Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

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Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby gwandsh » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:05 pm

I have been reading the "gripe" threads here but can't tell whether there is any known cause for image degradation, or better yet, a resolution?

Tried to watch a newer HD movie last night on Netflix/Roku HD. (The Taking of Pelham 123). It took forever to load, then showed two dots (at other times I have gotten 4). The picture quality was dismal - worse than an old analog TV.

I stopped it after a few minutes, then went back to reload. No difference except it took even longer to load, then did an additional load a minute or so into the movie. Last week we watched a couple of older TV episodes via Roku and the picture was great, loading quick, etc.

I even turned off other devices in the house that use the same Comcast connection, and I have great bandwidth throughput for downloads.

Is this a Netflix delivery issue with prime time viewing? This is the first time we have tried to watch anything around 9pm on a Sunday night, can I expect this every weekend???

Thanks for any advice.
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby DeftOne » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:07 pm

If I remember correctly, The Taking of Pelham 123 is a Starz movie, right? Starz is infamous for providing low-quality encodes. That's part of the problem.
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby KennyJ » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:23 pm

DeftOne wrote:If I remember correctly, The Taking of Pelham 123 is a Starz movie, right? Starz is infamous for providing low-quality encodes. That's part of the problem.


Starz or not, 2 dots is going to look pretty terrible.

I NEVER get less than 4 dots on Netflix streams and when I had HD, I got HD streams every time they were available (HD Streams show 4 dots plus the HD logo). But I have 15 mbps download through FIOS (fiber optic internet).

What's your max download speed? What kind of broadband do you have (DSL, fiber, cable)? Who is your ISP?

Have you run the Netflix speed test? This shows what your connection to the Netflix CDN is:

http://cdn.nflximg.com/us/script/speedcheck.html

Post your results here.
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby ash78 » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:33 pm

Any and all quality issues I get these days are on Sunday nights, without fail. I remember reading once that Sunday night is the heaviest web usage of the week, and TV's second busiest night (after Thursday night), since that's one of the few times when most people are at home consuming media.

If it happens more frequently, I'd be concerned, but if this is the first time it's happened, I wouldn't worry.
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby vtagrl » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:51 pm

I watched it just fine. Roku Good. Netflix Good. Movie Bad! :-)
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby DeftOne » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:59 pm

KennyJ wrote:Starz or not, 2 dots is going to look pretty terrible.

But 2 dot Starz is extra terrible. :wink:
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby cwniles » Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:10 pm

yeah, two dots is dismal at best, regardless of who is responsible for encoding it.


gwandsh wrote:Tried to watch a newer HD movie last night on Netflix/Roku HD. (The Taking of Pelham 123).



just to clarify, that is not an HD title, it is SD.
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby gwandsh » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:54 pm

Thanks for the tip on speed assessment.
My ISP is Comcast, I use a cable hookup.

The test results are as follows. To me it looks like for larger data streams, the download speed increases and seems to average over 5MB/sec, which I would suspect is pretty decent. Can somebody indicate if they seem lower than average?

Test 1 Results
135k - 383ms - 2820 kBps (fb: 208ms)
270k - 340ms - 6353 kBps (fb: 191ms)
540k - 1255ms - 3442 kBps (fb: 272ms)
675k - 1012ms - 5336 kBps (fb: 554ms)
810k - 1243ms - 5213 kBps (fb: 250ms)
945k - 1214ms - 6227 kBps (fb: 689ms)
1080k - 1501ms - 5756 kBps (fb: 232ms)
2025k - 4393ms - 3688 kBps (fb: 579ms)
Test 2 Results
135k - 211ms - 5118 kBps (fb: 79ms)
270k - 448ms - 4821 kBps (fb: 259ms)
540k - 695ms - 6216 kBps (fb: 175ms)
675k - 901ms - 5993 kBps (fb: 83ms)
810k - 1001ms - 6474 kBps (fb: 216ms)
945k - 1176ms - 6429 kBps (fb: 81ms)
1080k - 1367ms - 6320 kBps (fb: 288ms)
2025k - 2522ms - 6423 kBps (fb: 194ms)
Test 3 Results
135k - 380ms - 2842 kBps (fb: 403ms)
270k - 225ms - 9600 kBps (fb: 321ms)
540k - 665ms - 6496 kBps (fb: 78ms)
675k - 848ms - 6368 kBps (fb: 91ms)
810k - 929ms - 6975 kBps (fb: 275ms)
945k - 1224ms - 6176 kBps (fb: 91ms)
1080k - 1262ms - 6846 kBps (fb: 276ms)
2025k - 2467ms - 6567 kBps (fb: 210ms)
Test 4 Results
135k - 291ms - 3711 kBps (fb: 317ms)
270k - 781ms - 2766 kBps (fb: 197ms)
540k - 1017ms - 4248 kBps (fb: 128ms)
675k - 1117ms - 4834 kBps (fb: 80ms)
810k - 1204ms - 5382 kBps (fb: 196ms)
945k - 1279ms - 5911 kBps (fb: 80ms)
1080k - 1210ms - 7140 kBps (fb: 398ms)
2025k - 2530ms - 6403 kBps (fb: 103ms)
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby KennyJ » Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:11 pm

