back to article Chromecast video on UK, Euro TVs hertz so badly it makes us judder – but Google 'won't fix'

Google disappointed fans of its priced-like-a-pizza Chromecast TV dongle this week, when it said it won't be fixing an annoying video quirk that has some European customers' eyes twitching. The Chromecast, which lets users stream online content to their TVs while using their PCs and mobile devices as controllers, first went on …

Manual Settings

Why does it need to identify the frame rate? Can't it just have a setting to manually tell it to use 50Hz?

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Anonymous Coward

I call bullshit

I guess these are the same people who have thus far failed to complain about DVDs that are encoded at 29.97fps or youtube videos encoded at a similarly not-divisible-by-25 frame rate on their 60Hz monitors.

It's an unfixable non-issue.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Manual Settings

Yes, it can, will google implement it before their new android TV service.

Unlikely.

I know NOTHING about coding, but I do know about electronics and TV's and that to say it cant be fixed in software/firmware is absolute crap...

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Silver badge
Joke

Android TV

Maybe that'll only take 110V to be equally useless?

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Anonymous Coward

Arrogant

You shall have inappropriate US kit and like it. No, Google, I won't.

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Silver badge

Meh.

It costs £30. Live with it. Most folk would spend £30 on a Friday night family pig-out down at Domino's pizza and not bat an eyelid, and it's all going down the toilet a few hours later. Suddenly when their super-cheap TV dongle isn't absolutely perfect it's the end of the world.

Meh :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meh.

But it's Google so it should be good, not eternally beta quality and designed to serve adverts then dropped a few years later.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meh.

I presume that's sacarsm? You have just described Googles entire modus operandi.

Googles brand image <> Google's actual behaviour. In fact I can't think of many other examples where they are such polar opposites. Paedo preists maybe.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meh.

£20 at currys today, and I have never noticed any problems whatsoever.

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Re: Meh.

How much it costs is irrelevant. We have laws on the quality of goods and they must perform as described. If it is described as suitable for the UK/EU market then it must support 50Hz.

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Re: Meh.

I would still bitch if I spent £30 on a pizza to only have a 1/3 of it arrive or missing some ingredients or took an hour to be made

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Trollface

Re: Meh.

I presume that's sarcasm? When was the last time you got a family pig out from Domino's for £30?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meh.

If you buy it from Currys - or any other 'brck and mortar' store - you are protected by the Sales of Good Act - it must be fit for the purpose for which it is sold. So it can just be returned if it doesn't play back video properly.

If you order it online, you are additionally protected by the Distance Selling Regulations - and can send it back within a fortnight for no reason at all.

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Silver badge

Re: Meh.

My Chromecast doesn't serve adverts. Nor is it designed to.

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Anonymous Coward

Whose TV doesn't do 60Hz these days?

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JDX
Gold badge

Maybe you should read the article again, a bit more carefully (the issue isn't the TV).

Although it does raise the question, when you use Netflix et al on a regular TV, does the TV know to switch the right frequency to avoid the same problem? How do you even find out what FPS iPlayer, NetFlix, Amazon, etc, use for their streaming content in the first place.

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Silver badge
Stop

It doesn't matter if the Chromecast does 30Hz and the telly does 60Hz, if the content is at 25Hz then it still judders just as it would in the US. You need a Chromecast which does 25Hz and a telly which does 50Hz.

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@JDX

Netflix has segregated data silos for content for different markets, to the point where stuff you have watched in the GB region does not show as having been watched when you log on in the USA region.

I imagine this means they can resolve the regional variation in hertz problem at source.

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Really? I watch stuff from the UK all the time in a not-UK region without noticeable issue.

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@choleric

Netflix doesn't sell you hardware devices. It comes embedded in other hardware. Netflix therefore side steps the entire issue. It is either your PC, your DVD/Blueray, Xbox, PSx.x, etc device which presumably already knows the correct signal rate for your display device.

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@keith_w

That is great, but all it means is that it works for you. Do you know whether there is a difference in frequency between material supplied from Netflix's GB region catalogue and material supplied from Netflix's north american catalogues?

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Re: 60hz TVs

@AC

"Whose TV doesn't do 60Hz these days?"

You are misunderstanding the point. If the Chromecast is outputting at 60hz and the TV doesn't do 60hz - i.e. is only 50hz - then it just won't work. No signal.

So, this only affects TVs that can show 60hz because if it can't then you get nothing. (Said in best Gene Wilder plays Willy Wonker rage voice.)

