Over the past few months, due to lockdown and demands from the European Union, major video streaming services have reduced bitrate or bit rate and resolution which in several cases has become too visible.

When practically all the services returned to normal (Netflix partially, Amazon did not confirm anything), we wanted to compare the speed and the resolution of the main services, in order to be able to determine what are the image quality indicators in this new normal.

The tests we carried out with a tool for developers of Apple TV 4K, we will therefore only include data from applications present in the device’s App Store, so that all data is directly comparable. The flow rate that we will show in the comparison table is the average number, not the peaks, as the tool shows. The maximum quality may vary by title, but we’ve picked some that represent the best of each platform.

Apple TV + dominates, Disney + and Netflix follow

Apple TV + 26 Mbps 8,84 Mbps 2,56 Mbps
Disney + 16,59 Mbps 7,42 Mbps 4,42 Mbps
Netflix 16,64 Mbps 6,44 Mbps 3,06 Mbps
Video premium 10,02 Mbps 5,12 Mbps 3,18 Mbps
HBO ND 3,75 Mbps 2,55 Mbps
The movie ND 4,13 Mbps 2,57 Mbps
FlixOlé ND 6,66 Mbps 2,68 Mbps
Atresplayer Premium ND 3,68 Mbps 2,4 Mbps
RTVE Alacarta ND ND 2,79 Mbps
Sky ND ND 3,26 Mbps
FuboTV ND ND 3,2 Mbps

As we have seen in our tests, The category’s highest dominator at 4K is Apple TV +, and it’s a newcomer. The speed exceeds by almost 10 Mbps that of its maximum competitors in this regard, Disney + and Netflix, who are more or less couples after childbirth (Not all Netflix series and movies are 100% quality today.)

Amazon is also far from the podium, but maybe that’s because they haven’t restored their peak quality yet (although they do offer 4K, which they did not do while in custody). We asked the company about this, to no avail. According to data from Flatpanels, the maximum quality in 4K should be around 15 Mbps, equal to that of the rest of the big ones in 4K.

Try Apple TV +

Try ‘Altered Carbon’ on Netflix

Try ‘Avengers: Endgame’ on Disney +

From here, 4K and HDR run out, and practically with it also what we can consider very good picture quality with the codecs they use. In 1080p, history repeats itself, with the podium again being led by Apple and followed by Disney + and Netflix. After them and Amazon comes the first surprise: a platform like FlixOlé, depending on the content chosen, can have a correct speed of 6.66 Mbps, higher than that of HBO and FILMIN, depending on the titles and scenes, they have a quality that can be problematic, as we saw with chapter 8 × 03 of “Game of Thrones” compared with the Blu-Ray version.

“Westworld” on HBO. Low bit rate with AVC / H.264

RTVE Alacarta, Sky and FuboTV do not have content available in 1080p, so they have to be content not to make a mistake at 720p, but of course, it’s bad video to fill as many millions of pixels as a 4K or 8K display implies. In the arena where they go head to head, the 720p Arena, the winner is Disney +, and Apple drops a bit, although now we will analyze why it looks better than some of its weaker rivals having even lower bitrate, because there is life beyond the numbers.

The numbers are not everything to explain the quality of the image

Despite the fact that Apple doesn’t win at 720p, it still looks a lot better than others with similar bitrate numbers. The key is in the codec: QHVC section of HEVC.

Throughout the article and looking at the table, we mentioned that the quality of the Apple TV + is a step or a step and a half above the rest at 1080p and 4K. And it’s true, however, Even if there had been a connection between Apple TV + and HBO, the painting wouldn’t tell the whole story.

And that wouldn’t be because, in the first place, it doesn’t count that Apple (and the two that top the list) offers its original content in HDR Dolby Vision, which can be much larger than the resolution to have a spectacular color gamut and, above all, enormous detail in highlights and shadows, those in which with the standard dynamic range (SDR) it is difficult to distinguish what is going on in them.

The numbers don’t explain everything, but Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Disney have all the extras to deliver the best in addition to speed.

But there is more. A good bit rate is just as important as a good compression algorithm and a good codec. And this is what explains that despite the fact that Apple TV + is one of the losers in 720p bitrate, then it looks much better in this resolution than HBO, FILMIN, Atresplayer, etc. The explanation is that all of these platforms, the ones that don’t have 4K or HDR, encode using H.264 / AVC, which is much less efficient than H.265 / HEVC or similar than Apple and others use it with their HDR content. With SDR content and only available in Full HD, the big ones also encode in AVC.

So, All things being equal, between HBO and Apple TV + at 720, Apple’s video looks much better.. So, 4K video compressed in H.265 can be viewed just as well (or even better for other exclusive features) than H.264 32 Mbps. And H.266 again promises a similar advance. This is why it is so important that departments embrace technical innovations presented by hardware manufacturers and consortia.

Source : Engadget

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