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Bugs Plague New Xbox 360 Video Service

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the holiday-stuffing dept.

83

eldavojohn writes "The BBC is running a story on problems with the Xbox 360's HD video service that went live a few days ago. I have wondered quite a bit how Microsoft runs the proxy caches for this service and how they are ensuring that their end consumers are not creating high amounts of internet traffic while downloading HD video." From the article: "Gamers can buy TV programmes but the movies are rented and are automatically deleted from the console's hard drive after a fixed period. 'We've made progress over the past 24 hours, and the team is dedicated to fixing the issues and continues to work as fast as they can around the clock to get the service running as seamlessly as you have come to expect,' wrote Mr Hryb, who is Xbox Live's director of programming, on his Major Nelson Xbox blog.

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83 comments

Four Million potential customers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976370)

I can't imagine trying to deliver downloadable via the Internet high definition content to a XBL subscriber base of 4 million people! MS has said that they have over 1.5 million paid downloads already, and it was only introduced this week. I wonder if they can sustain that rate...if so that would be huge added revenue to the XBL service group!

Not so good... :) (4, Informative)

Lord_Rion (15642) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976410)

Well.. I logged into live on the first day this service was offered (stupid I know) and have been trying to dl a HD movie for a couple of days now. When I went to bed last night it was at 59%. If this is the best they can do "It's not soo good!". IMO.. :)

Re:Not so good... :) (3, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977140)

I wonder when the time out starts:

1) pay for movie, expiry time set to 4 days, download begins
2) .... downloading ....
3) .... 5 days later ....
4) download complete.
5) Your movie has expired. Would you like to renew your rental for 4 more days?

6) Profit X 2

Re:Not so good... :) (4, Informative)

abandonment (739466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978108)

if it's based on their standard DRM stuff you recieve your license the first time the movie is played - WiMP goes onto the net and grabs the license...so in 'theory' it wouldn't start until you actually finish the download.

which is the biggest area of issues with this new service apparently - simply getting a download to complete is the hard part...

Re:Not so good... :) (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978968)

if it's based on their standard DRM stuff you recieve your license the first time the movie is played - WiMP goes onto the net and grabs the license...so in 'theory' it wouldn't start until you actually finish the download.

The expiration period is 3 weeks or 24 hours from first play, whichever comes first. I assume the 3 week period doesn't kick in until you've completed the download, but it'll be three weeks before anybody besides Microsoft will know for sure. Unfortunately, you can start playing the movie while it's still downloading, thus triggering the 24 hour expiration period. That leaves you with a nasty decision -- start playing the movie now while it's downloading and risk having it expire before it's finished, or wait 2-3 days for it to completely download and lose interest in the movie.

360 is game system 1st, video download service 2nd (4, Interesting)

ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976426)

There will be bugs for a while. Microsoft will attempt to iron out those bugs. Microsoft has the advantage that this is an added feature. People buy the Xbox 360 as a game system, it won't be a big deal if the video download service takes a while to get up and running. Of course people who have paid for downloads that haven't worked will be pissed.

but.. (3, Insightful)

Ender Ryan (79406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976648)

But.. if this was another one of Sony's screwups, they'd be vilified as being "evil" here on /. at this time. Or if it was Nintendo, people would be claiming that Nintendo's screwups just make things more fun or some such nonsense.. =P

Yeah, so this does in fact suck for people wanting to use this service. OTOH, it's a hard problem, and I don't see any other company offering a similar service. I didn't expect this to go off without a hitch.

So, I take it you'll give Sony an equally easy pass when their HD movie download service has similar growing pains?

Re:but.. (1)

ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977934)

But.. if this was another one of Sony's screwups, they'd be vilified as being "evil" here on /. at this time. Or if it was Nintendo, people would be claiming that Nintendo's screwups just make things more fun or some such nonsense.. =P

I'm being lenient with Microsoft, because the HD download service is not the main function of the Xbox 360. A laptop battery is critical to the functioning of a laptop. When it fails in a manner that can take down an aircraft, people start to complain.

I would make the suggestion that the Xbox 360's small hard drive cripples it's ability to store movies/television shows for any significant length of time. I would prefer a 300 or 400 GB hard drive (3 and half inches of course). That would allow people to store every MP3 that they have and Microsoft could charge for DivX capabilities. It would also make the video download service more viable. When Microsoft moves the Xbox 360 to a 65 nm manufacturing process, I hope they increase the size of the hard drive.

The Wii and the PS3 will both have web browsers. If a web browser works great on a game console, great. But if it doesn't work well, you didn't buy it for the web browser anyway. So if the PS3's web browser sucks, I'll give them a pass.

Nintendo hasn't tried to sell the Wii as anything other than a game console. Sony has been desperately trying to convince people that the Blu Ray drive is worth the high price of the PS3. I have a feeling that there is a lot of internal pressure for Sony not to offer video downloads because of the need to push the Blu Ray format. Sony is a member of both the RIAA and MPAA which cuts down on innovation and makes them the enemy of most Slashdotters.

