Life of Pi: iTunes vs. Vudu vs. Blu-ray (updated) - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
Reply
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 96 Old 02-24-2013, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
Senior Writer @ AVS
 
imagic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 5,774
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1218 Post(s)
Liked: 2482
*Updated with Blu-ray comparisons

Ang Lee's Life of Pi is a very special movie. I am not talking about the Academy Award winning cinematography and special effects that help tell such an engaging tale. I am not talking about the story itself, which is universal and life affirming. Both of these aspects are indeed special, but what I am talking about here is the release schedule for streaming and download. Life of Pi received 11 Academy Award nominations, went on to win four Oscars including Best Director, and it is already available on iTunes and Vudu, but not Blu-ray. So I will look at the digital ownership options from Vudu and iTunes in order to figure out which one looks the best and which one sounds the best.



In my previous comparisons, I included Blu-ray as a reference. It is readily apparent that Blu-ray enjoys an advantage in bandwidth, which translates to higher overall picture and sound quality. It is also clear that there are real differences between Vudu and iTunes, as well as between iTunes 720p and 1080p. With Life of Pi, I had to wait until Tuesday, March 12, 2013, to watch the Blu-ray version.

Before viewing, I verified the speed of my broadband connection, which is many times faster than the requirement for the top-quality level of 1080p HDX streaming. For Life of Pi, my connection was clocking in at 80Mbps, nine times faster than what is required.



I have a lot of experience with noise reduction and compression. I am a photographer by trade, and I have been taking pictures for two decades. I first started using Photoshop in 1994, and I "went digital" in 1996, giving up film cameras for everything but professional work. In 2001, I converted to an all-digital workflow when I purchased my first pro SLR, the Nikon D1x.

Over the years, I have seen a number of noise-reduction and compression algorithms at work, enough to know that Vudu and iTunes take fundamentally different approaches to how they process movies and TV shows for streaming and download. Vudu is looking for sharp lines and clean gradients, whereas iTunes is more sympathetic toward grain and subtle textures and gradations.

Another difference between Vudu and iTunes is how they deliver the soundtrack. Life of Pi's theatrical soundtrack is a Dolby Atmos mix. Perhaps someday we will be able to enjoy this and other Dolby Atmos soundtracks in all their glory in our own home theaters. Until then, Pi was also mastered as a 7.1-channel mix. iTunes is restricted to 5.1 channels and the low bit rates of Dolby Digital. Vudu offers 7.1 channels of audio via Dolby Digital Plus, which also features a variable bit rate up to ten times that of standard Dolby Digital. Life of Pi presented an opportunity for Vudu to surpass iTunes in the audio department, and it did.

Some of the most interesting sound effects in the movie occur during the scenes on the boat. When compared to either of the iTunes versions, the HDX surround effects exhibited superior detail, ambience, dynamics, and precision. High-resolution sound is as much a part of the complete Life of Pi experience as the visuals; if you cannot wait for the Blu-ray version's release on March 5, 2013, Vudu is the way to go for the full surround sound experience.

Of course, sound is not everything—how did the different versions look?

In my last format comparison, I took a good look at Argo's picture quality. The analog film used to shoot that movie had enough grain to look authentic for the time in which the story took place, the late 1970s. The funny thing is, to a computer, film grain looks just like digital shadow noise. As a result, the compression used by Vudu HDX did not do a good job—it altered Argo's look by eliminating film grain in just about every scene.

Life of Pi affords no such opportunity for Vudu to alter the grain; it's a pristine-looking movie without a hint of analog or digital noise. Scenes alternate from dark and drab to vibrant pastiches filled with rich colors and incredible definition. In theory, Pi could be a showcase for Vudu HDX's approach to compression and streaming, but of course, I was curious to see how the iTunes 720p version looks compared to Vudu HDX and iTunes 1080p.

