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Performance & Content

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

In our tests we used 50Mbit Virgin cable and 3Mbit DSL connections (a 2.2Mbit minimum is quoted). Naturally the former was considerably quicker, but we did manage to stream SD reliably on the 3Mbit connection. As for adaptive streaming, we found we could do just about anything and not break playback on the 50Mbit connection, but while simultaneously using YouTube on the 3Mbit connection was a no go light web surfing wasn't a problem. For even more erratic connections pausing the movie will allow it to buffer in the background, but those under the 2.2Mbit minimum would be well advised to steer clear.

7

As for video quality we were impressed. HD is excellent with strong reproduction of colour and clear, distinct audio - it won't obviously match the uncompressed quality of a Blu-ray disc and was a touch on the warm side, but it will still be good enough to wow the neighbours. When it comes to SD there is an obvious and expected drop off with dark areas in a scene noticeably lacking detail, but it looks no worse than the SD television the majority of the population still happily consume. For purists aspect ratios do vary, for example Crazy, Stupid, Love comes in its original cinema 2.35:1, but budget Norwegian hit Troll Hunter has been converted from its original 1.85:1 to a widescreen television friendly 16:9 and - in what we hope is a one off - is sold in a dubbed version.

So what about the negatives? The big fork in the road is KnowHow's restriction of HD content to computers equipped with Intel Insider aka 2nd generation Core processors. As a result our Ultrabook was good to go, but our quad core, eight stream i7 870 CPU equipped desktop with clock speeds hitting up to 3.6GHz and a £350 GeForce GTX 285 graphics card that will happily make mincemeat of Crysis on its maximum settings was restricted to SD. This is frustrating and a potential deal breaker for many. An Intel Insider test runs on the site, but as a general rule if your computer is more than a year old HD will be off the menu.

3

Secondly is the content itself. At launch KnowHow is currently movie only (TV is listed as 'coming soon') with films totalled in the 100s, not 1000s. A quick rundown of the IMDB Top 50 (as we did in our Netflix UK verses LoveFilm comparison) shows just two titles available (The Shawshank Redemption - admittedly #1, and Se7en). By comparison Netflix UK managed three titles and LoveFilm had six, hardly high bars themselves.

That said this negative may soon turn into a significant plus. A key promotion of KnowHow Movies is availability with "new releases will be added to the library on the day of release, meaning customers will have access to them as soon as they become available". As such much of what is on KnowHow is newer than Netflix UK and matches Amazon owned 10 year old Love Film. Titles include Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Contagion, Cars 2, Real Steel, Tron, Troll Hunter, The King's Speech, Arthur, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Crazy Stupid Love.

Jonathan Hackford

March 9, 2012, 1:55 pm

Sounds good in principal, however there are two things I would consider. Firstly is it as good as the Sony Qriocity service, which on the whole is excellent if you have enough bandwidth.
Secondly, I read recently that the internet is simply not set up to handle so much online streaming. The article mentioned that South Korea, which has one of the fastest broadband services in the world, is now capping/restricting bandwidth for streaming services in order to ease the pressure on their networks.

I guess time will tell, but I really doubt we will see the end of physical media any time soon.

Gordon394

March 9, 2012, 7:23 pm

I didn't put it head to head with Qriocity for the review as it principally targets Netflix and LoveFilm, but since it is very good with slow speeds it is extremely smooth with a fast connection (10Mbit+).

Overall bandwidth is another question entirely, but a valid one. There are contrast arguments with this. One side agrees with your article, but by contrast Virgin has so much bandwidth in the UK is it doubling 50Mbit customer's speeds for free. Its principle problem is coverage.

It will be an interesting sector to monitor, but as the long term future is on-demand obstacles will have to be overcome.

jimmytt

March 9, 2012, 8:52 pm

Why on earth would I want to pay £3.99 to download a movie in average quality onto my crappy computer screen to watch once when I can pick up a dvd copy for keeps for £3 or less? When the price halves, I might get interested.

ElectricSheep

March 9, 2012, 8:52 pm

With that pricing structure and those ridiculous hardware restrictions I can't see this horse getting out of the gate before it's pronounced lame and shot dead. Always look on the bright side of life... :)

Jonathan Hackford

March 12, 2012, 6:04 pm

@Gordon394 - thanks for your reply and clarification.

When it comes to streaming services bandwidth is important but I think providers need to consider more than this alone. They need to take into account the buffer sizes for their data and the latency of the connection. I would be happy to wait a few minutes for a film to buffer enough to have quality playback and not stutter or pause.

Regarding bandwidth, I wonder how mobile broadband will fair, especially with LTE coming along in the next couple of years. I am currently using Three with HSPA+ and bandwidth is fantastic at around 4Mbps and even latency sits at around 85ms, which I feel is good for a mobile network. I find it better than the Orange broadband I used to have where I got around 3Mbps and 55ms latency.

That said I am seriously considering signing up to one of Virgin Media's packages in the next month or so.

Craig Clackett

August 5, 2013, 12:28 pm

The site is rubbish, too many problems with DVIX player, never works. I have given up with them and gone elsewhere

Guest

August 15, 2013, 7:37 pm

Got a £10 Knowhow movies gift card with a brand new Samsung galaxy tab 2 from Curry's in Newry - it does'nt work.
It's a con!

ScouseManInKent

August 27, 2013, 8:48 am

Worked for me. It took a while. The main gift card redemption option didn't work - kept saying code wrong format. After a while I found an option next to the movies that accepted the code

Martin Graham

August 28, 2013, 1:44 am

I too experience frequent crashes, stutters and jitters with the divx player. Simply not a good enough service for the prices they are charging. I would rather stick with lovefilm or Netflix.

Andy j

September 22, 2013, 7:15 pm

What a load of rubbish keeps stopping

' TONE '

September 23, 2013, 7:36 pm

Do not bother, given 3 gift cards with the latest 55 lg tv, gave up trying to get a film after an hour half, were going round in circles. How many codes DO they want, could have got a DVD from eBay quicker, LOAD OF C**P, don't waste your time, there dead in the water or will be soon,

Paul

November 3, 2013, 9:45 pm

Knowhow is absolutely shocking in all departments. I've had terrible service with their delivery of items in the past and now this shocking movie service. Got a free £10 voucher with a Samsung TV from Currys. Loaded the voucher fine, but their movie streaming service is very poor. Keeps reporting my Internet connection speed isn't good enough (it's a Virgin Media 60Mbps - works fine for everything else). At first I thought it's probably my wifi, so I wired it in, same problem, connection speed isn't good enough. More like Knowhows server speed isn't good enough.

So the free £10 gift card has proven one thing for me, it's crap.

Keith

November 18, 2013, 1:08 pm

Bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 from the local Currys PC World and received the £10 KnowHow voucher. Downloaded a free Movie and then the KnowHow APP for free. The APP will not run on this tablet. emailed Knowhow and they confirmed the problem.

pea doff

April 5, 2014, 9:48 pm

Absolute crap, accepted payment ok then couldn't watch film, kept going round in circles, my library option disappeared too so couldn't re select film. Gave up trying to watch the film.

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