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Lincoln: iTunes vs. Vudu vs. Amazon vs. Blu-ray

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Steven Spielberg is undeniably a master of his craft. Lincoln is his latest movie, a historical drama that aims for verisimilitude and demands attention. One of the methods Spielberg used to draw the viewer into the story is flawless production; Lincoln is a "reference" movie, requiring a calibrated system to appreciate properly. The most crucial element in the film's cinematography is shadow gradation—during the Civil War, it seems everybody wore black, head to toe. Period-correct lighting posed further challenges; the film is full of stark contrasts, dusty air and harsh backlighting. Lincoln is a movie that quite literally emerges from the deepest shadows.


Lincoln's palette presented a challenge for highly compressed internet delivery formats

Those deep shadows are the name of the game when it comes to a great home-theater experience. A properly calibrated display will render every shade of gray visible while preserving deep blacks. The effect in Lincoln is profound; the depth adds a palpable three-dimensionality to each scene.

A major issue with deep shadows is that they are very hard to render, which made me nervous about how Lincoln would look from an online-delivery format. In the past, I have found that dark scenes pose the greatest challenge to AVCHD compression. My fear was that the iTunes HD and Vudu HDX versions of Lincoln would not look good on a calibrated home-theater system.

But before I talk about picture quality, it is worth discussing sound for a moment. Lincoln's soundtrack is not dense, nor is it very intense. I felt that the sound-quality differences between Blu-ray and the online formats were noticeable but not profound. Fans of uncompressed audio are compelled to choose Blu-ray, but in this case, the audio is not a reason to reject iTunes or Vudu.

Vudu HDX is not available on PC or Mac, a disappointing omission. The Vudu HD (720p) version that does play on a PC looked similar to the two iTunes HD versions, which were clearly not Blu-ray quality. Vudu HDX played from the PS3 was a bit better looking, possessing some of the detail one expects from 1080p content, but still well below Blu-ray in terms of detail rendition. Unfortunately, the deep shadows were not clean; they suffered from noise and instability, cause by macroblocking in the darkest shades.

In past comparisons, I received a number of requests to add Amazon's HD streaming option. With Lincoln, I decided it was time to take a look. My immediate reaction viewing Amazon HD on the PS3 was that the video looked similar to the other online formats in terms of detail rendition, on par with iTunes 1080p on the PC.

Sadly, Amazon does not allow HD video on the PC platform; I would have preferred to take direct screen grabs. Amazon does seem to use a distinctly different algorithm to deal with shadows—instead of jumpy noise, it tends to freeze up into static clumps. There were still major image-quality issues, and overall, I found the look of the video to be unacceptably distracting—but it was different.

I started thinking about the influence of the device itself when it comes to online delivery—for example, Vudu HDX consistently looks the best on a PS3, if only because not all Vudu movies are available in HDX on a PC or Mac. With that in mind, I decided it was time to add an Apple TV to the mix. I wanted to know if the poor performance I saw from iTunes HD 1080p on the PC manifested in a set-top box. I am no conspiracy theorist, but sometimes I think studios deliberately hobble movies meant for playback on a HPTC, presumably because it is the platform most associated with copyright violations.

In this case, I had no such luck. In some ways, the Apple TV rendition of the same file looked noticeably worse. Shadows suffered from considerable macroblocking artifacts, which were absent in the PC-based iTunes playback. Perhaps the money I spent on my PC video card (Nvidia GTX-660) was worth it after all. At times the Apple TV rendition looked a bit sharper than PC-based playback, but not enough to make up for the inferior rendition of the shadows.

Suffice to say, Lincoln challenged my assumption that a big-budget movie with a 2013 release will generally look good when viewed in an online delivery format. I began these comparisons after viewing Skyfall from iTunes; at the time, I was impressed with the quality I saw. Subsequent comparisons between online formats and Blu-ray revealed the superior overall quality of the physical format, but the margin of difference was typically not that large. For some movies, such as Life of Pi, the experience provided by the 1080p online formats was fully cinematic and immersive.

