17 Replies Latest reply: Nov 6, 2012 1:58 PM by stroulger RSS

    General SB350 feedback

    OvCollyer Apprentice

      I got my hands on one of the new Slingboxes the other day - a 350.

       

      So I thought I'd jot down a few things I've noticed in terms of the video stream quality to maybe assist others.

       

      My Setup

      --------------

       

      I now have both a Slingbox Pro-HD and a Slingbox 350 on the same network, both connected to the same Sky+ HD box in the UK (via the component chain through on the SB350).

       

      Since I don't use UPnP I used a DHCP reservation to fix the 350's IP address and then a manual port forward. This generally works fine, though I've yet to make it work via my 3G phone. I am able to connect to the Pro-HD (on port 5001) but not the 350 (which is on port 5201). Accessing via remote Wi-Fi works however, so it must be an issue specific to 3G or mobile networks.

       

      Also on the same network as the boxes is a SlingCatcher, and my laptop which is a recent Macbook Pro Retina which boots into either OS 10.8 or Windows 7.

       

      All testing was done at the Best (HD) setting on the Web player.

       

      OS X 10.8 Web player

      --------------------------------

       

      The difference in sharpness and fluidity between the Pro-HD and the 350 is pretty negligible to my eyes, though it may be slightly sharper on the 350.

       

      However I noticed that the stream peaks at between 3-4mbps with the 350, but goes right up to 8mbps with the Pro-HD. This is was the case when streaming both locally and remotely.

       

      Perhaps the algorithms have been tweaked so less bandwidth is needed? Or was the 4-8mbps bitrate on the Pro-HD simply unnecessary (I must admit could never tell much difference once you got beyond 4mbps)?

       

      Windows 7 Web player

      -----------------------------------

       

      Here I was pleasantly surprised to see there was a marked improvement when comparing the Pro-HD and the 350. It wasn't so much the sharpness as the smoothness of the video. This really now does look like watching proper TV, whereas I've always felt that even the best streams outputted by Sling devices never quite felt as smooth as watching satellite or cable TV. The difference is now much closer.

       

      Further, this benefit comes at a bitrate (as with OS X) of 3-4mbps with the 350 vs anything up to 8mbps with the Pro-HD.

       

      WDTV Live (3rd gen)

      ------------------------------

       

      WD just updated the firmware meaning this device now works with the new Slingboxes.

       

      I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the WDTV stream - again, it has the smoothness I refer to above with the Windows 7 Web player.

       

      Once again, the bitrate was a modest 3-4mbps maximum for me (as reported by the network test option), though I've not tested this remotely yet, only locally.

       

      SlingCatcher

      -------------------

       

      This doesn't work with the new boxes, but for the record, the smoothness of the Windows 7 Web player and WDTV Live box was superior to the SlingCatcher for me, noticeably so.

       

      The Slingcatcher still wins on ease-of-use vs the WDTV though - for example, in the Sky+ HD planner, the coloured buttons are used a lot. On the SlingCatcher remote you can simply press these coloured buttons and they work as expected, whereas with the WDTV you have to press the blue button to bring up the control bar and then navigate to the section showing the coloured buttons and then choose one. This is a pain! It's a shame the coloured buttons couldn't have been mapped directly, and some other button on the WDTV remote used to show/hide the control bar.

       

      Conclusions

      ------------------

       

      Much has been made of the removal of certain features of the new boxes - custom remote support, no SlingCatcher support, no desktop player support, no manual network configuration, HDMI HDCP limitations on the 500, lack of tuner on the 500, lack of multiple/audio inputs - but if you can look past those, from my early tests it seems like there are gains to be had with the quality of the stream depending on what device you use to view them.

       

      I'd like to see some improvements made to the Mac Web player however - on the same hardware I was able to get a smoother stream from the 350 via Windows 7 than via OS X 10.8.

        • Re: General SB350 feedback
          schindt Newbie

          I wonder why nobody seems to notice the low audio quality compared to the one on a PRO-HD.  Current audio bitrates on the 350/500 are 64kbps max and you can hear it definitely. Didn't get any feedback yet if the audio bitrate is limited by hardware or by the current firmware.

           

           

            • Re: General SB350 feedback
              OvCollyer Apprentice

              Yeah it seems an odd decision to drop from 96k, which is already pretty low, to 64k, for the audio.

               

              I would have thought it ought to scale to the available bandwidth - e.g. if you're able to sustain a 4mbps stream then give it a decent 192kbps, but if you're under 1mbps then fair enough, go for the 64 or 96....and scale in between.