Re:but.. (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978948)

The Wii and the PS3 will both have web browsers. If a web browser works great on a game console, great. But if it doesn't work well, you didn't buy it for the web browser anyway. So if the PS3's web browser sucks, I'll give them a pass.

What if Sony ties critical functionality like downloading games (a la Microsoft's XBLA) to the web browser? And what if said web browser makes you use the controller like a mouse rather than having a proper console interface? I'll give Sony a hard time for that. Microsoft doesn't include a web browser for various reasons ("It's a game console", anti-trust speculation, etc), but they provide a very nice and easy interface to interact with their Marketplace. Nintendo has a web browser available (well, eventually), but the Wiimote is very much a mouse and browsing using the Wiimote should be very nice. Sony has a web browser that pretty much requires you to plug in a USB mouse and keyboard to be able to use it. If I wanted to do that, I'd use a PC.

Re:but.. (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16982076)

"Sony has a web browser that pretty much requires you to plug in a USB mouse and keyboard to be able to use it. If I wanted to do that, I'd use a PC."

Ahh hah!

I've been reading a lot of stuff on Digg against the PS3, but I think it's a pretty damned cool box. One of the reasons I really want one (and won't get my hands on until after the holidays, most likely) is because you can use it AS a PC. Sony allows you to install other operating systems on the machine. There's already Fedora Core available for it.

If the Sony browser required a keyboard and mouse, well, I have a really cool set from that Gyrosomething company. You know, the mouse with the accelerometers in it. Anyways, with the ability to just plug in USB stuff, and the Linux functionality, you won't NEED to plug a PC into your TV, you won't need an expensive HTPC case with a whole PC in it. You'll be able to use your PS3 for everything.

As long as you have a decent HDTV, using the PS3 as a general purpose "media" PC would be easy.

The Wiimote might be good for mouse actions, but it's still not going to help you type any faster. You'd end up using a keyboard anyways. Same with any game pad.

Re:but.. (0, Flamebait)

Ender Ryan (79406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985400)

Nice red herring. The exploding Sony batteries have nothing to do with the PS3. By your logic, I could be using the shittyness of Windows as an argument against the Xbox 360. That would in fact be more relevant, since the 360 runs a variant of Windows -- it's still irrelevant, since the "shittyness" of Windows doesn't really affect the 360 in any user-visible manner, but I digress.

I have a feeling that there is a lot of internal pressure for Sony not to offer video downloads because of the need to push the Blu Ray format

You have a feeling eh? Well I have lots of feelings too. I have a feeling your *irrational hatred of Sony is affecting your impartiality, as it has with so many of late.

* It's not so much that hating Sony is irrational. Sony has done plenty to reap hatred. What is irrational is the singling out of Sony, considering the track record of their competitors, and even more striking, the pettiness of their transgressions compared to other large corporations. But hate away all you like. 2 minute hates are fun for the whole family.

Re:but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16996368)

Actually, had the fanboy in you read past the comparison, you'd have realized that it was just that. A comparison, one wherein he states where and when he'll apply specific negativity to a company.

Re:but.. (1)

Ender Ryan (79406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17026034)

I have a feeling that there is a lot of internal pressure for Sony not to offer video downloads because of the need to push the Blu Ray format

BTW, you're 100% wrong. According to Phil Harrison, they already have the capability and are working on "business development" for such a service. It's been a planned feature for a while.

I'd provide a link, but it was from a magazine interview with Harrison.

Re:but.. (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16982088)

I haven't been giving Slashdot much attention lately. I kind of assumed that people wouldn't hate Sony on here as much as they do on Digg. Personally, I don't hate them any more then any other big company. They're all bastards =) Nintendo and Apple are NO exceptions. People have a short memory - Nintendo was a real jerk to deal with when they had a virtual monopoly on the game console market, and Apple really banged a lot of companies in the ass when they allowed Clone Macs, and then stopped them as soon as they started producing them.

arg (3, Insightful)

AcidLacedPenguiN (835552) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976462)

I'm surprised there aren't a million "Zomg! Microsoft is teh sux, x rullzz" (where x is the name of their console of choice) comments already. The troubling thing is that Nintendo seems to have the same problem, and I bet once Sony has stuff to sell in their online PS3 stores they'll suffer from it as well. It is obvious that there is a demand for online movie/ television sales, but this raises a damn fine question, are ISPs really able to dish out enough bandwidth? I think that while we are entirely ready to receive these services it is evident that our ISPs and Microsoft's/Nintendo's/Sony's server farms are not ready to provide us. I see in the news all the time that in the UK and Japan 10MBit/S connections are fairly common, but here in the US and Canada a 1 to 3 MBit/S connection is fairly uncommon. (Keep in mind I'm talking about home connections, not business or corporate)

It's like our ISPs are keeping their services low, their profits high, and their pockets lined. . . But that's a whole other ballgame. . .

