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Check Out 360's 1080p Smooth Streaming Tech Now

Digital Foundry writes:

"The idea here is that 'Smooth Streaming' allows for an instant start to watching your video with no perceivable buffering, with the picture quality dynamically changing according to the bandwidth conditions. Should you have access to a sustained five megabits of bandwidth between you and the server, Microsoft promises a full 1080p video stream with 5.1 surround sound. If those conditions change for the worse, the stream dynamically switches to a lower quality, lower bandwidth version without skipping a beat.

Initial reports from the E3 conference suggested that this technology would be a US only affair for users of the NetFlix video streaming service, but PR blurb from Microsoft this morning suggests that Smooth Streaming is set to be rolled out on the new, improved Zune video service that sees the Xbox Live video marketplace expand from coverage in eight territories to eighteen.

So, just how good is it? Will it stand up to real life internet conditions? Is it all just PR hype or has Microsoft actually delivered something here?"

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GiantEnemyCrab3076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

"Initial reports from the E3 conference suggested that this technology would be a US only affair for users of the NetFlix video streaming service,"

Wrong. MS was very clear that they will be rolling this across all Video Marketplace content and I don't recall MS even mentioning Netflix since MS has nothing to do with the Netflix service beyond providing a portal. They could very well do this for Netflix but MS was speaking about it's video marketplace.

Love the improvements and keep them coming MS.

Ausbo3076d ago

that is some nice tech, hope it works good.

Marcelles253076d ago

i still think this is far off for most users i have a 12mbs streaming it only gives me an average of three

doesnt beat tangible media like bluray GREAT for rentals though not for buying

CWMR3076d ago

-For me both technologies can exist side by side. I have my ps3 for Blu-ray and my 360 for Netflix and the new 1080p movie streaming. Depending on a lot of factors one or the other will be preferred in a given situation. Really nice technology though.-

Christopher3076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

You're not going to get the speed needed with a wireless connection on the 360 for this, IMHO. Definitely will need an ethernet connection with it at least running through an n wireless router.

Also, the _only_ thing true about this 1080 video is the resolution. It's a very compressed version of what comes on BDs. The thing is that most people won't really be able to tell the difference unless they have 40+" screens and even then most people won't care enough to go one way or another other than whether or not they want a physical medium or a digital medium.

Anon19743076d ago

Like Netflix, we'll probably never see it on our 360's up north, just like our XBL Videostore is severely gutted compared to our neighbors to the south. It's too bad. A high def on-demand service is something I'd pay for. My cable company has a couple of pay-per-view channels in hi-def but nothing current is ever on them, and their video on demand is just a joke. Sony's video service hasn't come to Canada yet at all.

I guess I'll just keep getting my hi-def fix from Blu-Ray for the time being.

Immortal Kaim3076d ago

Hey atleast you have had some type of video service up until now...plus isn't Canada part of the roll-out?

Too bad this tech will be all but pointless in places like Australia where the speeds and download limits are archaic...though that isn't MS's fault, but our main ISP (Telstra) who has dictated these things for too long now.

FarEastOrient3076d ago

So when are we going to deal with the big elephant in the room? Bandwidth speeds and data caps, I'm looking at you Time Warner and Comcast!

read disc error3076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

The reason there is no Netflix streaming outside of the USA is because Netflix is an American company that only has offices and licenses in the USA. The rental laws in America are pretty liberal and I'm not sure something like Netflix (unlimited rentals, one set fee) would even be legal in a lot of European countries or even Canada.

phosphor1123076d ago

Don't believe me when I say my internet sucks?

http://www.speedtest.net/re...

Proof that until US stops being stingy with broadband, people like me wont be able to benefit from this stuff.

Syronicus3076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

Only if you can sustain a decent connection tot he server. Int hat case, good luck to those of us in the US. I have a 20 meg service and get 4 bars on netflix (when I used it through Live) but most if not all of my buddies have a 6 meg or less service that would never let them get these results.

