Amazon app no longer 4k on Bolt?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by xander777, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. Jan 2, 2018 #1 of 41
    xander777

    xander777 Member

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    I used to get 4k video on the Amazon app (since October?) on my Bolt.
    Now the most I get is 1080p and the category of UHD and 4k movies doesn't even show up.
    If I select a UHD title that was in my list, I only get 1080p.

    The Netflix and Youtube apps still play 4k and my tv's built in amazon app still has 4k.

    Anyone else have 4k disappear on their Amazon app or is it just me?
    I haven't changed any cabling or network stuff since it last worked.
     
  2. Jan 2, 2018 #2 of 41
    kitt84

    kitt84 New Member

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    You're not alone Xander, I'm getting the same thing.
     
  3. Jan 2, 2018 #3 of 41
    xander777

    xander777 Member

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    Thanks. I'll stop trying to fix it.
     
  4. johnh123

    johnh123 Member

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    Over there
    Me too! Anyone know what is going on?
     
  5. V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

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    I do not KNOW what is going on, but I suspect they pulled the new version of the app because of major problems it was causing on the TiVo. Right after the 4K UHD stuff started showing up I did some testing that caused my Bolt to repeatedly lock up - I documented it here:
    Amazon Prime App Strangeness and 'Frosting'

    After that testing, I have not seen any 4K UHD options on the Amazon app in the Bolt at all. I have pretty much just given up on this app and use only the Amazon app in my Samsung TV - although that app works much better than the TiVo app, I do miss the ability to use the TiVo remote with the Amazon programs.
     
  6. V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

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    I have finally decided to risk the lock-up to test the Bolt Amazon app again, with very interesting results.

    First, I did not experience any problems with it at all this morning - a VERY good thing.

    Second - while the category for included 4K UHD programs is still missing from the Bolt app, it does not seem to make any difference. I was able to use the Samsung TV Amazon app to find both UHD and standard HD versions of several programs and add them to my watch list, then when I went back to the Bolt Amazon app, both versions were still available, so I could compare them.

    What I found is that I got the exact same PQ resolution with EITHER version of a program selected, and The TV reported that it was receiving a 2160/24 signal from both versions also, even though the pause screen only displayed "HD".

    On a related note, I found the displayed detail on the TV when using both versions of the same program to also be identical, even though the TV displayed a specific UHD message from the app only when I selected the UHD version of a program. I will also note here that the Samsung app resolution looked just slightly better than the Bolt output did.

    If you want to duplicate the programs I was comparing, look for Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams - Season 1 Episode 1. At exactly 4:02 into the program there is a closeup of the girl's face where you can clearly see the pores in her skin (the girl in back), and that detail is the same in both versions of the program. Same kind of detail on the dude's face at 10:42.

    So, IF my observation is accurate based only on this one comparison, maybe it makes no difference what version of a program you can select in the Amazon app? Maybe they are always sending the best they can for the link speed?
     
  7. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Is your Bolt set to pass through native resolutions or is it set to display everything at 2160 (4K)? If the latter, then it's upscaling any HD content but your TV would report that it's receiving 2160. That wouldn't necessarily disprove your theory but it would provide a simpler alternative explanation of what's happening.
     
  8. V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

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    My Bolt is not set to a fixed 2160. I have enabled 1080p/60, 1080p/24, 4K/60 and 4K/24. When watching OTA sources, the TV appropriately reports that it is receiving 1080p from the Bolt, but that switches to 2160 when I play HD programs from the Amazon app.

    I have not yet done further testing to try and identify if some Amazon programs produce a different output resolution on the Bolt. I do not use any other streaming sources, but I suppose I could eventually test YouTube content on the Bolt just to see what it shows.
     
  9. NYHeel

    NYHeel Well-Known Member

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    On a similar note, how would I know what resolution is coming from the app, whether that app is Netflix, Amazon or Vudu? I got a new low end 4k tv and was trying to play something in 4k from Netflix (I pay the extra couple $ a month for 4 streams instead of 2). How do I know if it's actually playing 4K? I didn't see anything in the app that tells me what the resolution is. Keep in mind that I don't have an AVR or anything like that connected to this TV.
     
