13 Replies Latest reply: Jul 14, 2013 2:28 AM by RichJ RSS

    Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth

    RichJ Newbie

      The Slingbox Pro HD is of limited use in teh UK as SKY has withdrawn its remaining Component connector SKY+ HD boxes and the Pro HD does not have HDMI inputs due to the lack of an HDCP solution. COnsequently the Low Def version has now sat in the corer for years as the picture is so poor.

      Why do Singbox not partner with SKy (for preference as they have best Channel choice) or others on cable to include SLingbox technology in a SKY+ HD 2TB Box. This would avoid the HDCP complication, add value for consumers and drive growth for model renewal and up trading for SKY and for Slingmedia. It would also allow SKy to stop investing in their terrible sky GO which low definition, causes all my PC's to blue screen in WIndows 7 and does not work if you are traveling due to UK Copyright restrictions.

        • Re: Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth
          test350 Novice
          It would also allow SKy to stop investing in their terrible sky GO which ... does not work if you are traveling due to UK Copyright restrictions.

          I know nothing about UK law nor about contracts between content owners and Sky, but common sense would indicate that if these restrictions are in force, Sling would have to abide by them and also implement geographic limits.

           

          What country are you in or do you visit?  Possibly, you can receive Sky directly, with a sufficiently large dish.

           

          If you need a Slingbox or similar, consider an HDMI to component converter, or an HDMI splitter that strips HDCP, feeding a Slingbox 500.

            • Re: Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth
              RichJ Newbie

              Thanks. Already have old slingbow which is low def (though uplink speed is 10 Mbps which will support HD). I am aware of devices to strip HDCP from HDMI to allow component connections but in most western jurisidctions at the behest of the film studios these are illegal. They also introduce synch and other reliability issues which are unwanted with remote operation. Primarily looking at USA, Mexico and Japan as countries so a big dish is not going to help. Incorporating the two in one box (or expanding the usage of USB on both boxes to allow a secured HDCP compliant integration is the logical legal high quality solution. Adopting the latter course woud also allow for integration without the needs to prodcue a separate SKU.

                • Re: Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth
                  callanish Apprentice

                  Are you saying none of the sky boxes have a scart ( composite ) out connection for use with the slingbox. Granted, component connections on boxes have gone the way of the Dodo...basically extinct, but even if you aren't getting the best quality from scart / composite in comparison to hdmi/component, it should still make the slingbox usable. All virgin boxes have a scart out that's functional when also connected to the tv with hdmi. Does sky turn off the scart connection when hdmi is plugged in?

                    • Re: Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth
                      RichJ Newbie

                      Callanish thanks for reply.

                       

                      I want an HD Solution. All my Satellite gear and Blu Rays are HD as is my main laptop. Watching SD in comparison looks kind of rough (especially if sports or films on SLingbox). UK Slingboxes still have Pertiel connectors (SCART as the Europeans call them) which output SD analog signal. For a Digital HD output you either need to use a component out (supporting up to 1080i analog which is maximum UK Broadcast standard) or HDMI for up to 1080p Digital. Let's forget 4K as not supported in UK. So yes they still have a single "SCART" connector but this does not output Digital or HD signal. So you pay for a PRo HD Slingbox that records HD but you can only record in HD for the limited Terrestrial channels broadcasting in HD. I am not even sure if the Slingbox Tuner supports pay services on Terrestrial TV.

                       

                      Second question. SKY HD box dopes not turn off SCART if HDMI is plugged in but it seems to turn off output after a while if HDMI is umplugged ot TV switched off, if you have selected 1080i output. So you could set to 576i (PAL/SECAM Standard Def) to use Slingbox in SD mode.

                       

                      You are absolutely correct that SKY GO does work via proxies if one is out of the "UK Region" as you put it but on the four times I tried to use it (in UK as set up) it blue screened my computers - all High Spec Sony Vaios running WIndows 7. The Sky Go program is the only programme that has ever done this on any of them. Also compared to the 720p BBC HD output on BBC Iplayer site the quality of SKY SD is terrible.

                       

                      What my thought revolves around is a desire to get HD functionality and not pay for it but not get it. My old Slingbox still works but I have outgrown it and find SD even on my 15.5 inch 1080p laptop looks fuzzy let alone connected to Hotel TV's using the HDMI connector. I have been using NFL Pass and other sports options in Latin America and Asia to stream HD Sports but it just seemed to me that some cooperation here would be a win win. Or perhaps you are implying most people don't care about Picture Quality and HD and are happy with what is available? Maybe with the move to smartphones and smaller tablets, resolution becomes irrelevant though Ipads and Smartphones cameras are racing to outdo each other on resolution rates.