I use PlayOn now and instead of having to pay for Live to use the Netflix service I already pay a monthly fee for, I can see all of my instant watch movies for no extra monthly fee on my Xbox. For those with only a PS3 or Xbox and that do not want to pay for Live should definitely check out PlayOn. It is the best service for this Netflix streaming.

On a side note, true 1080p with 5.1 is just not achievable at 6 to 8 mbps considering that BD provides 1080p at 24 to 36 mbps. If you want true HD, you need BD, not digital downloads. If you want budget HD, then DDL is the way to go.

edhe3076d ago

So.. yeah, you do realise that wireless networking is usually a 54 mbps connection that may average 20-30 mbps and that dsl/cable average is about 2-8 mbps?

You're wrong! :)

Random4043076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

Wireless G is overkill for streaming a 5 megabit connection. It just depends on the distance between your router and 360. Your 360 would have to be pretty far away from your router to not have a 5 megabit connection. I'm just letting you know what all the disagrees are for.

For those complaining about their bandwidth just wait 10 minutes for the movie to buffer to get the best quality.

Christopher3076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

No, I'm not. What's wrong is what Microsoft is proposing. There's no way they'll be providing "true" or even close to true 1080p video service of 1080 resolution movies. No way at all.

The standard 300kb/s cable service can download 25 GB in one day. The best compression out there without too much loss of quality has a 7.5-10 GB file size for 1080 resolution movies. That means for the standard user, it would take more than 7 hours to download one 1080 resolution movie with the best compression out there.

This doesn't take into account any weaknesses when utilizing wireless connections (delays, shared patterns throughout a house, weakness due to distance or travelling through certain materials, etc.).

So, unless Microsoft has found a miraculous new way to store a near-flawless 1080 compressed video up on the Web that is less than 0.01 GB (10.24 MB) per minute of the movie (meaning less than 1 GB for a 90 minute movie), there's no way this will work for the standard user.

I have a 20 MB/s (actual 14.2 MB/s) download connection at home with a N Broadband router that is in 20 feet of my 360 and PS3 w/o any obstructions. I can watch 720p movies almost immediately and without any delays but cannot do the same with 1080p movies. And, those movies that I do watch are seriously lacking in the quality that I have with my Blu-ray movies.

Now, if you're happy watching an extremely compressed video, good for you. But, honestly, I don't think most people will want to watch anything at a level of compression that would be required for immediate streaming and playing unless they had a very strong connection and an very above average connection rate.

Also, just to get it out for once. At E3 they said no waiting, no downloading. Dear Microsoft, as leaders in the IT industry, please don't try and say that streaming doesn't require downloading data. Freaking marketing morons.

All-33076d ago

--> The thing is that most people won't really be able to tell the difference unless they have 40+" screens and even then most people won't care enough to go one way or another other than whether or not they want a physical medium or a digital medium.

Ehhh?

--> Also, just to get it out for once. At E3 they said no waiting, no downloading. Dear Microsoft, as leaders in the IT industry, please don't try and say that streaming doesn't require downloading data. Freaking marketing morons.

I believe they mean you do not have to download and store the entire movie, like you do with PSN and Xbox marketplace games, as examples.

Streaming, as you know is different from downloading first and then watching.

http://www.iis.net/media/ex...

KRUSSIDULL3076d ago

Time to upgrade to 300Mb/s.

Consoldtobots3076d ago

while I'm all for Microsoft showing us what they are made of and finally putting up stiffer competition in what they offer the end user, I have HUGE reservations about ANYBODY offering a 1080p stream over the internet. The PS3 streams 1080p video at 27mbits per second, already over 5 times the bandwidth MS is saying it will need to achieve this. Did they come up with a new compression algorythm they are telling no-one about? Somehow I doubt it, but hey you never know.

Christopher3076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

Actually, you do have to download and store the whole movie with streaming. The only difference is that once you end the streaming the 'temporary file' can be set to be automatically deleted. Most times it isn't deleted right away-likely within one or two weeks-since the purpose of downloading the whole file is to mark where you were when you were last watching the video.

