Microsoft bringing 1080p video streaming to Xbox 360

June 3, 2009 By Victor Godinez

If Microsoft can actually deliver on its promise to offer 1080p video streaming on the Xbox 360's new Zune video marketplace by this fall, it will be a heck of a coup.

First, the caveats.

Microsoft says you will need a broadband connection of at least 8 megabits per second in order to get 1080p streaming. Given that the average broadband download speed in the U.S. right now is just 3.9 megabits per second, most users will not be able to use this service.

Second, even if your connection does qualify (thank you, Fios!), the experience might be a bit uneven, as Microsoft says that, in order to stream these movies and shows instantly, " will start at a low bit rate for fast download time and then ramp up to a higher bitrate and quality."

Third, resolution isn't the only determinant of image quality, and you can bet that 1080p Blu-ray disks will still be capable of delivering somewhat better picture quality than this 1080p streaming service.

But, even so, this is a big, bold move, and I'm eager to see what the final product looks like.

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(c) 2009, The Dallas Morning News.
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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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joex
not rated yet Jun 03, 2009
The FiOS comment is completely out of line. First, the basic FiOS plan is 5Mbps, shy of that necessary 8Mbps for this service.

Second, numerous cable ISPs offer 8Mbps service.

For example, I'm in an area with Comcast DOCSIS 3.0 service and the slowest plan we can choose is 12Mbps. The highest is 50Mbps (which FiOS also goes up to). I actually have 16Mbps service, but for the first minute "PowerBoost" does work -- I get up to ~30Mbps.

Also -- the overall quality is less than Blu-Ray. A two hour movie would use about 7.2GB of bandwidth at a constant 8Mbps. A Blu-Ray has 25 or 50GB available for that same movie. Given the "extra" features on Blu-Rays and the numerous languages, I'll wager that you could fit just the movie video and 1 language uses 50% of the disc. This is atleast 13GB, around twice as much as the 1080p streaming service. Whether or not you can notice the artifacting is another question, but certainly a Blu-Ray will offer a more honest digital representation of the original film.
reidale
not rated yet Jun 03, 2009
I'd say comparison to Blu-Ray with up to 40 Mbps video and lossless 7.1ch audio is uncalled for.

Seams like another marketing gimmick from Microsoft - 1080P video stream overcompressed to less than 8Mbps will actually look same or even worse than 720p at this bit rate.

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