If I remember right, the value in the parenthesis is your latency. It looks high to me. According to this site:

http://compnetworking.about.com/od/spee ... atency.htm

Excessive latency creates bottlenecks that prevent data from filling the network pipe, thus decreasing effective bandwidth.On DSL or cable Internet connections, latencies of less than 100 milliseconds (ms) are typical and less than 25 ms desired.


If I'm reading your numbers correctly, you're consistently getting higher than 100ms with values that are much higher. To compare, I ran this at work (we have a lightening fast connection) and I got mostly under 25ms (even quite a few under 10ms) -- with a few spikes in the hundreds (5 total on the whole report).

Perhaps you're fighting with your neighbors. :) Try different times of day to see if it changes based on time of day.
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby gwandsh » Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:07 pm

Thanks. Things have deteriorated since yesterday. I just had a really frustrating experience where I tried to watch ANYTHING off Roku. I tried Netflix and could not get anything to load. The progress bar would either NEVER start, or it would get to about 30% and stall for 5 minutes.

So I tried a couple of other channels, like the geek reviews and such. Nada, couldn't get the preview to do anything. Essentially the Roku is useless for me, and I've only had it for a week. A serious P.O.

Anybody been down this path? How do I get Comcast to reign in neighbors who aren't playing nice so I can get my slice of the bandwidth?

BTW, immediately after this "event", I re-ran the netflix bandwidth scan, and got the following. So if your latency values theory is right, I may be well and truly screwed.

Test 1 Results
135k - 166ms - 6506 kBps (fb: 335ms)
270k - 309ms - 6990 kBps (fb: 140ms)
540k - 587ms - 7359 kBps (fb: 145ms)
675k - 682ms - 7918 kBps (fb: 78ms)
810k - 889ms - 7289 kBps (fb: 573ms)
945k - 716ms - 10559 kBps (fb: 90ms)
1080k - 1035ms - 8348 kBps (fb: 531ms)
2025k - 3284ms - 4933 kBps (fb: 590ms)
Test 2 Results
135k - 371ms - 2911 kBps (fb: 512ms)
270k - 275ms - 7855 kBps (fb: 485ms)
540k - 388ms - 11134 kBps (fb: 391ms)
675k - 617ms - 8752 kBps (fb: 39ms)
810k - 687ms - 9432 kBps (fb: 269ms)
945k - 782ms - 9668 kBps (fb: 33ms)
1080k - 1199ms - 7206 kBps (fb: 317ms)
2025k - 2041ms - 7937 kBps (fb: 256ms)
Test 3 Results
135k - 290ms - 3724 kBps (fb: 760ms)
270k - 287ms - 7526 kBps (fb: 375ms)
540k - 719ms - 6008 kBps (fb: 745ms)
675k - 715ms - 7552 kBps (fb: 443ms)
810k - 1054ms - 6148 kBps (fb: 224ms)
945k - 950ms - 7958 kBps (fb: 268ms)
1080k - 882ms - 9796 kBps (fb: 69ms)
2025k - 2054ms - 7887 kBps (fb: 323ms)
Test 4 Results
135k - 404ms - 2673 kBps (fb: 312ms)
270k - 271ms - 7970 kBps (fb: 384ms)
540k - 410ms - 10537 kBps (fb: 1245ms)
675k - 608ms - 8882 kBps (fb: 234ms)
810k - 519ms - 12486 kBps (fb: 39ms)
945k - 519ms - 14566 kBps (fb: 212ms)
1080k - 690ms - 12522 kBps (fb: 33ms)
2025k - 2036ms - 7957 kBps (fb: 368ms)
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby gwandsh » Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:15 pm

Finished too quickly...

