I actually read the article you referenced in the post #2 about different versions.
Content owners ability to prepare content for Netflix varies considerably.
It was filmed widescreen in a 2.20:1 aspect ratio but it was available for streaming on Netflix in a modified 4:3 aspect ratio. How can this happen? I attribute this poor customer experience to an industry wide epidemic of ‘versionitis’. After this film was produced, it was released in many formats. It was released in theaters, mastered for Blu-ray, formatted for airplane in flight viewing and formatted for the 4x3 televisions that prevailed in the era of this film. The creation of many versions of the film makes perfect sense but versioning becomes versionitis when retailers like Netflix neglect to clearly specify which version they want and when content owners don’t have a good handle on which versions they have.
It was not clear from the article whether resolution was determined by the content owner or Netflix. You list all the resolutions that Netflix delivers, but what I was asking was what resolution does Netflix receive from the content owner. The example given clearly states that aspect ratio is determined by the content owner, mentions mastering for Blu-ray, but not resolution.
I believe that Netflix receives a single high resolution source from their content providers from which they generate all of those encodes.
But what about SD? Are we saying in theory Netflix (or anybody else) can receive a DVD quality original (480p) and deliver it as 1080p and call it HD or Super HD, or is there a "rule" that SD sources cannot go out beyond 480p? How would anyone be able to tell? Does Netflix upscale 720p to 1080p?
Also that Amazon is receiving 1080p but sending out 720p? Why would they do that?
I think some of my confusion is that my Sony S790 sends all Netflix out at 1080p obfuscating what the native rate. The Sony can do native rates for Blu-rays but not for streaming, which I find kind of perverse.