With Lincoln, no online format was suitable for home-theater use—they were only good for casual viewing. Vudu HDX on a PC comes the closest to being acceptable, but issues with rendering deep shadows and blacks are too prevalent to ignore. No one frame can convey the damage done by aggressive compression; when a movie uses shadows as extensively as Lincoln, the integrity of the dark gradients is of utmost importance. When the movie is playing, the Blu-ray looks like a window into another world, an illusion the online-delivery formats cannot maintain. Here are some images that illustrate the point.


These screen grabs illustrate the highest quality achievable from each format, when using a PC. iTunes HD was the best-looking online-delivery option, but it's still far cry from Blu-ray quality. Amazon's offering is SD only on PC, and the picture quality was abysmal. Vudu also disappointed, limiting PC users to a blurry 720p Vudu HD format, instead of 1080p HDX.


An outdoor scene produces the same results from PC-based formats. Only Blu-ray achieves a quality level that is suitable for home theater use. Amazon SD looks so blurry, it's not even good enough picture quality for a modern smartphone, much less a TV. Take note of how the dust in the bottom left corner of the Vudu HD version looks like a white blob, likely the result of heavy-handed noise reduction algorithms.


Switching from a PC to the PS3 allowed Vudu to stream in HDX format, which came closest to Blu-ray in terms of quality. iTunes HD looks slightly sharper on Apple TV, but color and shadow regions are superior in the iTunes/PC version. Amazon HD was the worst-looking among the formats, even in HD. Amazon's offering also had cadence issues; playback was the least smooth among the formats.


A comparison of formats through dedicated devices—Apple TV for iTunes HD and PS3 for Vudu HDX and Amazon HD. Apple TV renders a significant amount of detail but also a lot of color noise. The image appears to flicker when watched. Vudu HDX is also relatively sharp, but noise reduction negatively affects textures—the smoke in the HDX version becomes an amorphous blob. Amazon HD is the least impressive online-deliver format, it is only 720p and looks it.


Sometimes pixel-peeping is the best way to illustrate a point. In this image, it is clear that Vudu HDX and Blu-ray enjoy a resolution advantage over the rest of the formats. It is also evident that the PC-based online formats are not as sharp as the PS3 and Apple TV based streams.


When comparing the two iTunes HD renditions, the PC-based version was much cleaner looking in the shadow regions. This translated to more realistic-looking shadows and a better viewing experience.
Edited by imagic - 4/5/13 at 2:03pm

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 29
What would be the best approach to properly calibrate a LED TV, such as my 60" samsung un60es7500?

I have played with the white balance and will buy the blu-ray version of this movie to reference the grey scale. How would you measure the dynamic contrast on this TV? I would like to see how much of the black is clipping off.
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by angelboc View Post

What would be the best approach to properly calibrate a LED TV, such as my 60" samsung un60es7500?

I have played with the white balance and will buy the blu-ray version of this movie to reference the grey scale. How would you measure the dynamic contrast on this TV? I would like to see how much of the black is clipping off.

I would suggest asking the same question on the Samsung 7500 thread: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1409865/official-samsung-unxxes7500-thread

You could learn how to use the AVS HD calibration disc: http://www.avsforum.com/t/948496/avs-hd-709-blu-ray-mp4-calibration
post #4 of 29
Great write up.
So,if you were to choose between the formats, if you didn't have any blu ray players around. Which service would you recommend for "performance" as in video?. I'v been thinking about ditching disks all together lately.
post #5 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by PcGeek626 View Post

Great write up.
So,if you were to choose between the formats, if you didn't have any blu ray players around. Which service would you recommend for "performance" as in video?. I'v been thinking about ditching disks all together lately.

Hasn't this thread and all the previous threads like it proven to you how vastly inferior streamed video is to Blu-ray? Why settle for substandard?
post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilgore View Post

Hasn't this thread and all the previous threads like it proven to you how vastly inferior streamed video is to Blu-ray? Why settle for substandard?

That's not my observation. Lincoln did not hold up, but that makes it an exception. Django Unchained was awesome on Vudu HDX, so was Life of Pi.
post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PcGeek626 View Post

Great write up.
So,if you were to choose between the formats, if you didn't have any blu ray players around. Which service would you recommend for "performance" as in video?. I'v been thinking about ditching disks all together lately.