  10. V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

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    Your TV should have the ability to display the actual resolution of the signal it is currently receiving/displaying. Unfortunately, every TV is different, so you need to either find it in the manual or do some trial and error. In the past, I found that most TVs would display this just by hitting the info or display button on the remote, but with my Samsung 4K UHD TV, there is no such option, and I cannot find it anywhere in the setup screens. But I have found that the TV does briefly display this information at the top when selecting the input source, and if I re-select even the currently playing source (such as TiVo with the Amazon app active), it will re-display the resolution for about 5 seconds.

    The TiVo will display the currently selected output resolution for an OTA program (and probably cable too), but the same feature does not seem to be available when an app is running - at least not the Amazon app. This is a very unfortunate omission.
     
  11. V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

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    Well, it seems that my Bolt is outputting 2160 resolution when streaming anything at all, no matter what the actual program resolution might be.

    I did quite a bit more testing yesterday. The first thing I did was enable ALL video resolutions on the Bolt, and I verified with various OTA stations that the Bolt was properly switching to the source resolution for output to my Samsung TV.

    Then I started looking for old programing sources on Amazon Prime, things like 1950s westerns, etc. Every program I tried showed 2160/24 on the TV. Then I went to YouTube and started looking for different resolution programs. Almost impossible to find something there that was not shown as either HD or 4K, but I did find a few that were so low resolution fuzzy that they really could not have been HD, ALL programs came through as 2160, but at various refresh rates - I saw 24 fps, 25 fps and 30 fps. It seemed like the specific refresh rate MIGHT have been an indicator for the source resolution, but I didn't do enough exhaustive testing to be sure. Finally, I enabled The ALT Channel, and the results from there were the same as YouTube.

    So it looks like you cannot actually tell what resolution you are REALLY getting from the Bolt with a streaming app (at lest I cannot with my Samsung 4K UHD TV). The only way to tell may be a subjective analysis of the PQ for each specific program. So now I am on the look for a real 4K source video on Amazon that has some specific picture detail that can be easily seen and described to verify if a TV is really displaying a 4K UHD picture while streaming from Amazon. Something similar to what I described in post #6 above, but with a scene that is more easily described for anyone to compare. If anyone knows of a good test program like this, please let us know.

    And finally, the big variable in the room is the bandwidth needed for 4K and UHD streaming. One source I have looked at says specifically that you need at least 15 Mbps to stream this resolution, and my current DSL service is rated at 12 Mbps, so maybe all of my comparisons of the program PQ are pointless?
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  12. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    I've read more than one source awhile back say that Netflix streams UHD/4K at 15.6 Mbps and Amazon does so at 16 Mbps. Now, those figures may well be averages, with the actual moment-to-moment bitrate fluctuating. Most content providers, including Netflix and Apple, suggest a broadband connection of at least 25 Mbps in order to stream UHD. With a 12 Mbps connection, I'm doubtful that the Amazon Video app on any device would even attempt to fetch a UHD stream; Amazon's server does a speed check of your connection when a stream is requested to determine which video quality/bitrate to provision.
     
  13. tenthplanet

    tenthplanet Well-Known Member

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    I used to have that speed of DSL, I used to try the YouTube 4k tests, they didn't work. 15Mbps on up, I've heard 18 works, is good. 25 should give some headroom.
     
  14. atmuscarella

    atmuscarella Well-Known Member

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    I also have 12Mbps DSL (frontier) that tests out at 11ish. I rarely can get Amazon to stream at 1080p - it mostly defaults to just "HD" which I understand is only 720p. I really don't understand why Amazon requires so much band width, by now they should have h.265 streams for devices that can handle it.

    You might want to check out Vudu, they claim you only need 4,500 kbps for 1080p & 11,000kbps for UHD: VUDU - Speedtest
     
  15. tenthplanet

    tenthplanet Well-Known Member

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    That might be, I was in the Amazon Prime app on the non 4k version of the Apple TV 4 and when I pulled up 'Spectre' it said UHD even though the ATV couldn't do UHD. I'm thinking Amazon is showing what's available and it's up to your equipment from there.
     
  16. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Based on testing I did a couple years back, I sussed out that I would probably need 14 or 15 Mbps to fetch 1080p h.264 streams from Amazon (which reportedly have a bitrate around 10 Mbps, IIRC). I had no problems getting 1080p with an 18 Mbps hybrid fiber/DSL connection but when I briefly had 10 Mbps cable service (typically testing at 12-13 Mbps), I couldn't get better than 720p. I think the Amazon servers want you to have some additional bandwidth capacity beyond strictly what their stream requires.