                       

                      Message was edited by: RichJ for poor typing

                        • Re: Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth
                          callanish Apprentice

                          I see your point. If you're getting an HD signal from the source, you want an HD signal sent through the slingbox and Sky has made that rather difficult to do after they dumped all the component out boxes leaving you with a limited choice of using something like the expensive HDFury to strip out HDCP.

                           

                          Also, would agree that sky go's streaming picture is passable, but still subpar on picture quality. Virgin TV anywhere, from my experience, is a bit better than Sky's picture, for some reason, but nothing great. In this day and age of services like Netflix, where the quality of streaming, at least in my experience, has become rather good, you'd think a giant like Sky would have the resources to provide something better than what's being streamed from Skygo.

                           

                          As for my own situation, I've got one slingbox connected using an older Virgin V+ box through component and another one through the Tivo box using scart. The Virgin V+ box, albeit a much older DVR box than the Tivo, provides a very noticeable improvement in picture quality over the tivo box when streaming remotely due to the component HD signal, but when that V+ box dies, then I'm back to a SD quality signal from either one of the virgin provided samsung v+ or Tivo dvr boxes which also have no component connections to work with.

                           

                          Basically, what I'm implying, more for selfish reasons, is that I've been streaming from the U.K to the U.S at about a 5000 miles distance using slingbox technology for the last 6 years, and due to latency distance, my TCP protocol remote streaming speeds take a picture quality hit due to that distance giving me only an SD quality picture on this end.......and basically if I want my full U.K programming package, I've got to live with the compromise. Trying a U.K based proxy server hasn't provided much of a speed boost and running the SNATT protocol on the slingbox only provides a speed boost on the P.C, not on the connected devices I use which are too unstable with SNATT ( actually RELAY), so I run TCP which is more stable at longer distances, but with slower streaming speeds.

                           

                          Point is, for me, just to get the luxury of having U.K programming in the U.S, I've lowered my picture quality expectations. I'm also running a proxy service called Unotelly to provide me with U.K programming from services like the bbc iplayer itv player and tvcatchup through the Sony GS7 Google tv box and doing so provides me with a better streaming quality picture than the slingbox due to the quality and bittrate of the proxy stream.

                           

                          The way I see it is I'm paying over a 100 pounds monthly for Virgin's VIP combined services, as well as a yearly U.K license fee, and U.K legal content restrictions or not, I'm going to use every resource I have in my possession to get U.K programming streamed to the U.S, but I'm still at the mercy of virgin for their restrictive cable boxes and how they connect to the slingbox, the broadband infrastructure and how latency plays a part in the streaming speeds at long distances and the technological restrictions of the slingbox where streaming speeds seems to be greatly affected by the streaming protocol.

                           

                          Like you, I believe we are being short changed when it comes to the technology that exists out there which should be able to provide us with HD quality streaming no matter on what platform we watch it from and where, but its being undermined and held back by lack of cooperation and will....and probable content legal issues. The optimist in me says at some point cooperation and collaboration will win in the end, but the pessimist says that in a world where you can't even go from one country to the next without requiring a different power adapter, getting a leap in technological progress and relying on different companies to have to work together to make it so, will turn out to be a long drawn out affair where we, the public, don't end up seeing the benefits for some time to come.

                            • Re: Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth
                              RichJ Newbie

                              Fully agree.

                               

                              Just been talking with US folks and looking at US sikte. Seems 500 Model does what I want but like the Pro HD we will have to wait ages for the Brits to start selling it. Ah well no hurry, maybe I can buy myself a Christmas Present to watch The Great Escape hacked to pieces by the BBC  poolside with a cocktail in HD....

                              • Re: Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth
                                test350 Novice

                                callanish wrote:

                                 

                                Like you, I believe we are being short changed when it comes to the technology that exists out there which should be able to provide us with HD quality streaming no matter on what platform we watch it from and where ...

                                IMO, over a long lossy pipe, Slingbox works poorly.  None of its competitors, nor any of the popular commercial or open source media centers / PVRs, do any better.  Problems include inadequate and inconsistent streaming data rates, unreliable operation, and frustratingly slow remote controls.

