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Which is More Important, Convenience or Quality?

Blu-ray is the gold standard for video and audio quality, but discs are old school, and the convenience of streaming and downloading A/V content is quite compelling for millions.

On the other hand, streaming video from Netflix, Hulu, and other sources often suffers from softness, macroblocking, and other artifacts of high compression, whereas Blu-ray offers pristine picture and sound. In addition, the best high-def cable, satellite, and over-the-air channels look far better than most streaming media I've seen.

This leads me to wonder: Which is more important to you, the convenience of streaming and downloading A/V content or the quality of physical media and many traditional broadcast sources?

Vote to see the results and leave a comment explaining your choice.

Which is More Important, Convenience or Quality?
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COMMENTS
David Vaughn's picture

While I go for quality as much as I can, there are times when I'm in the mood for a comedy and have nothing to watch at home. This is where Netflix comes in handy and its streaming services. I can stream either a vintage or current sitcom (from the previous season) and I know there will be a hit in the A/V quality, I know that going in and my expectations are set pretty low.

Vudu HDX streaming is a different animal, while it costs about $5, the quality is very good, even with a front projection system, and the downgrade from Blu-ray is very minor and is a good trade off for the convenience.

98% of my viewing is on Blu-ray and will be for the foreseeable future, but for that 2% of the time that I stream, I'm willing to give up some quality.

uavtheo's picture

This is a great question and I think this reader segment probably has a bias towards quality. If I look at my own habits, I have gotten only one video on demand via cable. Why? Because it was in 2.0 stereo even though it should have been 5.1. The movie was Red Cliff and for a movie like that you want the total experience of audio and video. I've rented from Apple TV and the video is very good for their HD stuff. For me it's a step up because you do get 5.1 lossy. But now, given the choice, I'm going to stick with Bluray when I can. I hooked up my computer to watch episodes of Battlestar Galactica and some others from Hulu and as expected it was just terrible. And terrible here means to the audio/videophile. Once you've seen and experienced quality programming you don't want to take a step down. Now, I think convenience would get higher marks if I'm traveling or on the go. But, if I'm home if I'm in my setup, I want to take full advantage of what I have because that is why I made the investment to begin with.

dsg918's picture

It really depends on what I am watching. If I am watching IRONMAN, then I want blu-ray. I even love the see older movies like Guns of the Magnificent Seven, Catch ME IF YOU CAN or PRIVATE RYAN in Blu-ray. However, if the movie is just a movie with close-ups of character and indoor sets....rather see it streaming.

I think todays TV and movies are shot with HIGH DEF in mind and look better because of that.

I recently watched the DOCTOR WHO series episodes streaming on Amazon,in HD, they looked so close to the blu-ray it's was indistinguishable.

Phopojijo's picture

There's more than just quality to be concerned with... going too far into streaming will neglect content as art. You need to be careful of the longevity of the back catalog... for study, archival, and barrier to entry.

You don't want to go back to having executives of big streaming companies deciding who can be published. You don't want to have the back catalog cut to promote newer content -- especially if it's something that could be studied by art scholars. You don't want third party (private or even public) archivists to have nothing to put in their vaults because of DRM or licensing terms.

Mrlee41's picture

Quality, not to mention having the physical media! Could some comic books have been worth so much if they were digtal!? Plus what happens when the internet access is not available? All of the media is in the cloud.

Timian's picture

Is quality more important to me when renting? In the past I would have said hell yes, but now I'm not so sure.

How often has your Netflix DVD or Blu-ray disc been scratched so badly it barely played? It's happened to me plenty of times. Not to mention the times the discs were partially melted (?!), colored with marker (on the shiny side) or any number of other abuses.

Streaming a rental avoids these problems altogether, except of course for the issue of connection quality and speed. I'm lucky enough to have an excellent internet connection, so I rarely run into trouble. Streaming also enables me to sample a number of movies until I find one I think I'll not only like but am in the mood for.

The perks of streaming, however, only really apply when I'm watching a movie on my own. I have an HD computer monitor linked to high quality Meridian speakers, so I can stream a movie on my computer and still enjoy myself.

If I want to watch a movie with family or friends though, I always, always rent the disc. Ease of pausing, rewinding or fast forwarding while trying to hold the group together long enough to finish the movie gives physical media an unbeatable advantage. My TV rig also offers much wider viewing angles than my computer, the importance of which is hard to overstate.

