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Video streaming services compared: image quality, audio and price

Video streaming services compared: image quality, audio and price
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Due to the growing number of video streaming services, you can sometimes no longer see the forest through the trees. Time to take stock. In this article, Laura and Wesley take a closer look at today's largest and most well-known video streaming services, including image, audio and price.

Below we have compiled six popular and well-known video streaming services. Of course, more than these six are active in the Netherlands, but fair is fair: it was already difficult enough to find out the information from these video streaming services. Not every company simply says: we offer the content in this and this quality. You really have to dig for that. Or contact the press department or customer service and even then it sometimes turns out to be difficult. Below we present the information we have collected.

Netflix

The king of streaming services is Netflix. Is it not due to the fact that the streaming service now even wins Oscars, or the gigantic subscriber numbers: 182 million units. Netflix started in 1997, but only settled in the Netherlands in 2013, where it now has 3 million subscribers. Netflix has had great success with various series of its own, such as House of Cards, Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black. However, it also has a huge library of films and series that are not originally from Netflix, but for example from the BBC. Sometimes the choice even seems too much, but there are tricks for that. Netflix knows better than anyone how to use algorithms to get to know customers and recommend them to films and series based on what they have watched before.

Image quality: SD, HD and 4K, HDR (HDR10 and Dolby Vision) (varies by title)
Audio Quality: Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos (varies by title)
Platforms: Web, iOS 12 or higher, Android 5.0 or higher, smart TVs, Apple TV, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows 10, Google Chromecast, AirPlay 2
Cost: Basic (7.99) -None HD or ultra HD, viewing on 1 screen, downloads possible on 1 device at a time.
Standard (10.99) – no ultra HD, viewing on 2 screens simultaneously, downloads possible on 2 devices at the same time. #
Premium (13 , 99) – viewing on 4 screens simultaneously, downloads possible on 4 devices simultaneously.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video is nowhere near as slick and certainly not as personal as Netflix, but Amazon is on the way and is working hard to become just as popular. Amazon Prime Video settled in the Netherlands at the end of 2016. Amazon Prime Video is known from the series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Boys, The Man in the High Castle and Undone. Just like Netflix, Amazon has a large library of films and series that do not come from Amazon itself. However, the option to purchase films and series has recently been added, which sometimes makes it unclear whether something belongs to the Prime Video range, or more to the video library part of it.

Image quality: SD, HD , 4K, HDR (HDR10 and HDR10 +) (varies by title)
Audio quality: Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos (varies by title)
Platforms: Web, iOS , Android, smart TVs, Apple TV, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Google Chromecast, AirPlay, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Fire Tablet and Fire Phone
Cost: 2.99 euros per month, including Prime subscription with Amazon

Disney +

Disney + is the youngest streaming service in this article, but started by the oldest company in this article. Disney's streaming service has been live in the Netherlands since September 2019. It is especially popular thanks to the addition of well-known Marvel, Star Wars and Disney movies. However, it also makes content special for Disney +, of which especially Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian is very successful. Disney +, unlike other streaming services, does not have a huge library with all kinds of films from all kinds of distributors. Disney only has films and series from brands that also belong to Disney. That means: Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, National Geographic and 20th Century Fox. But: so also content that is especially suitable for the whole family.

Image quality: SD, HD and 4K, HDR (HDR10 and Dolby Vision) (varies by title)
Audio quality: Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Atmos (varies by title)
Platforms: Web, iOS, Android, Smart TVs, Apple TV, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Google Chromecast, AirPlay, Amazon Fire TV.
Costs: 6.99 euros per month or 69.99 euros per year

Videoland

There is no shortage of Dutch video streaming services. Still Videoland distinguishes itself well with good content. How about The Handmaid's Tale, The Wire, The 12's, Killing Eve or Mocro Mafia? You can expect all that and more at Videoland. In addition, there is often a focus on reality programs and documentaries. You will also find many films and series that you may have already seen, but you also have that problem with all other services. In any case, Videoland offers a lot of unique content that you will not see anywhere else.

Image quality: SD, HD and 4K (differs per title)
Audio quality: Stereo
Platforms:
Web, iOS 9 or later, Android 5.0 or later, Smart TVs from 2014, Apple TV from 3rd generation, PlayStation 4, Ziggo Horizon Mediabox and Next, Google Chromecast, AirPlay 2 [196590007] Cost: 8 .99 euros per month

Pathé Thuis

Pathé Thuis is a bit of a stranger here, but nevertheless a video on demand service to be reckoned with. This service is different from other video streaming services because you pay per movie here. In addition, the selection of films is often quite recent, so you can rent new titles immediately after their cinema release. Unfortunately you do not watch in 4K and you do not have to expect the best sound quality, but that does not alter the fact that you can have a great evening thanks to the available library.

