Tuesday, June 12, 2012
If you've been thinking about adding a streaming content service to your television viewing and don't really know much about it, here are some suggestions. If you're already familiar with streaming content and want some numbers to help you squeeze the most out of your current system, look at the bottom of the post for more information.
You'll need high-speed internet service, a router attached to your cable modem, an in-home network, and a streaming player (or a Smart TV with streaming built-in).
If you plan to stream standard definition (480i) or DVD-quality (480p) content, your minimum equipment requirements include:
1.5 MByte/s* internet service
802.11g wireless network, OR powerline network adapters OR direct-wired to the router.
Almost any streaming player (e.g. Roku, AppleTV, WD Live, XBOX, etc.)
For higher quality content (720p) or 1080p/24 (low bitrate), you'll want:
5 MByte/s internet service (as a minimum)
802.11n wireless network OR powerline network adapters rated 500 Mbit/s or 1000 Mbit/s or direct-wired.
A streaming player capable of the content you intend to stream - most boxes do high definition 720p but not all will handle 1080p.
The more popular streaming services on the internet are not very demanding of your network speed. You can probably, for example, even get by with an 802.11g wireless network for 720p video - but 802.11n is recommended. And, regardless of your local network speed, you'll always be subject to some slowdowns of your incoming internet depending upon local traffic and server loads at the content source.
Streaming your own content within your network can become very demanding. For high quality Blu-ray content (1080p/60 with 7.1 sound) you'll want to stick with a wired network, 1000 Mbit/s powerline adapters, or MoCA and you'll need a streaming player capable of 1080p.
When using wireless networking you'll want to be sure you have good signal strength (at least 60%) and be sure that both the router and the receiving device meet the minimum requirement. (Even if you have a 802.11n router, if your receiving equipment is 802.11g your throughput can be no better than 802.11g)
You can expect real life speeds of 6 Mbit/s with 802.11b, 35 Mbit/s with 802.11g, and 120-140 Mbit/s with 802.11n. Your experience may differ but expect these conservative numbers.
Different qualities of 1080p from the low end to the high end can require networks speeds varying from 40 Mbit/s to over 80 Mbit/s. (From 1080p24 with stereo sound to 1080p60 with 7.1 sound.) Also, bandwidth needs can vary depending upon the action of scenes.
Grande offers internet speeds of: 3 MByte/s(24 Mbit/s), 8 MByte/s(64 Mbit/s) and up to 110 MByte/s (880 Mbit/s)
Suddenlink: 1.5 MByte/s (12 Mbit/s) up to 20 MByte/s (160 Mbit/s)
CableOne: 1.5 MByte/s (12 Mbit/s) up to 50M (400 Mbit/s)
Content provider speeds:
(From Wikipedia) According to Netflix Tech Support, Netflix's content library is encoded into three bandwidth tiers, in a compression format based on the VC-1 video and Windows Media audio codecs. Of these, the lowest tier requires a continuous downstream bandwidth (to the client) of 1.5 Mbit/s, and offers stereo audio and video quality comparable to DVD. The middle tier requires 3 Mbit/s, and offers "better than DVD quality". The highest tier requires 5 Mbit/s, and offers 720p HD with surround sound audio. As of October 2011, several devices also have the ability to stream Netflix content at 1080p resolution, including the PlayStation 3 console and Roku 2 series set-top boxes which require 8 Mbit/s.
between 1 Mbit/s and 2 Mbit/s (480p )
*Note the difference between MByte/s (Mega-Bytes per second) and Mbit/s (Mega-bits per second)