Commentary

The Problems with Streaming Part 1

  • by , February 22, 2011

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With so many different choices to watch movies without me actually having to physically ever use a disc again, curiosity got the better of me and soon I was watching all sorts of movies and TV shows streaming to my TV and computer.

For a time it was good, not having to abide to a set schedule or wait for Netflix to give me my rental that’s been locked at “very long wait for at least a few weeks.

Netflix Wait

However as I got more involved, more obsessed with streaming, I found a major hitch that didn’t entirely destroy my streaming fun, but made me value discs (specifically, Blu-Ray) even more.

It all began when I wanted to watch “Enter the Void”, a psychedelic light and sound show set in one of the brightest cities in the world Tokyo, Japan. As usual the wait to actually get the DVD or Blu-Ray disc was abnormally long, so when the option to watch on demand was available I naturally jumped at the opportunity. After all, who wants to wait when you can have it now?

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Turning on my PS3, I excitedly went to my instant queue and anxiously awaited the crazy and colorful film to attack my senses.
About 12 minutes into the movie I noticed that the picture didn’t appear as bright and colorful as I originally envisioned. The colors appeared pixilated and muted, the sound muted as well. Instead of clearly hearing sound from all five of my speakers, it seemed that all of them were using stereo sound rather than 5.1 surround. Needless to say I was disappointed.

Upon further research I found that the streaming quality for the movie was listed at low, and upon investigating even further, I found that your internet connections was the culprit, having everything to do with the quality of your movie stream. Living in a dormitory with about 300 other students using wireless internet probably wouldn’t equal a strong connection.

I was determined to fix this problem, I opted for a direct connection, which I was told on multiple occasions to be much faster than wireless. Sure enough upon starting the movie again, I noticed the quality was listed at high as my heart took a leap. The picture did indeed appear to be better, however not anywhere near the “high” quality one thinks of when the world is used. The movie looked at best close to DVD quality and at worst like a somewhat quality rip off the internet. Once again the sound was still stereo as well; even DVDs had surround sound options.

I had had plenty of success streaming TV shows and never experienced any dissatisfaction with them. It finally hit me though that the reason I never noticed this with shows was mainly that my main way of watching TV was through my tiny laptop computer with the 13 inch screen. Quality was much less harder to nitpick than on a giant LCD TV and 5.1 surround was not an issued when listening through $15 skullcandy headphones.

The lesson here is that I discovered that my demand for quality in picture and audio takes a much high priority for feature films than TV shows. There’s a reason I never watched a movie on my iPod, or my laptop. Heck, there was a reason I bought a Blu Ray player to begin with, quality, the highest available while watching a home movie. My whole life had consisted with watching movies on a big screen with booming sound and TV on my family’s CRT Tube Magnavox.

Magnavox

Streaming was great for me, for TV, but for movies I’d just have to wait a little longer to see them in the highest quality available.

Here’s hoping “Tron Legacy” is shipped to me quick, I can’t even imagine watching it all pixilated…
Tron Legacy Poster

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