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post #1 of 75 Old 10-27-2008, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Anybody else watching free TV and movies at Hulu.com?

Decoding and scaling Hulu videos to full screen at HDTV resolutions using the CPU can run some computer CPUs over 50%, resulting in video stutter. Adobe claims that their Flash player (currently version 10) can use hardware acceleration to improve full screen playback, and there is a check box to enable this on the plugin's settings dialog. Unfortunately for me, I see no CPU utilization difference on my new homebuilt Vista HTPC whether the setting is checked or not, and I get some stuttering.

Has anybody here found that their hardware is supported by Adobe Flash Player and makes a difference at full screen playback?

I am using an Intel DG45ID motherboard with on-board video that supports hardware acceleration and scaling of H.264 and MPEG-2 under Media Player and Vista Media Center. It plays recorded HDTV shows and DVDs flawlessly full screen at 1080p at low CPU utilization. Hulu 480p video runs smoothly for me inside the browser at <10% CPU. If I display Hulu 480p full screen at 1366x768 the CPU goes to 25% but it is still mostly smooth. If I play full screen at 1080P the CPU goes above 50% and the video becomes jerky. Hulu 720p videos have some stutter at full screen on my system, running over 50% CPU.

So why is Flash Player using up my CPU? Or is it a problem with the way Hulu uses Flash?
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post #2 of 75 Old 10-27-2008, 10:24 AM
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I've been wrestling with this very issue. I have an older HTPC that handles everything else I throw at it, including HD streaming from ABC.com, but chokes on Hulu vids at 480P or higher. There is some info at the following links but the server seems to be down atm. It's either a problem with Flash's poor hardware acceleration or the way Hulu tags it's 480P and higher streams.

http://www.edn.com/blog/400000040/post/690025669.html
http://www.edn.com/blog/400000040/post/1350025735.html

I wish Hulu would change over to what ABC.com uses or the divx web player, which from what little I saw from it from the early vreel.net was awesome. This one issue has me tempted to put together a whole new HTPC despite this one handling everything else just fine plus the cost and time of putting together a new one. I love Hulu but am really aggrevated by this.
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post #3 of 75 Old 10-27-2008, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
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I saw the first article but not the second. In any case, my HTPC's bottleneck is not decompression, but scaling. This surprises me since scaling seems like it would be the easiest thing to enable hardware acceleration for, and Adobe claims to support this.

My laptop also does okay with decompressing Hulu, but not scaling it. I had to drop my laptop screen resolution down to 480p to play smoothly out the VGA port to my HDTV at full screen. My wife enjoyed Hulu so much that she approved my HTPC project to provide a dedicated Hulu player (in addition to recording HD broadcasts and playing rips of our favorite DVDs).

Hulu looks very watchable at 480p/1mbps when playback is smooth, IMO, especially compared to analog TV. The 720p shows look very nice, although my DSL connection falls slightly short of keeping up with live streaming reliably at 2.5 mbps. Motion will always be an issue at either resolution given the low bitrate, but for comedy shows and other content without a lot of cuts and motion I think Hulu is a great alternative to paying for cable/satellite TV and DVRs. Now, if only they had a Media Center plugin and better hardware acceleration support....
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post #4 of 75 Old 11-11-2008, 06:55 PM
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I am having the same problem. It is VERY annoyings!!! 1080p.. I will have to change my resolution JUST to watch hulu.. LAME!
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post #5 of 75 Old 11-12-2008, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmatthes1 View Post

I am having the same problem. It is VERY annoyings!!! 1080p.. I will have to change my resolution JUST to watch hulu.. LAME!

I'm beginning to suspect that the problem may be related to the semi-transparent control overlays applied over the video by the Hulu/Flash player. These must be applied to the image after scaling, just like the on-screen controls in Vista Media Center. But while Media Center seems to be exploiting hardware acceleration for this overlay, Flash Player seems to be broken, or possibly the Hulu player is using the Flash API in some way that breaks it.
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post #6 of 75 Old 11-12-2008, 02:29 PM
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It's not just Hulu, try playing something on Joost. There is a setting you can toggle if you right-click the video (the name escapes me ATM) that will drastically lower CPU usage, but it appears to affect the scaling. But at default it's even more demanding than Hulu's 480P vids. I should have a 939 X2 on the way that will hopefully be enough to handle all these damn Flash videos. Between tracking one of those chips down and the case swap I'm going to have to do between my socket A/939 HTPC's I'm going through a lot of trouble just to get these videos to play smoothly on my living room TV. The other HTPC is from the basement projector setup so as long as I can still upscale DVD's on that one I'm good. If Adobe's previous record is any indication it will be a long, long time before they do anything to lower Flash's CPU usage by any significant degree so I'm not bothering to wait for any improvement from them. I need to cut some expenses and I'm ready to dump my Dish with the coming digital changeover and with what Hulu, Joost, et al can deliver. But if I have to get a whole new PC just to handle stupid Flash videos that's going to cost more than a year of Dish so I may as well keep it instead.
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post #7 of 75 Old 11-12-2008, 10:17 PM
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Well, I was just now having problems on my main rig w/ Vista, Firefox and a C2D 6550 playing Hulu in fullscreen. I don't think I had tried anything fullscreen on this PC since Flash 10 final came out, but fullscreen was choppy at both 360P & 480P. CPU usage was staying at 50% or under, and video in a browser window zoomed to nearly fullscreen was smooth. I uninstalled & resinstalled Flash and that seems to have fixed the fullscreen choppiness, so that might be worth trying if fullscreen Flash is choppy and not maxing your CPU.
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post #8 of 75 Old 11-19-2008, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelWill View Post