With Argo, the iTunes 720p version it did a great job preserving the visual character of the movie, film grain and all, at the expense of sharpness. I wondered if Life of Pi could turn the tables and make a solid argument for Vudu HDX over iTunes 1080p and 720p, especially when considering Vudu's superior sound quality as a part of the equation. Then there's the difference between Vudu's HDX streaming and download options; when playing the downloaded version of a Vudu HDX movie, the bandwidth meter in the Vudu player only shows two bars out of three, indicating a lower bitrate. I thoroughly examined frame grabs from Vudu's download vs. streaming HDX options and determined there was no difference between the two.

Now it's time to take a look at and compare the frame grabs from iTunes HD, Vudu HDX and Blu-ray.





Life of Pi's cinematography looks great from the very first shot until the very end. In this very detailed scene taken from the opening credits, I saw the most detail in the iTunes 1080p version, followed closely by Vudu HDX. iTunes 720p lost quite a bit of detail and looks blurry in comparison. Blu-ray is clearly superior looking, with more detail and sharpness.



In this image, also taken from the opening credits, both Vudu HDX and iTunes 1080p are were closely matched in terms of quality. Vudu accentuated the textures slightly more than either iTunes version. The iTunes 720p version looks soft and preserved the fewest details. Blu-ray looks slightly sharper than Vudu HDX, but not much.


With a dreamy underwater look to it, this shot was susceptible to banding and macro blocking artifacts. There were no obvious flaws in any of the three images, but to my eyes, Vudu HDX had the most pleasing tonality. The iTunes 720p sample was simply not as sharp as the other two versions. Blu-ray and Vudu HDX look very similar, but Blu-ray looks better in subtle ways.



Here is a different crop taken from the exact same frame as the previous example. There was nothing to criticize, I looked for banding and other artifacts, all I found was smooth gradients. Again, Vudu HDX and Blu-ray look very similar to each other.


In this highly detailed scene, iTunes 1080p looked the best with detail rendition that rivaled what I'm used to seeing from Blu-ray. The details in the background flora are better preserved compared to Vudu HDX and iTunes 720p, especially in the individual leaves and flowers. Vudu mistook some of the leaf texture for noise, rendering it with what's sometimes called "the watercolor effect", named after the way colors and details get smeared by the noise reduction algorithm. The iTunes 720p version also lacked detail in the background foliage, but that was caused by lack of resolution as opposed to noise reduction. Blu-ray nails this scene, rendering every pixel distinctly—truly impressive detail rendering.



This frame grab was taken from a dimly lit, almost monochromatic scene. I chose it to perform some serious pixel-peeping because scenes like this tend to have issues in the shadows when they are highly compressed. Often there is visible macro blocking, banding artifacts, or at the minimum some digital noise. I included both the original frame grabs and gamma-adjusted versions, which are brightened using Photoshop to reveal what's going on in the deep blacks. I did this so I could easily examine the integrity of the shadow regions.

In my previous two comparisons of Skyfall and Argo, I noticed significant macro blocking in Vudu HDX shadow regions. In Life of Pi, it is Vudu that did the best job rendering the shadow regions. Even the deepest shades were clean and free of excessive noise. Vudu preserved subtle gradations that iTunes rendered as all-black. Once again, iTunes 720 fared poorly compared to the other two versions, it looks blurry and shadows were rendered with too many noise-related artifacts. Blu-ray continues to out-perform the online-delivery formats in terms of sharpness and resolution. In the gamma-adjusted version, it's apparent that Vudu deals with the shadows in a manner similar to Blu-ray, while iTunes fares worse.




Dark scenes with chaotic action are a very tough test for any compression method. This particular frame was the ideal candidate for the most extreme forensic analysis. Using Photoshop, I brightened the original frames grabs and boosted their contrast which revealed underlying artifacts. For the first time, I saw some macro blocking in the Vudu HDX version. It was very subtle and was not perceptible when the movie was playing. Despite the presence of these artifacts, Vudu HDX did the best job rendering this scene, preserving more details than either of the iTunes versions. This was one instance where the iTunes 720p file might have looked a tiny bit better than the iTunes 1080p version, but the difference was so slight it was meaningless. Blu-ray performs much better than iTunes or Vudu with this difficult to render frame.