US content is 60p to match their TVs. The 60p content is sent to the Chromecast which outputs it at 60hz to a TV that displays it at 60hz. When someone in the UK watches US content on a Chromecast they get the same - 60p at 60hz, judder-free.

The problem occurs with EUROPEAN content, which is 50p. The Chromecast converts this to 60hz for output and the TV faithfully displays this content at 60hz. BUT, the conversion from 50 to 60 by the Chromecast introduces judder. The judder comes from the CC at 60hz and the TV shows the juddery, 60hz signal exactly as it gets it.

AS the (European) TV could handle the native 50p content, if the Chromecast just output it without processing the results would be as expected.

This would be necessary if one was viewing 50p content on a US 60hz TV that wouldn't be able to display the content natively but is a pain on a UK TV that can display the content natively.

The Chromecast MUST be detecting the source material or else it wouldn't be able to output it as 60hz. What it is refusing to detect is the TV's supported frame rates and matching this up with the content to determine the best processing or lack thereof.

What is required to automate this is not overly complex. But if they are unwilling to do the work then all they need to do is implement a very simple feature for the user to select this. All they have to do is provide a warning.

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JDX
Gold badge

"it is very hard to accurately identify the incoming frame rate"

Really?

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Silver badge

Re: "it is very hard to accurately identify the incoming frame rate"

VLC is open source, they can copy and paste the code from that...

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Silver badge

Re: "it is very hard to accurately identify the incoming frame rate"

Perhaps they meant 'it's hard to know the frame rates the TV will accept'?

I'm not hugely familiar with HDMI but isn't there some data coming back from the display listing resolutions and frame rates available?

(And 24 fps films are traditionally shown at 25 fps on PAL (and other 25 frames per second) systems - on 30 fps systems they do a dot and carry one method that repeats one frame in five. From memory, traditional telecine machines - and please remember it's at least thirty years since I last worked on one - could interpolate optically.)

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Boffin

Re: "it is very hard to accurately identify the incoming frame rate"

I think Google are complaining about the incoming video stream. As others have pointed out, this doesn't seem to be a problem for other players, and I suspect that it isn't actually a problem for the Chromecast because after all if it chose 60fps for everything then it wouldn't be adding frames to pad a 50fps source to 60fps, it would be playing a 50fps at 60fps and therefore at a noticeably faster speed!

I'm not hugely familiar with HDMI but isn't there some data coming back from the display listing resolutions and frame rates available?

Yes, there is. This also applies to DVI. I have had cause to examine it quite closely in my work with using Raspberry Pis as video players (oh, there's a £30 device that can sort itself out with regard to frame rates).

http://elinux.org/RPiconfig#Video

(Particularly the bit underneath the long list where it shows how to get the Pi to read the data out of the connected device)

Essentially it is possible to query a device connected via HDMI or DVI and it will reply with a list of "CEA" and/or "DMT" modes which it supports. It will also flag up which of those is its native mode. CEA modes are only usually found on devices designed as televisions as they are oriented towards common video standards, while DMT modes are found on both TVs (usually) and computer monitors.

I believe a similar facility exists for devices connected by VGA cable (cf the fact that your OS will give you a list of resolutions supported by your VGA-connected monitor or projector), but as the Pi doesn't output VGA I can't be specific.

Of course the Pi is even more flexible than that:

CVT Support

M.

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Bronze badge

Re: "it is very hard to accurately identify the incoming frame rate"

But VLC is GPL (not sharing is stealing), meaning they'd have to give back their changes.

Google love the Apache (sharing is not stealing) licence; where you're allowed to view, modify and distribute the Source Code, but they aren't actually obliged to give it to you in order for you to be able to exercise these rights in practice. You can legitimately call an Apache licenced product Open Source, even if you only ever make it available in binary form.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "it is very hard to accurately identify the incoming frame rate"

> I'm not hugely familiar with HDMI but isn't there some data coming back from the display listing resolutions and frame rates available?

According to wikipedia it's v1.3 of the EDID standard. It's admittedly not perfect, but it's definitely there for them to use.

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Silver badge

Re: "it is very hard to accurately identify the incoming frame rate"

they could do something similar to other software such as an option in the settings that said EURO or US. Not that hard.

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Anonymous Coward

Because no one lives outside the USA

That's crazy.

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Facepalm

Re: Because no one lives outside the USA

but a very common perception for Americans.

They were astounded some countries don't use a 'zip code'.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Because no one lives outside the USA

No one who matters.