The _only_ true difference, technologically, between downloading and streaming a movie is that you can watch a stream of the movie in real-time while it's being downloaded. Otherwise, they are the exact same thing.

Edit: Little side note, when I was watching it off of G4 with my wife, even she had this dumbfounded look on her face and said "did they just say that you don't have to download something in order to watch a movie, but then immediately contradicted themselves by saying it would be available by streaming?" It was a definitely LOL moment for me since she's an accountant and knows very little about technology.

And, yeah, that first part you quoted might be a bit confusing. But, I was saying that most people are happy with the current 1080 downloads since most people don't pay enough attention to the detail of a movie to see the difference between a 1080 compressed video and a true 1080p movie on Blu-ray. But, regardless of that, you're still going to have the people who will always want physical mediums (discs) compared to digital mediums (files on a HDD).

Edit: Just to clarify, 300 Kb/s is kilobits, not kilobytes. Same with 20 Mb/s, megabits not megabytes. I inappropriately used MB above, which means megabytes, when I should have used Mb.

Tito Jackson3076d ago

F*CK THIS SMOOTH MUSIC STEVE!
I AINT THAT LITTLE BOY ANYMORE.
HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO STICK, MY D*CK, INTO SOME P*SSY---WHEN YOU GOT ME SINGING LIKE ONE, AINT THAT RIGHT, EDDIE!

*back on topic*--> Im glad it "works", but I've been streamin blu-ray/HD rips thru my 360 for a while now. But im glad that MS is adding more features to their products.

shadow27973076d ago

You people are way too skeptical, isn't it possible that they are using a compression algorithm similar to OnLive? It also states in the summary that it will switch to a lower quality version if your connection can't handle it.

Odds are, they've found a way to to compress the streams heavily without a large loss in quality. Microsoft isn't going to release something that isn't going to work for most people (And don't bring up RROD, this is software).

edgeofblade3075d ago

Microsoft, turning up the heat on Blu-ray. I like to see a little competition after HDDVD went bums to the clouds.

Don't get me wrong... I can't wait for my Battlestar Galactica Blu-ray set.

mac_sparrow3075d ago

a 5megabit connection, gonna be some heavy colour subsampling going on for one then. nice idea, years off being good

cjflora3075d ago

I just can't get behind this streaming stuff. I paid alot of money for my tv, so when I watch things I like it to be great quality all of the time. I tried even streaming from my PC to my PS3, but I'd just rather watch whatever it is in HD. I'm spoiled now. I used to download Weeds and Dexter, but I don't like the lower quality, so I now pay for Showtime so I can watch it in higher quality.

LazyDevs3075d ago

I will wait and hold my breath on this one until they actually do it. Also at transferring that type of video stream people that have Cat 5 cable will tend to loose connections and such. Good thing i ran Cat 6 all through the house.

edhe3075d ago

All you folk keep assuming that 1080p means 1080p raw like hd dvd, blu-ray.

It's.. not.

Just like dvd, mpeg or w/e has been before it this standard will be delivering that resolution via compression. The article explains it - so far 1080p decode has been clumsy, now VC-1 is doing it dynamically.

So to all the people saying that 1080p must be above a certain bandwidth well do please shut up as it doesn't. And you can be sure that the codec will deliver as rich a picture as possible, even over just a few mbps.

Why knock such a promising concept ?

IdleLeeSiuLung3075d ago

If history has shown us anything, it isn't always the most technologically advanced format that wins, but rather the most convenient. Case in point VHS vs. Betamax and Vinyl vs. Cassette.

That is probably why DLC is almost certain to replace physical disc once storage and bandwidth limitations have been overcome.

+ Show (23) more repliesLast reply 3075d ago
Stryfeno23076d ago

Cant wait...I need to upgrade my Zune 30gb to the ZuneHD. Its going to be a beautiful Xmas.

user39158003076d ago

Oh wait there is hardly any online, but they are the king of Pausing while on line lol....

