Netflix Streams On TivoHD, in HD

tivohd_wremote_rf_300rgb440Early in 2008 when Netflix officially dropped support for HD-DVD I thought that I’d have to terminate our Netflix account. We were getting HD-DVDs routinely, but had no plans to migrate to Blu-Ray. Still don’t really. However, my wife had been enjoying downloads from Amazon’s Unboxed service, even if they were all SD and marginal image quality. It was a suitable substitute for Comcast Pay-Per-View which you simply can’t use on a TivoHD because of cable card issues.

So I kept the Netflix account in the hope that their partnership with Tivo would result in a second streaming offering, and it has. The past few months we’ve watched a number of movies from the Netflix Instant service. It lets you stream to a PC, Roku device or TivoHD. Unlike the Amazon Unbox service there’s not waiting for the download to get going. It truly is a streaming service.

Last weekend we watched Samuel L. Jackson in  “Cleaner” as stream from Netflix and I was happily surprised to find that it was HD. The picture quality was decent, not great, but markedly better than Amazon’s SD offerings. Our TivoHD is presently on a portion of our LAN where it gets only about 2 Mbits/s download, which is likely the limiting factor to the image quality.

With some effort I can move the TivoHD onto a segment of the network with access to Comcast HSI resulting in >3 Mbit/s. It’ll be interesting to see if the stream adapts to use all the available bandwidth. According to Netflix optimum results are achieved when >5 Mbits/s is available for the stream.

There was one significant issue with our viewing experience: the audio was out of sync. The audio lagged the video by about a second and a half. It did so consistently throughout the film. Luckily, the film was not the sort that was diminished by this fact. We watched it through to the end, more like listened I guess.

The following day we received an email from Netflix with a survey about our streaming experience. The email was all in html (bad idea!) which I find offensive. When I took the survey all the questions were about the video. There was no area to comment on the audio, nor even a general comments box. I poked around their site but have thus far found no way to contact them regarding the audio sync issue.

  • The sync issues aren’t related to your speed, it’s an encoding issue. Some titles have it, others don’t. Some are out of sync on TiVo, but work fine on the Roku box (I have both, plus an Xbox 360). It’s on Netflix’s end and I’m not sure how to report the issues, but every time I see it I ping one of my TiVo contacts so they can followup.

  • Reader Paul Chambers passed me details for a contact inside Netflix. I have emailed them with respect to the audio sync issue.