Well, I was just now having problems on my main rig w/ Vista, Firefox and a C2D 6550 playing Hulu in fullscreen. I don't think I had tried anything fullscreen on this PC since Flash 10 final came out, but fullscreen was choppy at both 360P & 480P. CPU usage was staying at 50% or under, and video in a browser window zoomed to nearly fullscreen was smooth. I uninstalled & resinstalled Flash and that seems to have fixed the fullscreen choppiness, so that might be worth trying if fullscreen Flash is choppy and not maxing your CPU.

I've sometimes had very severe choppiness full screen that went away with a PC reboot. I don't know if the problem was something that persisted in the Flash software between videos or if it was something in the video driver software.

I always see a slightly jerky effect full screen, but occasionally it gets very bad. All of my DVD, HDTV and WMV content plays smoothly no matter what, so I'm inclined to blame the Flash player.
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post #9 of 75 Old 02-16-2009, 08:17 PM
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I have come to the conclusion that hulu's aplication is written such that it will not take advantage of hardware acceleration. For a good example of a flash video that does full screen properly (ie with hardware acceleration) see this trailer: http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/ha...f-bloodprince/
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post #10 of 75 Old 02-18-2009, 12:24 AM
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My system runs Hulu at 480p just beautifully. It even runs their HD gallery material. The only caveat is that it runs it beautifully MOST of the time.
For example yesterday...and this happened over a span of three days at certain times I couldn't play Angel at higher than 360. Two hours later it played everything at 480 perfectly. I find I fairly often have trouble playing Hulu from 8PM to 9PM PST.

I don't know how fabulous a computer it takes to play 480p but it doesn't seem to require too much. I had a nice but fairly mediocre ATI 1550 series card and it always played 480p Hulu. It has no hardware acceleration what so ever. My card with acceleration doesn't perform with Hulu any better or worse. Adding insult to injury I am typically watching off the wireless. My system was decent but economy hardware all the way. So if I have for a year now got easy Hulu without big guns, so also should you.

What these players seem to need is a fast internet connection and no breakdown of the stream on the way from it to you. That is something I do have going for me. My system speed tests from 2mbps to 9. I am with Time Warner Cable. Just a random thought but I wonder if any of you streamers are suffering from cable company caps.
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post #11 of 75 Old 02-18-2009, 12:48 AM
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That trailer looks like Half Blood Prince will be the best Harry Potter film to date.

People with HULU problems will probably hate me but depending what show you are watching, Hulu 480p can with some shows look just as about good as this. I'd suggest Whedon's Dollhouse as one example. But Buffy looks a bit soft at 480 but the sound is just great. ABCs current edition of MOVE seems to have the best network player I have seen...at least when watching LOST. But Hulu has a very satisfying picture, quick startup, and nice sound where I live.
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post #12 of 75 Old 02-18-2009, 06:59 AM
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what kind of cpu do you suspect you need to watch Hulu 480p, i just bought a core 2 duo with integrated graphics, 2 g ram, that i haven't received yet, but my laptop with a dualcore intel and integrated graphics 2g ram plays them just fine.

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post #13 of 75 Old 02-18-2009, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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My repeated experiments lead me to conclude that the problem is scaling performance of 480p and lower material.

The Hulu HD gallery plays beautifully on my HTPC full screen with the screen size set to very near the native 720p resolution of the video, or in a pop-out window.

480p content stutters sometimes when scaling up. If I play it at its native resolution it is very smooth. The effect seems to vary based on the original content. I am convinced that if my hardware were scaling the video up, it would be flawless.
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post #14 of 75 Old 02-25-2009, 01:01 AM
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Any dual core is more than enough processor for perfect Hulu play.
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post #15 of 75 Old 02-25-2009, 08:04 AM
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My 1.6GHz Pentium-M (2GB DDR2667) laptop plays 480p Hulu just fine, fullscreen or in a window.

