Tuesday 6 March 2012

Not quite there

Another Netflix movie, several episodes of The Office, and I’m of an early opinion they’re not quite there when it comes to on-demand. On Saturday I watched a two-hour film, Departures, and was interrupted three times; it wasn’t enough to ruin the film but it could have been. On Sunday morning; three episodes of The Office without interruption, yet in the evening it took multiple attempts to watch one more. Of the two other films, In the Mood for Love was poor quality but played right through and The Conformist suffered several glitches. This is nowhere near the service I get from BT Vision where, for example, I played all five seasons of The Wire with a consistently better picture quality and experienced minor problems on only one episode; that’s over 60 hours of nearly uninterrupted playback. So besides acknowledging I need to get a life, what else does this tell me? There are a number of possible factors skewing my experience.
  • BT Vision is wired into the router, everything else is wireless.
  • To play content on the television I use my daughter’s Nintendo console, giving me scope to wonder on the reliability of both software and hardware. How good are the software updates? How good is the wireless on a Wii? When it does lag, which is to blame?
  • The only fair comparison I can make is to remove hardware from the equation, and compare Netflix, Lovefilm and iPlayer from my wireless PC.
I suspect however that BT’s impressive performance is mainly due to a looser interpretation of network neutrality - where some content is more equal than others; given the aggressive pricing of Netflix and Lovefilm I’d be surprised if they’d paid for QoS.


  1. Does your BT vision box buffer content to the hard drive before showing it to you perhaps? Can't imagine the Wii having much in the way of internal storage...

    I've tried streaming from lovefilm - the quality is terrible.

    Have also watched HD movies from Zune on my Xbox - that worked perfectly.

    Perhaps I'll give netflix a try on the xbox, see how that pans out...

    1. Ha yes, hadn't thought of the hard drive - possible. Streamed one thing on Lovefilm - Source Code - which, in addition to being a good low-budgeter - played perfectly. To make it a fair test, I'm going to have to watch a lot...