Originally Posted by Tyrone Burton
Nope, definetly not, when I think of streaming I think of YouTube, and alot of YouTube vids look awful.
even TV has it's artefacts that some people find annoying.
Agreed. For a long time, Netflix had YouTube quality videos.
However, in the last 3 months, my jaws dropped when for the first time my ButtKicker2 (bass transducer) started vibrating and there was surround sound (DD5.1), along with nearly (even if not quite) Blu-Ray quality 1080p from NetFlix encoded in H.264 (instead of VC-1), streamed over the newest AppleTV with the latest firmware, at higher-than-expected bitrates.
For the first time, I couldn't see any compression artifacts this time for a WHOLE movie from a viewing distance of 2 screen widths. Some fine textures were eliminated -- but this is something that happens on some Blu-Rays encodes too, and there wasn't any artificial look. In a different movie, I'd see rare compression artifacts only once (1.5h into the movie) on a single gray gradient; but everything else; even waterfall; waterstreams, and billowing smoke looked artifact-free (the torture test material) -- pretty impressive for the less-than-BluRay bitrates being thrown at me.
An example flagship encode on Netflix is the movie "Hugo" encoded in the AppleTV-optimized H.264 format (AppleTV doesn't do VC-1, so Netflix had to do H.264 for AppleTV's) instead of the crappy Silverlight format; it is a stellar encode. It's not fully Blu-Ray quality, but the picture quality beat anything I saw on Comcast/Charter/DirectTV/Rogers/UVerse/Bell FibeTV. Even the 5Mbps encodes looked better than the 7Mbps encodes seen on UVerse/FibeTV; they are apparently using a really kick-ass codec now (every bit counts, they use a massively powerful amount of computing to encode their best streams now), and much better than most MPEG2 broadcasts (especially with those extra channels crammed together, with poor 10-12Mbps MPEG2 encodes). It will not look as good as a really good Blu-Ray 15-20Mbps encode of a really good Blu-Ray, but it does massively beat a lot of cable material. So Netflix is finally beating cable HDTV quality, on their flaship 1080p/DD5.1 streaming videos. The bit rate for Transformers 3 was also quite high by streaming standards, the movie size was almost 6 gigabytes according to my data usage meter.
Granted, there's a lot of crap; but there's enough good content that just watching 3 movies a month, pays for the Netflix subscription, in Blu-Ray rentals (especially when my spouse is insisting I watch the DVD version when the Blu-Ray is not available -- and the recent best 1080p/5.1 encodes on Netflix beat DVD by a large margin -- so guess what; I'd rather watch it on Netflix than wait a few days for an ordered Blu-Ray to arrive). The video format was H.264 rather than VC-1
If you haven't tested a recent 1080p/5.1 Netflix video (including full subwoofer audio), please obtain a *RECENT* high-quality player (don't use the Netflix built into your HDTV or Blu-Ray player) and make sure your Internet connection is at least 300% overhead (minimum 15 Mbps or faster) so the buffering is quite fast. (Buffering lasts only about 5-6 seconds)
It's nearly, but not quite fully Blu-Ray quality, but the best Netflix videos in the last 3 months does beat DVD quality by a massive margin.
(Note: I do have a 25 Mbps VDSL connection and live in a major city, so my connection is not the bottleneck.)
I try to rent the Blu-Rays whenever I can, but with Blockbusters and Rogers Video closed, it's pretty hard to rent.
It's only in the last 3 months, that I FINALLY think that Netflix is worth the money -- but you have to be selective with what you watch on it.
Criteria for "near-videophile Netflix"
- Use a device that pulls the H.264 1080p DD5.1 streams from Netflix (e.g. recent AppleTV with the November 2012+ firmware)
- Have Internet connection at least 15 Mbps for fast buffering, no low-quality starts, reliable top-bitrate streaming
- Choose the best 10% (90% of Netflix is crap). Stick to those >5Mbps 1080p bitstreams
- You aren't viewing it from 1x screen width from a 140" screen.
- Do not use WiFi (Even 11n). Use Ethernet. Makes a big difference.
- VOD substitute (better-than-cable-HDTV-quality)
- Satisfy the spouse who keeps insisting on watching the DVD version (Since Netflix 1080p is vastly better)
- Prevent waiting for a few days for ordered BluRays to arrive; or picking up the Blu-Rays that is sometimes not available at Best Buy, etc.
Of course, when having a big home theater party, preplan to have the Blu-Ray, but Netflix now has a place in the "semi-videophile" environment for casual watching (only became true 3 months ago); especially when faced with abysmal cable options & difficult Blu-Ray accessibility. Visually speaking, the difference between Netflix 1080p and a good Blu-Ray 1080p, is less noticeable than the difference between an anamorphic vs. non-anamorphic DVD (Google that if you're too young to remember the beginnings of "anamorphic" and "enhanced for 16x9 TVs" stuff -- more than 15 years ago)
Based on recent experience; I'm no longer laughing at Netflix 4K if they plan to bring it out. By the time it's ready commercially, they're using H.EVC (H.265). Anything that makes 4K adoption convenient, is quite fine by me. People on fast connections (e.g. FiOS, etc) shouldn't have problems with Netflix 4K and it will help encourage deployment of fast connections, and help encourage faster adoption of 4K. Even if I prefer physical media and higher bit rates.