Netflix (and Others): Does the "Box" Matter? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 03-17-2013, 09:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Does it matter if I stream Netflix, Hulu, etc., through a Roku, Apple TV, PS3 or Smart TV? Does the picture quality vary?
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post #2 of 27 Old 03-17-2013, 06:29 PM
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Yes it does vary quite a lot. Roku, who knows, I have no idea what model you have. Same story for your TV. Apple TV was only 720p for Netflix last time I checked. PS3 is 1080p, so that's probably your best bet. Then again, if you can't tell any difference, then it doesn't really matter.

In my experience, Hulu stinks no matter what the device.
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post #3 of 27 Old 03-17-2013, 08:57 PM
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Roku 2/3 and WD are top tier Netflix players, they will stream the 1080p DD5.1+ audio feeds. There are others but these are the most popular. And yes, the difference in quality is visible. From glancing at other threads I'm not sure I'd go the PS3 route.
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post #4 of 27 Old 03-18-2013, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

Apple TV was only 720p for Netflix last time I checked.

The Apple TV 3 is 1080p with Dolby Digital 5.1 (but not DD+).

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post #5 of 27 Old 03-18-2013, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Dstone001 View Post

Does it matter if I stream Netflix, Hulu, etc., through a Roku, Apple TV, PS3 or Smart TV? Does the picture quality vary?

The only way to get decent HD resolution for Hulu is the Hulu+ ($8/month) subscription.

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post #6 of 27 Old 03-21-2013, 12:43 AM
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I've definitely seen some very sharp material on Hulu Plus. I used it to watch Breaking Pointe (which, for unknown reasons, they have all but the first episode of its brief first season). Their top quality HD is 3.2 Mbps, which is a higher bit rate than Netflix's highest bit rate 720p. Of course, Netflix is using a special encoder, claimed to deliver same or better quality at lower bit rates.

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post #7 of 27 Old 03-21-2013, 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by michaeltscott View Post

I've definitely seen some very sharp material on Hulu Plus. I used it to watch Breaking Pointe (which, for unknown reasons, they have all but the first episode of its brief first season). Their top quality HD is 3.2 Mbps, which is a higher bit rate than Netflix's highest bit rate 720p. Of course, Netflix is using a special encoder, claimed to deliver same or better quality at lower bit rates.
I also found the some of the recent ABC shows like Scandal and Body of Proof look good on Hulu Plus, not as good as OTA but possibly better than some
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post #8 of 27 Old 08-22-2013, 07:54 AM - Thread Starter
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I find when I stream Netflix (which is the content app I use most), whether through a Roku or Apple Tv, the first 10 seconds or so are terrible quality and then it gets better. Every now and then, I think I'm getting a great picture. But usually, it's just "fine" picture.
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post #9 of 27 Old 08-22-2013, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dstone001 View Post

I find when I stream Netflix (which is the content app I use most), whether through a Roku or Apple Tv, the first 10 seconds or so are terrible quality and then it gets better.

That's due to something called Adaptive Bit-rate Streaming (ABS). Netflix keeps several versions of every title, encoded at different bit rates (standard def at 235-, 375-, 560-, 750-, 1050- and 1750 Kbps, high def--if any--at 2350-, 3000- and 3850 Kbps). As the bit rate rises so does picture quality; the ABS algorithm tries to determine and use the highest bit rate video encode which can be streamed in the available bandwidth on your connection(s) to their server(s). If available bandwidth decreases, it smoothly switches to a lower bit rate encode without pausing; if it increases it switches to a higher bit rate encode.

ABS algorithms used by the various Netflix players are not created equal; some devices ramp up to the highest bit rate encodes very quickly, some are slow.