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post #16 of 75 Old 03-04-2009, 11:40 PM
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I have an Athlon X2 3800+ connected via HDMI to a 1080p LCD TV. 480p videos on Hulu eats up about 85% of the CPU (counting both cores) when playing back in full-screen, compared to ~30% CPU usage when its in the original browser window. Like many others in this thread I've concluded software upscaling is the issue here. Those of you who haven't noticed this problem probably don't have high-resolution monitors.

As for jhhoffma being able to play back 480p Hulu videos on a 1.6Ghz Pentium M... I'm skeptical, to say the least. I have a 1.6GHz Pentium M laptop and while I can play back 480p videos in the original window fine, it quickly becomes unwatchable when I put it in a separate window or if I watch it full-screen. But again, my laptop's monitor is relatively high-resolution (1680x1050).
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post #17 of 75 Old 03-05-2009, 08:32 AM
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I've an E4500 Core 2 Duo, an nVidia 8500GT and 4GB of ram and Hulu is unwatchable at full screen on my 1920x1080p display. Played at it's native resolution is fine. Turning hardware acceleration on/off in flash makes no difference.
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post #18 of 75 Old 03-05-2009, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reggie14 View Post

As for jhhoffma being able to play back 480p Hulu videos on a 1.6Ghz Pentium M... I'm skeptical, to say the least. I have a 1.6GHz Pentium M laptop and while I can play back 480p videos in the original window fine, it quickly becomes unwatchable when I put it in a separate window or if I watch it full-screen. But again, my laptop's monitor is relatively high-resolution (1680x1050).

Well, I do it every Tuesday when I watch the 24 episode I missed while watching Heroes the night before. I think I'd know if it were not up to snuff, as I also use my HTPC (X2/780G combo) to do the same thing. I only have an XGA screen (1024x768) on the laptop, so that may be the difference.

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post #19 of 75 Old 03-05-2009, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reggie14 View Post

As for jhhoffma being able to play back 480p Hulu videos on a 1.6Ghz Pentium M... I'm skeptical, to say the least. I have a 1.6GHz Pentium M laptop and while I can play back 480p videos in the original window fine, it quickly becomes unwatchable when I put it in a separate window or if I watch it full-screen. But again, my laptop's monitor is relatively high-resolution (1680x1050).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jhhoffma View Post

Well, I do it every Tuesday when I watch the 24 episode I missed while watching Heroes the night before. I think I'd know if it were not up to snuff, as I also use my HTPC (X2/780G combo) to do the same thing. I only have an XGA screen (1024x768) on the laptop, so that may be the difference.

Also, there are two different versions of the 1.6Ghz Pentium M. There is the original Banias core with 1MB L2 cache/400Mhz FSB, and the second generation Dothan core with 2MB L2 cache/533Mhz FSB.
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post #20 of 75 Old 03-05-2009, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heaphus View Post

Also, there are two different versions of the 1.6Ghz Pentium M. There is the original Banias core with 1MB L2 cache/400Mhz FSB, and the second generation Dothan core with 2MB L2 cache/533Mhz FSB.

True, and my mistake for saying that I had a 1.6GHz, I though I had a Pentium M 730, but in actuality mine is a Pentium M 750, which is a 1.87GHz model with the 533Mhz FSB and 2MB of L2.

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post #21 of 75 Old 03-06-2009, 04:13 PM
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Same problem here with fullscreen performance. I have a dell vostro 200, windows 7 32-bit, radeon 4350 with hdmi out to 1920x1080. I upgraded the c2d e4500 (2.2 ghz) to a e6600 (2.4 ghz). That did help a little, but the cpu still maxes out and the stock hsf gets loud now, and I still have to set the flash quality to low (damn those sites that remove that menu option). Using latest 10.x flash.

It's most likely the player implementation. Check out adobes hd gallery site: http://www.adobe.com/products/hdvideo/hdgallery/ . The 1080p vids max out my cpu, but it's still smooth. The browse page itself maxes out a core so you might want to close that when you play a vid.

This was smooth when I first loaded firefox, but now it stutters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zvCUmeoHpw . It only even tries to be smooth in fullscreen, oddly.
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post #22 of 75 Old 03-06-2009, 05:53 PM
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newbie to all this ..
but my asus rampage formula MoBo with a Q9650 quad
a ATI 4870 with 1 gb ddr5
on my View Sonic 28" LCD in HDMI mode runs Hulu HD Flawless in

1920 X 1200

Vista home premium 64bit os
looking @ building a HTPC based on this platform

my Dsl runs about 6.5 to 7.0 on verizon Dsl No Fios in my area anytime soon .. i'm a 1/4 mile from the switch soo my dsl is strong & verizon has no caps

i get my 46" Sharp Aquos next week mod#LC46D85U Looking forward to seeing what that will do ..

