HBO Max is still stuck in HD land (with the exception of a few 4k titles) which doesn’t exactly give it a competitive edge against competing services like Disney+ and Netflix. However, the HD streaming quality is leagues above the broadcast junk HBO and traditional TV still give us.
What’s happening is the streaming video from HBO Max is being served in 1080p horizontal lines of resolution. Broadcast HBO supposedly delivers 1080i out of their broadcast facility, but it’s an inferior format to what has been called “Full HD” or 1080p (progressive) resolution. The “p” means frames are served up as complete individual images rather than “interlaced” into each other.
In The New Mutants we compare shots of Rahne (Maisie Williams) and Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy) from both broadcast HBO and HBO Max. From HBO, we can see a more destruction breakdown of the pixels especially in the darker areas. HBO Max does break down (in different patterns) but not as bad as HBO.
Keep in mind this isn’t just about resolution though, it’s really about compression. The video in the HBO broadcast is compressed so poorly that hideous patterns are evident not only after pausing the image but even while watching in real time. There’s a lot of talk about how streaming services can deliver this bitrate or that, but what good is bitrate when the source material is so poorly compressed?
The bottom line with HBO is that streaming is better right now. 1080p (Full HD) streaming is killing 1080i (HD) broadcasts.
Of course, neither of these methods of watching The New Mutants can compare with the quality of Blu-ray or 4k Blu-ray. And, the 4k Blu-ray adds even more sharpness and color depth with huge advantages in bit rate. The Digital 4k version of The New Mutants served up by your favorite streaming service is also going to be better than Digital HD.
You might, however, get better quality with On Demand titles. Your service provider may offer higher quality video including 4k. Also Read: TV Service Providers Offer More 4k Movies Than You Think