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post #10 of 27 Old 08-22-2013, 03:17 PM
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Well on my PS3 if the video starts up at 720 HD 90% of the time (or 480 SD content about 60%) it will drop down to that horrible worthless 240 SD then slowly creep up and take at least 45 to 55 seconds to ramp up to 1080 HD (or 480SD content about 30 seconds). If it starts at 240 SD then it will ramp up to 1080 HD within 25 to 30 seconds. At least with the PS3 when it does go to 1080 HD it stays there through the entire program unlike the Roku 3 which drops down to SD during peak hours and refuses to go to HD at all. Of course I am not on Open Connect so your results may vary.

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post #11 of 27 Old 08-22-2013, 03:30 PM
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On my PS3 it usually leaps into the 4300 Kbps "Super HD" encode from the start; subsequent stream starts in the same session will start at 5800 Kbps. If it doesn't start the first stream at 4300 Kbps I'll generally stop the player and start again, since it seems to indicate a bad situation server-wise. One restart, if necessary, always does the trick.

All of the others (Rokus, Win8 app, website player, WD TV Live, TiVo Premiere, Xbox 360) tend to start at the lowest and creep up. Roku will start higher in subsequent stream starts as will TV Live and I've seen both start moderately high. The methods used by all of those devices for choosing the beginning encode need to be revisited.

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post #12 of 27 Old 08-22-2013, 06:18 PM
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I don't bother to reload the stream unless it buffers right away and gets stuck with is rare.

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post #13 of 27 Old 08-22-2013, 11:57 PM
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I find that if I don't get that instant ramp up with the first stream start I won't get it with subsequent ones in that session, so I kill the player and start again. It's kind of like getting a bad telephone connection, hanging up and redialing biggrin.gif. It rarely happens.

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post #14 of 27 Old 08-23-2013, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dstone001 View Post

I find when I stream Netflix (which is the content app I use most), whether through a Roku or Apple Tv, the first 10 seconds or so are terrible quality and then it gets better. Every now and then, I think I'm getting a great picture. But usually, it's just "fine" picture.

I am a little surprised you are seeing that on an Apple TV.

I find that Netlix always seems to start at highest quality on my Apple TV (3850 kbps as I am on Comcast so no Open Connect) - previously my Roku 2 took quite a long time (20-30 seconds) to ramp up.

To answer the original question I prefer the Apple TV over the Roku 2. Both support 1080P with the Roku 2 supporting 5.1 DD+ and Apple TV 5.1 DD - but to me the image on the Apple TV is superior with better color space and shadow detail when viewed on a calibrated 55" Panasonic Plasma (maybe because the Apple TV uses the more traditional YCbCr consumer color space and Roku 2 uses RGB)

Comcast 16 Mbps connection.
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post #15 of 27 Old 08-25-2013, 01:51 PM
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]Just bought a Sony 5100 BR Player and I find the picture to be better for Netflix then my Roku 2 ( the 1080P one), it seems to be sharper, better Contrast, who knows, maybe it has something to do with this RGB issue that the Roku has.

Vudu also looks better with the 5100.

Also with Comcast with their 50/10 service.
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post #16 of 27 Old 08-26-2013, 05:43 AM
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]Just bought a Sony 5100 BR Player and I find the picture to be better for Netflix then my Roku 2 ( the 1080P one), it seems to be sharper, better Contrast, who knows, maybe it has something to do with this RGB issue that the Roku has.

Vudu also looks better with the 5100.

Also with Comcast with their 50/10 service.

Same for me, better picture with the 5100.
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post #17 of 27 Old 09-01-2013, 03:58 PM
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Here is the dirty and ugly:

1. Netflix and Amazon both downthrottle bandwidth during peak hours, which is any night other than Mo and Tue. As a result your 1080p movie will go to 288i quite often, regardless of box. This also happens with Amazon paid rentals fuggetabout Prime. Their techs will try to serve you CoolAid stating that the problem is on your side. Not true because:

2. VUDU would rather interrrupt if your bandwidth is insufficient. My ISP got very good past 1-2 yrs and I got total 2 or 3 such messages.

To exemplify I watch a movie on Netflix and get tired of downthrottling, rent it on Vudu minutes later and voila, perfect 1080P all along.