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post #23 of 75 Old 03-06-2009, 07:56 PM
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I think you're right about bandwidth. My DSL is about 1/2 the speed as your connection, and I've given up even trying Hulu at 480. I'd never even considered it could be a scaling issue, as it just 'felt' like an overloaded connection.

I just tested it and 480 is almost as jerky in a window as full screen, so I don't think it's the scaling.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atomiccow View Post

My system runs Hulu at 480p just beautifully. It even runs their HD gallery material. The only caveat is that it runs it beautifully MOST of the time.
For example yesterday...and this happened over a span of three days at certain times I couldn't play Angel at higher than 360. Two hours later it played everything at 480 perfectly. I find I fairly often have trouble playing Hulu from 8PM to 9PM PST.

I don't know how fabulous a computer it takes to play 480p but it doesn't seem to require too much. I had a nice but fairly mediocre ATI 1550 series card and it always played 480p Hulu. It has no hardware acceleration what so ever. My card with acceleration doesn't perform with Hulu any better or worse. Adding insult to injury I am typically watching off the wireless. My system was decent but economy hardware all the way. So if I have for a year now got easy Hulu without big guns, so also should you.

What these players seem to need is a fast internet connection and no breakdown of the stream on the way from it to you. That is something I do have going for me. My system speed tests from 2mbps to 9. I am with Time Warner Cable. Just a random thought but I wonder if any of you streamers are suffering from cable company caps.

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post #24 of 75 Old 03-24-2009, 07:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abr27440 View Post

I have come to the conclusion that hulu's aplication is written such that it will not take advantage of hardware acceleration. For a good example of a flash video that does full screen properly (ie with hardware acceleration) see this trailer: http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/ha...f-bloodprince/

This is interesting. This video was done very well and plays pretty smoothly. It also gives a hint as to what the stuttering problem may be.

When you right click on the video, the settings menu are obviously in a different resolution that the video you're watching. It looks like there is some sort of overlay going on.

It's my theory that on Hulu the actual video and overlay are set to the same resolution, making twice the work for the processor. Maybe there is a stutter because the processor goes back and forth updating these layers. If there was a way to set the transparent layer to a low resolution, maybe it would result in smoother video playback.

In any case, I'm just floored that Hulu stutters so badly with a Dual Core processor. E5200 with 9300 video card. There really just isn't any excuse for it, why on earth it's so processor intensive is a mystery to me.

I have noticed that resolution as well as scaling definitely cause the processor output to spike from the teens to 50% on a core 2 duo. I see this on both my laptop, with a lesser processor, and my new HTPC. Even though this is the case, I'm not sure why the video stutters since it's only taking 50% processing power and no sort of thrashing is occurring processor/memory/hd.

I guess it has to be something with that transparent layer. Either that or the way the load is being balanced.
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post #25 of 75 Old 03-24-2009, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atomiccow View Post

Any dual core is more than enough processor for perfect Hulu play.

Unfortunately, that isn't true. I was at my friends house the other day and showed him HULU. He has a PC connected to his 720p TV and uses it all the time to watch movies. I figured why not show him where to get some free content.

He has an AMD X2 processor and it was skipping around .
I had him pause the film and wait for the buffer to to fill up and much of the chop went away but there was still some stutter on heavy scenes.

My opteron 165 has no problems what so ever. But it is OCed to hell and back. 1.8Ghz stock it has been running at 2.6Ghz since the day I got it.
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post #26 of 75 Old 03-24-2009, 10:47 AM
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my Intel Q9650 O/C'ed to 3.6 runs HD HuLu flawless with 64bit Vista

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post #27 of 75 Old 03-24-2009, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Fastslappy View Post

my Intel Q9650 O/C'ed to 3.6 runs HD HuLu flawless with 64bit Vista

We get it, you have a nice rig.
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post #28 of 75 Old 03-24-2009, 11:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heaphus View Post

Also, there are two different versions of the 1.6Ghz Pentium M. There is the original Banias core with 1MB L2 cache/400Mhz FSB, and the second generation Dothan core with 2MB L2 cache/533Mhz FSB.

If you want to get picky there are at least three. There's also a 2MB L2/400MHz 1.6gHz version of the Dothan.
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post #29 of 75 Old 03-24-2009, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelWill View Post

We get it, you have a nice rig.

didn't mean to offend anyone OR Brag ,, Sorry if I did !

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post #30 of 75 Old 03-25-2009, 08:31 AM
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Played with Hulu some more last night. Tried reducing resolution of the PC output to 480p 720x480 and this didn't really help. Playback is still choppy, however the CPU load went down into the teens.

I think this rules out CPU horsepower. Also, I buffered video and played it back. My assumption is that buffered would rule out internet introduced streaming choppiness.

Don't know what else could really be done to fix this aside from brute force, but my guess that isn't the answer either.

Mike
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