Here is an image that offered an easy opportunity to compare the sharpness of each version of the movie. The conclusion remains the same: When it comes to resolution and detail rendering, both the Vudu HDX and iTunes the 1080p versions of Pi look sharper than the iTunes 720p copy. Blu-ray comes out ahead, with crisper looking letters and the richest color.



Here is a powerful image from a dramatic scene, which would easily be ruined by a less than perfect rendition. iTunes 720p failed to deliver the goods, a fuzzy tiger just doesn't cut it. Both the Vudu HDX and iTunes 1080p renditions delivered the suspension of disbelief needed to make the scene emotionally impactful. Blu-ray ups the ante with an even better rendition, it's just a bit more resolute than the other versions.



In this image I was comparing sharpness, looking at how much texture was rendered on the lifeboat's hull and the quality of the gradients in the clouds and the water. Once again the main issue I saw was the iTunes 720p version looking soft and suffering a loss of fine details. I felt that detail rendering was a virtual tie between the two 1080p examples. Blu-ray is in a class by itself here, the additional resolution and detail rendering is striking.



What a scary looking fish. Once again Vudu HDX delivered an exceptional rendition of the scene. I loved the way the textures and gradients were preserved by Vudu, even inside the fish's mouth. Vudu HDX looks nice and sharp with great textures and clean, deep shadows. The iTunes 1080p version continues the trend, it is sharper than the iTunes 720p version. I still found Vudu HDX more attractive, thanks to the way the blacks are rendered. I was particularly impressed with the way Vudu rendered the fish's mouth and teeth. Blu-ray looks fantastic here, although Vudu HDX gives it a run for the money,
hatchback and derekwwww like this.

Find out more about Mark Henninger at
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
imagic is online now  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 96 Old 02-25-2013, 02:06 AM
AVS Special Member
 
StinDaWg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,624
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 274 Post(s)
Liked: 159
I'm in the process of downloading the 720p and 1080p itunes version. I'll give my impressions when I can.
StinDaWg is offline  
post #3 of 96 Old 02-25-2013, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
Senior Writer @ AVS
 
imagic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 5,774
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1218 Post(s)
Liked: 2482
Quote:
Originally Posted by StinDaWg View Post

I'm in the process of downloading the 720p and 1080p itunes version. I'll give my impressions when I can.

Let me know if you think it is any slower than usual, I wonder how many downloads are occurring at once today! Vudu was excruciatingly slow when it came to the download version.

Find out more about Mark Henninger at
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
imagic is online now  
post #4 of 96 Old 02-25-2013, 08:50 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Mr.G's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,480
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 90 Post(s)
Liked: 117
Mark, thanks for continuing your comparison threads for different movies. However, your comments on Argo having macro-blocking and loss of grain were not my experience with this film - at least not in normal viewing. I use a 1080p projector on a 120" screen and if these problems were inherent in the VUDU (HDX) version I certainly did not see them and believe me I was looking for them in the exact spots your screen shots were taken. I have the Darbee Darblet in the signal path and if anything it should have made any problems stand out more. I am using the WDTV Live streamer but I shouldn't think the actual streaming device is going to affect the picture quality.

I am looking forward to seeing Life of Pi but at this point with the VUDU purchase price at $15 it's hard to justify considering the March 12th Blu-ray release will also have a digital copy code I can use on VUDU. But again I do appreciate seeing your comparisons.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Movies

Mr.G is offline  
post #5 of 96 Old 02-25-2013, 10:26 AM
Senior Member
 
dborgill's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Utah, USA
Posts: 269
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 20 Post(s)
Liked: 13
I tried Vudu HDX for the first time this weekend. The first two minutes of Life of Pi LOOKS and SOUNDS absolutely stunning. I am very happy with most of the VDX previews I watched.

The problem keeps coming back to my issue with digital distribution:

Where do I invest? iTunes? Vudu? I don't want crap spread out all over different services. Also, if I can buy a Blu-Ray, DVD, UV copy for $25, it's hard to invest in a digital only copy for ~$20. I am looking at just buying physical Blu-Rays and doing lossless rip to my media center.

