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Hulu Desktop and WMC Netflix choppy

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Having issues with my newly constructed HTPC with Hulu Desktop and WMC Netflix plugin.

The playback when using the Hulu Desktop launcher (or simply opening Hulu Desktop) and when using WMC Netflix is SLIGHTLY choppy. I mean just enough off that it drives me INSANE but my wife doesn't notice it. Almost like it skips a frame every 2-3 seconds. This is only on HD content.

Here's the kicker... When opening up Hulu.com or Netflix.com in Firefox4 the playback is silky smooth for Hulu and much better for Netflix but not "perfect".

I've monitored CPU usage during all of these issues and I rarely hit much over 50% either way but I haven't done a good job of quantifying the difference when playing in browser or in the standalone apps.

Hardware acceleration is on for Flash and I'm running 10.2.
Tried the updated ATI 11.4 preview drivers, didn't make a difference but still running them.

Any help would be appreciated.

My system is as follows:
MSI E350IS-45 Zacate
4gb PC1333
750gb WD green
Windows 7 32-bit
post #2 of 30
It's the software. Both Hulu Desktop and Netflix in WMC are going to stutter. Netflix is going to stutter in a browser too. Cross your fingers Netflix playback gets resolved in the next major Silverlight release. Hulu Desktop has been abandoned altogether. You're dealing with what most every other HTPC owner has run into: frustration from the video stutter, and frustration from others swearing it's fine because they don't notice it. You can drive yourself crazy trying to fix it on your end, or just resolve to use the browser for Hulu & separate Netflix hardware.
post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelWill View Post

It's the software. Both Hulu Desktop and Netflix in WMC are going to stutter. Netflix is going to stutter in a browser too. Cross your fingers Netflix playback gets resolved in the next major Silverlight release. Hulu Desktop has been abandoned altogether. You're dealing with what most every other HTPC owner has run into: frustration from the video stutter, and frustration from others swearing it's fine because they don't notice it. You can drive yourself crazy trying to fix it on your end, or just resolve to use the browser for Hulu & separate Netflix hardware.

Thank you.

Seriously considering returning my Zacate board for a Sandy Bridge. I just have to eat the 15% restocking fee and return shipping, otherwise I'm hoping the better Intel chip will help me rely less on hardware acceleration and hopefully clear up some of these studder issues.

Any experience from those of you with the i3 processor using the Hulu Desktop or WMC Netflix?
post #4 of 30
Don't waste the time or money. The big thread on the Netflix issue is here:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1255994
post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelWill View Post

Don't waste the time or money. The big thread on the Netflix issue is here:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1255994

Uhg, thats killing my WAF... She's already threatened to renew with Dish Network.

Are there any good editable launchers for WMC? Something like the Hulu Desktop launcher but instead I can program it to open Firefox in full screen mode and then open a specific URL and then reopen WMC when Firefox is closed? That would be the next best thing.
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by GatoEnFuego View Post

Seriously considering returning my Zacate board for a Sandy Bridge. I just have to eat the 15% restocking fee and return shipping, otherwise I'm hoping the better Intel chip will help me rely less on hardware acceleration and hopefully clear up some of these studder issues.

Before you do this, do you have an extra PC with a better processor that you can hook up to your TV just to test? That would tell you if the issue is software or lack of processing power.
post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by GatoEnFuego View Post

Uhg, thats killing my WAF... She's already threatened to renew with Dish Network.

Are there any good editable launchers for WMC? Something like the Hulu Desktop launcher but instead I can program it to open Firefox in full screen mode and then open a specific URL and then reopen WMC when Firefox is closed? That would be the next best thing.

