We received an email from Mark in Watertown South Dakota asking us about our opinion of Netflix SuperHD and we thought what a great idea for a feature. If you haven’t heard of it before, Netflix SuperHD claims to provide superior 1080p video quality for the same price as regular streaming. But not everyone is eligible.
To see if your internet provide supports SuperHD point your browser to: https://signup.netflix.com/superhd.
Then all you have to do is find the movies with the SuperHD logo. We couldn’t find a complete list anywhere but they were very easy to find. Some movie titles that we watched were, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, Act of Valor, Ghost Protocol, and Beverly Hills Cop. We even watched some TV shows like Burn Notice, 24, and How I Met Your Mother. Not everything was in Dolby Digital. And it didn’t matter the age of the title either. For instance Beverly Hills Cop was in DD and Ghost Protocol wasn’t. Burn Notice was and 24 wasn’t. We hope that eventually all the SuperHD movies will not only be digital but DD+.
Netflix says that you need a minimum of 5Mbps and 7Mbps is required for the full experience. Since our Internet consistently measures faster than 30 Mbps we were watching at the highest quality of 7Mbps.
For reference OTA ATSC signals can get as high as 18Mbps mpeg2 but in reality many stations multicast so the main HD signal may only get about 12Mbps. Netflix streams in mpeg4 which is anywhere between 25% and 50% better than mpeg2. That roughly means the 7Mbps second SuperHD stream is the equivalent of a 9-11Mbps mpeg 2 stream which gets us close to over the air HD on a multicast channel. Well at least on paper anyway.
In actuality the picture looked quite good. Definitely better than DVD and as good as some TV channels. Was it as good as a Blu-ray? The answer is no. You could see some loss of clarity especially around edges but you had to get up close to see it. Other than that we didn’t see much of anything else that took away from the experience. The colors weren’t as vivid but they weren’t bad either. Pans were very smooth and looked natural. The quality did vary from title to title. The stream did take about 5 seconds longer to begin than non SuperHD titles. Start times will vary based on your downstream bandwidth.
As far as audio goes, the Dolby Digital tracks sounded great! When compared to DD tracks of the same movie on disc, it was hard to tell any difference. Even audio that was Pro Logic sounded good and we were able to get a decent surround experience. We are so spoiled now with 5.1 and 7.1 discrete channels. It wasn’t too long ago that we were excited to hear anything coming out of our surround speakers.
Netflix is really pushing the streaming frontiers and they have come a long way. We can now sit on our couch on any given evening and find a high quality movie at moments notice. We anxiously await the day when we will be able to stream Blu-ray quality movies whenever we want. From what we have seen that day is not too far away!
Posted by The HT Guys, June 21, 2013 12:20 AM
About The HT GuysThe HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.
Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.
ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.
Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.