Since I'm apparently an idiot, I had forgotten that 24 was a two-hour episode this week and tuned in at my usual 8:00 Monday night. Hmmm, now I don't know what's going on. Oh well, this gave me an opportunity to check out web video viewing on my new PS3.
This evening, I fired up the browser and headed over to Hulu to watch the episodes I had missed. I soon saw I was getting the same stuttering performance I had gotten earlier when I tried to stream a ripped DVD. So, time to find out just what the issue is here.
I dug around in my closet and pulled out the longest Ethernet cable I had. After stretching my router's power cable to its limit, and sliding the PS3 over a bit in its cubby hole, I was just barely able to string my cable between them. After switching over to wired Internet connection, I relaunched the video from the Hulu site - and voila, now it works pretty well. It's still not broadcast-quality, but I think I would be getting the small pauses and such even if I was viewing it on my Mac directly hooked up to the router - it's being streamed over the Internet. So it appears something on the PS3 wireless client just isn't up to streaming that much content (because I am able to stream this video successfully to a laptop using the same wireless connection).
The other problem with viewing Hulu on the PS3 is that I'm using my 24" standard-def CRT TV. The screen is the wrong proportion for the video I'm trying to view, and the PS3 browser doesn't appear to let me zoom out to shrink the size of the video - I can only zoom in, which is the wrong direction. So I just centered the video part of the page as best I could, which was good enough for now. An HDTV would, I suspect, solve this problem.
After finishing 24, I went back to check out my ripped DVD over the wired connection. At first, it looked promising - the first couple of minutes went by with no stuttering and good video and audio quality. And then....an error message? "The content cannot be played - error code 800288D8."
Hmmm. A quick Google search seems to indicate this is some fault on the PS3 side of things. That is, there appears to be an issue in streaming MPEG-4 video that is independent of the server being used, so this doesn't seem to be a Rivet issue. I may have to play around a bit with different video formats some more until I find some combination that everyone is happy with.
The quest for multimedia Nirvana continues....