TV: Panasonic Plasma 65" TC-P65S64
Receiver: Pioneer SC-1222-K
Blu-Ray: Sony BDP-S590
Speakers: MK Sound M-7 / M4-T
Sub: MK Sound SB-12
dborgill is offline  
post #6 of 96 Old 02-26-2013, 05:40 AM
Senior Member
 
RandomNinjaAtk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Maryland
Posts: 370
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by dborgill View Post

Where do I invest? iTunes? Vudu? I don't want crap spread out all over different services. Also, if I can buy a Blu-Ray, DVD, UV copy for $25, it's hard to invest in a digital only copy for ~$20. I am looking at just buying physical Blu-Rays and doing lossless rip to my media center.

VUDU is an UV provider! So buy once, supported by multiple retailers/services/devices. Not locked in, like you would be with iTunes.... Your discs that come with UV can all be streamed from VUDU. So may be best to just keep buying them on blu-rays!

"Live to Win!"
XBL: RandomNinjaAtk

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
- Personal Blog

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
- Domain Names, Web Hosting, Email Hosting and more
RandomNinjaAtk is offline  
post #7 of 96 Old 02-26-2013, 06:38 AM - Thread Starter
Senior Writer @ AVS
 
imagic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 5,774
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1218 Post(s)
Liked: 2482
Vudu has limitations that need to be considered as well. Only stereo sound on a PC, only available in 480p SD on tablets - that's both Android and iOS. That means to enjoy full-quality Vudu HDX you must have a supported playback device. I use the PS3 and it looks and sounds exceptional when playing Vudu HDX, a number of TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes will also do the trick. If you own an iPad and were planning on using it to watch UltraViolet (or purchased) digital copies, Vudu is bound to disappoint. On Android tablets, both Google and Amazon both have HD movie viewing options that are better quality than Vudu.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RandomNinjaAtk View Post

VUDU is an UV provider! So buy once, supported by multiple retailers/services/devices. Not locked in, like you would be with iTunes.... Your discs that come with UV can all be streamed from VUDU. So may be best to just keep buying them on blu-rays!

Find out more about Mark Henninger at
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
imagic is online now  
post #8 of 96 Old 02-26-2013, 08:00 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Dan Hitchman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Northern Colorado
Posts: 8,903
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 778 Post(s)
Liked: 441
To all you streaming and download "pushers" biggrin.gif... just remember: when the studios fully control your access to their content and video rental stores, Best Buy, Amazon, and the like are cut out of the equation because there is no competition for physical media pricing... just think what will happen to the prices for owning movies... and what if they choose to cut off your ability to watch certain favorite titles in your virtual "collection?"

Vudu, for instance, already prices their movies (via streaming Pay-Per-View "rentals" or "owning") based on the quality of the video (and it's still lossy audio and less than Blu-ray video quality). I've seen them charge $6 or more a rental for certain titles to get the "quality" stream. I can go to the store and rent a Blu-ray for $1, $1.50, or $2. It's the same as renting a DVD. So, if you want the "good stuff" (4k rez.) it's more than likely going to cost you even more with downloading, though there is no added cost for package material, cases, or disc replication. Probably more than if there was a 4k disc to compete against.

Again, be careful what you wish for.

Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
Dan Hitchman is online now  
post #9 of 96 Old 02-26-2013, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
Senior Writer @ AVS
 
imagic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 5,774
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1218 Post(s)
Liked: 2482
I feel you are a being overly pessimistic in thinking that optical discs are all that stands between hapless consumers and monopoly control by the studios. You mention how cheap it is for you to go to the video store, but unless you can walk or bike to your video store, transportation costs you something. Then there is the issue of availability, the main reason so many people abandoned video stores. Finally, I am not willing to risk a scratched disc, that's the ultimate in distracting artifacts. You may be happy with your solution, but it is one that people are increasingly rejecting for all-digital alternatives.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

To all you streaming and download "pushers" biggrin.gif... just remember: when the studios fully control your access to their content and video rental stores, Best Buy, Amazon, and the like are cut out of the equation because there is no competition for physical media pricing... just think what will happen to the prices for owning movies... and what if they choose to cut off your ability to watch certain favorite titles in your virtual "collection?"