Vudu HDX performs the best, most often. However you really need a dedicated streaming device - a home theater PC won't cut it. Vudu HDX on a PS3, Blu-ray player, Roku, and other streaming devices gets you 7.1 surround and access to the HDX format with the most movies.
Edited by imagic - 4/6/13 at 3:37am
post #8 of 29
in my HT setup, Vudu HDX running off a 2012 sony blu ray plays the best out of amazon, netflix and itunes on Apple tv. Even the sound of Vudu HDX is crisper and more rich than equivalent content on amazon. For me, its
#1 Vudu HDX (sony blu ray)
#2 Netflix (w/ DD+ on sony blu ray)
#3 Amazon Prime (on samsung un60es7500)
#4 itunes (apple tv)

Amazon video quality is better than netflix, but the sound quality of netflix dolby digital + content makes it much better for me. Although amazon has more dolby digital 5.1 than netflix. For example, terminator judgement day is available in dd 5.1 on amazon but only in stereo with netflix.
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

That's not my observation. Lincoln did not hold up, but that makes it an exception. Django Unchained was awesome on Vudu HDX, so was Life of Pi.

How did Life of Pi compare streamed in 3D? On Blu-ray, it was stellar.
post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilgore View Post

How did Life of Pi compare streamed in 3D? On Blu-ray, it was stellar.

I do not recommend 3D streaming, I've checked it out several times on Vudu and it's intolerably soft and fuzzy. Any glitches or flaws are amplified and brought out in stark releif. That is the line, for now only Blu-ray is good enough to handle 3D. It's not even close.
post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Vudu HDX performs the best, most often. However you really need a dedicated streaming device - a home theater PC won't cut it. Vudu HDX on a PS3, Blu-ray player, Roku, and other streaming devices gets you 7.1 surround and access to the HDX format with the most movies.

As a rule, the movies that performed best are movies that enjoyed an early digital release and are enabled for Vudu HDX playbaack on PC/Mac. Those movies have come incredibly close to the Blu-ray experience. That's both for the comparisons I've written so far, as well as a number of other titles. If the Blu-ray does not include downloadable digital copies (Lincoln came with an iTunes file on a DVD) that's usually a bad sign.
post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

I do not recommend 3D streaming, I've checked it out several times on Vudu and it's intolerably soft and fuzzy. Any glitches or flaws are amplified and brought out in stark releif. That is the line, for now only Blu-ray is good enough to handle 3D. It's not even close.

Actually, when I asked I was being somewhat facetious. Blu-ray is superior, 3D or not.
post #13 of 29
Mark do you think the reason for the dark scenes not being of the same quality as blu ray was the limitations of streaming, or did they just not care about this release as much as others? This was the first one in awhile where the quality was this much in favor of blu ray.
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by comfynumb View Post

Mark do you think the reason for the dark scenes not being of the same quality as blu ray was the limitations of streaming, or did they just not care about this release as much as others? This was the first one in awhile where the quality was this much in favor of blu ray.

There seem to be several factors at work here. There are definite limitations to compression that render shadows the most susceptible to artifacts. I've seen that in every movie I have compared, dark scenes degrade much faster than bright ones. However that's not the whole story.

My initial reviews were of movies that enjoyed an early release through digital distribution. Skyfall, Argo and Life of Pi each enjoyed several weeks of digital exclusivity before the Blu-ray was released. Each of those movies was available as a Vudu HDX stream on a PC.

Lincoln did not have an early digital release. Lincoln did not even use online distribution for the "digital copy" that came with the Blu-ray; instead a DVD with an iTunes file was included in the package. Vudu HDX was not available on PC or Mac. Overall, the people distributing Lincoln seemed to acknowledge the reality of online formats, but did not embrace them.

My next comparison is of Django Unchained. Django enjoyed a full digital early release, including pre-order packages that bundle the online digital version and Blu-ray into one price. That includes iTunes and Vudu HDX versions that are already watchable, plus a Blu-ray by mail on the 16'th. Like Life of Pi, I'll have to wait for the Blu-ray to finish the comparison, but right off the bat I can tell you Django had the quality I saw from the other "digital pre-release" titles.