So, we have now cancelled (well, seriously downgraded) our Cable service with Comcast. Since they are also my ISP and I will need to complain to them about poor service, how can I expect any effort to resolve the problem on their part?

I mean, I am asking them for a service improvement which will cause me to purchase entertainment from one of their market competitors. Talk about conflict of interest! Between that and having shipped their Customer Service off-shore, am I just p***ing in the wind to start a complaint with them?

So again, anybody been down this road and have words of wisdom?
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby Smonkey » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:47 am

Im new to Roku aka just set it up and this thread came up in a search for my question. Sorry if its a little off topic, but do I have this right you cant change the dot quality? Cant I just choose 4 dots and just let it buffer longer? I got this for the Netflix HD 720p quality and nothing less. I have a 10mb down 800kb up connection. Just testing last night I click Matrix Revolutions, it was at the top and I know it was made in HD quality. Played it and it gave me 2 dots, crap! I scrolled down some and then tried Pandorum, another definite HD movie too. Played that and it gave me 4 dots, yay. Stopped that and tried the Matrix again, back to 2 dots :( and then Pandorum, 4 dots. I figured it was just that some you cant see in HD and some you can. After reading this thread apparently not, you gotta be kidding me the Roku chooses the quality????
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby kc8pql » Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:53 am

You need to let the box play for a while (at least 5 mins.) at whatever quality it chooses so it can measure what your actual average connection speed to the Netflix servers is. It uses a combination of the average speed of the last thing you watched combined with the speed it sees when you start a movie to choose the best stream that your current connection speed will support without re buffering. Your service may be 10 mb down, but it won't necessarly be that fast all the time.

Also note that only a comparatively small number of movies on Netflix are available in HD. Those that are are labled HD in the description.If you want everything you watch to be HD, Netflix isn't going to do that.

If you want to try forcing the bitrate rather than letting the box do it, you can. On the remote from the main menu screen, press Home 5 times, RW 3 times and FF 2 times in fairly rapid succession. This will open the bitrate screen where you can force the bitrate. Note that there are more speed selections than there are streams that match. The box will use the closest available bitrate to the one you set. You can also enable playback de-bugging there. That will show you which stream the box is choosing and what your average connection speed to Netflix is at that time. De-bugging only works in auto mode.
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby Smonkey » Wed Aug 25, 2010 11:03 am

Yeah I did the manual override, dunno why that's not a regular option. Yeah I don't expect movies not made originally in HD to be HD. As for my speed its 99% of the time higher then 10mb/s all the time, I get 15mb/s a lot too. Honestly who would rather watch a movie within 10 seconds of clicking the selection with 2 dots over waiting 45 seconds to watch it with 4 dots. Poor designing having that auto crap and hiding manually choosing. But I'm not gonna worry, its all good now.
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Re: Slow, Bad image quality - Roku or Netflix?

Postby robertm » Wed Aug 25, 2010 11:17 am

Smonkey wrote:Yeah I did the manual override, dunno why that's not a regular option. Yeah I don't expect movies not made originally in HD to be HD. As for my speed its 99% of the time higher then 10mb/s all the time, I get 15mb/s a lot too. Honestly who would rather watch a movie within 10 seconds of clicking the selection with 2 dots over waiting 45 seconds to watch it with 4 dots. Poor designing having that auto crap and hiding manually choosing. But I'm not gonna worry, its all good now.



The box is meant to be stupidly simple and locking the stream is too technical for most people. If you have consistently gotten 2 stars and you force it higher you may experience quite a bit of rebuffering. So, yeah, the 45 seconds may not be a big deal on loading but if it starts rebuffering every few minutes and taking another 45 seconds then the show/movie will be unwatchable.
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