Netflix Now Streaming in HD via WMC

There have been several news posts out there stating that NetFlix is now streaming in HD via PC and Mac. Well, it seems that the Netflix player is now loading the HD icon in the bottom corner where the user can toggle the HD stream.  Seems that it is not fully implemented as of yet though. Most are reporting spotty or no HD performance as of yet. But I bet this is all a work in progress and the full HD experience is just around the corner.

Netflix HD

Here is a list of shows on netflix that will stream in 720P HD IF…IF you have enough bandwidth to support it.
http://www.netflix.com/WiHD?dev=PC

Brent Ayrey, director of product management for Netflix, announced,

“HD streaming requires Silverlight 3, a

nd you must have both sufficient bandwidth and a sufficiently large screen size to get an HD stream. When watching a title that has HD stream available you’ll see an icon in the player controls at the bottom of the screen – if the title is streaming in HD that icon will light up.”

I’ve seen some posts that this works only in WMC and not IE or FFOx. I’ll try to test it to see if it works in a browser as I don’t want to even mess with WMC.

UPDATE:
Well, I just played Legend of the Seeker in FFox and it

automatically played in HD. Very, very nice picture and smooooooth on the Revo 3610! See the HD icon? Mouse over it and it says, “buffering in HD.” So, no need to US WMC to view NF in HD.

In boxee, this same video seems to play in NF HD and is very laggy. After it buffers, it’s crystal clear, but laggy. If iI play a non-HD file with NF in Boxee, it plays perfectly as it always does. So, it seems to me the auto HD stream will work in boxee, but you better have enough CPU to play them smoothly.

Small article on Engadget: Here

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14 Responses to Netflix Now Streaming in HD via WMC

  1. Paul W says:

    Spent a few hours on netflix HD streaming on my revo last night. Ctrl+shft+alt+m while streaming brings up the stats sign. Gpu acceleration is enabled but I’m dropping a huge amount of frames. It makes films unwatchable, even though the signals coming through at 128/3800. Is it netflix or is it me? Silverlight and nvidia drivers are both the most recent versions. The HD indicator is showing “playing HD” but no joy.

  2. Tom says:

    I tried to play a few Netflix HD streaming videos on my Revo and came across some serious stuttering during playback. Once the HD buffer kicked in the video simply skipped 20 or so frames making it impossible to watch.

    I attempted to play through:
    – Google Chrome
    – WMC
    – Boxee

    all of which had the exact same issues. I dunno if it’s the Silverlight 3 update or what, but my internet connection was fine, and the CPU usage was consistently less than 40%… So I’m not sure what the problem was.

    I will have to try running through Firefox later tonight.

  3. Paul J Roberts says:

    Tom,

    It’s not the revo. Many people are having the same issue. My revo played them just fine the first few days, but then it too started to skip badly.

    If you play the video in IE or FFOx and hold the Shift+Alt keys then left click the mouse, you will get the Silverlight Diagnostics box to open. You can get an on screen view of the Playback bitrate and the down load bit rate. Even if you manually lower the download bitrate to 2600 or higher to 3800, it will auto play to that same rate no matter what. To add more to this, your ISP connection speed also dictates what both rates will be, which can cause more stuttering if it does not detect it correctly.

    You’ll notice that HD kicks in at 2600 playback bit rate. The problem lies with the fact that lately Silverlight plays back at the same bit rate as the download rate. This leave no time for the buffer to build. Also, silverlight is supposed to auto throttle this setting, but it does not always do so. I have had it work just fine and smooth on one movie and terrible on others.

    The bad thing is, HD playback is automatic, so it will always try to play at that rate. Which lately, is terrible. So, I’ve had to use the Silverlight Diagnostics to manually set the download buffer rate to SD quality (1500) so that it always plays in SD and I can now watch NFlix again! The SD quality was the normal setting for PC / Mac until the HD option kicked in 2 weeks ago.

    I think NF has some tweaking to do.

  4. Mike says:

    I sure hope you are right. I know this function worked the first few days it was out there. I watched episodes of the Office in HD and it looked great. When I tried it again just a few days ago I was shocked at the problem. The CPUs peak at 50% and most of the time they are running way below that. It’s not my ISP because I have been streaming Netflix HD on the XBOX for I think almost two years in the fall. I really hope they know this is a problem. It does work fine on my beefed up PCs though. Q.