Wreck-It Ralph was packaged in a manner similar to Lincoln, including the exact same restrictions on the formats. Vudu HDX on a PS3 performed very well, visibly superior to the other formats. Vudu HDX was also the "best" format in terms of reproducing the details in Lincoln; the difference is the color palette each film used. Ralph is candy colored brightness, Lincoln is dark and drab. At the end of the day, the challenges posed by rendering so many dark scenes increased the discrepancy between the best-looking online format - Vudu HDX - and Blu-ray.
Edited by imagic - 4/7/13 at 2:44pm
post #15 of 29
Greetings,

Nice job Mark.. smile.gif

Regards,
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Steven Spielberg is undeniably a master of his craft. Lincoln is his latest movie, a historical drama that aims for verisimilitude and demands attention. One of the methods Spielberg used to draw the viewer into the story is flawless production; Lincoln is a "reference" movie, requiring a calibrated system to appreciate properly. The most crucial element in the film's cinematography is shadow gradation—during the Civil War, it seems everybody wore black, head to toe. Period-correct lighting posed further challenges; the film is full of stark contrasts, dusty air and harsh backlighting. Lincoln is a movie that quite literally emerges from the deepest shadows.


Lincoln's palette presented a challenge for highly compressed internet delivery formats

Those deep shadows are the name of the game when it comes to a great home-theater experience. A properly calibrated display will render every shade of gray visible while preserving deep blacks. The effect in Lincoln is profound; the depth adds a palpable three-dimensionality to each scene.

A major issue with deep shadows is that they are very hard to render, which made me nervous about how Lincoln would look from an online-delivery format. In the past, I have found that dark scenes pose the greatest challenge to AVCHD compression. My fear was that the iTunes HD and Vudu HDX versions of Lincoln would not look good on a calibrated home-theater system.

But before I talk about picture quality, it is worth discussing sound for a moment. Lincoln's soundtrack is not dense, nor is it very intense. I felt that the sound-quality differences between Blu-ray and the online formats were noticeable but not profound. Fans of uncompressed audio are compelled to choose Blu-ray, but in this case, the audio is not a reason to reject iTunes or Vudu.

Vudu HDX is not available on PC or Mac, a disappointing omission. The Vudu HD (720p) version that does play on a PC looked similar to the two iTunes HD versions, which were clearly not Blu-ray quality. Vudu HDX played from the PS3 was a bit better looking, possessing some of the detail one expects from 1080p content, but still well below Blu-ray in terms of detail rendition. Unfortunately, the deep shadows were not clean; they suffered from noise and instability, cause by macroblocking in the darkest shades.

In past comparisons, I received a number of requests to add Amazon's HD streaming option. With Lincoln, I decided it was time to take a look. My immediate reaction viewing Amazon HD on the PS3 was that the video looked similar to the other online formats in terms of detail rendition, on par with iTunes 1080p on the PC.

Sadly, Amazon does not allow HD video on the PC platform; I would have preferred to take direct screen grabs. Amazon does seem to use a distinctly different algorithm to deal with shadows—instead of jumpy noise, it tends to freeze up into static clumps. There were still major image-quality issues, and overall, I found the look of the video to be unacceptably distracting—but it was different.

I started thinking about the influence of the device itself when it comes to online delivery—for example, Vudu HDX consistently looks the best on a PS3, if only because not all Vudu movies are available in HDX on a PC or Mac. With that in mind, I decided it was time to add an Apple TV to the mix. I wanted to know if the poor performance I saw from iTunes HD 1080p on the PC manifested in a set-top box. I am no conspiracy theorist, but sometimes I think studios deliberately hobble movies meant for playback on a HPTC, presumably because it is the platform most associated with copyright violations.

In this case, I had no such luck. In some ways, the Apple TV rendition of the same file looked noticeably worse. Shadows suffered from considerable macroblocking artifacts, which were absent in the PC-based iTunes playback. Perhaps the money I spent on my PC video card (Nvidia GTX-660) was worth it after all. At times the Apple TV rendition looked a bit sharper than PC-based playback, but not enough to make up for the inferior rendition of the shadows.