                                 

                                For example, on my New York -> Bangkok link, Slingplayer gets ~1.2 Mbps under the best network conditions, falling to ~300 kbps (!) during heavy traffic times.  The picture often freezes, skips and glitches.  Sometimes, you have to restart the player manually.  Depending on viewing device and network conditions, it can take up to four seconds (!) to see the result of a remote control button press.

                                 

                                DIY seemed like the only solution.  Mine is very basic, quite user-unfriendly and really just a demo, but I use it regularly and it does work. Here's how:

                                1. I have FiOS service in New York.  A Slingbox 350, fed from the DVR via component cables, captures video and audio.

                                2. A recording script, based on the open source SlingBox SDK, runs in New York and records the program to a local hard drive.  This format is "almost" standard -- it will play in VLC or MPlayer under Windows / Mac / Linux / Android, though some players will choke on it.

                                3. A second script on the same machine follows the growing file and acts as a custom UDP-based FTP server.

                                4. A third "FTP client" script runs at my winter home in Bangkok, receiving the stream and writing it to a local hard drive.

                                5. A fourth script (in Bangkok) follows the growing file, converts it with ffmpeg to a standard Transport Stream, and writes in into a pre-allocated 4-hour .ts file.

                                6. A DLNA server, e.g. Windows Media Player, serves the TS file.

                                7. The result can be viewed directly (without a "connected device") on most smart TVs (tested on Samsung and Vizio).

                                 

                                The file transfer scheme gets at least 6 Mbps, even under the worst conditions.  I stream video at 5 Mbps, allowing some margin for the system to "catch up" after an anomaly.  I start watching at least five minutes after the program begins, of course waiting longer if it's desired to skip commercials and/or halftime.

                                 

                                If the network connection drops, e.g. because the ISP assigned a new IP address, the transfer client waits for things to come back up, then restarts downloading from where it left off; the viewer is completely unaware that anything went wrong.  If the Slingbox stops streaming (this happens randomly, on average every 15 hours, for as yet undetermined reasons) it takes almost a minute for the recorder script to get it going again, but it sends a couple of (30 second) Skip Backward commands; the viewer sees a few seconds of duplicated video (or not, if it happened during a commercial or halftime).

                                 

                                Pause / resume and skip forward / backward occur at the viewing site; after pressing a key on the TV remote, playback resumes at the new location within one second.

                                 

                                The present system is really crude -- a command line program takes channel, start time and program length as arguments.  If something goes wrong, you have only a log file and external tools to guide you.  I don't have the modern skills needed to program GUIs, etc.

                                 

                                However, there's hope -- some smart people on other forums have expressed some interest in incorporating this stuff into open source PVR projects.  If this comes to fruition, it should sell quite a few Slingboxes.

                                 

                                BTW, if your video source has only HDMI output, I believe that an easy solution is a Slingbox 500, fed by https://www.google.com/#q=hdmi+220864833576

                                  • Re: Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth
                                    callanish Apprentice

                                    I'm just in awe at how with thinking outside of the box, you can take a limitation of the Slingbox design, re-think the concept, and provide a very real world answer that could make its way into future pvr hardware addressing, and potentially solving, in my opinion, one of the biggest frustrations with the Slingbox which is disappointing speeds and the inconsistency of streaming over long distances. The logistics, for me, in following what you've done, is honestly way above my pay grade, but I've got nothing but respect for the goal. Your workaround is actually quite ingenious and I'd be anxious to see if a project like this can be taken to the next level, because, as far as I can see, a slingmedia solution to latency and network congestion isn't coming anytime soon; It's coming from individuals like yourself that have the tech knowledge and ingenuity to recognize a problem and provide a solution that could improve upon a very big weakness of the slingbox which is how it falters when it comes to long distance remote streaming.

                                     

                                    nothing but respect for your effort.

                                    • Re: Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth
                                      RichJ Newbie

                                      Ingenious.

                                      I did find the 500 yesterday on US SIte. Unfortunately I want it to work with UK SKy HD Box so I have to wait the year or two Slingbox take to release new models in the UK which is obviously a secondary market for them. The PRo HD took a long time to come out here. Always the same with TV Japan does it first then US and a long time later the UK.

                                       

                                      I think yuo are right about the performance of slingbox in adverse conditions. LUckily for me I have no issues with my US locations or in Japan. Mexico can fluctuate.

