This is a small, off-topic, rant I put together because I was given a free weekend rental from Xbox360 Video Streaming Service. Their service works similar to Google Play, Amazon Prime, and Airplay, whereby you are expected to pay a content provider for an “on-demand” streaming movie or tv episode. XB VOD streaming rentals for the SD versions are $2.99 and $4.99 USD for HD versions with purchasing options between $12.99 again and $19.99 for full HD quality that can be downloaded and replayed indefinitely. I felt like this is an opportunity to review the service because while I will likely never use this service as I already have access to Amazon Prime, HBO GO, Starz GO, and Hulu Plus, I would like to share my experiences with using the service if you happen to live in a market that doesn’t offer the services above and you’re interested in the playback quality before wanting to shell out a little dough just to watch it. So without further adieu, I present to you: The REVIEW!
Captions Quality: 10/10
I like having closed captions on because they will tend to add to the movie. Whenever you are watching a scene that has certain parts where the dubbed audio didn’t get placed into the final cut, there are some mistakes where the captionist will forget to omit some lines and as a result they remain so you see missing or quiet dialogue lines that add character or in some cases explain narrative to the film being watched. I don’t like that the typical captions stay on the bottom of the screen and block out movie placed info such as the foreign language translations or location or date/time being presented on the bottom usually in the middle or to the left of the screen. Well, XBOX 360 movie Rental captions were always placed close to the speakers head/mouth region to not block the important information out. The captions themselves are white with a thick black outline so they are also easy to read which is nice compared to the yellow captions you see on Amazon Instant Video.
Streaming Sound Quality: 9/10?
I only had one movie to judge from, but the sound stayed consistent while playing and was clear and easy to understand. No distortions heard.
Streaming Video Quality : 6/10
Again, I only had one film to work with but after watching several movies from the competitors I listed above, I can tell you that Xbox360 VOD streaming suffers from hiccupping. I don’t quite know the technical term yet, but basically, when the video itself runs smoothly and the sound keeps going, but then the frame stops for about 2 seconds before resuming, it can become highly aggravating when watching a film. There were also moments where the quality dropped to a really bad level for a few moments until going back to HQ normal. This last effect was expected and I would have definitely scored the Video quality higher had it been consistently a quality change as compared to the screen hiccup that freezed video momentarily. This hiccup behavior happened often: Like 1-2 times every couple minutes and had me distracted often. The only other times I observed the hiccup were when I was streaming a full movie (which had weird encoding btw) from my laptop’s media server over towards my Xbox360 – again this only happened SOMETIMES and more often than not streaming from my Laptop to the Xbox using Vuse without any form of transcoding (using Mp4 1080P format) gave me flawless HD playback with zero issues.
In conclusion, Do not bother with XBOX360 VOD streaming rentals service. If you have to pay for a lackluster movie, you may as well acquire it through a better medium – like Redbox. Not only will you save money on the rental cost, you’ll be able to enjoy the film! (unless you’re unlucky and picked a rotten movie)