Re:arg (2, Interesting)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976510)

Meh, we expect this type of thing by now, and it does not matter on the company. I expect that they will have it working in the next couple of days.

Speaking of gettign stuff workign in the next couple of days, can any one report on how the Wii online stuff is going? is it working now?

Re:arg (2, Informative)

Headcase88 (828620) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976838)

I got access to the Shop on launch day easily. I visit it plenty though I've only bought one thing (Bomberman '93), and no probs with that download. It does take about 15-30 seconds to enter the shop though.

Long story short, the online service has always "been working", if you're fortunate enough to have a fully-working system to go with it.

Fixing the Wii problem (1, Flamebait)

Quila (201335) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976554)

The troubling thing is that Nintendo seems to have the same problem

Switching my wireless router to channel 11 as suggested on the Nintendo site seems to have fixed all of my online problems.

Re:arg (2, Informative)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976726)

I don't know where you live in Canada, but here in Quebec (part of Canada, last time I checked) 3Mbps DSL connections and 5-10Mbps cable connections are the norm, not the exception.

In fact, even the "low-cost" option is to have a 1Mbps DSL connection.

Re:arg (1)

Steppman2 (1029992) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977338)

Yes that's true, but the parent was talking about MB not Mb... 1-3MB = 8-24Mb Your "low-cost" DSL runs at 125KBps...

Re:arg (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977514)

Did the parent really mean MB instead of Mb, though. A lot of people mix-up the two, and companies always sell their connections as Mb, not MB.

Re:arg (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978048)

Check the parent again, he wrote "MBit/S"... So yes, for those who know the convention, he did specify "MB" but since he wrote "MBit" I think we can assume he meant "Mb". ;-)

Re:arg (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977614)

In Washington State, Verizon offers 3Mbps DSL for $25/month. That's cheap, dirt cheap. If you're getting less than 3Mbps for more than $25/month, you're being totally ripped off.

Re:arg (1)

lazyl (619939) | more than 7 years ago | (#17006096)

That's an odd comment.

Verizon offers [x] for [y]. That's cheap, dirt cheap. If you're getting less than [x] for more than [y], you're being totally ripped off.

Seems to me that if [x] for [y] is dirt cheap then less than [x] for more than [y] would be standard.

Re:arg (1)

qa'lth (216840) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978022)

I have 10/1 Mbps cable out here in Alberta. If I wanted to lay down $100/mo, I could get 25/1 Mbps. That's kind of silly, though.

Re:arg (1)

Bluebottel (979854) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978894)

Heh... here in Sweden a $120 will get you more bandwidth than youll ever need (as in > 100 mbit/s). And still have money left (which is kinda practical when youll have to pay for all those gigs of movies you just downloaded)

Re:arg (1)

smeagols_ghost (644286) | more than 7 years ago | (#16991002)

In aus 1.5mbit/s adsl1 is the fastest most people in major cities get. Some isps have put in there own dslams (iiNet come to mind) and offer full adsl2+ speeds.

If you are in an older suburb, cable can be your only option (if its there) as rims and pair gain kill any chances of adsl. (admitidly it is getting better slowly)

Note: this is all a generalization from reading whirlpool and looking around my own home town for a rental place that has adsl available.

Re:arg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16977532)

What are you on about? I've had 10/1mbps in Tampa for over a year, and can get 15/2Mbps if I use the company's telephone service. For at least three years before that I had 5Mbps via cable. If you have the money you can get 30/5Mbps from Verizon in the area too.

Re:arg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16977612)

Here in Southern Ontario, one of the big cable providers, Cogeco, offers 10 megabit down as their standard package, for $45 a month.

Re:arg (1)

jusdisgi (617863) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978406)

I see in the news all the time that in the UK and Japan 10MBit/S connections are fairly common, but here in the US and Canada a 1 to 3 MBit/S connection is fairly uncommon.

Surely we're not so backwater....I mean, I'm in the middle of Missouri (not exactly a metropolitan locality) and I've got 5mbps cable. And that's just their standard speed...if I wanted to pay another $15 I could have 10mbps. The DSL speeds range from .5-7mbps IIRC. I find it hard to fathom that the vast majority of Americans (note, the vast majority of us are in the major cities now...) don't have access to similar or better services.

Re:arg (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 7 years ago | (#16979932)

Apple uses Akamai for the ITMS and hasn't had any problems with it outside of a couple of days following a major feature or content launch. Granted, they're only selling audio and 480p video, but it's obviously doable..

1 terabit for 50 bucks (1)

greentoad (212070) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983434)

Here in Japan, you can get an optical fibre terabit connection for about 50-60 bucks a month.

I've had an 8mbit ADSL for about 5 years now for 25 bucks a month, and if I pay an extra 2-3 bucks I can get 50Mbs or more. For another 10 bucks I can get a 100mb optical fibre connection too.