Vudu, for instance, already prices their movies (via streaming Pay-Per-View "rentals" or "owning") based on the quality of the video (and it's still lossy audio and less than Blu-ray video quality). I've seen them charge $6 or more a rental for certain titles to get the "quality" stream. I can go to the store and rent a Blu-ray for $1, $1.50, or $2. It's the same as renting a DVD. So, if you want the "good stuff" (4k rez.) it's more than likely going to cost you even more with downloading, though there is no added cost for package material, cases, or disc replication. Probably more than if there was a 4k disc to compete against.

Again, be careful what you wish for.

Find out more about Mark Henninger at
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
imagic is online now  
post #10 of 96 Old 02-26-2013, 12:27 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Dan Hitchman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Northern Colorado
Posts: 8,903
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 778 Post(s)
Liked: 441
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

I feel you are a being overly pessimistic in thinking that optical discs are all that stands between hapless consumers and monopoly control by the studios. You mention how cheap it is for you to go to the video store, but unless you can walk or bike to your video store, transportation costs you something. Then there is the issue of availability, the main reason so many people abandoned video stores. Finally, I am not willing to risk a scratched disc, that's the ultimate in distracting artifacts. You may be happy with your solution, but it is one that people are increasingly rejecting for all-digital alternatives.

Paranoid? I've been around the barn enough to have been through the advent of Betamax, Discovision, VHS, and even Laserdisc... and then DVD. I've seen studios try to gain more power over the consumer and their wallet in each and every instance of physical media upgrades. The worst of which was DIVX and the self-destructing HD discs because the internet was more prevalent. Spawns of the devil more than anything. They created lots of buzz and huge fights played out in hi-fi equipment stores, the earliest of home theater shoppes, and ARPA chat rooms and then forums older than this one. The negative reaction and the fact there was an alternative in the market place to go to and save face, which held them back until younger consumers began to adopt the ease of online shopping more and more.

Now a download-only solution is finally the icing on the cake. Studios are about as anti-consumer as you can get besides the oil and gas industry, the banks, or the health care industry. This will only solidify their grip because there won't be an alternative.

Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
Dan Hitchman is online now  
post #11 of 96 Old 02-26-2013, 01:10 PM
AVS Special Member
 
fight4yu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 1,729
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Liked: 43
on top of the inferior sound and picture quality, let's not forget about the constant internet connection needed. Murphy's law had hit me twice in that department when I am hosting a movie party for the kids and internet connection was down!! I am lucky enough that it comes back up in 5-10mins, but unless I can get guarantee reliable fast connection at a reasonable price, I will still go with blu-ray.
fight4yu is offline  
post #12 of 96 Old 02-26-2013, 02:20 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Dan Hitchman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Northern Colorado
Posts: 8,903
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 778 Post(s)
Liked: 441
Quote:
Originally Posted by fight4yu View Post

on top of the inferior sound and picture quality, let's not forget about the constant internet connection needed. Murphy's law had hit me twice in that department when I am hosting a movie party for the kids and internet connection was down!! I am lucky enough that it comes back up in 5-10mins, but unless I can get guarantee reliable fast connection at a reasonable price, I will still go with blu-ray.

Another good example. The internet in many places is still an unreliable commodity.

And imagic, those PPV schemes may have been dinosaurs, but many of the studios backed those plans rather than the traditional buy it off the shelf and it's yours forever model. When the sh-t hit the fan, they ran for cover over to the other side with the other studios and tried to gain some tiny slice of the rights revenue crumbs... which happened to still be another physical medium.

If it's just you and the studio without other avenues to get the same content using your media consumer dollars, that never bodes well for pricing or consumer-friendly policies. This is what happens with the "free enterprise system." Somebody pays the piper. It's not healthy, it's not good.

Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
Dan Hitchman is online now  
post #13 of 96 Old 02-26-2013, 05:58 PM
Newbie
 
Joshua Clinard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
If you are going to do a fair comparison, you should compare an iTunes download to a vudu HDX download, not HDX streaming.
Joshua Clinard is offline  
post #14 of 96 Old 02-26-2013, 06:08 PM - Thread Starter
Senior Writer @ AVS
 
imagic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 5,774
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1218 Post(s)
Liked: 2482
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua Clinard View Post

If you are going to do a fair comparison, you should compare an iTunes download to a vudu HDX download, not HDX streaming.

I compared the Vudu HDX streaming to the download version, there is no perceptible difference between a 3-bar HDX stream and the download version for the movie Life of Pi, even when pixel-peeping in Photoshop at 200% magnification.

Find out more about Mark Henninger at
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
imagic is online now  
post #15 of 96 Old 02-27-2013, 10:26 AM
Senior Member
 
jvarisco's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 283
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Does each of these really need its own thread? Why not just do running comparisons in a catch-all comparison thread?
jvarisco is offline  
post #16 of 96 Old 02-27-2013, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
Senior Writer @ AVS
 
imagic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 5,774
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1218 Post(s)
Liked: 2482
Quote:
Originally Posted by jvarisco View Post

Does each of these really need its own thread? Why not just do running comparisons in a catch-all comparison thread?

Each comparison I do will get its own thread.

Find out more about Mark Henninger at
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
imagic is online now  
post #17 of 96 Old 02-27-2013, 02:06 PM
Senior Member
 
dborgill's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Utah, USA
Posts: 269
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 20 Post(s)
Liked: 13
I still prefer physical mainly because of lossless sound, period. If VUDU or anyone else can start streaming full 1080p and lossless audio, I would be a bit more eager to jump on the digital bandwagon.

TV: Panasonic Plasma 65" TC-P65S64
Receiver: Pioneer SC-1222-K
Blu-Ray: Sony BDP-S590
Speakers: MK Sound M-7 / M4-T
Sub: MK Sound SB-12
dborgill is offline  
post #18 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 04:38 AM
AVS Special Member
 
rabident's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 2,019
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 31 Post(s)
Liked: 23
The fundamental problem with streaming is companies will always be financially motivated to use the lowest bit rate possible because they have to pay for every bit sent. Since they retain control of how you view the movie, the quality level is subjected to change as they see fit. For example, right now they are trying to gain new customers in a market where Bluray exists as the reference standard for quality. So that means sacrificing some short term profit to buy more bits from the telco in order to stream at higher quality so comparisons hold up better. It's all calculated. Once a subscriber base is established, it becomes a balancing act of how low they can go on the bit budget to maximize profit -vs- the minimal level of quality consumers will expect.

Physical media, on the other hand, has a set capacity. All of the capacity of a Bluray disc is essentially stamped on at once. It doesn't matter if the movie uses 30GB or 50GB. The cost is the same. That "extra free space" on the disc encourages more bits to be used, which results in less compression and better audio & video quality.
mabuk likes this.

 

 

rabident is offline  
post #19 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 05:15 AM - Thread Starter
Senior Writer @ AVS
 
imagic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 5,774
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1218 Post(s)
Liked: 2482
Quote:
Originally Posted by rabident View Post

The fundamental problem with streaming is companies will always be financially motivated to use the lowest bit rate possible because they have to pay for every bit sent. Since they retain control of how you view the movie, the quality level is subjected to change as they see fit. For example, right now they are trying to gain new customers in a market where Bluray exists as the reference standard for quality. So that means sacrificing some short term profit to buy more bits from the telco in order to stream at higher quality so comparisons hold up better. It's all calculated. Once a subscriber base is established, it becomes a balancing act of how low they can go on the bit budget to maximize profit -vs- the minimal level of quality consumers will expect.

Physical media, on the other hand, has a set capacity. All of the capacity of a Bluray disc is essentially stamped on at once. It doesn't matter if the movie uses 30GB or 50GB. The cost is the same. That "extra free space" on the disc encourages more bits to be used, which results in less compression and better audio & video quality.

