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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm discouraged by the poor performance of full-screen PC playback of streaming content from Hulu, Netflix, and other providers.

The common culprit appears to be the way the software players depend on the CPU for everything including scaling the decompressed video to full screen. A new home theater PC with a hardware acceleration of popular codecs and scaling, but with a power-efficient CPU clocked under 3 GHz, will play file-based HD content flawlessly under Media Player, Media Center, and other players, but myself and many other users find that these Flash and Silverlight based streaming content players stutter when displaying 480p content full screen. Without the scaling they appear to do much better. Network throughput is not the problem in this case, it's wasteful CPU utilization.

Is full screen PC playback not a priority under the Netflix and Hulu business models? Do they assume that PC users are sitting at desktops and prefer a native-size window, while full-screen users are primarily using set top boxes? Is the problem entirely with Adobe (Flash) and Microsoft (Silverlight), or do Hulu and Netflix have some control over playback performance using these content formats? Do the content providers appreciate the importance of reducing power consumption on PCs used for living room/theater playback, in order to minimize heat, fan noise, and environmental impact?

I love using my 2.5 GHz Dual Core G45-chipset Vista HTPC to gain access to the widest variety of online content in addition to recorded TV broadcasts. But I think the software players need substantial optimization (particularly hardware scaling, and perhaps DVXA support) to compare to the presentation quality of other digital content sources in the PC-connected living room environment.

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