It's even cheaper in Korea apparently.

Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (4, Interesting)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976514)

Why do they even have a fixed period of time before a movie is deleted from a person's hard-drive?

The XBox 360's hard-drive is 20GBs which (should) allow for (about) 20 to 40 SD movies or 5 to 10 HD movies; eventually they will have to 'return' the movie (that is delete it) or they will run out of hard-drive space. Currently most rental places have eliminated late fees (with a small restocking fee after a week), and online services have no time limitations, so why would I pay the same ammount and be put in a far more limited system?

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976662)

Currently most rental places have eliminated late fees (with a small restocking fee after a week)

Please explain how a "small restocking fee" after returning a movie after a fixed period of time isn't a "late fee." Just because they're calling it something else doesn't change what it is.

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977340)

most late fee are per day late the restocking fee is the same if you are 1 day late or 20 days late

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (2, Insightful)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977372)

most late fee are per day late the restocking fee is the same if you are 1 day late or 20 days late

Yeah, well that's certainly not a restocking fee. It's a flat rate late fee.

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978494)

Sure it is. Cos when you return a movie late, they have to run it under the barcode machine to check it back in, then they have to put it back on the shelf. You don't think they'd offer this service for free, do you? I mean, when you return a regular movie "on time," they have to run it under the barcode machine to check it back in, and then they have to put it back on the shelf. Totally different! It makes perfect sense that they'd charge you a "restocking fee" in one instance, but not the other. I sure am glad they did away with those "late fees."

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16979448)

Do you work for Blockbuster or something?

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (1)

p!ssa (660270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976702)

I dont know what format they are offering the HD content in but when I^W my friend downloads HD movies off giganews they are 15-20GB each and 45 min. TV shows are 5-7GB. If giganews can max out my^W my friends 7Mbit connection it seems msft should be able to do the same. It takes a looong time to download a crappy ass movie too, if they want to push HD/BluRay they really have to start putting out some content. I refuse to buy and HD/DVD or BluRay hardware until the new releases are available at the local block buster every Tuesday. I've had my 360 for over a year and still have never connected it to the net, this may be worth while if they are putting out the new releases in HD, I would definately rent them. Giganews unlimited account + Newsbin Pro + VLC = HD nirvana.

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (1)

PygmySurfer (442860) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977396)

WTF format are they in? HD TV shows I've downloaded (either XviD or QuickTime (h.264 I believe)) are ~700MB for 44 minutes, not 5-7GB!

You should get your 360 online regardless of TV/Movie downloads. The demos alone are worth it, for deciding what to buy next. If you don't want to game online, Xbox Live Silver is free.

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (1)

p!ssa (660270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977716)

I'm talking about the uncompressed true HD (.ts) or the true HD h.264 in alt.binaries.hdtv and alt.binaries.htdv.h264, I think the files you are referring to are the divx conversions that are like 642x420 or something. Go to one of the above groups and download the 720p or 1080i episodes of Lost (5-7GB) and see the difference for yourself.

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (1)

hohead (772082) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977996)

Uhh... maybe you should actually look at some episodes of Lost: http://www.torrentspy.com/search?query=lost+x264 [torrentspy.com]

You'll see that each 720p episode encoded with x264 (open source h.264 codec) is only 1.07GB...

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (1)

C32 (612993) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978800)

That's still transcoded from a sizeable mpeg2 (.ts) -- The video equivalent of reencoding a 320kbps mp3 to a 128kbit ogg.. Not exactly something to be happy about :)

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976828)

Why do they even have a fixed period of time before a movie is deleted from a person's hard-drive?

Microsoft decided to be nice and allow FTP between the 360 and a PC. Most PCs come with at least a 60GB hard drive these days.

Plus, you know, DVD burners.

Further proving that convenience and DRM of any variety do not coincide.

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (1)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977256)

Because the movie companies would not allow you to "keep" a $6 720p movie when they could sell the same (with slightly better resolution) for $25.

Yah, you would only be able to keep one movie, but the movie studies are too blind to see that this is a limitation.

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (2, Informative)

Keeper (56691) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977268)

Storage space isn't the issue. Rental movies can't be stored for any real duration -- they're deleted after you watch them. TV shows can be redownloaded as many times as you like after purchasing them. If you run out of space, delete the show; if you want to watch it in the future, download it again for free.

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977436)

Why do they even have a fixed period of time before a movie is deleted from a person's hard-drive?

Microsoft doesn't get to make that decision. The time period that the movie stays "active" (14 days, or 24 hours after initial viewing) is decided solely by the content providers (ie, the MPAA). In this case, the only choice Microsoft has is no real choice at all: either offer obscure non-MPAA movies and TV shows or bend to the will of the MPAA in terms of DRM usage periods. While the average slashdotter might be willing to use a video service that doesn't contain any popular Hollywood movies, the target audience for this feature won't.