OHHHHHH, but I wanted to do that too...... Sorry, but your hardware its not able to handle it, you see what we have its an exquisite obsolete hardware lol........

Sorry droids dream on, and ask for forgiveness for you have sin. I will write this christmas to the north Pole ans ask santa claus for a pink dildo for all PS3 owners..........

Kill Crow3076d ago

I haven't rented or bought a DVD in ages ... and now I won't have to do the same for Blue rays either...

JL3076d ago

I think this is all PR hype. I'll believe it when I see it. I just don't see them actually streaming 1080p. Especially since a majority of their customer base is in the US. In the US the average internet speed is like 4mbps, which is still lower than the overly compressed 5mbps they're shooting for. So most people won't even be able to use this in MS's biggest territory. Not to mention, 5mbps? Sure it might technically be 1080p, but at the kind of compression it might as well be no more than 720p. That compression will greatly diminish the quality. So like I said: PR hype, cause it's only "technically" 1080p, and that's only if you happen to be the select American customers with above-average connection speed.

Hutch23553076d ago

Although its not very often that I can download very fast. Netflix usualy gives me HD signal when I instant an hd movie so it will be interesting to see how it works.

really duh3076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

Well if anybody can do it its Microsoft. I heard PS3 fans say the same thing about Natal after the press conference presentation and even after it was being played by people on the floor.

Nice PSN ID

Sean Ryno3076d ago

I have to admit that I hold the same pessimism as you. I love the 360 and especially xbox live but I find "true 1080p streaming live" hard to believe. Still looking forward to attempts to progress though.

tplarkin73076d ago

I have Comcast and I get 22 Mbps. I just played the video, and it worked as promised. It scaled on the fly and looks great, although under 1080p. Bandwidth is not the issue for me. This may be due to my computer's specs. It's a 3Ghz Pentium with 1GB RAM and an ATI x700 graphics card.

Regardless, it is instant and it works.

JL3076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

@really duh
Yes, I have a PS3 and only a PS3. What does that have to do with anything? I think that just points out who is the real fanboy here. All I'm giving is facts. Average American connection speed: 4mpbs. MS biggest territory: US. Bitrate for TRUE hi-def 1080p video: upwards of 40mbps--thus 5mpbs is some serious compression. And it won't even stay at that, it drops below those gimped specs half the time.

@tplarkin
I do have comcast. I get 7mbps. Your 22mbps would only be attainable through comcast if you're paying for their higher tiered service (which I can almost guarantee most don't). By the way, stuff like your processor has nothing to do with internet speed.

The point here people is this: I don't doubt they can do this gimped version of hi-def. I just did it. However if you notice. It's running at a much lower bitrate (for me it's running more at an average of 3-3.5 with significant drops in several places), and on top of that the framerate isn't stable and consistently drops below 24fps (even as far as 10fps for a bit at one point). The point being, this isn't TRUE hi-def 1080p video. No more so than the PSN VideoStore or Comcast cable is. And there is where I disagree and say it's nothing more than PR Hype. MS making it sound like you'll get true 1080p hi-def video, when you're not. Sure it looks good, and better than standard def, but still not going to touch the quality of actually downloading a true HD movie or watching a Blu-ray or even HD-DVD disc.

JL3076d ago

Last comment. Here, will this make it easier for you whining fanboys to digest and make it easier on you, not hurting your feelings so much?....The fault here isn't with Microsoft. No, not at all. There's nothing they can do about it. It's just a bottleneck that comes from the American connection speed. So if anyone prevents true hd 1080p streaming (at correct bitrates, with no compression, etc) it's the ISPs. MS could be the greatest software developers in the world, but they just can't accomplish this because our ISPs in the states here suck and we can't get near the amount of speed needed for something like this (like they can get in lots of other parts of the world, like Japan with their 60mbps average).