This might be worth looking into, but I know no details about it:
http://secondrun.tv/blog.asp

Boxee has been on and off with Hulu support, I don't know where it stands now but it might also be worth a look:
http://www.boxee.tv/

ZincTV used to have a downloadable browser that would allow scrolling navigation for internet video. No idea of its status now:
http://www.zinc.tv/

Clicker has a decent web interface:
http://tv.clicker.com/

Really the best option for online video viewing is still a web browser and decent remote/keypad with mouse control.
post #8 of 30
I've had an i3 Clarkdale for over a year and Hulu/Hulu Desktop is no problems at all in terms of playback quality. No stuttering or if there is I certainly don't see it (nor my wife). Hulu Desktop has *not* been abandoned by the way, Hulu recently updated it to support Plus and HD. Only issue I've had with it was a pre-caching issue where it wouldn't download ahead properly. The fix is to install/reinstall the latest flash and then reinstall Hulu Desktop.

Netflix is a common problem for a lot of people, it's a Silverlight issue and nothing you can do. But again for me, even on HD content I can just barely see the stuttering if I really look for it. Wife doesn't see it at all. So basically my eyes aren't sensitive enough to see the issue to the point I don't notice most of the time.

Good luck.
post #9 of 30
Running super smooth on my end but I got a i5-2500k and gtx 460.
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by bonscott87 View Post

I've had an i3 Clarkdale for over a year and Hulu/Hulu Desktop is no problems at all in terms of playback quality. No stuttering or if there is I certainly don't see it (nor my wife).

Same here and that's on both a Core i3-530 + Intel IGP and a Celeron E3300 + GeForce 9300 IGP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bonscott87 View Post

Netflix is a common problem for a lot of people, it's a Silverlight issue and nothing you can do. But again for me, even on HD content I can just barely see the stuttering if I really look for it. Wife doesn't see it at all. So basically my eyes are sensitive enough to see the issue to the point I notice most of the time.

Never really noticed any stuttering in Netflix on the i3 and Celeron even when playing 720p HD. I guess my eyes/brain? aren't/isn't sensitive enough.
post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Before you do this, do you have an extra PC with a better processor that you can hook up to your TV just to test? That would tell you if the issue is software or lack of processing power.

I have a Phenom 9850 desktop but it doesn't support HDMI out...

Good thought though!
post #12 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelWill View Post

This might be worth looking into, but I know no details about it:
http://secondrun.tv/blog.asp

Boxee has been on and off with Hulu support, I don't know where it stands now but it might also be worth a look:
http://www.boxee.tv/

ZincTV used to have a downloadable browser that would allow scrolling navigation for internet video. No idea of its status now:
http://www.zinc.tv/

Clicker has a decent web interface:
http://tv.clicker.com/

Really the best option for online video viewing is still a web browser and decent remote/keypad with mouse control.

I've looked into all of those options over the last 3 weeks but I've made my choice on WMC simply due to the native OTA TV support, it's not a basement development that will be abandoned in 6 months and it's FREEEEEE.
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Never really noticed any stuttering in Netflix on the i3 and Celeron even when playing 720p HD. I guess my eyes/brain? aren't/isn't sensitive enough.

Me too. I mistyped my original post but my eyes aren't sensitive enough to see/notice this enough either. It's rare that I do see it on Netflix.
post #14 of 30
For those who have smooth playback of Netflix.

Could you do me a favor and try the beginning of "Jackie Brown" at about 50 seconds in.

It jumps so bad I can't stand to watch it.
I have 4 different computers. One with a AMD 6870 and AMD X4 955 at 3.6 GHz. It stutters equally on all of them.

It is definitely not network related I have a great connection and no dropped frames.

It plays great using Netflix built in to my Blu-ray player.
post #15 of 30
@GatoEnFuego
Favor, can you test playback in web browser of the intro (first 2 minutes) of Legend of the Seeker season 1 episode 1 3800kbps HD stream on your Zacate build? So far, it's the most difficult Netflix stream I've encountered and it brought my Atom/ION HTPC to its knees.

To force highest bitrate, press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+M then select Stream Manager and manually select the bitrate to the highest one. Then press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+M then select A/V Stats to monitor CPU usage, dropped frames, etc.