The XBox 360's hard-drive is 20GBs which (should) allow for (about) 20 to 40 SD movies or 5 to 10 HD movies; eventually they will have to 'return' the movie (that is delete it) or they will run out of hard-drive space.

HD movies are on the order of 5-6GB. Bearing in mind that the 20GB hard drive needs to be used for other things as well (demos, XBLA games, game saves, buffers, etc), the fact that 20GB in marketing speak is really only 18.5GB, and that ~5GB of that is reserved by the console for various reasons leaving you only 12-13GB to work with, you'll be lucky to get 2 HD movies on the drive along with your other data.

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17008224)

Yea, I was thinking of that when I saw how much space the movies take up. I have several game saves, demos, and arcade games on there Even after deleting a bunch of old stuff, I found I'd probably only have room for 1 movie at a time. That combined with having to wait for the DL, I think I'll stick to the video store for the movies. If there is a TV show I need, I'll just have to get it online and convert it to a compatible format and store it on the PC.

Re:Why have a 'Fixed Period'? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977566)

Well, there are rumors that Microsoft will be releasing a larger HD soon. Either 60 or 80 GB, I believe.

On another note, do you seriously believe that a "restocking fee" is any different than a late fee? If so, why?

Bandwidth and Hard Disk (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976520)

The God's honest truth is that the general bandwidth available and the 360 hard disk size conspire against downloadable HDTV content. If you're using this service, you're basically trying a beta service that going to have difficulities until the consumer infrastructure is updated.

That said, this is the future. Pure and simple. IMHO, Bluray and HDDVD disks will not gain traction in this generation, and will end up losing to download services like iTunes and 360 Videos. So keep an eye on this space, but expect a few bumps until the technology is ready.

(Not that Bluray and HDDVD isn't without their own bumps...)

Re:Bandwidth and Hard Disk (2, Insightful)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976646)

I agree that a service like this is the future, but I think that the future is further off than people expect ...

There are two things that are preventing the adoption of any HD movie format; few people own a HDTV, in particular a HDTV that is high enough quality to notice the improvment between HD and 480p; and there is so little HD content that people really don't notice the difference between HD and 480p. I know people will disagree with me about this but until every broadcast is in 720p/1080i and everyone has the equipment to take advantage of that resolution people will automatically readjust to 480p and not notice the quality difference.

In about 2010 I expect that most people are going to be going crazy looking for HD content, if ISP bandwith is high enough and these services are inexpensive and mature enough I expect that the optical movie format will become obsolete.

Re:Bandwidth and Hard Disk (2, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977196)

There is a clear quality difference between recorded HDTV and broadcast HDTV. I agree with your assessment: broadcast HDTV is of so low quality as to be unnoticable. But having worked with HDTV's for about a year now, the low-rez recorded stuff is just terribly noticable, especially on the size of TV's where HDTV matters.

The lack of HDTV content is just a scanning issue. Take the negative, run it under a scanner, re-balance the colors, done. It's no more difficult to create HDTV content from a print negative than to create regular content. Likewise, the Xbox 360 tends to be very HDTV-centric... at one point I believe it was 50% of all 360 purchasers buying a HDTV at the same time. So you have the installed base congealing there, if nowhere else.

480p, BTW, while not actually considered high-def is still comparitively rare. 480i would be a fairer comparison.

Now, the one thing you don't mention is compression artifacts. 360 download videos are utterly, utterly compressed with WMV. I haven't had a chance to check out the high-rez compression (haven't downloaded anything at work), but the normal rez stuff is about what you would expect from a mid-grade torrent rip. Black gradients exhibit stepping, there is some blur around sharp edges. It looks good for mid-color range content like Chinatown, but it is bad for dark shows like Lost and completely dies on cartoons like Invader Zim.

As a side note, I'm planning a THX 1138 viewing party for when MS gets their servers together. "Hey, I'd like a movie. Go get me that movie. I'll see it later." It's not exactly video-on-demand, it's more like having a digital butler to run out and get what you want. Convienient.

Re:Bandwidth and Hard Disk (1)

jonhorvath (934037) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977356)

This is definitely the year of the HDTV. I was one of the first customers at the local Target this morning. Target had a 19" LCD HDTV for around $170. Most of the shoppers had one of these in their cart. At this price point, just about everyone can afford to have an HDTV. There is little or no market for a standard tube TV anymore, when a HDTV can be had at the same price point. With so many HDTV being sold, the demand for HDTV will be increasing dramatically.

Re:Bandwidth and Hard Disk (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#16980740)

Target had a 19" LCD HDTV for around $170. Most of the shoppers had one of these in their cart. At this price point, just about everyone can afford to have an HDTV. There is little or no market for a standard tube TV anymore, when a HDTV can be had at the same price point.

I don't know about you, but I have a 27" TV in my living room, and so does everyone I know (if not a larger one).