Suffice to say, Lincoln challenged my assumption that a big-budget movie with a 2013 release will generally look good when viewed in an online delivery format. I began these comparisons after viewing Skyfall from iTunes; at the time, I was impressed with the quality I saw. Subsequent comparisons between online formats and Blu-ray revealed the superior overall quality of the physical format, but the margin of difference was typically not that large. For some movies, such as Life of Pi, the experience provided by the 1080p online formats was fully cinematic and immersive.

With Lincoln, no online format was suitable for home-theater use—they were only good for casual viewing. Vudu HDX on a PC comes the closest to being acceptable, but issues with rendering deep shadows and blacks are too prevalent to ignore. No one frame can convey the damage done by aggressive compression; when a movie uses shadows as extensively as Lincoln, the integrity of the dark gradients is of utmost importance. When the movie is playing, the Blu-ray looks like a window into another world, an illusion the online-delivery formats cannot maintain. Here are some images that illustrate the point.


These screen grabs illustrate the highest quality achievable from each format, when using a PC. iTunes HD was the best-looking online-delivery option, but it's still far cry from Blu-ray quality. Amazon's offering is SD only on PC, and the picture quality was abysmal. Vudu also disappointed, limiting PC users to a blurry 720p Vudu HD format, instead of 1080p HDX.


An outdoor scene produces the same results from PC-based formats. Only Blu-ray achieves a quality level that is suitable for home theater use. Amazon SD looks so blurry, it's not even good enough picture quality for a modern smartphone, much less a TV. Take note of how the dust in the bottom left corner of the Vudu HD version looks like a white blob, likely the result of heavy-handed noise reduction algorithms.


Switching from a PC to the PS3 allowed Vudu to stream in HDX format, which came closest to Blu-ray in terms of quality. iTunes HD looks slightly sharper on Apple TV, but color and shadow regions are superior in the iTunes/PC version. Amazon HD was the worst-looking among the formats, even in HD. Amazon's offering also had cadence issues; playback was the least smooth among the formats.


A comparison of formats through dedicated devices—Apple TV for iTunes HD and PS3 for Vudu HDX and Amazon HD. Apple TV renders a significant amount of detail but also a lot of color noise. The image appears to flicker when watched. Vudu HDX is also relatively sharp, but noise reduction negatively affects textures—the smoke in the HDX version becomes an amorphous blob. Amazon HD is the least impressive online-deliver format, it is only 720p and looks it.


Sometimes pixel-peeping is the best way to illustrate a point. In this image, it is clear that Vudu HDX and Blu-ray enjoy a resolution advantage over the rest of the formats. It is also evident that the PC-based online formats are not as sharp as the PS3 and Apple TV based streams.


When comparing the two iTunes HD renditions, the PC-based version was much cleaner looking in the shadow regions. This translated to more realistic-looking shadows and a better viewing experience.
I noticed that all of your comparisons are on some form of PC. APPLE tv is a small HTPC.

Have your tried amazon or vudu hdx on a smart tv with a great video scaler like my Panasonic VT50?

I will look at Lincoln on HDX on my set tomorrow. Yes my tv has been professionally calibrated.
post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nrc2112 View Post


I noticed that all of your comparisons are on some form of PC. APPLE tv is a small HTPC.

Have your tried amazon or vudu hdx on a smart tv with a great video scaler like my Panasonic VT50?

I will look at Lincoln on HDX on my set tomorrow. Yes my tv has been professionally calibrated.

 

 

It is not clear to me what difference a video scaler would make with content that is already 1080p. So far as I know, there are no TVs that can playback iTunes HD movie files directly.

 

I have tried Vudu on my TV, which is a Vizio Razor. I have tried it on a PlayStation 3, I have tried it on a Roku and I have tried it on my home theater PC. A Vudu HDX file is visually identical across the platforms, as far as I can tell. The main difference is the absence of Dolby digital plus on desktop systems. Best of luck though, if for some reason you think you can get superior quality from Vudu on your television then that's awesome. 

post #18 of 29
HDX streamed on my plasma is much better than with my HTPC connected to plasma.

The image is much softer with less detail coming via HDMI from HTPC MAC MINI
post #19 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nrc2112 View Post

HDX streamed on my plasma is much better than with my HTPC connected to plasma.