Jarod's picture

Quality is my main goal when it comes to movies in my home theater. When its movie night, which is almost every night, I use Bluray. I am a bit old school and I enjoy the act of going into my local rental store and picking out a bluray as well as checking out new movies and games while im there. Of the last 100 movies I have purchased they have all been Bluray. DirectTV fullfills all of my other tv watching. I have nothing against Netflix. It is a super convenient way to rent movies.

Zappykins's picture

I really like the high sound and video quality of the Blu-ray. However, I detest the forced obnoxious previews and commercials, the mystery meat navigation, and the clips in the menus often ruin the best part of the film. It makes me feel punished for buying the disc.

The only convenient Blu-ray I

David Vaughn's picture

Great point Zappykins! I hate the forced previews that you are forced to watch. I prefer to have the option in the menu to watch them when I want to (Disney is the worst for this, although you can now bypass them by pressing the "Title" button on the remote).

Jarod's picture

I agree as well! When you purchase a disc you should be able to bypass all of the previews and advertisements. Disney at least has an option now but its still extra non-sense. I did recently purchas A Scanner Darkly on BD and to my delight it booted up right to the title screen.

gaslight's picture

I don't find streaming to be all that convenient, as "issues" frequently arise. To give one of several examples: fast forward, search, etc. on Netflix streaming is much harder than when playing a bluray disk.

What could be more convenient than popping a disk into a player and pressing start?

Having instant access to whatever I want to watch isn't important to me. I am perfectly content to wait a day for my Netflick to arrive. I actually enjoy going outside to get the mail...much more so than fiddling with a computer.

lonnie_peterson's picture

I have a 240hz Samsung LED LCD and I've been blown away by HiDef Movies from VuDu and Netflix streaming. VuDu has 1080 5.1 DD. But, If the movie is a keeper with lots of special features I'd choose Bluray any day.

Lon

jgkobus's picture

Yes! Convenience is of the utmost importance when you have little kids. My 2yr old daughter loves to watch Dora the Explorer. I can fire up Netflix on iPod Touch, Computer Laptop, or Xbox 360 and have her watching hours of Dora in literally just seconds.Here convenience is key.

If I want to watch a movie with the wife on the big screen, we prefer quality. BluRay discs from Netflix fit the bill.

jgkobus

Scott Wilkinson's picture
I'll pose such a question in the near future. Thanks for the suggestion!
Audio_Geek_00's picture

The movie studios want streaming because it gives them control over the content and it is the perfect buisness model-no physical product to deal with. It happens that in some instances it is convenient for me to stream older TV run shows, older movies or documentaries from Netflix. But when it comes to the latest movies i want to get the most out of my A/V gear investment. I think that most folks who have enough interest in audio and video (obviously most people who frequent this site do) would want their content to be the best possible as well. Right now streaming can't match BD quality. Will it in the future? Likely. But in my experience you can't have convenience without some sort of compromise. You may have to pony up for faster internet speed. You may have to have a gigabit ethernet LAN to distribute the content in your household. You may have to pay to watch a movie you have already seen and payed for before (if you do rewatch movies like i do occasionally) unless they figure out a way to charge you a premium price to have "unlimited viewings". I can't help feel it is more to the advantage of the studios and the companies that provide the infrastructure than the people who want to stream. Its not surprising to see that quality is the top pick in this survey because of the readership. I think a better question would be "what content do you watch that quality is the most important aspect?" and rank them in matter of importance. New movies, old movies, TV series, documentaries...ect, could be some of the categories, for example.

aussienerd's picture

I like both. I have never watched a BluRay movie so i cannot comment on their quality but i do have a HD Tv and do enjoy watching DVD's on it compared to my old TV

As far as convenience goes it would be good to have Netflicks or a Roku box or similar but i am not sure if these services are available in Australia. Another problem is download limits in Oz we have very low limits compared to you in the states which would get used up very quickly if we started downloading High quality content. There is one service i know of from a very large Telecommunications company but the catch is you have to have your internet service through them and they are not exactly the cheapest in town if you get my drift. There maybe other but i am not aware of them.

DTKempII's picture

For most movies, podcasts, etc., the quality we get from our Roku box for streaming is not perfect, but good enough...though I could probaby slightly improve it if I could wire it, versus using the wireless functionality as I do. However, watching epic movies, such as Lord of the Rings, quality would be far more important.

Based on what some others are saying here, we seem to be in agreement...content is the determining factor here...

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