19" is tiny, especially for a widescreen display. Using this calculator [cavecreations.com] to compare the sizes, I see that even for 16:9 content, my current TV has 69% more screen area than a 19" HDTV.

Now, most of the content I watch is still 4:3, for which I'd need a 31-32" HDTV to match the screen size I have now. Even if I only watched 16:9 content, I'd still need a 24-25" screen to match the size of my current set. The closest I can find on Target's site is a 26" HDTV for $399. That's nearly twice what I paid for my TV, and even then, the screen is still 61% smaller for 4:3 content - everything on Comedy Central, Adult Swim, etc.!

HDTV prices still have a long way to fall before they'll be affordable.

Re:Bandwidth and Hard Disk (1)

jonhorvath (934037) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983836)

Actually, the 19" HDTV has a 4:3 aspect ratio. I also thought it was widescreen at first glance. Honestly, I do not believe that many of these TVs will actually be used to view HD content. Most of these will be placed in bedrooms and dorms.

I agree that the prices for the same size standard TVs are still cheaper then HDTV. The point was that a particuar HDTV model was affordable for the masses.

Re:Bandwidth and Hard Disk (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985242)

HDTV can't really take off until a good HDTV model is affordable for the masses, and at this rate, that'll still be another three years or so. Why get a 19" 4:3 HDTV for $170 when you can get a 19" 4:3 SDTV for $80? It's not like you can tell the difference anyway; a 19" 4:3 set doesn't provide any of the advantages that HDTV is known for.

Re:Bandwidth and Hard Disk (1)

friedmud (512466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16984548)

LCD != HDTV

There is no way that that 4:3 ratio LCD panel for $140 is an "HDTV" (that is, capable of accepting 720p or 1080i). What you were most likely seeing is an LCD TV... there is a big difference.

I actually consider this counter-productive. Wal-Mart/Target and the like are selling people on "Low cost HDTV!" when in reality, what they are selling isn't HD at all. People snap them up because they don't know better... therefore flooding the market with even _more_ TV's that aren't HD capable...

I've been helping several extended family members by HDTV's lately. They all have different needs/wants/budgets.... but after showing them what to look for and how the stores are flat out deceiving them, they all ended up with fairly good sets. More than for any other technology, consumers need to educate themselves before buying an HDTV. There are so many pitfalls and so much deceptive advertising that I don't see how any non-techie can even have a hope of getting a good deal.

Friedmud

No (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977302)

That said, this is the future. Pure and simple. IMHO, Bluray and HDDVD disks will not gain traction in this generation, and will end up losing to download services like iTunes and 360 Videos

No. No way. You can't lend movies to friends this way, play it in your van on the way to grandma's, play it again at grandma's when the kids want to see it again, you can't have a copy of a movie on your shelf for later whenever you feel like watching it and wherever. This will fail. Maybe as a rental-only service it could pass, but I still like to bring rented movies over to parties or a friend's house or whatever. If this is the only way to watch a movie, then watch DRM go down the tubes fast, and even mega-corp-x doesn't want that to happen.

Re:No (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977452)

You can't lend movies to friends this way, play it in your van on the way to grandma's, play it again at grandma's when the kids want to see it again

Yet. Future iterations of online content will almost definitely allow for either media to be burned, USB key copies to be made, or copies to be made to other receivers over WiFi. So when your car is parked in the garage, you'll be able to switch out the kid's movies with the latest ones you've downloaded online. Making it happen is all a matter of consumer demand.

you can't have a copy of a movie on your shelf for later whenever you feel like watching it and wherever.

iTunes already allows this. When you download a movie, you're purchasing a permanent copy. You can space shift it to any computer, and that computer will be able to play the film as long as you provide your iTunes credentials.

The TV Shows on the 360 are similarly permanent. Only the Movies are on a rental basis, as Microsoft probably doesn't feel that the market has accepted the idea of "owning" a digital download yet. (They're probably right. I can't bring myself to purchase a movie on iTunes, but I've rented from MovieLink before.)

Re:No (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978848)

Yet. Future iterations of online content will almost definitely allow for either media to be burned, USB key copies to be made, or copies to be made to other receivers over WiFi. So when your car is parked in the garage, you'll be able to switch out the kid's movies with the latest ones you've downloaded online. Making it happen is all a matter of consumer demand.


TiVo2Go already lets me move (most) content off the recorder, and onto a computer, as well as transcode it for an iPod or PSP.

I also remember hearing about TiVo partnering with Netflicks a while ago, and CBS and NBC recently. If those things are true, and TiVo can push out an upgrade to the Series 3 to support multi-room viewing and TiVo2Go (their being held back by the CableLabs certification process I think). Then we have almost all the things you mentioned today (or 'real soon'). The only thing missing is a few key confirmations which we'll hopefully see in time, and the polish ... the part TiVo consistently gets very right.

