I’ve compared retail copies of The Criterion Collection titles to their streaming Hulu Plus counterparts. All streaming titles used in the comparison were offered under the ‘720P HD’ quality option, on a fibre-based connection.
Here are the main findings, for those of you who are unable to test for yourselves:
1. The ‘720P’ streaming titles are lesser quality than pressed retail copies of titles available on Blu-Ray.
2. The ‘720P’ streaming titles are lesser quality than “pirated” 720P BluRay encodes.
(Not really that surprising… considering they are often 4.5GB in size for a standard 90-minute film. The Hulu Plus encodes are much smaller in size & bandwidth requirements.)
3. The ‘720P’ streaming titles, for the majority, match the quality of a pressed retail copy of titles on DVD.
(Almost EXACTLY, which is mainly why I am so impressed by the service!)
4. The ‘720P’ streaming titles, A SELECT FEW, feature slightly more detail and a sharper image than their pressed retail copy DVD counterparts.
(Again, impressive. These streaming titles are sometimes a middle-ground between DVD & Blu-Ray versions.)
5. The titles NOT OFFERED IN ‘720P’ are of slightly less quality than a pressed retail copy of the title on DVD.
(Not a big complaint, since the difference is very minor…)
The only downside I have noticed, thus far, is the occasional compression artifacts on display in a handful of titles. These are not drawbacks, persay, as they only occur for 2-3 seconds, and are featured on a small portion of the video (ie. the entire image is NOT effected…). For example… I have noticed this occurs mainly on gradient-colouring, often featured as part of the background.
Overall, better than your standard streaming quality offered by MUBI… and better than your average streaming quality offered by Netflix. Some titles are of higher quality on Netflix, but that is dependant on your internet connection, whereas Hulu Plus is not.
I’m intrigued by this Hulu Plus deal. I agree it was nice on Netflix cause I actually use it for DVDs, but it was annoying there was no Criterion section, no HD, etc. even tho I really don’t stream movies a whole lot, usually just TV shows. I think that our eyes for streaming are larger than the appetite that can be sustained at the moment. Everyone wants to move to streaming, but we’re moving too quickly. What is streaming is mostly random and shotty, on Hulu and Netflix, plus now we’ve got things split like Criterion JUST on Hulu, which I imagine will continue to happen.
I foresee the future of streaming being that you’ll need to subscribe to a few channels to get everything you want, but streaming only offers like 2% of what is out there on DVD. And what’s on DVD/Blu-Ray only offers about 80% of what was on VHS. I do think that streaming is good to get OOP titles back in rotation cause you dont have to manufacture physical products, cutting down on costs, but I don’t think we’re anywhere near a ubiquitious system where you can solely live off streaming. I still enjoy watching live TV and flipping through the channels and discovering new things. If you live a streaming only life, you have to know what you want to watch at that moment. To each his own, but I think physical media may be shrinking as casual fans can survive on streaming only, but it’s far from dead.
I’m for one all for it, I was already a subscriber, and Hulu Plus criterion titles on my ps3 look alot better than the DVD counterparts. The commercial isn’t even really a commercial it’s just a few second thing. Great deal for Criterion and Hulu.
I sincerely hope Criterion comes back to working with Mubi and we benefit in some way like this, I’m not actually in the US :(
Thanks very much, Josh. I did a Google search for a comparison/analysis of the Hulu HD footage versus the DVDs and found just that
Paris Nous Appartient!
Great info Josh Aube, much obliged!