Do you have any kind of link to information that could help substantiate your claim? The trend I see is toward higher bit rates and higher quality for streaming.

Find out more about Mark Henninger at
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
imagic is online now  
post #20 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 05:57 AM - Thread Starter
Senior Writer @ AVS
 
imagic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 5,774
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1218 Post(s)
Liked: 2482
Quote:
Originally Posted by dborgill View Post

I still prefer physical mainly because of lossless sound, period. If VUDU or anyone else can start streaming full 1080p and lossless audio, I would be a bit more eager to jump on the digital bandwagon.

Dolby Digital Plus has the bandwidth to reproduce a soundtrack with total authority. 24/96 formats are overkill for just about any movie. In practice Dolby Digital Plus has the bandwidth needed to faithfully reproduce any 7.1 soundtrack that is designed for human listening, as opposed to dogs. The key is to allow the audio compressor enough bandwidth that it doesn't have to discard data to do its job. The lossless audio formats used by Blu-ray today are incredibly wasteful in that regard.

Some serious audio primer:

http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/02/sound-smart-watch-this-excellent-primer-on-digital-audio/
~smackos~ likes this.

Find out more about Mark Henninger at
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
imagic is online now  
post #21 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 08:59 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Mr.G's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,480
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 90 Post(s)
Liked: 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by rabident View Post

The fundamental problem with streaming is companies will always be financially motivated to use the lowest bit rate possible because they have to pay for every bit sent. Since they retain control of how you view the movie, the quality level is subjected to change as they see fit. For example, right now they are trying to gain new customers in a market where Bluray exists as the reference standard for quality. So that means sacrificing some short term profit to buy more bits from the telco in order to stream at higher quality so comparisons hold up better. It's all calculated. Once a subscriber base is established, it becomes a balancing act of how low they can go on the bit budget to maximize profit -vs- the minimal level of quality consumers will expect.

Do you hear voices when alone? This conspiracy theory is ludicrous.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Movies

Mr.G is offline  
post #22 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 09:01 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Mr.G's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,480
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 90 Post(s)
Liked: 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Dolby Digital Plus has the bandwidth to reproduce a soundtrack with total authority. 24/96 formats are overkill for just about any movie. In practice Dolby Digital Plus has the bandwidth needed to faithfully reproduce any 7.1 soundtrack that is designed for human listening, as opposed to dogs. The key is to allow the audio compressor enough bandwidth that it doesn't have to discard data to do its job. The lossless audio formats used by Blu-ray today are incredibly wasteful in that regard.

This highlights the main weakness with iTunes and the Apple TV3 I own - it's limited to regular DD at the moment and would dearly love to see them upgrade to DD+.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Movies

Mr.G is offline  
post #23 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 02:42 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Dan Hitchman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Northern Colorado
Posts: 8,903
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 778 Post(s)
Liked: 441
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Dolby Digital Plus has the bandwidth to reproduce a soundtrack with total authority. 24/96 formats are overkill for just about any movie. In practice Dolby Digital Plus has the bandwidth needed to faithfully reproduce any 7.1 soundtrack that is designed for human listening, as opposed to dogs. The key is to allow the audio compressor enough bandwidth that it doesn't have to discard data to do its job. The lossless audio formats used by Blu-ray today are incredibly wasteful in that regard.

Some serious audio primer:

http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/02/sound-smart-watch-this-excellent-primer-on-digital-audio/

No flippin' way will I and many others accept lossy audio, so studios can save a buck on cloud storage space and streaming costs. Been there, done that. Downloads will have to SUPERIOR in every way to what they could have delivered on a media disc for me to fall in line. That includes UHD media with object-oriented lossless surround.

Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
Dan Hitchman is online now  
post #24 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 05:26 PM
Advanced Member
 
xcrunner529's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 536
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 31 Post(s)
Liked: 15
It saves storage on your side too and allows higher video bitrates instead if it being wasted for detail no one can hear. Debate science and facts all you want, but you'll always lose.
xcrunner529 is offline  
post #25 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 05:39 PM
AVS Special Member
 
mpalmieri1203's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Pleasant Valley, NY
Posts: 2,642
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 44
Thanks for these write-ups.

