Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

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Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby lesleyjs » Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:54 pm

I have been using the original Roku for a few years and it was perfect HD quality. I installed a Roku2 HD today. Amazon streaming is fabulous in HD. Very impressive. Netflix is awful, blurry and not HD. I switched back to the old box and Netflix still looks great on that and is HD. I checked my settings in Netflix and I have it set for best picture quality. So, what's wrong with the new box? If Amazon streaming looks great, then it's not my network. I even reset the new box several times with no changes to Netflix picture quality. I am on a wireless DSL network with 4 as required for HD speed.
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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby renojim » Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:57 pm

The Roku 2 uses an adaptive stream. You have to give it 30 seconds or so to ramp up to HD.

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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby lesleyjs » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:07 pm

First of all, I didn't need to wait with the Amazon streaming. It was HD and perfect from the start. I just watched Netflix for 5 minutes. When is started up, the bar quality did not say HD. The picture went from blurry to medium grade, but still not HD. When switch to the old Roku box, the quality bar says HD and the picture is great. So, there's still a problem.
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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby RokuShawnS » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:26 pm

lesleyjs wrote:First of all, I didn't need to wait with the Amazon streaming. It was HD and perfect from the start. I just watched Netflix for 5 minutes. When is started up, the bar quality did not say HD. The picture went from blurry to medium grade, but still not HD. When switch to the old Roku box, the quality bar says HD and the picture is great. So, there's still a problem.


Amazon doesn't use adaptive streaming.

Netflix doesn't use a "quality bar" for the Roku 2, because of the adaptive streaming. It will stream at the user's highest available bandwidth without rebuffering. It starts low, and then works its way up depending on your bandwidth, your route to the Netflix CDN, and your overall Network congestion and/or your ISP's congestion.

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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby lesleyjs » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:57 pm

If I am getting better consistent picture quality for Netflix with the old Roku box, should I return the new one? Why pay for something that doesn't work as well? And if Amazon doesn't even use adaptive streaming, it's not even making use of the new Roku 2's technology and I would be just fine with the old Roku box, right?
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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby Erland » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:00 pm

I'm having the same problem the original poster had. Netflix image quality looked better with my old Roku XR than it does with my new Roku 2. Amazon, on the other hand, looks superb. I'm using the latest firmware, all of the settings are correct, and my internet speed is 15 Mbps. My picture quality on the Netflix web site is set to highest quality. It's not just the first few seconds or minute of the film while the device adjusts its adaptive streaming, but throughout the film. I found this true not just for HD titles but other titles as well. Disappointing because I really want to like the Roku 2. Any ideas?
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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby clocks » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:14 pm

I am also not a fan of the "adaptive" streaming. The picture look like absolute crap at the start. It takes too long to get to HD. I guess the adaptive streaming is supposed to allow the program to start faster, but I really don't notice much difference on my 15meg connection.

Also, if you click instant reply on the new Roku2 boxes, it take way longer to replay what you missed versus the old boxes. This isn't progress!

I recently ebay'd my old boxes and bought Roku 2s, but I fear I am going to regret that decision.
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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby stratcat96 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:26 pm

it's "progress" because the Roku 1 units started at the top stream and could only go down by way of interrupting streaming and rebuffering. The adaptive streams that Netflix uses with just about every device now can move down and *up* too. It can adjust to a lower stream as bandwidth fluctuates down, then go back up when it can, all without any rebuffer.
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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby clocks » Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:33 am

That's fine, but why not start at HD instead of SD, especially it you have HDTV setup in your settings? Also, why is the instant reply so much worse on the new boxes.
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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby -LD » Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:40 am

Adaptive streams are definitely progress. However, as implemented the impression from several people is that something is wrong. It should buffer the highest quality stream based on bandwidth before playing then adapt as necessary while playing. I struggle to understand the product decision to show what seems to the user to be terrible quality just to save a few seconds.
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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby Gilgamesh » Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:18 am

trekkeriii wrote:Actually, I notice the whole quality starts low, then gets higher even on Silverlight (Windows PC)and even my Android. It's just the way Netflix decided to start streaming. Roku2 just provides the technology to utilize it. It's also the same technology that lets us get our DD+ and subtitles on Roku. If Netflix decides to change the tech, I am sure Roku will adapt with it whether it's releasing channel software/firmware updates or Roku3. Hulu Plus seems to have adaptive streaming down, granted it crashes a lot of set top devices, but at least the quality is good to start with.


It seems that many, if not most, advanced video systems work that way. Even ESPN 3 seems to start at low quality on my computer and then ramp it up, if possible, over time.

The decision to start at low quality seems fairly pervasive there may be a good technical reason for it working that way or in could even be that the encoding methods to allow adaptive streaming including the problem of keeping all the streams at the same point so it can adapt without interruption has forced the decision to start at the lower quality.

The adaptive streaming is NOT just a matter of taking the old streams and marrying them together it ismuch more complex than that and it could easily be that trying to start at the highest possible would cause a start delay of many seconds as the Roku gets the slices of the new encodes it needs from the servers.

