For a variety of reasons including the IOS 16 beta, and significant work we are doing for a customer for DEX compatibility, I have been using a variety of devices this week as primary devices.
And that includes streaming Netflix and Disney during leisure hours. And it almost seems as if there is concerted effort to give me a less than optimal experience.
Netflix’s new series The Sandman. In theory it checks all the “best” video boxes including 4k, HDR, Dolby Digital, 5.1 sound, and so on.
But actually getting even the majority of that on anything other than a relatively recent mid to high end Roku TV is just an exercise in frustration.
Playback on the iPad Pro 12.9 2021, looks great overall, including HDR that shows off the benefits of mini LED. But…
The creators decided to use the 21:9 aspect ratio, so on the iPad, there is significant black bars, aka letter boxing.
So no worries, I’ll connect it to a new Samsung 43 inch Ultrawide 5k, mini LED display with all the HDR codecs. But nope, when the iPad is connected to it, this content plays letterboxed within a 16:9 frame of the larger display.
So, ok, IOS16 monitor support is still in beta. How about a M1Pro MacBook 16 connected to this display. So yay!, full 21:9 widescreen joy, but wait… only full definition, but no HDR The culprit here is Safari and it’s DRM support which is related to an older version of Widevine DRM.
So, OK, how about a Surface Pro 8, running Edge, which has the latest Widevine DRM support. So on the built in display, it’s highly letter boxed, but at least there is an attempt to display HDR (dolby digital) .
So what about now connecting it to that same Samsung Ultrawide ? Initial joy as it displays in both the proper aspect ratio, and with beautiful Dolby Digital HDR.
(as an aside here, the opening sequence of the first episode is great way to show off and or torture test your high end HDR etc. cable display)
Back to the above though, despite the pretty visuals, apparently I have to settle for 2 channel stereo, no 5.1 surround gets passed.
So, thus challenged, I also tried a Samsung Tab S8 Ultra. The good news here is that other than the letter boxing due to the difference in aspect ratios, it looked beautiful. But again only stereo audio , even when connected to the Samsung and a 5.1 speaker system via HDMI.
And for that matter don’t even think about using DEX unless you are OK with letterboxed, 1080p SDR, stereo only, regardless of what the Ultra is connected too.
I also tried a Surface Studio Laptop. So of course it was even more letterboxed due to the aspect ratio of the display. However HDR (HDR10, the lowest denominator CODEC)was arguably undetectable both due to the limits of the built in display (which is very good for a SRGB device, but not so much for DCI-P3 device).
So how about connected to the Samsung ultra-wide? Beautiful Dolby Digital video, but back to 2 channel stereo audio
So I could go on, but my point is that all of this is far more complex than any consumer should rightly expect.
And I can definitely point fingers such as the IMHO abusive nature of DRM or the lack of support for what are supposed to be “standards”…
I guess in a weird way, I should be thankful as figuring all this S$$$ is part of why I have a job, but I’d rather it not be…
Ok, end of another long rant, though In my slight defense, it has been awhile since I’ve gone on one