I do both physical and digital purchases. Digital is so convenient and the AppleTV quality is great.

VUDU has a leg up in that they offer 3D content for rent and sale. I wish Apple would offer the same as I'm so invested in their ecosystem.

mpalmieri1203 is offline  
post #26 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 05:54 PM
AVS Special Member
 
pokekevin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Posts: 5,067
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Liked: 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

No flippin' way will I and many others accept lossy audio, so studios can save a buck on cloud storage space and streaming costs. Been there, done that. Downloads will have to SUPERIOR in every way to what they could have delivered on a media disc for me to fall in line. That includes UHD media with object-oriented lossless surround.

Might as well start asking for loseless video compression

No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!

Must..stop...buying...every bluray release...
pokekevin is offline  
post #27 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 05:57 PM
AVS Special Member
 
rabident's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 2,019
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 31 Post(s)
Liked: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Do you have any kind of link to information that could help substantiate your claim? The trend I see is toward higher bit rates and higher quality for streaming.

A link to what, that streaming companies have to pay for their bandwidth? Or a link to prove that corporation exist to make money? You are seeing higher quality because they feel they need to in order to gain market share - not because of some altruistic desire to give you the best quality regardless of what it costs them. Prima offers Bluray quality downloads. Your own testing indicates Vudu and iTunes come up short in quality compared to Bluray. What do you think is the reason for that gap?
mabuk likes this.

 

 

rabident is offline  
post #28 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 06:09 PM
AVS Special Member
 
pokekevin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Posts: 5,067
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Liked: 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by rabident View Post

A link to what, that streaming companies have to pay for their bandwidth? Or a link to prove that corporation exist to make money? You are seeing higher quality because they feel they need to in order to gain market share - not because of some altruistic desire to give you the best quality regardless of what it costs them. Prima offers Bluray quality downloads. Your own testing indicates Vudu and iTunes come up short in quality compared to Bluray. What do you think is the reason for that gap?

Trust me, iTunes and Vudu are definitely not using the lowest possible bitrate possible lol. It could be worse!

No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!

Must..stop...buying...every bluray release...
pokekevin is offline  
post #29 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 06:09 PM - Thread Starter
Senior Writer @ AVS
 
imagic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 5,774
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1218 Post(s)
Liked: 2482
Quote:
Originally Posted by rabident View Post

A link to what, that streaming companies have to pay for their bandwidth? Or a link to prove that corporation exist to make money? You are seeing higher quality because they feel they need to in order to gain market share - not because of some altruistic desire to give you the best quality regardless of what it costs them. Prima offers Bluray quality downloads. Your own testing indicates Vudu and iTunes come up short in quality compared to Bluray. What do you think is the reason for that gap?

For a company to succeed, it has to pay attention to consumer needs as well as technical realities. There is no bait and switch occurring, as technology improves bit rates will increase and at some point downloads and streaming versions of movies will beat Blu-ray. It's only a question of when, not if. There is not a lot of altruism to business, but the fact remains these products and services exist for the consumer and the only way to keep customers in a free market economy is to make your product as competitive as possible. Vudu HDX and iTunes HD are premium products and their quality is a reflection of that fact.

Find out more about Mark Henninger at
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
imagic is online now  
post #30 of 96 Old 02-28-2013, 06:17 PM
AVS Special Member
 
rabident's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 2,019
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 31 Post(s)
Liked: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.G View Post

This conspiracy theory is ludicrous.

It's not a conspiracy theory, Mr Vudu, merely an awareness that companies operate based on their own best interests. Bandwidth is an operating cost and companies are always looking for ways to lower their operating costs as a way to make more money.

 

 

rabident is offline  
Reply Networking, Media Servers & Content Streaming

Tags
Life Of Pi 3d Blu Ray
Gear in this thread - Life by PriceGrabber.com

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off