The image is much softer with less detail coming via HDMI from HTPC MAC MINI

You cannot stream Lincoln in HDX on a PC or a Mac. When you do try, you are watching the HD version, which is 720p. I covered that in my comparison. Audio is also limited to only two channels.

post #20 of 29
Yes I understand this. However my tv is 1080p so all video is seen at 1080p. When I checked the source it was coming in at 720p but being converted to 1080p.

All the more reason to do a comparison on smart tv versus pc because most folks are streaming using smart tv and not pc
post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nrc2112 View Post

because most folks are streaming using smart tv and not pc

Says who?

And in the future please don't quote the entire original post if it's that long with that many pictures, we know what you're responding to.
post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nrc2112 View Post

Yes I understand this. However my tv is 1080p so all video is seen at 1080p. When I checked the source it was coming in at 720p but being converted to 1080p.

All the more reason to do a comparison on smart tv versus pc because most folks are streaming using smart tv and not pc

 

That is not the point. The point is that when you watch Lincoln on your TV, you are watching HDX which is 1080p. The stream coming from a PlayStation 3 is also 1080p. There is no scaling involved. Honestly, all this proves is that Vudu's 720p offering is not a substitute for their 1080p stream.
 
There is really no point in doing a comparison of PC versus Smart TV, beyond what is in this review. All you have to do is check which version of Vudu is enabled for playback. If you stick with HDX, quality will typically be very close to Blu-ray. If you watch Vudu HD, it won't even come close. You are mistaken in describing the set-top boxes as miniature home theater PCs. In the context of online delivery, they are treated as a separate platform. The restriction on 1080p HDX playback through Vudu is only for desktop computers.
 
For quite a few titles, Vudu does allow you to watch the HDX version on a PC or Mac. In those circumstances, there would be no improvement to using the television app.

Edited by imagic - 4/24/13 at 5:41am
post #23 of 29
Tried hdx to tv on laptop and no joy. Hdmi is blocking so only sd.

Also the video processor on a high end smart tv is much better than lesser desktop video cards.

Having less set top boxes in the chain is best for streaming Vudu.
post #24 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nrc2112 View Post

Tried hdx to tv on laptop and no joy. Hdmi is blocking so only sd.

Also the video processor on a high end smart tv is much better than lesser desktop video cards.

Having less set top boxes in the chain is best for streaming Vudu.

 

I agree with you 100%, a high quality video card is a must. I built my own gaming PC, which I also use for home theater—it's not even six months old. Everything is high quality as far as components go. Video is courtesy of an Nvidia GeForce 660. I find that it is better than the built-in Vudu app in my Vizio TV. 
 
I don't use a set-top box, I use a PlayStation 3 when I can't use my PC. I have rejected both the Roku and the Apple TV as inadequate in terms of picture quality. Also, my Pioneer Elite SC-55 receiver has some pretty good video processing built-in. But that does not come into play with my PC or with the PlayStation.
post #25 of 29
Tried ROKU today. Horrible! Took it back straight away. Your graphic card is tip top so I would expect a excellent result. Do you have any DRM issues with HDMI connection to your Vizio?
post #26 of 29
How does the PS3 handle Blu ray? Is the quality better than a dedicated player.

Do you have the output set for RGB
post #27 of 29
Well sorry today the oppo 103 went back. The HDMI inputs had av synch issues. And I just got tired of waiting for the movie to load and play.

I guess I am all digital now.
post #28 of 29
I watched Lincoln last night via Shaw's Video On Demand service.

My projector is set a little dark and my room isn't light controlled. It was dark out, but my light walls and ceiling reflect some light from the projector. I noticed that the movie overall appeared quite dark and I had to bump the brightness up a bit and take the bulb out of "eco mode" so I could watch the movie.

Looking at the various services above I was wondering how cable's VoD service compares compression-wise to the other services.
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by sebberry View Post

I watched Lincoln last night via Shaw's Video On Demand service.

My projector is set a little dark and my room isn't light controlled. It was dark out, but my light walls and ceiling reflect some light from the projector. I noticed that the movie overall appeared quite dark and I had to bump the brightness up a bit and take the bulb out of "eco mode" so I could watch the movie.

Looking at the various services above I was wondering how cable's VoD service compares compression-wise to the other services.
I would think that it is highly compressed as most cable channels are.
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