View Finder: Offline with Stan and the joy of Dolby Vision

Nick Broughall 24 March 2017 NEWS

One night stan

Plus, the Hills of Netflix are alive with Julie Andrews and live action manga.

Stan officially switched on offline viewing for its iOS and Android apps this week. Its arrival heralds a brave new world where the major streaming platforms will now let you watch their programs without an Internet connection.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, offline viewing allows subscribers to download certain movies and TV shows to a compatible Android or iOS device to watch on the go, without burning through your precious mobile data allowance. Netflix launched its offline viewing towards the end of 2016 and Stan has obviously learnt a lot from Netflix's launch.

For a start, Stan allows you to download direct to your device's microSD card from the outset, something that took Netflix months to introduce. You can also choose from three different quality settings for offline viewing with Stan, compared to the two on offer from Netflix.

Stan has also worked a little harder to get the rights for offline viewing from many of its partners. A finder analysis from earlier this week found that almost 66% of its TV shows and almost 70% of its movie catalogue is available for offline viewing.

Those numbers are pretty solid for launch week. While we're yet to do a similar analysis for Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, when using Stan it seems much more likely that your program of choice will be able to be downloaded, compared to the other streaming services.

In any case, with multiple streaming platforms offering the ability to watch offline, your commutes, long drives (as a passenger) or international flights are going to be a lot more entertaining.

Streaming in Dolby Vision

Over the past two weeks I've attended the product launches of Samsung's and LG's 2017 range of televisions and needless to say, 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) content has been a big focus of the feature set for 2017.

While all the televisions looked amazing, one key point of difference between the two manufacturers is the support for Dolby Vision in their OLED panels.

Dolby Vision is fundamentally the pinnacle for HDR content at the moment. While traditional High Dynamic Range content typically works out the brightest and the darkest pixels in an entire movie or TV show, Dolby Vision uses metadata to work out the brightest and darkest pixels on a scene-by-scene level, using metadata to work with the TV's HDR capability to deliver the best possible result.

This is important because right now, Netflix is mastering a lot of its originals in Dolby Vision. If your TV can't display Dolby Vision, it will still offer HDR, but having a Dolby Vision compatible TV means you can get the best possible images not just for the show, but for every scene in the show.

Amazon has also started mastering some of its shows in Dolby Vision, so this is definitely a trend that's going to become more and more common. And having seen it first hand, it's easy to see why.

Dolby Vision TVs aren't the cheapest on the market (though you can pick them up for a couple of grand), but if you are shopping around, I'd definitely consider looking for that certification.

This week in streaming

Netflix is creating a live-action version of the popular manga Death Note and the first teaser trailer dropped this week. It won't be available until 25 August, but there's at least one person in the finder office who can barely contain his excitement.

Take a dash of Mary Poppins, a pinch of The Muppets and a spoonful of Netflix's Original programming and you end up with Julie's Greenroom, a new show for kids that promises a peek behind the curtain of the performing arts, with Julie Andrews running the show. Definitely one for the kids, but it's a really fascinating insight into the variety that Netflix is pushing into its original productions.

The first of Stan's stand up comedy specials hits the streaming platform tonight, with Wil Anderson's Fire at Wil kicking off the series. New specials will arrive weekly, with six shows in total recorded for this run of original programming from the streaming platform.

Each week, View Finder rounds up the latest news in streaming TV and movies for Australians.

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