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TVs & Home Theaters

General discussion

? Pic. quality of streaming/ surfing on large screen HDTV ?

by davekro / February 22, 2010 1:19 AM PST

How would you describe the expected picture quality of
1) streaming Netflix or
2) just Web Surfing

from my iMac to my 73" TV?
1a) Would the extremely compressed Netflix movies not be worth watching compared to my regular SD or BD actual Netflix disks?
2a) Would pic quality of surfing, email be good enough to be worth doing?

I don't know that my equip. has much to do with it, but here is my stuff:
73" Mitsub. DLP HDTV (1080P native model WD-73734)

iMac 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (late 2006)
ATI Radeon X1600 graphics processor with 128MB GDDR3 SDRAM
1.5 GB RAM
(for audio- optical digital audio output/headphone out)

Last variable... Video would be over mini-DVI to HDMI 50' cable.
Audio would be over 50' optical cable (w/ stereo miniplug to optical adapter) My iMac has optical capabilty from the headphone jack.
According to reviews at Monoprice on both 50' DVI to HDMI and 50' optical cables, this distance is a non issue.

Thanks for opinions on computer to big screen TV quality opinions.

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equipment has little to do with it.
by minimalist / February 22, 2010 2:11 AM PST

Your hardware setup should work fine. Web browsing is simple stuff and it will look as good as it can look on your TV.

Netflix streaming however, may be a bit disappointing on a 73" 1080p TV if you are used to Blu-ray or DVD quality. The things you can do to make sure you get the best possible picture are the following:

1. Get the fastest broadband available. DSL isn't going to cut it. You need cable.

2. Hardwire your connections using gigabit ethernet directly to your router and modem. Don't rely on wireless. Technically its fast enough for streaming, but its just one more potential bottleneck when something inevitably goes wrong.

Doing these things will generally give you decent PQ from Netflix streaming but don;t expect Bl-ray quality. The HD and SD content look pretty good but there will be noticeable artifacting (especially in the background where there are smooth colors or textures or in dark scenes). And even with a hard wired connection you may occasionally experience a little buffering (especially when viewing HD 720p content).

Netflix streaming is not perfect and its not going to replace Blu-ray or DVD as quality standards anytime soon (and its still just stereo as opposed to 5.1 or 7.1), but its still pretty handy.

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Comcast at 1000 to 1400 Kbps
by davekro / February 22, 2010 3:54 AM PST

I have Comcast cable. I usually see =/- 1000 Kbps. Just now, CNET bandwidth meeter registered 1490 Kbps. What speed (in Kbps) would be liked for a decent steam quality?

My iMac IS connected to my Comcast modem via ethernet.

I would not waste my time trying to stream a good action film where I want the full surround and PQ effect. But would it be tolerable for, well, movies that my wife prefers where PQ and sound effects are not the reason we are watching. ;o)

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1-1.5 Mbps is not enough. That's DSL speeds.
by minimalist / February 22, 2010 8:43 AM PST

SD streaming may work, but it won;t be pretty bad looking and there will likely be some buffering issues. You can forget about HD at those speeds.

Speed tests are all relative and dependent on a variety of factors. The best you can do is test a variety of them multiple times and take an average. You want at least 4-8 Mbps for quality HD streams. Since bandwidth is always in flux shoot higher than you think you'll need. I consistently get 8-12 Mbps during peak hours and 12-16 during off hours and even then I sometimes experience a bit of buffering on HD streams.

My guess is that you're going to have to upgrade your broadband package to get speeds better suited for reliable streaming.

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Netflix Transfer Speeds
by bearvp / February 23, 2010 2:14 AM PST

I was in contact with Netflix a while back (less than a year) to ask them about the HD streaming requirements and they said their HD streams come in at around 5.5 Mbps (5000 Kbps) so if your connection cannot download at that speed or it dips below that speed too often, Netflix will automatically 'recalculate' the streaming HD signal to around 1.0 Mbps which means more compressed audio and video.

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Best bandwidth meter to use???
by davekro / February 22, 2010 4:10 AM PST

I always get different readings from CNET bandwidth tester vs. Speedtest.com.

On Speedtest, I get to choose how far away I want to test from. I usually test from the closest, which is San Francisco (≈50 mile away).

With CNET, I am not able to see where or how far they test from.

Speedtest results:

from SF thru densely populated area. 3.54 Mb/s (I believe is 3,540 Kbps)
From Modesto thru sparsely populated areas, huge range!
4.2 Mb/s, 6.6 Mb/s, 20.85 Mb/s ????? 20,850 Kbps?? what the heck is that outlier?

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"My iMac has optical capabilty from the headphone jack"
by ahtoi / February 22, 2010 5:27 PM PST

Now...THAT is cool! Is that true..anyone?

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Yup,it's true
by davekro / February 23, 2010 12:14 AM PST
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AOK with 130" projected picture
by conchchowder / February 26, 2010 12:16 PM PST

My regular computer monitor is a Sharp DCT-510 720p pj @130". The only source, for now, for 1080p that I would have access to would be BD and I'm more excited over the DVD play on WinDVD 2010. There is a setting that makes film look more live (the opposite of what film's intention). I love what it does to my DVD's.

Streaming, including Hulu and Fancast, looks great at 720p. I would assume at the higher resolution that it may not look as good, but maybe you could change to a 720p output.

I strongly suggest that anyone wishing a large screen NOT purchase a standard LCD TV. They are hard to move...takes two people to move them.

Mine, I can carry under my arm and it throws a 30' picture. I paid under $600 for it and the lamps are only $185. I can buy 10 years worth of lamps AND the projector and still come under what a 72" or larger TV would cost.

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Compare it to what streaming looks like on your Mac monitor
by grtgrfx / February 26, 2010 2:14 PM PST

I have a 24" Dell monitor connected to my Mac Pro (and a mid-range video card, the NVidia Ge-Force 8800GT inside). When I stream video over the web, I get two choices: reasonable sharpness but a tiny 3"x4" window on the big display (because it's 640x480 on my 1920x1200 screen) or blurry, choppy video because it's blown-up like 8X to fill the display.

Fact is, if you port out the video to your TV, especially if it's a true HD 1080P TV, you'll have the exact same results that I do on my monitor. Why? because the relative specs are the same. Even the Netflix 720P videos are gonna look soft and not as solid as comparable SD DVDs because of heavy compression. If you look at physical Blu-Ray disks, it's no contest, the streaming video will look like doggy poop in comparison.

So yes, you can do it, but the result may well be disappointing. HD streaming over the web just isn't here yet.

The only thing I thought looked decent from my Mac to the TV was video games, because they are digitally-created and high resolution to start with. But that's not for everyone, and in fact I still prefer to play games at my desk instead of in the living room on TV.

Good luck!

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Forgot to say, you'd better upgrade your cable too...
by grtgrfx / February 26, 2010 2:26 PM PST

If you plan to do this, it'd be a good idea to pay more for a higher-level of internet service. Comcast offers several tiers of service, and yours is among the slower ones. You may have to pay $15-20 more per month but you do need the faster bandwidth to stream video in HD, as a previous poster said. Comcast has (in some areas, at least) 16Mb service and 22Mb service, and you'd want the 16Mb tier as a minimum, and maybe even the faster tier. While we all know the officially-rated speeds are bull, they are an indicator of relative speed for the dollar, and you know that you'll need far more than what you're getting now in any event.

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Thanks.
by davekro / February 27, 2010 4:29 AM PST

grtgrfx,

Thanks for the detailed explanation. It makes it clear that I will not bother to do this. Especially since I'd need to do it with 50' cables AND upgrade my Comcast service level.

Good inf.

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