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ACORN TV: Compression Issues Abound

My wife and I signed up for the free 30 day trial subscription to Acorn TV but couldn't make it a few days before turning off our account and being done with it. We even uninstalled the app from our system.


While we like to explore television from other countries of the world, we like to see a great picture when we do. We understand that some old shows are in SD and have yet to be up-resolutioned into HD. But when a show is only a year or two old and originated in HD, yet is so full of compression artifacts, pixelisation and stuttering, we quickly look elsewhere for our entertainment.

I tested our Internet connection when it was happening and it fluctuated between 25mbps on the worst days, to over 65mbps on the best days. Either speed is more than enough to handle HD.

We watched Acorn TV's HD-originated series "New Worlds" and found that it was highly compressed, so much so that the artifacting and pixelisation of the picture was egregious during simple dissolve edits, and truly terrible when scenes involved rain, light effects, gradients, or other scenes that are tough on poorly encoded feeds. Banding in the gradients and having whole areas of the image "freeze" across frames due to image dithering, are all hallmarks of poor encoding.

You may have better luck. We'll wait until they hire a real compressionist, it's clear that they have someone who does not really understand the process. There is a real craft to great compression and it takes time to learn. Clearly Acorn TV has yet to understand that lesson.

Posted by: Ronald Lindeboom on Apr 4, 2016 at 3:47:00 pm cablecutting

As I've mentioned before, my wife and I really like learning how other cultures look at the world and learning a bit of their history, as well. One of the easy ways we've found is to explore their television programming.

For a few years now, one of the cultures we have been spending some time in, is that of Korea. We tend to like watching the Korean historical dramas, not the more recent stuff, which we find pretty banal and trivial. But there are some wonderful episodic series that explore dramatized people and events in Korean history. Sure, some add characters that are fictional to spice the dramatic flair of the story, making it more adventurous for today's audiences. But often, they play things very close to events as they happened.

One of our favorite distributors featuring Korean programming is DramaFever. While some might point to other areas of their catalog, we find their strong suit to be in the historical dramas. We have been watching them for years now and enjoy them for the very reason that they are unlike American television, in a very refreshing way. 

DramaFever has a website, as well as apps for your smartphone, tablet or computer, and boxes like ROKU, Apple TV4, Amazon Fire TV, XBox or Playstation.

We just finished a 24-part series, "The Princess's Man," which both of us really liked. Very well done and which we started watching after discovering it on HULU -- who has an entire DramaFever section -- but the show was pulled from Hulu's current line-up before we could watch all the episodes, and so we went to Dramafever and searched on the title.

We were able to watch the last five episodes using the app on our STB using the free DramaFever app. While "The Princess's Man" did not show up in the list offered, when we searched the title, all 24 hour long episodes were there.

We also tried to use our web browser and cast it onto the screen using Chromecast, but they had blocked that. It does allow the top-tier subscribers to cast their content onto their flatscreens from other devices, but we weren't ready to pay for a year's subscription to do that.

Posted by: Ronald Lindeboom on Apr 1, 2016 at 1:23:00 pm cablecutting

CUTTING THE CABLE: Covers ROKU, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast & Others is now available at

While the obvious mission of the book is to teach readers how to save money on their cable TV bill, the book also gives readers an immersive journey into the rapidly changing world of television entertainment and gives readers an insider's view into all that is happening, and why.

I hope that you will find the book useful, learning to save money and also greatly expand your entertainment universe.

PLEASE NOTE: The book is complete and is already in the Amazon system but will be delivered to those who pre-order on April 11th. Why the wait? When Kathlyn and I launched Creative COW back in 2001, it went live on April 11, 2001. April 11, 2016 marks the 15th anniversary and it just seemed right to honor that momentous day, 15 years ago.

Posted by: Ronald Lindeboom on Apr 1, 2016 at 10:53:00 am cablecutting


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