Image quality: SD and HD (differs by title)
Audio Quality: Stereo
Platforms:
Web, iOS 8 or later, Android 5.0 or later, Smart TVs (Samsung from 2012, Philips from 2014, LG from 2013, Sony from 2012, Panasonic from 2014), Apple TV, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows 8 and Windows 10, Google Chromecast, AirPlay 2
Cost:
1.99 to 5.99 euros per film

Apple TV +

Apple TV + is a video streaming service that is primarily intended for people with an iPhone, iPad or Mac. You can also view the service on other platforms, but the range of available platforms is unfortunately disappointing. That also applies to the content so far. Not only is it very meager, the range is also not very large. Clearly, Apple TV + has yet to grow to remain relevant in the market. But Apple has plenty of money and ideas to turn it into something beautiful. In addition, the service is not very expensive.

Image quality: SD, HD and 4K, HDR (HDR10 and Dolby Vision) (varies by title)
Audio quality: Stereo, Dolby Atmos (varies by title)
Platforms:
Web, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Smart TVs (Samsung from 2018, LG from 2019), Amazon Fire TV, Roku
Cost:
4.99 euros per month, 49.99 euros per year

Does hardware affect quality?

Hardware always influences the quality of the image and sound. As a viewer, you must ensure that you have the right hardware at home. For example, your TV can support Dolby Vision, but if the player (the source) does not, you will still not see the content in Dolby Vision. The same applies the other way around: does the player support, but the TV does not support HDR? Then you are still unlucky. In this case, therefore, both devices must support the correct technology. TVs must therefore work well with media players and game consoles.

For example, if you open the Netflix app on a modern TV that supports everything, then there is nothing to worry about. Then the TV is also the source of the image. So make sure you know what your hardware has in house. Read the manuals or contact the manufacturer to know what to expect. Otherwise, Google is your best friend. By cleverly searching your model plus words like 'hdr', 'dolby vision' and more of that, you will quickly find out the information you are looking for.

For more information about the different possibilities, we refer you also to our previously written background articles:

Does your home network affect the quality?

To display all those beautiful images on your TV, you need to make sure you have enough bandwidth. The more space on your home network and the higher the download speed of your internet subscription, the greater the chance that you can display everything beautifully. Videos in 4K consume more data than videos in full HD. If you also have to deal with audio techniques, consumption may increase (although that impact is minimal). That is why you sometimes see that when it is too busy on your network, the quality drops a grade or 2.

You can solve a lot of problems by sometimes looking seriously at the list of paired devices. Are there any devices that you no longer use? Then disconnect them. In addition, there is sometimes a difference in connection via WiFi or an Ethernet cable. If the quality remains poor, consider using an Ethernet cable. Then the chance of disturbing the image and audio quality is much less. However, the main problem often lies in the number of users or devices in your local network.

What is bitrate and why is it important?

There has been much to do about the bitrate of streaming services in recent times. This is because the European Commission had instructed them not to burden the networks too much by staying at home by adjusting the bitrate slightly downwards. This would decrease the streaming quality. That has also happened, but now more and more countries are added where the bitrate goes back to what it was before the virus got us.

The bitrate is a term to indicate how many bits of information are transferred . So if you have a fairly high bitrate, more information will be sent than with a low bitrate. The bitrate is therefore responsible for the quality: a higher bitrate means better quality. If your network cannot (temporarily) handle a certain bitrate (because it is busy on your network, for example), the stream could start to falter or falter. To avoid that, the streaming service then automatically switches to a lower bitrate (and therefore lower quality). Sometimes artifacts also appear and it can all look a little less sharp and tight. The advantage is that you can keep watching. The bitrate varies per device, per network, per provider, per moment, per situation and per service. So there is no standard bitrate that everyone can receive, which makes comparing on bitrate an almost impossible task.

Table overview video streaming services *

Netflix Amazon Prime Disney + Videoland Pathé Home Apple TV +
SD x x x x x x
HD x x x x x x
4K x x x x x
HDR x x [19659051] x x
Dolby Vision x x x
Dolby Atmos x x x x
Dolby Digital 5.1 x x x x
Stereo x x x x x x

* De quality mentioned above differs per title

Read more?

The past few months we have been at Homecinema Maga zine pays a lot of attention to video streaming services. You can read here whether Amazon Prime Video Disney + or Videoland is worthwhile, for example. We have also written an article in which we examine Pathé Thuis . Do you want to get more out of your video streaming services? Then Laura has collected a number of tips for you here. You can of course always go through our reviews or check our background articles again.

This article was written by Laura Jenny and Wesley Akkerman.

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