  5. Paul J Roberts says:

    Mike,

    Yeah, NF worked in HD great the first few days. Then after that it went to crap! Super Laggy and I have to use the Silverlight Config to manually set the bitrate to 1500 (SD) in order to even watch it anymore. If not, you’re forced into HD stream and it never recovers….. They’ve changed something after the initial release.

    Silverlight 4.0 was released yesterday too, but it made no improvements.

  6. Tom says:

    Paul,

    I found that if your video starts playing at a higher bitrate (2600+), you can manually adjust it down to 1500 and then move the timeline slider back just a few frames forcincg the player to re-buffer the video. This will fix the “never recovering” issue, but you’ll still be stuck watching in Standard def. Shame really.

  7. Paul J Roberts says:

    Tom,

    Yeah, I figured that one out messing with the Silverlight Config in either browser. I’ve had to just set it at 1500 and leave it. Otherwise, I can’t even use Netflix anymore.

    I typically watched NF in Boxee. But since NF is forcing HD on us, boxee does not have a way to throttle the bitrate manually. Aaaarrghhh!

    http://www.pauljroberts.com/forum

  8. Tom says:

    Netflix has recently added a much welcomed (although not completely problem solving) solution for the HD video streaming issues.

    There is now a toggle to “enable” HD playback. Just hover over the “HD” button on the viewer and uncheck the box that says “allow HD”
    This will globally force videos to only stream at a max of 1500, instead of the previous default of 3800.

    This isn’t a real solution so much as a band-aid, but if they aren’t going to resolve the HD streaming anytime soon, it’s still very welcome!

  9. mondo says:

    I’ve been watching Heros on Netflix every night on my custom built HTPC downstairs and it’s been working perfectly.

    Last night I decided to watch upstairs on the Revo and had all kinds of problems. Finally ended up using Firefox and toggling off the HD and it finally worked.

    Seems pretty clear that the Revo just can’t handle the HD Netflix. Is this correct? Any hope for some kind of software fix? Would upping the RAM to 4GB help?

  10. Paul J Roberts says:

    Mondo,

    All flash and silverlight players work differently. As in some will use more resources and CPU than others. Like the Youtube flash player may hit the Revo’s cpu, actually this applies to all PC’s, more than say Hulu’s Flash player. Same goes for Neftlix’s Silverlight player vs another sites player.

    Yes, the current netflix player is a huge cpu hog and is hitting low power cpu pc’s pretty hard right now. Even those with video cards that support gpu acceleration. It’s not the Revo’s fault. There is no update or ram increase that will fix it. This is all about CPU and resource usage. All pc’s are experiencing this except if you have over a 2.33 dual core machine it can take the extra CPU hit and play smoothly.

    Over the past few weeks, Net flix has updated their player multiple times. Sometimes it updates and the revo plays butter smooth in HD….then I’ll see another update come through and it’s laggy again. So, until NF nails their player to use less CPU in HD, the Revo and other low power CPU pc’s will continue to struggle.

    Hope that helps explain things.

  11. mondo says:

    Thanks for the response. I did some more searching and found a trick that is working for me. From thegreenbutton:

    http://thegreenbutton.com/forums/t/89031.aspx?PageIndex=1

    “ALT+SHIFT+Left Click gives you a menu you can choose from to see the bitrate”

    Mine was defaulting to 3800 and was unwatchable. Next I tried 2600 and there was still some lag. 1500 is the one that works for me.

    Hopefully this is just a band aid and there will be another Netflix player update that will allow the Revo to stream Netflix in HD.

  12. Paul J Roberts says:

    Mondo,

    Well, I posted that info a few weeks back. Besides, you can just click the HD icon on the Netflix player and uncheck HD and it will automatically play at 1500 SD. No need to do so manually in the menu. 😉

    Yeah, hopefully they do update the player soon. Though, OC’ing the revo to 1.92 allows it to play in 3800 bitrate in a browser with ease. 😉

  13. mondo says:

    Yes, I see that you did post similar info. Not sure how I missed that?!

    Anyway, I like to use the Media Center Netflix player rather than a browser. The HD icon to toggle between HD and SD is only available when using a browser, correct?

    What are the steps needed to overclock the Revo to 1.92? I might be willing to give that a shot…

  14. Paul J Roberts says:

    Mondo,

    LOL, no biggie. I don’t use MCE, I don’t like it at all really. So, I’m unsure of the HD on/off toggle on MCE.

    I do know it is on browser and it is not in boxee. 😉

    BTW–head on over to my Revo forums. More good things to chat about there than here in the comments section.
    http://www.pauljroberts.com/forum/

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