The average ISP in the U.S. is crap, plain and simple. Even with 25 Mbps Concast (the "n" is intentional), I sometimes get downshifts in quality on Netflix at their so-called 1080p resolution. Forget the quality HD downloads from Vudu... they keep buffering, especially in the evening with heavier neighborhood net traffic.
The internet infrastructure is mostly to blame. You could have the greatest server farms in the world and they're connected to a multi-decade old ARPA pipeline in many areas of the U.S. That's why Google and Verizon are forced to create their own ultra-fast fiber networks from the ground up. These will take decades more to reach the majority of households and cost billions upon billions of dollars in the process.
They won't have data usage caps, but the largest consumer ISP, Concast, still does. And they ain't dropping them until forced.
3 Mbps "1080p" with crappy sound is what a lot of us contend with. Now they're talking 4k streaming via the internet... and 4k TV content from DirecTV and DISH??? Don't make me laugh!! It'll still look like garbage. They haven't shown an interest in top quality broadcasts yet. What makes you think 4k will be any different?
I've also noticed that Netflix will many times mislabel their shows as containing HD and/or 5.1 audio. Choose one and you may get SD or artifact riddled HD with compressed stereo. And their selection is a joke.
We need a good, physical 4k medium... no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The studios can try to push PPV streaming all they want (it's their wildest wet dream), but the fact remains. Dolby and DTS are now pushing for object-oriented soundtracks... you can forget that via the internet!
Edited by Dan Hitchman - 1/14/13 at 1:49pm