600 Kbps one, the 3000 Kbps will show as Medium/HD. I think the switch is a work in progress.

Thanks now I understand. Just update the PS3 app to 2.11 to show the right video quality.

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