Thanks!
post #16 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

@GatoEnFuego
Favor, can you test playback in web browser of the intro (first 2 minutes) of Legend of the Seeker season 1 episode 1 3800kbps HD stream on your Zacate build? So far, it's the most difficult Netflix stream I've encountered and it brought my Atom/ION HTPC to its knees.

To force highest bitrate, press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+M then select Stream Manager and manually select the bitrate to the highest one. Then press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+M then select A/V Stats to monitor CPU usage, dropped frames, etc.

Thanks!

I'll give that a shot and report back.
post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by GatoEnFuego View Post

I'll give that a shot and report back.

Thanks! Looking forward to your findings.
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

@GatoEnFuego
Favor, can you test playback in web browser of the intro (first 2 minutes) of Legend of the Seeker season 1 episode 1 3800kbps HD stream on your Zacate build? So far, it's the most difficult Netflix stream I've encountered and it brought my Atom/ION HTPC to its knees.

To force highest bitrate, press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+M then select Stream Manager and manually select the bitrate to the highest one. Then press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+M then select A/V Stats to monitor CPU usage, dropped frames, etc.

Thanks!

Wow, I guess the Atom's are *really* underpowered. I streamed this in HD on my super old Dual Core E6850 (4+ years old) and it looked awesome in HD. Smooth as silk.
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by bonscott87 View Post

Wow, I guess the Atom's are *really* underpowered. I streamed this in HD on my super old Dual Core E6850 (4+ years old) and it looked awesome in HD. Smooth as silk.

Same video plays just fine on a Celeron E3300 2.5 GHz which is probably a bit slower than your E6850 (is that 3.0GHz?). Even the Celeron is around 3-4 times faster than the Atom. That's just how bad the Atom is. That's why even if Zacate is 30-50% faster than the Atom, I still wouldn't consider it for an HTPC for myself. I know HTPC's don't require much power but why limit yourself to the performance of a processor from 6 years back?
post #20 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

@GatoEnFuego
Favor, can you test playback in web browser of the intro (first 2 minutes) of Legend of the Seeker season 1 episode 1 3800kbps HD stream on your Zacate build? So far, it's the most difficult Netflix stream I've encountered and it brought my Atom/ION HTPC to its knees.

To force highest bitrate, press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+M then select Stream Manager and manually select the bitrate to the highest one. Then press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+M then select A/V Stats to monitor CPU usage, dropped frames, etc.

Thanks!

Well... for some reason the ctrl+alt+shift+m doesn't work for me. Probably my wireless keyboard won't register 4 inputs? Anyway, that in HD KILLED the Zacate. I was literally getting 1 frame per second. Further justifying my RMA and replacement to the i3 Sandy Bridge.
post #21 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by GatoEnFuego View Post

Well... for some reason the ctrl+alt+shift+m doesn't work for me. Probably my wireless keyboard won't register 4 inputs? Anyway, that in HD KILLED the Zacate. I was literally getting 1 frame per second. Further justifying my RMA and replacement to the i3 Sandy Bridge.

Thank you very much for testing!
post #22 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boke01 View Post

For those who have smooth playback of Netflix.

Could you do me a favor and try the beginning of "Jackie Brown" at about 50 seconds in.

It jumps so bad I can't stand to watch it.
I have 4 different computers. One with a AMD 6870 and AMD X4 955 at 3.6 GHz. It stutters equally on all of them.

It is definitely not network related I have a great connection and no dropped frames.

It plays great using Netflix built in to my Blu-ray player.

I tried this last night doing Netflix both in Chrome and via the Netflix plugin in WMC. Core i3 Clarkdale. I really didn't see an issue. I saw a jump here or there if I really looked for it. Guess my eyes just aren't the sensitive.
post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by GatoEnFuego View Post

Uhg, thats killing my WAF... She's already threatened to renew with Dish Network.

Are there any good editable launchers for WMC? Something like the Hulu Desktop launcher but instead I can program it to open Firefox in full screen mode and then open a specific URL and then reopen WMC when Firefox is closed? That would be the next best thing.

WMC has a web browser plugin called Kylo. You could give it a shot.

