Audiophiles Unite!

November 23, 2010 8:50 a.m.

The most considered objection to Netflix streaming comes from audiophiles like TPM Reader AH:

Just wanted to add another perspective on the streaming issue: that of the consumer who owns a decent home theater system (like me).

Streaming is great as a replacement for watching TV; there are tons of movies and shows available that I prefer to 95% of what’s on offer via cable or satellite. (We got one of those new $100 Apple TVs for Netflix streaming, and we like it fine.)

But the video and audio quality of the streamed content is far below that offered by BluRay disks (and only barely matches the typical DVD; a well mastered DVD is better than streaming). And ‘bonus features’ don’t exist on Netflix (which is, ironically, actually a bonus in some sad cases).

We’re keeping one disk as an option from Netflix for the fancier or prettier movies (and the ones not offered via streaming).

By the way, I own The Third Man on both DVD and BluRay: apples-to-apples, BluRay (as part of a decent system) is the thing to have (if you’re as fussy as I am).

OK, back to work (both of us!).

PS – I do NOT work in the home video industry, I’m just a (tech-forward) consumer.

I’m not an audiophile (though it’s on the list of things I feel sure I’d gravitate towards if I found myself with surplus time and money) but I can certainly appreciate this concern.

The other, less convincing, objection comes from cineastes who don’t like the limited selection of titles offered via streaming. I suppose I can understand that argument, because it was the one that made me hesitate to sign up for Netflix in the first place; however, there’s always more good stuff to watch than I can possibly get to. Also, Netflix is clearly and consciously moving away from DVDs to streaming, so the range of streaming titles is bound to expand and eventually replace DVDs.

The interesting question to me — and one I have zero insight into — is how quickly will the quality of the streaming signal improve to offer video and audio comparable to DVD (or BluRay). There are a lot of variables in that question: the broadband infrastructure, the speed of your own connection, the costs associated with pushing through that much more data, etc. Very curious to know more on the projections for enhanced streaming quality.

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