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You do get 1080p on iTunes, but you need to have an HDCP compliant display device connected to the computer for that option to be available.

Still not lossless audio however.
 

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I rent on iTunes by downloading the file in its entirety first.

IIRC, iTunes checks to make sure the display path is HDCP compliant. This is why my laptop will let me rent 1080p movies, but my desktop with a VGA monitor won't.

You might want to try disconnecting your laptop from the receiver and ensure that no non-HDCP external display ports (VGA) are enabled.
 

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This sucks for me, I really enjoyed using Redbox. This will definitely change my viewing habits and entertainment budget. Going to take a look at CinemaNow although at a 3-1 $ loss I will have to be picky about what I watch and no lossless audio.
 

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Disappointing news, but an inevitable outcome. I had hoped it would continue for a bit longer.

Just as surely as streaming services spell the end of DVD/BD rental kiosks, so too those kiosks spelt the end of the likes of Blockbuster. The folks at Redbox were very canny and hopefully they milked the sweet point of the market for the last 5 years in North America. I assume the closure of the US machines will not be far behind.

Unfortunately their outdoor machines rarely worked in the routine -20 temperatures of the winter here. I often had to go to Wal-Mart to return the discs indoors. Even so, I will miss Redbox.
 

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I don't subscribe to NetFlix or similar, but I have started streaming material that I either "missed" on Cable, or is not available on Cable (Formula E via YouTube, WRC snippets, an episode of "The Fall" where I missed the ending, etc).

In all instances, the (free/legal) streaming experiences (PBS or other channels via the web, YouTube, various other websites) were inferior to what I have on Cable with my PVR and certainly on BDs. Here's a short list of what made the streaming experience inferior in the programming I watched (this may not be true for those willing to pay for programming via NetFlix or Apple, etc)

- Inferior audio - typically only two-channel
- Inferior video quality (720P or sometimes less, often very high contrast or not what looked like "original" quality)
- Commercials that one must watch before or during the experience
- Inability to use "PVR-like" controls to FF, REW, Slow-Mo, etc.
- Ad "Bugs" that appear over the material (some can be removed by clicking an "x", others cannot).

So, all those people who always talk about how great streaming is, must accept these inferior products, at least for the instances I mentioned above. Since I have a significant investment in my home theatre, I prefer to have high quality audio, video, controls, no ads (PVR FF or skip), etc.

I can certainly see streaming to a phone or tablet being acceptable (which is what a lot of people seem to do), but for a high quality surround sound home theatre, one would either not get the quality, or need to pay to get quality. The "free" stuff is rarely worth my time. I've encountered this often in my Optimization travels - people show me what they have on their computers (typically connected via HDMI to their HDTVs) and although it may be "acceptable" to catch up on something you've missed, it doesn't compare well to the "original".

So, I can certainly see why someone would want to rent a disk. I rent some BDs myself for some movies that don't come to TMN, to which I subscribe. Luckily there is still a BD/DVD rental location near us within walking distance. So, streaming is an acceptable alternative for some people, while others may prefer other options. Don't condemn the latter for their decisions.
 

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I very much agree 57. We much prefer the quality of BD rentals over streaming services and think it well worth the effort of picking up and returning. But, has to be said none of my son's high school friends use Redbox at all. The overall market has moved on, and does seem to prefer the convenience of instant streaming over BD quality whether I like it or not. And I have no idea where to go locally to rent new release BD's from next weekend.
 

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57 said:
So, all those people who always talk about how great streaming is, must accept these inferior products, at least for the instances I mentioned above. Since I have a significant investment in my home theatre, I prefer to have high quality audio, video, controls, no ads (PVR FF or skip), etc.
So, you're comparing the video quality of a free ($0) video source with one that costs ~$1000/year (cable TV) or costs ~$30 per movie (Blu-ray). That's a straw man if I ever saw one. At least rent a movie on iTunes or Microsoft's video service if you want to do a realistic comparison.

I find the video quality of Netflix to be very good, and the video quality of the movies I rent on Xbox Video to be very, very high. Plus, I can start watching the movie seconds after I hit the play button. Blu-ray movies take a very long time for me to get to the "feature presentation". I should probably benchmark the two, but I think we're comparing a couple seconds to a couple minutes. The user experience for Blu-ray is pretty terrible, in my experience.

57 said:
Don't condemn the latter for their decisions.
Who's condemning you? I'm just saying you're living in the past. If more people thought returning plastic discs to a video rental store was appealing, those businesses wouldn't be collapsing left and right.
 

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I clearly pointed out what I was comparing. Some material is simply not available on iTunes or NetFlix - like the stuff I mentioned.

BDs are not $30 for me. I only watch movies once and the rental is $5. It takes no extra time or effort for me to get these movies since I'm walking past the store at least once a week anyway. These BDs also often contain "extras". It takes me no extra time to start a BD, I simply insert it ½ hour before I want to watch it.

I'm not living in the past, I just want some quality in the programming that I watch, which I cannot currently get by streaming. You may be perfectly happy with your streaming options, but a lot of people simply cannot get what they want that way (like some sports). That's why a small number of DVD/BD rental outlets still thrive and why a small number of stores that sell or trade vinyl are also thriving. People are different with different needs and it doesn't mean that the people who aren't like you are living in the past.
 