Bugs? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976528)

Speaking of the Xbox 360, did any one else have trouble buying the loss-leader $100 core version offered by Amazom.com for 1 minute yesterday at 11 am PST?

Why would anyone think to use a gaming console for video? They can't get their Zune right (you got zuned [michaelrobertson.com]), but they can somehow be expected to get video right?

Re:Bugs? (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976558)

Heh, yup I tried to buy one of those. 2 mins before 11 PST the site slowed t oa crawl, and for about 5 mins after the site just did not respond.

That is kinda impressive to do to amazon.com.

Re:Bugs? (2, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977644)

1) Yes, Amazon needs to "wootify" their servers. (Actually Woot.com goes down every day also...) I also missed out on the $100 Xbox deal, but it's no biggie since I already have one. (Was trying for a friend of mine.)

2) The fact that Microsoft's servers are literally OVERLOADED with people trying to use a gaming console for video shows that there seem to be a good many people wanting to do that. I mean, I know the whole "everybody thinks exactly like me!" disease is rampant here on Slashdot, but when the *article itself* shows that you're wrong, you'd think you'd hold-off posting it.

Anyone tried it out yet? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16976564)

What resolution are the shows and movies? I've read that they sell them in HD and SD, but it is like Apple's definition of HD, which is something ridiculous like 640 pixels wide? How is the compression?

I don't have a 360 yet but this service interest me very much. Info would be much appreciated.

Re:Anyone tried it out yet? (1, Flamebait)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976772)

but it is like Apple's definition of HD, which is something ridiculous like 640 pixels wide?
Nice troll, but I'm betting you never downloaded an HD movie trailer from Apple's website. It's 1920x800 for widescreen content, such as the HD trailer for The Simpsons Movie.

Re:Anyone tried it out yet? (1)

bartyboy (99076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977850)

Parent poster wasn't a troll. From the iTunes page:

Your favorite digital music store is now your favorite digital movie theater. Shop for hot new releases including Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, plus bestsellers and Disney library titles. Every movie you buy from the iTunes Store downloads at near DVD-quality 640-by-480 resolution(1) that looks great on both your computer and your iPod.

1. Exact resolution depends on aspect ratio.


Emphasis mine. Movie trailers are one thing, downloadable shows and full movies are another. And 640x480 isn't high definition.

Source: http://www.apple.com/itunes/store/ [apple.com]

Re:Anyone tried it out yet? (1)

punkass (70637) | more than 7 years ago | (#16979008)

near DVD-quality != HD Where in your quote does Apple state they are selling HD content?

Re:Anyone tried it out yet? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16993742)

Parent poster wasn't a troll [...]
And I wasn't a flamebait. Here's what the parent said:
What resolution are the shows and movies? I've read that they sell them in HD and SD, but it is like Apple's definition of HD, which is something ridiculous like 640 pixels wide?
The parent read wrong. Apple sells content (shows and movies) in 640x480, nowhere do they say it's "HD content". I also pointed out that Apple also has trailers in HD, which are far more bigger than 640 pixels wide.

It's not my fault if the parent assumed something because "he's read that somewhere" other than Apple's website. I also remember a TV show where they presented the iPod nano has having a 4GB hard drive, which is of course false since the nano has always been flash storage. It's not because I saw it on TV that it made it true/facts.

Re:Anyone tried it out yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16978458)

Before you accuse him of being a troll, how about actually trying to buy a movie, not a movie trailer, and from iTMS, not Apple's website (where umm, you can't buy stuff).

Re:Anyone tried it out yet? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16985650)

Since it seems that nobody has answered your original question, the HD content on the 360 is 720p, SD content is 480p. I haven't dl'ed any of the new content but the free HD game and movie trailers that I have dl'ed in the past have been good quality.

Don't Bash Microsoft (2, Interesting)

SilentOneNCW (943611) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976606)

This doesn't look to be a problem due to poor engineering. This merely looks like Microsoft has underestimated the popularity of it's service. If anything, it is an indicator of Microsoft's continuing success in this console war, even as the PS3 and the Wii launch.

Re:Don't Bash Microsoft (2)

Caffeinate (1031648) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977600)

I would have to agree with this statement. 360 certainly has itself well placed in the current market; good games, good support (even if you have had problems, I think they're doing a good job at addressing the concerns of the community). I can certainly see the 360 becoming the centre of my entertainment system, especially if Microsoft successfully releases a Zune/portable Xbox and puts their IPTV technology into the Xbox. Because as popular as omgwtfM$!!1! may be on /., you have to admit that when they put their minds to something, they have the means to get it done.

Prioritized networks? (1)

anti-human 1 (911677) | more than 7 years ago | (#16976618)

I have wondered quite a bit how Microsoft runs the proxy caches for this service and how they are ensuring that their end consumers are not creating high amounts of internet traffic while downloading HD video.