Happens on Roku, PS3, HTPC, and smart TV upstairs too, I can bet you it happens with all.

I will keep Netflix for the wonderful arthouse and foreign cinema they have, but if I want serious entertainment i go the VUDU/UV route every time.

Amazon movies I check in once in a blue moon to see if things improved, not the case last week when I paid to watch Ultraviolet, the jumped ship to VUDU 20 minutes later with revelationary PQ.

For once the retail monster is doing something well and IMHO with this and the $50 free shipping on online purchases they will take back from Amazon what it took away from them (KY and PA major shipping hubs for SE OH, 90% of Amazon orders come in 1-2 days)
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post #18 of 27 Old 09-01-2013, 05:14 PM
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PS3 is great any time or day for Netflix. It might start out bad but it ramps up quickly and stays there. If it don't ramp up quickly I just let it play for about 20 seconds then hit the back scan button twice and it plays right away at high quality.

The Roku 3 is another turd though for Netflix. Poor streaming during peak hours. Streams randomly crapping out in the same spots. Also starting at bad quality more but the back scan does not help the stream start out at great quality.

Since I don't have Amazon Prime anymore I just disconnected it again and will wait to replace it with the new Apple TV when it comes out.

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post #19 of 27 Old 09-02-2013, 06:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reddice View Post

PS3 is great any time or day for Netflix. It might start out bad but it ramps up quickly and stays there. If it don't ramp up quickly I just let it play for about 20 seconds then hit the back scan button twice and it plays right away at high quality.

The Roku 3 is another turd though for Netflix. Poor streaming during peak hours. Streams randomly crapping out in the same spots. Also starting at bad quality more but the back scan does not help the stream start out at great quality.

Since I don't have Amazon Prime anymore I just disconnected it again and will wait to replace it with the new Apple TV when it comes out.

The more I read your rants about the Roku 3 the more I think you've got a defective unit. Have you ever considering returning it for a replacement? Yes I know it works for some of the other services.

My Roku 3 has been nothing but a pleasure to use and a clear upgrade over the Roku 1 I also own. It ramps up quickly from SD to HD on Netflix. Amazon, Hulu+ and VUDU are also flawless. All of the other boxes I own (WDTV Live and Apple TV3) also work great. I do not use wireless but have all my boxes ethernet wired through a switcher.

I say all of this because we are both using TWC/Road Runner as our internet provider. You are located in New York and my service comes out of Milwaukee. I've got the basic 15 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up service.

So I am having a hard time understanding why our experiences with the Roku 3 and Netflix are so dissimilar.

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post #20 of 27 Old 09-02-2013, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr.G View Post

The more I read your rants about the Roku 3 the more I think you've got a defective unit. Have you ever considering returning it for a replacement? Yes I know it works for some of the other services.

My Roku 3 has been nothing but a pleasure to use and a clear upgrade over the Roku 1 I also own. It ramps up quickly from SD to HD on Netflix. Amazon, Hulu+ and VUDU are also flawless. All of the other boxes I own (WDTV Live and Apple TV3) also work great. I do not use wireless but have all my boxes ethernet wired through a switcher.

I say all of this because we are both using TWC/Road Runner as our internet provider. You are located in New York and my service comes out of Milwaukee. I've got the basic 15 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up service.

So I am having a hard time understanding why our experiences with the Roku 3 and Netflix are so dissimilar.
Agree with you 100 percent. Using my Roku 3 with same cable service on 55" Panasonic plasma and everything through it looks great. Heck, my Roku XR connected to my 65" Panasonic plasma in my HT plays Netflix very good also.

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post #21 of 27 Old 09-02-2013, 08:56 AM
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I am way past the return date. As I said the unit is not defective. How many times do I have to say that during non peek hours I can stream HD on the Roku cruddy Netflix channel and the other channels like Amazon worked fine anytime.

I am done with the Roku 3 anyway. It is disconnected and packed away under my bed.