    I've read that Amazon does offer 1080p streams in h.265 (at lower bitrates than in h.264, obviously), at least for their recent-generation Fire TV devices that can handle that newer codec. Based on differences I could see in Amazon 1080p streams in their apps for my LG TV and my Roamio, I tend to think they do it for their LG app too. (The same video in the LG app looked more compressed than in the Roamio app.) I'd say I'm surprised that they don't do 1080p in h.265 for the Bolt but then I'm not really because they don't seem to pay much attention to their TiVo apps, sadly.
     
  17. xander777

    xander777 Member

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    Feb 23, 2010
    To see what resolution the Amazon app is playing, press the play/pause button.
    It will either show HD, HD 1080p or UHD.

    You can no longer get UHD from the Bolt for Amazon. You could for a few months, but not anymore.
     
  18. V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

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    Lots of different opinions here about what speed is really needed - I've seen all the various suggestions too. Amazon's own documentation says 15 Mbps is the minimum for UHD or HDR streaming. I did more testing using the Amazon app on my Samsung TV (just to compare more with the Bolt app), and here is what I saw:

    (Unfortunately, this TV does not display the screen resolution while an app is playing, so I can only report the info displayed directly by the Amazon app)

    Testing Electric Dreams (UHD version) - the app briefly showed the message "Amazon An HDR video is playing", then when hitting pause at random times, the pause screen usually showed "HDR HD", but sometimes "HDR UltraHD" or "HDR HD 1080p". The exact message shown on the pause display sometimes changed dynamically, even while the program was sitting in pause. I never could see any difference in the on-screen resolution of my 65" TV wen the app showed different speeds on the pause screen.

    Testing Electric Dreams (non UHD version) - The app still showed the initial message about playing an HDR video, but the pause display only showed "HDR HD" or "HDR HD 1080p" (never "HDR UltraHD").

    Testing Tin Star (UHD version), S1E4 at 28:09 looking at wood grain on the open door - this program is not HDR, but the pause display usually shows "UltraHD", and sometimes "HD 1080p". Again, the fine picture detail did not seem to change.

    Testing Tin Star (non UHD version) - the pause display showed either "HD" or "HD 1080p", and the picture detail was the same as I saw with the UHD version.

    Testing Mozart in the Jungle (UHD version) - the pause display showed either "HDR UltraHD" or "HDR HD 1080p".

    So my guess about what this tells me is that at 12 Mbps, Amazon is TRYING to send UHD and HDR quality streams, but it sometimes dynamically switches the same program down to just HD. But on my Samsung 65" 4K UHD TV, with 12 Mbps internet speed, I cannot see any changes in the PQ when the app says it has changed resolutions (so maybe those indicators mean nothing at all). The Bolt Amazon app does not provide as much information as the TV app, so it is tough to do direct comparisons of anything except PQ, and I find that the output from the Bolt on thwese same programs is close, but not quite as good as the TV app di9splays.
     
  19. V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

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    It looks like the wood grain door in Tin Star S1E4 at 28:02 might just be a good 'pattern' for comparing HD picture quality. When viewed via the Samsung app, the grain on the entire door is ALWAYS super sharp and never changes (so far).

    But when viewed with the Bolt app, whole sections of the door are less distinct; the grain is only mostly pronounced on the left side, and in another strip under the right side of the name plate. The other parts of the door are mostly fuzzy. Furthermore, while both the UHD and non-UHD selections for this program continue to show the same PQ, there were several times while looking at the UHD version when the detail on the door actually got WORSE for brief periods. All this while the TV continuously reported that the Bolt was outputting 2160/24 video. The pause display on the Bolt app always showed "HD" during this testing, even when the display got worse .

    So even though I prefer the TiVo remote interface with the Amazon app, and even though the periodic picture freezes seem to be fixed on the TiVo app, I still need to use the Samsung app to get the best HD and even UHD picture quality.

    And the most important takeaway I get from all this testing is that just because the Bolt switches to 2160/24 output when a streaming app is running, it ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT mean you are watching 4K!
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
  20. aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

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    They definitely aren't. At least not in my use. And when playing back a UHD encode the bitrate I see on my router is much higher than when playing an HD encode.
     

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