An alternative (and may be too many steps for WAF) is to use WMC to launch XBMC. Use Advanced Launcher in XBMC to launch a web browser. You can set it up to launch what ever webpage you want. You can create different launch points; one for Netflix, one for hulu, one for CBS.com, etc.

Or do what I plan on and get the $27 Leveno keyboard/mouse remote.
post #24 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbbransc View Post

WMC has a web browser plugin called Kylo. You could give it a shot.

An alternative (and may be too many steps for WAF) is to use WMC to launch XBMC. Use Advanced Launcher in XBMC to launch a web browser. You can set it up to launch what ever webpage you want. You can create different launch points; one for Netflix, one for hulu, one for CBS.com, etc.

Or do what I plan on and get the $27 Leveno keyboard/mouse remote.

That's a good idea using XBMC along with WMC. I'll look into that for sure.
post #25 of 30
This will make it easier on you
post #26 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbbransc View Post

This will make it easier on you

Thanks, that is handy for sure.
Does this work the same way the Hulu launcher (by the same developer) doesn't correctly set application focus so you have to click in and out?
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by GatoEnFuego View Post

Thanks, that is handy for sure.
Does this work the same way the Hulu launcher (by the same developer) doesn't correctly set application focus so you have to click in and out?

Not sure what you mean by click in and out. I'm not sure how it works actually. I use WMC to launch XBMC but I set it up using Media Center Studio and created my own launch point. I also set up launch points directly into Kids Movies and Kids Shows inside MediaBrowser (as it was easier to set up different paths than XBMC). So basically I use WMC for TV, XBMC for adult stuff, and MediaBrowser for Kid stuff. All of it is integrated with the WMC frontend. I changed the backgrounds of all the devices to at least look similar. MB and XBMC menus are set up the same so most ppl can't tell they are different applications. It all looks fluid.
post #28 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbbransc View Post

Not sure what you mean by click in and out. I'm not sure how it works actually. I use WMC to launch XBMC but I set it up using Media Center Studio and created my own launch point. I also set up launch points directly into Kids Movies and Kids Shows inside MediaBrowser (as it was easier to set up different paths than XBMC). So basically I use WMC for TV, XBMC for adult stuff, and MediaBrowser for Kid stuff. All of it is integrated with the WMC frontend. I changed the backgrounds of all the devices to at least look similar. MB and XBMC menus are set up the same so most ppl can't tell they are different applications. It all looks fluid.

I mean the focus of the program isn't active which means the remote functions do not register unless i click with the mouse to give that window focus. No worries, I'll check it out tonight.
post #29 of 30
Ahh, I see. No, that's not the case. WMC is minimized and you will briefly see your desktop. Then XBMC will launch. You set up an exit strategy (for me it is the ESC key). When that key is pressed, XBMC closes and WMC is maximized. I plan to map that ESC key to a button on my remote via EventGhost.
post #30 of 30
Thread Starter 
*Update*

Zacate -
Hulu Desktop was slightly choppy.
Hulu.com via FF4 browser was sort of better.
Netflix SD via WMC Netflix plugin was also slightly choppy.
Netflix SD via FF4 browser was sort of better.
Netflix HD was totally unwatchable either way. (100% cpu usage)
All other video types played good.

Returned the Zacate to Newegg, paid the 15% restocking fee and return shipping. Ordered an i3 Sandy Bridge 2100 and Gigabyte Mini-ITX mobo.

i3 Sandy Bridge -
Hulu Desktop is marginally better but still not perfect. (I blame poor programming)
Hulu.com is perfect.
Netflix SD via WMC plugin is still slightly choppy. (I still blame poor programming)
Netflix SD via FF4 browser is perfect.
Netflix HD via FF4 browser is perfect.
All other video formats play perfectly.

Conclusion...
Avoid the Zacate if you plan to watch Netflix HD and no matter the processor you choose, plan to use the browser for Hulu and Netflix as the integrated options are far from optimal even with a fairly high processing power system.
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