                • Re: General SB350 feedback
                  andrermf Newbie

                  Hello

                   

                  I've tried yesterday the WDTV and it's strange that I make the test network connection and get 3.8MB and they recommend BETTER quality instead of BEST HD. Because of this sometimes the image freezes. Do you get this?

                   

                  Regarding testing with MAC I have a Macbook 2.4Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo with 8GB and I need to have everything close andonly slingplayer in safari to not have slow downs in the picture or freezes.

                   

                  I'll make more tests later but would like to know if you're getting the same in WDTV ( and yes the image in WDTV seems almost like satellite tv.95% the same I would say)

                    • Re: General SB350 feedback
                      OvCollyer Apprentice

                      No, it's been pretty smooth in my tests so far on both WDTV and on the Mac. How long does it typically take before the WDTV freezes? Maybe I've not let it go for long enough yet. I'll do some more testing today and report back.

                       

                      I had similar results for the network test but it recommended the highest quality option for me.

                       

                      In terms of the Mac, mine is a 2.7 Ghz Intel Core i7 with 16GB - I've not seen any issues with having other applications open, but I haven't tried many combinations. I'm guessing yours is closer to the borderline spec the new decoder needs at the highest resolution and that's why it's struggling a tiny bit.

                      • Re: General SB350 feedback
                        ovcollyer

                        Right, I've done some further tests with the WDTV at a remote location and now I've run into the freezing problems I've read about elsewhere.

                         

                        Basically it's freezing after a few minutes of viewing - I don't believe it is my network because I am able to view a stream indefinitely on my Mac at the Best (HD) setting and it reports a bitrate of 3-4mbps. Even if the bitrate sometimes dips a little, it never freezes and always recovers.

                         

                        However, on the WDTV it runs for a few minutes on either "Better" or "Best (HD)" but then freezes - however, I kept the network info (red button) up and some of this continues to report what appear to be normal stats - for example the Current bitrate and Average bandwidth haven't dropped, they've just carried fluctuating on as they were when the picture was displaying. However, the "streaming time" has stopped counting up. This suggests that there is simply a bug in the flash decoding where it's given up displaying the stream, but is still receiving it from the Slingbox.

                         

                        It appears the only way out of this is to disconnect and reconnect, which works and the stream is then fine for another few minutes.

                         

                        This is all a big shame as the picture quality is excellent - best I've seen - but it's useless if it stops after a few minutes.

                         

                        If you search elsewhere on the Internet, for example in the WD forums, you will see others reporting similar issues which sadly date back to the middle of this year - isn't it about time there was some kind of acknowledgement and effort to resolve it?

                          • Re: General SB350 feedback
                            andrermf Newbie

                            Hi

                             

                            I have done some testings this weekend but on home lan (not remote). I was getting a lot of times freezing image ...only Better quality. I've reset my WD TV and my Slingbox and now I get very good image  ( average Bandwidth of 4-6MB) with almost no freezing.

                             

                            When I connected for the first time after the reset the WD TV was reccomending BEST HD but after a while passed me to Better. Than I pass to BEST HD and disconnect and reconnect again and no problems. Sometimes it freezes and I have to reconnect but yesterday watching soccer games the image was cool and I only had to reconnect once ( I think it's normal this may occur).

                             

                            Although now I want to test WD TV on remote. I'll do the tests with the WD TV of a friend and I'll let you know.

                             

                            The image is indeed very good

                              • Re: General SB350 feedback
                                OvCollyer Apprentice

                                Thanks for the info.

                                 

                                I find it hard to believe a reset of either my Slingbox (a brand new 350 newly installed a few days ago) or the WDTV Live (also new a few days ago, and updated to latest firmware) would help me, as it was working flawlessly when I was at the Slingbox location. Besides, I'm 2500km away now so a hardware reset of the Slingbox is out of the question.

                                 

                                Anyway I've found it keeps changing its recommendations, first it was Best (HD), the Better, then Good, now Better again, it's a flawed system because the connection can fluctuate from minute to minute for me.

                                 

                                My guess is that at the higher quality settings something can't cope with certain fluctuations in the connection. This might explain why it works well on the LAN when the connection can be expected to be much more consistent and stable.

                                 

                                I'll be interested to hear how you get on when you try it out remotely.