I am quite sure that the decision was not arbitrary but rather was the result of quite extensive testing.
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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby naddleman » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:52 pm

I am having the same problem with picture quality. And yes, the picture gets sharper with time. However, what doesn't get better is motion is not smooth. With my old ROKU at 720P, the picture is sharp and motion is smooth, even if bandwith reduction kicks the stream out of HD.

In my recent comparison tests, my connection speed is around 20 Mb per second.

Does ROKU have any suggestions to improve the situation?
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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby mikeyts » Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:49 pm

They start buffering low-bit-rate/low-picture-quality video encodes to begin playback as quickly as possible. Checking multiple devices that I own I find that it generally seems to start buffering the highest bit rate encode within 6-7 seconds but in that first 6-7 seconds has buffered 30 seconds worth of content at various lower bit rates which it will play out before it gets to the best quality. Apparently different players get connected through different CDNs so the connection you get on one device at a given time may deliver greater and/or more stable bandwidth than a connection on another type of device.

As a sanity check play "Example Short 23.976", a clip with a bit-rate/resolution information overlay on each of its video encodings. Watch it and you can clearly see the player stepping through the video encodes and get an indication of current conditions on your connection to Netflix's servers.

Different players have different buffering strategies and some work better for starting quickly and getting up to high quality video encodes faster. I find that my PS3's start up characteristics are similar to my Roku 2's when I start the first title after running the app (start in about 6 seconds, ramp up to 1080p encode in 30 seconds or so), but subsequent starts of any title without exiting the app go twice as fast (start in about 3 seconds, ramp up to highest in 10-16). The Xbox always seems to start with the 5th highest encode (1050 Kbps 640x480, what the quality indicator on some players call "Medium/SD"); that may differ for people with slower service. The Xbox gets up to the best video encode it can get (the highest bit rate 720p encode) in about 20 seconds.

You might like the results that you get using the old non-adaptive-bit-rate Roku Netflix player but those players don't have access to the 1080p encodes, 5.1 sound or closed captions.

Adaptive Bit-rate Streaming is becoming the standard for many services (and being standadized); get used to it.

naddleman wrote:Does ROKU have any suggestions to improve the situation?

They give some tips in this support article.
Last edited by mikeyts on Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:26 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby kc8pql » Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:58 pm

You might like the results that you get using the old non-adaptive-bit-rate Roku Netflix player but those players don't have access to the 1080p encodes, 5.1 sound or closed captions.
... and they only re-buffer down, never back up like adaptive streams do.
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Re: Roku 2 HD Netflix Picture Quality

Postby ClickCraft » Mon May 27, 2013 11:10 am

I have to agree with some others I like the way Amazons works on the Roku a lot better ... note I own an 2XS ... I have Prime and love it, Amazons app works as follows, it detects your speed at the get go, then you will see 4 dots and HD if your connection is good and high enough to stream ... Amazon will start you off with a great looking HD stream if your connection is stable and high enough, and if not it will start you off with around 4 dots, better then DVD quality but not HD. If your connection is really unstable it will be 1 or 2 dots this is equiv to internet low quality.

I think the way that works is a lot better period. I have to say I hate the adaptive stream starting off at ultra low quality, it should really work like Amazons does, this makes the most sense ... start off at what the highest quality the system feels you can handle is, and then if the connection is unstable and becomes unable to stream at the HD then let the system notch you down. I feel this is best and I saw how well this works when I was having net problems my HD was then lowered to DVD quality this was fine as it started off with HD to begin with after a short detection from the Amazon system and built in Roku app.

I and I think others in this discussion would rather wait a tad longer for it to detect the connection speed and start with HD if your connection is such then have it LQ from the start and ramp up slowly to HQ.

I think they should change this in the next update, maybe if enough people complain they will. I really do hate the adaptive stream idea based on the way it works now, if they could use the adaptive idea but start with a connection check first, the same way Amazon does then adjust down if needed that would be best. This version is a complete disappointment to me with Netflix, as I said this is Netflix not the Roku itself, Amazon works great incredible pic quality if the system detects you can hold HD, no blurry starts as with Netflix ever.

So lets see if we can get them to change it so it has the bar or dot scale like Amazon uses but still allows the use of the newer adaptive stream technology, Because one user said get used to it ... I don't think so I hate it and they need to fix It I see I am not alone in this.

And I am sure that this can be fixed in some way it will probably require them to update the way this particular app works on the newer players that in my opin is all, so lets hope they do it.

My reason for believing this can be done at app lev is my buddy has a Sony N200 he told me his player will check with Netflix similar to the Amazon app with a meter scale and will start with HQ not LQ so that to me is proof to me that it can be done.

So I say to Roku devs or Netflix if need be, please fix the problem, please listen to your users on this forum and allow it to start HQ not Low and adjust down only if need be.

Note when I first saw how bad it looked I was ready to forget Netflix altogether but then noticed it slowly got a lot clearer, again I do not like the way this works as it is now so please take note and issue a fix for it.
Last edited by ClickCraft on Tue May 28, 2013 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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