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Something the Internet TV crowd doesn't get.



January 27, 2010 – Comments (5)

Streaming video is really pretty marginal, even when you have really fast internet. I've got cox cable at my house, which has unbelievable speeds. But that's only if it's being fed a fast data stream.

I watch streaming Netflix all the time through a hard-wired Xbox (there's no way to get any faster, and this is MUCH faster than could ever be accomplished with current wireless tech of any kind deployed in households), and it's still only of meh quality.

The servers pushing through the video are clearly not up to the task, because the quality zips between HD and barely-better-than-youtube with some frequency.

On any portable device, reliable, high-def streams are simply a pipe dream, and I believe they'll stay that way for at least 5-10 years, because of the simple problem that streaming video like this through the internet (as opposed to HD broadcast) does not scale.

Every additional user signed up stresses the system more and costs the provider more for bandwidth.  The more popular it gets, in the absence of major infrastructure investment that is probably not forthcoming, the worse the quality is likely to get.



5 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On January 27, 2010 at 1:28 PM, Melaschasm (70.03) wrote:

Have you tested this during different times of the day?

In my experience cable internet is about the speed of dial up during primetime.  This is why I pay for DSL.

It could also be a problem with your local Netfix video streamer. 

I have enjoyed significant succes watching netflix and hulu on my 22" computer monitor, and a friend does the same with Netfix on a 47" TV via his computer.

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#2) On January 27, 2010 at 4:06 PM, miteycasey (29.02) wrote:

The servers pushing through the video are clearly not up to the task, because the quality zips between HD and barely-better-than-youtube with some frequency.

It's not the servers as much as the pipe the servers are pushing the data through.

You can have as fast as you want on your end, but if the company on the other end is cheap then you are limitedby the speeds they are pushing.

 The compnay that understands this the best is Apple.

Go to their site and try to down load anything at any time of the day. It's not lines, no waiting. 

Now go to some other site, like a university(not MIT or other technically college) or government site,  and see how fast that download comes at you.

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#3) On January 27, 2010 at 4:38 PM, rofgile (99.40) wrote:

Bittorrent like streaming of video is a good solution.  Players like TVUplayer already have this technology.  That way you distribute the data transfer load across multiple people, rather than taxing a server-bank.



I threw out my TV last year.  Haven't looked back, and don't care about HD.  I like to be able to choose what show to watch, when to watch it, and have fewer ads than TV.  Whenever I see a normal TV, I'm amazed at how many advertisements people watch and how short the segments of real content are.

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#4) On January 27, 2010 at 7:27 PM, TMFBent (99.27) wrote:

it's nothing to do with my cable. DSL is awful compared to cable. I can dowload gigs at lightning speed from servers that are serving few people, or have the juice to serve. I just did a speakeasy test and got more than 26,000 kbps download, 4k upload. That's typical for this service, and it's 7:30 p.m., big TV watching hours.

The problem is internet video and internet video servers. They're not capable right now of dealing with high and  fluctuating demand  -- because internet streaming video doesn't scale well.

I still use it all the time, but most non-techies I know would describe the service as lame at best. Grandma and Grandpa aren't going to care why netflix keeps having to readjust the bandwidth, interrupting the viewing. They're just going to see a show that keeps getting interrupted, while that regular cable or satellite high def video comes in just fine.

And Apple has no edge here. (Apple doesn't even stream video, so it would be tough for them to have an edge.) For downloads, Apple buys bandwidth like everyone else. And downloading files to play later is something very different from streaming high def video. And Apple's own products show they don't believe in streaming video in the home. Apple TV doesn't stream. It copies everything to a local drive at the TV, so that the viewing experience is not compromised by the bad home network throughput that most people have -- especially if they're on airports or other slowpoke wireless setups.

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#5) On January 27, 2010 at 8:09 PM, CMFStan8331 (96.77) wrote:

The main thesis of this article is true, but I think it's a temoporary situation.  The technology is still in its infancy and performance issues will likely be with us for some time, but the potential cost savings and radical paradigm-shift that IP transport of streamed video content provides can't be held back forever.  The same is true for VOIP telephony. The power of the Internet to democratize once-proprietary business models shouldn't be underestimated.

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