Comparing HD Video Quality: Microsoft Details SmoothHD Video Encoding Specs

With multiple online HD video offerings on the market today, comparing the "quality" from one format/solution to the other is difficult and will only get harder. Many of the HD solutions look really similar to one another and have large window sizes with great picture quality. To really compare the quality of the video, the encoding specs need to be compared so you can do as close of an apples to apples comparison as possible. With that in mind, Microsoft has provided me with details on what the encoding specs are for the HD content being shown at

The majority of the content is encoded with these settings

  • 320×176 @ 400 kbps
  • 424×240 @ 650 kbps
  • 640×352 @ 1100 kbps
  • 848×480 @ 1500 kbps
  • 1056×592 @ 2000 kbps
  • 1280×720 @ 2500 kbps

The content from Turner, MLB and NASCAR, were encoded with a 20% higher bitrate due to content complexity:

  • 320×176 @ 500 kbps
  • 424×240 @ 800 kbps
  • 640×352 @ 1300 kbps
  • 848×480 @ 1800 kbps
  • 1056×592 @ 2400 kbps
  • 1280×720 @ 3000 kbps

All audio is 64 kbps stereo using WMA 10 Pro. Since dynamic bitrate switching is based on available client bandwidth and playback frame rate, the player is able to switch between bitrates as often as every 2 seconds if necessary. Microsoft also noted that Akamai will likely also add a higher quality NBA re-encode, at 3 Mbps peak, sometime in the next day or so. Thanks to Microsoft for the encoding specs, which many times, are very hard to get from content owners or those distributing the content.