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57 said:
It takes me no extra time to start a BD, I simply insert it ½ hour before I want to watch it.
Hahahahah! I love it!

And for people who *don't* want a huge lead-time to watch a movie are moving on...

That's one reason companies are unable to maintain a viable business model around plastic-disc distribution/rental.

57 said:
People are different with different needs and it doesn't mean that the people who aren't like you are living in the past.
I think that DVD/Blu-ray users are living in the past in the same way that VHS users would have been said to be "living in the past" 10 years ago. Or CD/cassette tape/LP users are living in the past. That doesn't mean nobody is using those technologies today, it's just that they're a mere shadow of their former market size.

I think we'll just let the market decide what is "the past".
 

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Hahahahah! I love it!

And for people who *don't* want a huge lead-time to watch a movie are moving on...

That's one reason companies are unable to maintain a viable business model around plastic-disc distribution/rental.



I think that DVD/Blu-ray users are living in the past in the same way that VHS users would have been said to be "living in the past" 10 years ago. Or CD/cassette tape/LP users are living in the past. That doesn't mean nobody is using those technologies today, it's just that they're a mere shadow of their former market size.

I think we'll just let the market decide what is "the past".
Im not sure why its hard to understand what 57 is saying.

The simple fact is that today streaming video is still not at par with blu ray discs in terms of video quality and especially audio quality.

Many home theatre hobbyists (like most folks in this forum) would go out of their way and even pay a higher price to experience this difference in movie viewing experience.
 

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What is the best streaming service available now in Canada? By best, I mean video and audio quality and decent selection.

Thanks in advance.
 

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What is the best streaming service available now in Canada? By best, I mean video and audio quality and decent selection.
iTunes + Apple TV. I think it has the best overall user experience, and is great if you're looking to replace your local Blockbuster Video (selection-wise).

Personally, I use Xbox Video on a HTPC and Xbox 360 consoles. It has similar selection to the Apple system, but the Xbox 360 can act as an extender for Windows Media Center, so I have a 360 at each TV for that reason.

Both systems stream at 1080p, the video quality is quite good.
 

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It is interesting to consider video rental in the streaming vs. disc world. With a Blu-ray, let's say a studio manages to make $20 wholesale, from which they have to cover physical pressing, packaging and distribution costs. A kiosk company rents it out say 25 times at $2, generating $50 revenue before its costs, but the studio sees none of this, just the . They live with this because the first sale doctrine prohibits them from restricting rentals, and sales of discs to individuals is (was) a very lucrative business.

For streaming, say those 25 kiosk transactions become 25 rentals on iTunes, at $6 for an HD stream. Even if Apple takes a full 30%, that's around $100 to the studio, with no additional distribution costs. They can monetize all views, or prevent rental altogether, instead of losing revenue control of a physical disc.

Of course, they are getting hit hard by the decline of consumer disc purchases, which presumably aren't being replaced by the same number of digital purchases, but that's a somewhat separate issue.
 

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Many home theatre hobbyists (like most folks in this forum) would go out of their way and even pay a higher price to experience this difference in movie viewing experience.

Allow this high quality chart to put it in perspective:
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Legend:
* = Home theater enthusiasts
^ = The masses who are perfectly happy watching Netflix on a smartphone, often breaking up a movie into 10 or more viewing sessions. (Teenagers are really bad for this)

__________________________

As you can clearly see, the demise of the availability of the plastic disc is driven by those who care little for quality and place a high priority on convenience.
 

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Convenience (and user experience) is just part of the story, of course. I think streaming video is also more cost efficient, especially when you consider how much time it saves.

There are two things that can be (and are being) done to propel streaming video quality ahead of Blu-ray.

1. Don't make the same brain-dead choices that Blu-ray did when it came to how it uses bitrate bandwidth. Specifically, don't waste so much bandwidth on lossless audio compression (which humans cannot perceive the benefits of), and instead support framerates and resolutions better than 24fps/1080p - something that humans can perceive.

2. Use leading edge technology that continually gets better. Plastic disc formats are always a "snapshot in time" from a technology standpoint. In the case of Blu-ray, that time is 2006.

All while not handicapping the user experience with unskippable content with FBI warnings and movie previews. Some people see the video quality problem as some insurmountable issue with streaming, but the fact is that streaming video doesn't define a quality ceiling like set-in-stone formats like Blu-ray does. Even YouTube can deliver video at 1080p, 60fps. Let's see a Blu-ray disc do that.

Sure, one could "solve" these problems by coming out with a new and better physical format, but given the lackluster adoption of Blu-ray, I don't think a new format will gain the critical mass needed to be successful.

Plastic discs as a data distribution medium are going to disappear, and eventually die. Good riddance.

I remember a time when you used to order shareware via mail-order, and you'd get sent some floppy disks. Then BBSes came along and revolutionized the acquisition of software for those of us with a modem. And eventually we moved to the Internet. This transition for movies is no different, it's just that the volume of data is larger.
 

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It is different. Movies and TV shows are high value content, not just simply data.


The owners of the content want to make sure they can sell it, and get the most money for it, so will require shenanigans such as DRM, ad locking, ans selling exclusive rights to particular streaming vendors.
 
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