I am waiting for the 4th Gen Apple TV which I know will be great. I own Apple products like the iPod Touch, Nano and Apple makes great products. Until then I will use the PS3 for Netflix which is great anytime.

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post #22 of 27 Old 09-02-2013, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr.G View Post

The more I read your rants about the Roku 3 the more I think you've got a defective unit. Have you ever considering returning it for a replacement? Yes I know it works for some of the other services.

My Roku 3 has been nothing but a pleasure to use and a clear upgrade over the Roku 1 I also own. It ramps up quickly from SD to HD on Netflix. Amazon, Hulu+ and VUDU are also flawless. All of the other boxes I own (WDTV Live and Apple TV3) also work great. I do not use wireless but have all my boxes ethernet wired through a switcher.

I say all of this because we are both using TWC/Road Runner as our internet provider. You are located in New York and my service comes out of Milwaukee. I've got the basic 15 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up service.

So I am having a hard time understanding why our experiences with the Roku 3 and Netflix are so dissimilar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by subavision212 View Post

Agree with you 100 percent. Using my Roku 3 with same cable service on 55" Panasonic plasma and everything through it looks great. Heck, my Roku XR connected to my 65" Panasonic plasma in my HT plays Netflix very good also.


Both CNET and HT Magazine tested the Roku 3 extensively and gave it great reviews.

From HT Magazine, August issue, comments regarding video performance of the Roku 3:

Quote:
The Roku3 is a solid performer. Full 1080p HD video is clear and free of compression artifacts or other noise....... I never experienced more then a few seconds of buffering at the beginning of a show......


I have a Roku 2, and have very few buffering issues. Although I do have open connect, I've also rarely experienced problems with other streaming services, which include HBO Go and Vudu.


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post #23 of 27 Old 09-02-2013, 10:25 AM
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I am starting not to trust this tech sites no more. I think that they are bias towards other products too. I got burned from the Roku from sites like CNet. They never bothered to even show the Netflix channel in the review and if I knew it was that bad I would have never bought one. 90% of my TV viewing is Netflix. It does quote "Some services have an outdated interface on Roku compared to other streamers." but I would think Netflix the most popular channel would not have a dated interface from 2009.

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post #24 of 27 Old 09-02-2013, 10:45 AM
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I have best luck with PS 3 here do not own a Roku so I can not comment there PS 3 usually ramps up fine and stays there at least for me on ATT u verse internet service.

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post #25 of 27 Old 09-02-2013, 10:49 AM
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I have best luck with PS 3 here do not own a Roku so I can not comment there PS 3 usually ramps up fine and stays there at least for me on ATT u verse internet service.

I agree the PS3 is the best streaming device for Netflix when the streams ramp up to HD they stay there. I want to try a Apple TV as I heard great things about Netflix on there too but I know Apple is going to announce a new Apple TV soon so I am going to wait.

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post #26 of 27 Old 09-02-2013, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by reddice View Post

I am way past the return date. As I said the unit is not defective. How many times do I have to say that during non peek hours I can stream HD on the Roku cruddy Netflix channel and the other channels like Amazon worked fine anytime.

I am done with the Roku 3 anyway. It is disconnected and packed away under my bed.

I am waiting for the 4th Gen Apple TV which I know will be great. I own Apple products like the iPod Touch, Nano and Apple makes great products. Until then I will use the PS3 for Netflix which is great anytime.


You seem to be the only one who keeps complaining about the Roku 3. Have you tried a reset? I had a problem with my Roku where the screen would go blank now and again after a recent update. I reset the receiver to download the update again and since then I have had no issues. Regardless, unless you are a technician and have troubleshooted the unit, and your service, I don't see a problem with these players.

(You could always send me the unit, I'd be more then happy to take it off your hands.) wink.gifbiggrin.gif


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post #27 of 27 Old 09-02-2013, 12:04 PM
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I just posted it on eBay so no more complaining unless it does no sell. Anyway thanks but the Roku was not right for me and I did factory resets so many times that it became a PITA always having to reauthorize channels after. Thanks.

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