Isn't a full HD rip of a 1 hour show a few gigs? It would seem MS is selling compressed files, wouldn't it? I can't imagine anyone really using this, with the exception of premium channels, because digital cable isn't really that expensive. Even if you're in an area without cable service, (lets say you had broadband, but DSL only) there's still the option of satellite (speaking about the US of course :P).

This whole deal appears to be Microsoft's attempt at consolidating multiple forms of entertainment under its own service. They aren't the first, but they're launching a VOD service on a game console with only 20 GB of storage space (or 0GB of storage space if you have a stock Core X360 :P).

Can anyone comment on the quality of the shows?

Re:Prioritized networks? (2, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977102)

Isn't a full HD rip of a 1 hour show a few gigs?

19.4Mbps (MegaBits) max. ~8.25GB/hour including any commercials. Then again, that is using MPEG2 with the ATSC (Broadcast DTV standard). Microsoft could be compressing the movies with WMV9 or h264 or one of the other compression standards and achieve a better compression ratio for the same quality. Theoretically, h264 and WMV9 could achieve a full hour in 4GB with the same quality, it would require a lot of adjustment, but given the amount of computing power MS has, they could do it.

Re:Prioritized networks? (1)

anti-human 1 (911677) | more than 7 years ago | (#16977208)

First off, thanks.

I still haven't been able to find any information on what MS is actually distributing. File sizes, compression, nothing. I'm wondering how much of the quite small Xbox HD will be taken up by these video files. I'm still wondering if the quality is really there, but by several accounts no one's been able to watch because they haven't finished downloading :P

Overall, I'd give it a "meh" so far. We'll see :P

Re:Prioritized networks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16979716)

File sizes are listed in the marketplace, if you can get some time on a US 360. Otherwise, there's a few screenshots here [joystiq.com]. An example: V for Vendetta is 6.1GB, 720P.

Re:Prioritized networks? (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 7 years ago | (#16979948)

Microsoft is using VC-1, which is one of the Windows Media video codecs and the same codec used for the majority of next-generation DVD movies.

File Sizes and costs: (4, Informative)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16980586)

V for Vendetta: 132 minutes
Standard Definition: 1.7 GB, $4
High Definition: 6.1 GB, $6

Poseidon: 98 minutes
Standard Definition: 1.3 GB, $4
High Definition: 4.5 GB, $6

Clash of the Titans: 117 Minutes
Standard Definition: 1.3 GB, $3
High Definition: 5.2 GB, $4.50

CSI Season 6, Episode 1: 43 Minutes
SD: 745 MB, $2
HD: 2.6 GB, $3

UFC Fights, Episode 1: 9 Minutes
SD: 240 MB, $2
HD: 997 MB, $3

Transformers Teaser Trailer: 1 minute
SD: 25 MB, Free
HD: 86 MB, Free

(1000 points for $12.50)

SD AVG: 10 MB per minute
HD AVG: 50 MB per minute

The quality of the normal-res shows are about what you'd expect for a mid-bitrate rip. I'm guessing a rip from an already compressed video source, just by the particulars of the artifacting. It looks fine for most filmed daylight videos, assuming there isn't too many solid sheets of light or dark. It does break down quite a bit on cartoons, a place where WMV has not done traditionally well, as the solid color gradients get stepped like a mayan temple and edges get fuzzy. Unfortunately, I haven't seen a high-def show on a high-def set, but the high-def videos that I've seen on regular resolution seem worth the upgrade if you like pretty pictures. If you just want to laugh at the South Park Warcraft video, the regular resolution stuff is fine. If you want to own a pristine, perfect, never-to-be-touched version... wait for the blue-ray.

BTW, a 100 GB disk is rumored / expected shortly. And now, badly needed.

Wrong titles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16978328)

I downloaded a few shows off of the 360 Marketplace, only to find that for some of them, the episode was under the wrong name (aka, episode 4 was listed as episode 7, etc.) Not only that, but each one took a few hours to download. I think I'm going to just keep using torrents to get TV shows until they (Microsoft) can fix those problems.

Re:Wrong titles (1)

Brianech (791070) | more than 7 years ago | (#16978624)

Are those new episodes? or episodes that are coming out soon on DVD. There are quite a few shows who's numbering differs from the TV Schedule to the DVD order and numbering. Thats what is so frustrating for sites like TVRage or the now destroyed TVTome, TV.com.

Re:Wrong titles (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#16979180)

Unless every ISP enables multicast or at least for MS, torrents will always outdo millions of dollars for a network.

You simply cannot push out 50000 * 150kbs streams. Ok at best you can have 30 city locations to cluster it based on location.

Re:Wrong titles (2, Interesting)

jonhorvath (934037) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983674)

ISP should setup caching servers right on their network. They could then sell storage rights to content providers. This would be similar to how grocery stores sells self space for best visibility for their vendor's products. This would benefit all parties. It would lessen the load on the content provider's servers and network pipes. The ISP customer would get the fastest possible download speeds.
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