                                       

                                      I have had severe resilience issues in China (Shanghai) and as you would expect Africa where signal levels can bounce up an down violently. I have also had bandwidth issues in Latin America, the worst being Chile where the ISP would cut off your service after 20 minutes claiming its broadband was meant for email and "normal" internet traffic. Chile is a facinating mix of Hispanic standards with Teutonic Reasoning.

                                       

                                      I also have the capability of recording on my PC Hard drive and ftp'ing but I like to watch news and sport live. I am told some people use PC COntrol software to mirror screens but not sure of stability or quality when running 1080i (UK has no 1080p transmission on Movie Channels or 3D - it is only used on Blu Ray or Streaming).

                                       

                                      I was hoping the 500 had some improved technology on board or at very least some more system settings such as buffer size or max connection speed (to adopt a lower quality but stop the freezing when using non resilient systems.

                                       

                                      My US provider allows web streaming of certain content and the TV on my AT&T Iphone is quite good on Wifi or even LTE but the channel choice is lamentable.

                                       

                                      Thanks anyway, good to chat with people who understand the issues and have solutions...

                                      • Re: Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth
                                        OvCollyer Apprentice

                                        Fascinating solution, thanks for sharing.

                                         

                                        I guess you lose (to an extent) the real-time aspect by doing things that way, I'm guessing it wouldn't be so suited to channel hopping but works if you know what you want to watch in advance? Not sure if I'd watch my football team that way, I'd be too tempted to take a peak on a scores site to see what is going to happen in the 'next' five minutes of the stream

                                         

                                        It seems to me that the challenge Slingbox technology has to face is managing to adjust the bitrate in response to changing network conditions while still presenting as near-live an experience as possible, so that channel changes etc work quickly enough to be usable.

                                         

                                        From what I understand most web streaming players deal with fluctuations in the available bandwidth by switching between different streams according to available bandwidth, ie the broadcast is simultaneously encoded at a number if different bitrates, Of course, this approach couldn't work with a Slingbox as it would be impractical to send the same video via multiple streams at different bitrates, so instead it has to vary the bitrate on-the-fly.

                                         

                                        This works where the connection is relatively stable, ie the fluctuations are small,  but fails in some cases where the bandwidth available might be a steady 3mbps+ for several minutes, thus suitable for HD, but then goes through a period of a minute or so of wildly fluctuating between say 500 and 2mbps, before recovering. Typically at these times I switch to 640 x 480 until I see the bandwidth used levels out at 2mbps+ then I know I'm probably safe to switch back to HD again. I believe the Auto setting should be handling this but instead I find Auto to be just too conservative (it never hits HD remotely for me, even though 80-90% of the time I can stream in HD).

                                         

                                        I'd like to see a better Auto setting that can cater better to bandwidth that fluctuates, and also doesn't display half a second of black screen when switching resolution. Maybe the Best (HD) setting could simply extend to still working at lower bitrates, rather than start freezing at sub 2.6mbps even if this meant it no longer represented an HD picture, but I don't know how possible that is.

                              • Re: Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth
                                callanish Apprentice

                                "I know nothing about UK law nor about contracts between content owners and Sky, but common sense would indicate that if these restrictions are in force, Sling would have to abide by them and also implement geographic limits."

                                 

                                Sky or Virgin Media in the U.K have no regional limitations when using a slingbox to stream content outside of the country. Any regional legal streaming restrictions from skygo or virgin tv anywhere can also be bypassed using a proxy server or U.K VPN, but as far as any slingbox in the U.K being sold, there is nothing built in by sling, to abide by U.K law, that would implement geographic limits.

                                  • Re: Partnership with SKY HD and or VIrgin Media/BT could drive growth
                                    RichJ Newbie

                                    100% correct. Using a Slingbox the reception of Broadcast occurs where the box is and one is not broadcasting or narrowcasting anything. It is a totally private connection. Streaming however by SKY or BBC is another form of broadcasting and the provision in the UK or for overseas is limited by the copyright uses that the Broadcasters have been granted for the material. Some films are not shown on streams in UK as not covered and most content is barred outside the UK as the Broadcasting rights are territorially limited. It is for this reason why SKY setups in Europe need a SKy Card registered in the UK to function even though the signal is perfectly usable across most of Europe and you need an Irish address registered card to receive Irish channels on SKY..