So there, don't worry, you can still sleep easy at night children, knowing it's not MS's fault. There's something that won't allow this to be done at all and that's the ISP. We just can't get that 50-60mbps here in the states needed to support something like true 1080p hd streaming, thus we're left with a version that's gimped in one way or another like this right here. Whether it be compression like here or the buffering on PSN videostore or the actual 720p and compression like on most Comcast stuff. It's the ISP that is to be blamed here.

lovecipher73076d ago

did you not do the demo it was streaming in 1080p. you need to check the demo out befor emaking a comment like that.

FarEastOrient3076d ago

Both my PS3 and Xbox 360 is stuck out here in Iraq with me and we can only get 1 MB per sec at best. Even though I can get the internet out here just imagine the others in the same boat as me that are stuck with lower bandwidth speeds.

popup3076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

They are all to busy foaming at the mouth at a new 20 Mega-Pixel interpolated digital cameras with maximum compression JPEG storage. "It looks better than raw it does!" ;)

Look at this 1920x1080 picture I got. It's 1080!

This demo is very good though (although the subject matter is rather convienient and the flaws are kind of obvious during complicated scenes), great for a streaming service for those who just want to watch the film.

inveni03076d ago

They won't be streaming 1080p...it says it right there. If your bandwidth fluctuates even a little--anywhere in the line between your computer and their servers--the quality will be reduced. What they mean is that the technology allows for 1080p theoretically...not practically.

poopface13076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

http://www.speedtest.net/re...
mine is capable of doing this I guess. Jeez, at all the people with their panties in a bunch. Not everyone has good enough internet speeds, and it may not be 100% bluray or HD DVD quality, but it is a pretty huge improvement to whats currently out there.

I was impressed with the way netflix streams SD movies, so this to me is pretty neat. I may not use it, but its still a great feature. Looks like people are upset because microsoft actually pulled this off. Im sure the fanboys will try and downplay this, but it is a great feature, and Im glad that it might actually work.

Kleptic3075d ago

this is all fine and great...but some of you people that think 1080p is all that matters in video quality need to research it a bit more...

If MS is saying you can get a 1080p resolution video content with a sustained transfer rate of 5mbps...that is NOT anything close to the quality that Blu Ray gives...not saying everyone thinks that, but a few guys are poking around saying its like streaming in a blu ray movie...not even close...BD is in the 30s iirc for most 24fps film content...the resolution may be the same, but color saturation and accuracy will be light years apart...its the same with the PSN too...you can download a movie in full HD, but its no where near as good as a real blu ray...

thats all...not trying to bring up the 'which is better' debate...but this confuses me anyway...so its just a dynamic video service like online television websites?...so you don't have to wait a minute or two before starting it?...thats cool if thats what it is, or is this something completely different?...

trancefreak3075d ago

when is this available to xbox users this fall??

+ Show (11) more repliesLast reply 3075d ago
StanLee3076d ago

This spit actually works!!! God dammit Microsoft may be on to something here! These lucky mucks!

really duh3076d ago

You know the answer to that.

StanLee3076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

I mean seriously though, buffering the movie while the ads and intros roll is genius. It's like loading a game during the cut scenes. Brilliant. I mean, Netflix buffers before the movie plays and goes back to the buffer screen when your internet speed changes which is a pain in the balls.

JasonPC360PS3Wii3076d ago

Cable TV and SAT services are going to be pissed about what MS is doing here. This may take large bites out of their wallets, and take alot of the userbase.

trancefreak3075d ago

@ Jason ya but who cares cable tv is so damn expensive. :)

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 3075d ago
TiKiMaN13076d ago

Wow I just streamed the video that wa linked in that article. It works fantastic.

really duh3076d ago (Edited 3076d ago )

http://www.iis.net/media/ex...

Pretty bad ass, ok really bad ass.

I'm going to get the Zune HD

Erotic Sheep3076d ago

You're getting a Zune? My condolances :P