Netflix SuperHD… When Superlative Equals Expletive


Netflix, $8 a month for unlimited movies. Sounds like a great idea and it is… If the only thing you care about is saving money AND if you don’t value your time.

Let’s start with the unlimited thing. It may be unlimited for you to stream movies from Netflix, but in order to get HD quality (more on that later) you are limited to the download cap imposed by your internet service provider. Me? I only have 60 Gb a month, so if I don’t do anything at all but watch movies in HD and check my e-mails, I will be capped at about 8 movies a month. So much for unlimited.

Then being an optimist that I am, I tried to look at it from a positive standpoint. Say I stream 4 movies a month, it’s about the same price as renting Blu-ray Discs from RedBox rental vending machine. But is it? The HD quality from Netflix is so bad it’s only watchable on my 50″ viewed from 14 feet away… And the sound is in lossy Dolby Digital; no Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD.

Imagine how excited I became when Netflix announced their SuperHD version of most of their HD movies. Linguistically, SuperHD should be better than HD — which is the quality of Blu-ray Disc — which in return means better than Blu-ray quality.

So this past weekend I watched The Tall Man starring Jessica Biel on Blu-ray Disc and right after that I watched it again via Netflix using their SuperHD option on my 96″ 21:9 front projection system viewed from the optimum THX recommended viewing distance (ie. 9′ away). My first reaction was… WHAT A BUNCH OF CROCK!!!!

SuperHD still yields truckloads of compression artifacts, block noise, mosquito noise, colour banding, and washed out colours. This is worse than the 720p .mkv file my friend lent me! Never I uttered that many expletives during a course of 15 minutes (I value my time and refuse to keep on polluting my eyes with this SuperHD garbage)

After reading more into the technical specifications of SuperHD, it is no surprise why it looks so craptastic craptacular! The maximum bitrate on SuperHD is a puny 7 Mbps whereas for Blu-ray is at 36 Mbps. Not even 20% of Blu-ray’s maximum bitrate!! Yes, in SuperHD, movies are now more than acceptable on my 55″ viewed from 8′ away, but why call it SuperHD? Just use this new encode and bitrate and call it “HD” and get rid of your old HD encode. It is an improvement but it is still garbage and it still stinks.

If you’ve spent multi thousand dollars on your equipment, why feed it with this Netflix garbage? Why even waste your time watching this garbage? I’ll wait for Netflix Super Duper Xtreme Advanced HD… Maybe by that time it will be 50% the quality of a regular Blu-ray.


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