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Streaming: long live VHS

2348 Views 6 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  bambino
I just posted this on my HT blog, but it seems relevant to some of the recent discussions here:

Edit: the link didn't paste through: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/movies/homevideo/06dvds.html

Just read a great article- I don't agree with all of it, for example, it says that DVD is going to be gone soon. But then again, I thought HD DVD was the winner of the high-def war (and would have been were it not for Sony's bribery of the studios. Maybe it'll bankrupt them!).

The article gives a history of the various formats, and then, of course, talks about streaming video. Here's what caught my eye:

By contrast, streaming video seems like a return to the low-tech past. As Eric A. Taub reported on The New York Times’s Gadgetwise blog, the quality of Netflix’s streaming video seems roughly on a par with VHS: tolerable on a small computer screen but painfully inadequate on an HDTV.

Yeah, that's what I want. My 10' screen, showing 1080p lines of resolution, giving me the equivalent of my old VHS player (which I still have, and it at least does s-video). I'm sorry, but I'm a snob- the sound and video quality need to be good or I'm not going to watch it. I don't order mac-and-cheese when I go out to dinner (nor do we eat it at home). This is the same reason I don't download movies from the internet- it isn't the legality that bothers me, it's that they're ripped and compressed, missing most of the additional content. I look at movies like I do wine- I want to enjoy them again and to their fullest. My time is limited and filling it with substandard entertainment isn't going to work. Here's a good example of how I got this way- my father videotaped my grandfather giving the story of his life (which is impressive- he was a general, an ambassador, a governor). But to save tape.. recorded it on VHS-EP or whatever the hack was that made twice as much video fit on the tape. The result? For the most part, it is gone forever- some of the audio survived, but no player can seem to sync to that hacked analog player. You can say that's because it was analog to start with- and you are partially right- but even when it was first recorded and played-back, it was lousy.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that I don't see how people get excited about watching movies from streaming. Rentals, be it Blockbuster- in-store or in-mail, or Redbox make it simple to get quality sound and video simple. Leave the streaming for youtube (which is higher-quality than Netflix's streaming).
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Video quality is going both forward and backward. Blu-Ray has brought the quality way forward and is to-me an incredible improvement. But internet video is keeping video quality in the past. I download 1 movie everyday from stagevu.com and I enjoy seeing these movies even though they are about VHS quality. But Blu-Ray does not provide the large number of movie choices that are available from the internet.
I don't mind the lower quality that much. When I got rid of over 2/3rds of my VHS collection, I said I would download them all in SD but I'm still wanting to find those 800MB-1GB files with AC3 surround.
I haven't had much trouble at all with the quality of streaming from netflix, and fortunately half the movies I've wanted to watch were streamed in HD. Sure you can still see some compression artifacts in the HD streams, but you have to save file size and bandwidth somewhere, and it's usually in sky or distant landscape details.
I love the selection of streaming titles from Netflix, but the PQ just plain stinks most of the time.

The HD titles look from just ok to good. I'm also sure they turn the tap up for just those titles and keep it restricted for everything else. Usually the HD titles are going to be movies that won't have a wide audience so they don't have to worry about all the bandwidth taken up.
I am surprised by your assessment of Netflix. Though it doesn't come close to HD (even their HD films), I don't think its bad at all. For most people I would think it would not detract from the movie watching experience to the extent that you are watching the defects more than the movie.

I watch netflix on a 110" diagonal screen. Previously I would upscale to 720p on a lumagen and currently a oppo bdp-93 upscales it to 1080i/60 and then the lumagen converts it to 1080p/24 to a jvc projector.

Dont get me wrong, I would love Netflix to be of better quality but I dont think I would hold off watching a movie streamed because of the quality.
Ocasionally my wife and i Stream from the PS store, we always get the SD movies over the HD and from what i've seen the Picture Quality is tolerable for a $3 movie, it's more the sound quality that seems poor to me.
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