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TV's Answer Man
Streaming Video: How Good Is the Picture?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (December 23, 2012) -- Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to swann@tvpredictions.com

I'm thinking of buying a Blu-ray player that has Netflix and video streaming. But how is the picture quality on the streaming videos? Is it as good as DIRECTV? My DVD discs? My Blu-ray discs? -- Sandy of Detroit.

Streaming video from services such as Netflix,
Amazon, Hulu or Vudu comes in both High-Definition and Standard-Definition. As for the SD video, let's just say it ranks at the bottom of the totem pole. Even with a fast Internet connection, you'll find that the colors are somewhat muted and the detail somewhat mushy. I wouldn't recommend watching any show or movie in standard-definition streaming unless there's no other option and if you really want to watch that program. It's not even as good as a DVD.

Now let's examine High-Definition streaming. If you have a fast Internet service, the picture quality on HD videos from Netflix and other
Net TV services is very good, comparable with a 720p HD video. That means the colors are realistic and the detail is sharp...well, sharp enough.

I say 'sharp enough,' because even a high-def streaming video falls far short of the picture quality on a
Blu-ray high-def disc. With a Blu-ray disc, the colors are vivid and lifelike and the detail can be so precise that you sometimes feel like you can reach up and touch the object or person on screen. The picture is not only far superior to a streaming HD video, but far superior to anything you'll see on your cable, telco or satellite service.

And as to your question regarding whether a streaming video is as good as your DIRECTV picture. It can be, but it depends again on your Internet Service Provider. If your Internet speed is so-so, you'll find that the picture quality suffers and so does its reliability. (The picture will sometimes break up or stop altogether, which is known as 'buffering.') But if your Internet service is moderately fast, you'll find that your streaming picture will hold up well, delivering just as good a picture as you would get from your cable or satellite provider.)

By the way, if you want to test your ISP's Internet speed, go to Toast.net where you can measure it. The test will tell you how your ISP compares to other Internet services.

What do you think? Offer your comments below!

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