                      • Re: General SB350 feedback
                        shayneuhr

                        I agree with the original poster... the WD TV Live seems to be working now, but the audio quality is disappointing.  I have very good upload speeds but I can't set the audio quality

                        • Re: General SB350 feedback
                          ACC3954830

                          Hey Guys,

                           

                          I just want to let you all know there are some strange issues with Boxee and WD live with the 350.

                           

                          I have posted this issue in the boxee section but have not had any response from slingbox support at all. 

                           

                          What will happen is the picture will freeze after a while but the stream will continue. I have tried multiple boxee boxes and now a WD live.  All having the same issue.   WD seems to hold out the longest but it still freezes.  It may take a hour but it will happen.

                           

                          I wish the slingbox support would acknowledge this because it has to be affecting other people. 

                           

                          I have a much more detailed post in this section and the boxee area about the issue.

                          My solution right now is to just use my media PC.  It streams beautiful 1080p with no freezing issues at all. 

                           

                          I just wish WD would work correctly as the picture on it appears to be the best at this time. 

                           

                          If others are having this problem please report it and it may get resolved. 

                           

                          Thanks everyone.

                            • Re: General SB350 feedback
                              OvCollyer Apprentice

                              I just used the live chat thing to try and get some help with this freezing image issue on the WDTV Live, but I didn't get the impression it was something they either knew about or if they did that they knew how to solve. Just the standard stuff about whether I'd set things up for TCP Internet Viewing correctly, which I'm pretty sure I have as it shows up as TCP in the Web player, and "TCPwan" or something on the WDTV.

                               

                              Anyway, I've drawn their attention to this thread and the person I chatted to (Jesse) said a moderator would take a look, so let's see if we can make any progress.

                                • Re: General SB350 feedback
                                  ACC3954830

                                  Thank you so much.  I should have done that too but I hoped they would see our thread.   Now they will thanks to you. 

                                   

                                  Slingbox team if it helps this seems to be happening on boxee as well.  It appears to be much worse on boxee with a freeze every min or so.  My record with WD is about an hour.  The other thing I notice is when you interact with the 350 it will lag around and sound will skip.   When I had my pro HD going I would rarley see this.  I would go through the menus so smooth you would hardly know its remote.  That issue is not as important as the freezing but wanted to mention it. 

                                   

                                  I find resetting the boxee or WD as mentioned above seems

                                  To resolve it for a while. But within 20 mins it will return. 

                                   

                                  It appears this issue is only remote.   Local connections do not present the freezing.  That makes me agree with the above post that it may be bandwidth conditions causing this. As maybe the devices are not handling the increased bandwidth properly. 

                                   

                                  Sling support if you need any testing or further information I am happy to help. 

                                   

                                  Thanks. 

                              • Re: General SB350 feedback
                                shayneuhr

                                My WD TV Live freezes every time I stop watching TV.  I've used it for hours and hours with no problem this past weekend UNTIL I go to turn it off.  I have to power the WD TV Live off in order to disconnect from my Slingbox 350.  Picture is awesome though... sound is ****   They need to allow you to allocate more bits to the sound.

                                • Re: General SB350 feedback
                                  OvCollyer Apprentice

                                  Just to add that I also see the video freezing when using the highest quality setting connected to a Pro-HD (1920 x 544) which ties in with reports in the WD community forums that date this problem back to when the Slingplayer was first released.

                                   

                                  I also came across the following URL which appears to be an older version (May) of the WDTV Slingplayer:

                                   

                                  download.slingmedia.com/spcd/wdtv/

                                   

                                  If you load this into a browser (Mac or Windows) you get the same flash app used by the WDTV.

                                   

                                  Unfortunately this one doesn't work with the 350 but if we just knew where the updated one was then it would be useful to do some testing to establish if it's the Slingplayer flash application itself at fault or the platform/flash player. Maybe that would help work out whether its Sling or WD who we need to nag about this!

                                  • Re: General SB350 feedback
                                    stroulger

                                    Just a quick confuguration question for setting up the SB350 in the UK (I noticed you refered to Sky TV)

                                     

                                    Which country/zip code combination did you use?

                                    (ie Can you get an on screen Sky+ remote control?)

                                     

                                    Cheers

                                      • Re: General SB350 feedback
                                        OvCollyer Apprentice

                                        I just put in US, then copied what I read someone else do and that was to put in 90210. It asks for TV provider and I just chose 'Other' I think.

                                         

                                        However, the Sky boxes are listed when you configure the input so yes you get the proper remote but this isn't rełated to your country/zip/provider selection. That just relates to the TV guide and there isn't one for Sky anyway so I think as long as you put in a valid zip I imagine it would be fine.