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Never noticed the problem

Since dumping Sky TV have used Chromecast a lot and have never really noticed a problem.

Perhaps am nt "eagle eyed" <sigh>

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Silver badge

Re: "Never noticed the problem"

Some people don't. I was in a TV shop years ago when 100Hz was new and a couple came in asking which where the 100Hz TVs. The salesman went to find out, and I just pointed out the ones I could see. "You know a lot about TVs?" they asked? "No - I can just see which ones aren't flickering" I did wonder why, if they couldn't, they wanted a 100Hz TV.

Judder, audio and video artefacts are similar. They drive some people wild, and others barely notice. But -- it's still completely unacceptable for Google to manufacture an international product that only works properly in the USA. It doesn't cost less in the UK because it is less suitable - you'd have a good argument for taking it back as unfit for purpose (IANALBIPOOTI).

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Re: "Never noticed the problem"

This is NOTHING to do with being American or where you live, just nonsense. It works no better in the USA than it does here.

The problem is with the source, not the device. If somebody in the USA chooses to watch a 25fps encoded episode of Doctor Who, they will surely get the same issue.

In reality, a massive majority of content is fully compatible. US TV dominates broadcasting.

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Silver badge

Re: "Never noticed the problem"

" US TV dominates broadcasting."

Though quite possibly a European user might prefer local-generated content, it being more in tune with their culture / language for a start.

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MJI
Silver badge

Re: "Never noticed the problem"

I don't like 3:2 pulldown.

24 frames/second Film on 60Hz my last 4x3 TV could take 60Hz RGB, but not NTSC. Never tested the WS CRT with NTSC, just went RGB.

Prefer the BluRay way of letting an HDTV handle 24FPS

As to not noticing, may be on computer monitors they are happy.

But 50Hz uploaded to Youtube gets converted quite dodgily to 60Hz.

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Re: "Never noticed the problem"

...100Hz TVs...

If you have a high-hertz-rate TV (I think ours is 400Hz) will the TV's own interpolation effectively resolve the Chromecast flicker issue? I've never noticed anything amiss with ours.

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Re: "Never noticed the problem"

"US TV dominates broadcasting."

Accepting this as true - for the sake of this discussion - the problem is not where the content was created but where it is broadcast/distributed from. An American movie, shot at 24p is broadcast by American broadcasters at 60hz so that it works properly with American TVs.

If that 24p content is broadcast from a UK broadcaster then it is sent as 50hz so that it works properly with UK TVs.

Thus, if you get a 24p movie from a US source then it comes to your Chromecast from the streaming service at 60hz and is displayed by the TV at 60hz and all is good. If the 24p movie is from a UK source then it comes to your Chromecast from the UK streaming service at 50hz, where it is then converted to 60hz before being sent to the TV for display at 60hz.

It's the conversion by the Chromecast from 50hz to 60hz that causes the problem.

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Apple TV

can run at at a wide range of output resolutions and frame rates.

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Coat

Re: Apple TV

Yes but you do have the annoying problem of random down votes.

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Silver badge
WTF?

Re: Apple TV

Tirk's comment amused me, so I downvoted Frank.

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Silver badge

Re: Apple TV

"Tirk's comment amused me, so I downvoted Frank."

It must be contagious.

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Re: Apple TV

I too loved Tirk's comment but I upvoted Frank as the man made a valid point quite well.

Tirk got an up arrow too.

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Re: Apple TV

Neither of them offered any particular points I was interested in disagreeing with, so I went and downvoted UKIP instead.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple TV

I downvoted em both because I hate everybody...

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Megaphone

None issue for me

I own 3 Chromecasts and can confidently say this is a complete none issue for me, never noticed it once and I'm hypersensitive to this stuff.

Analysing closer, it must be because I simply never really watch any 25fps content on it. Pretty much all the video I watch is US or blu-ray sourced. You won't notice judder on YouTube, for example.

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Silver badge

Re: None issue for me

Thank fuck for that!

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Re: None issue for me

The majority of my video collection is on DVDs encoded at 25fps, but the odd few are 24fps and some are 29.97fps, and I have never seen an issue with 24fps, 25fps, 29.97fps playback on any of my Chromecasts.

I completely agree it's a non-issue. People really need to stop shining about imaginary problems with a $30 device.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: None issue for me

Terrorism or even car security is a complete non-issue.

I drive regularly and never died from it. So I'm sure Road traffic collision never happen. Stop complaining and remove speed limits.

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