Early 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.