Author Topic: Can a thin client build a local cache for wireless streaming of HD content?  (Read 974 times)

thordain

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I'm considering getting a two part setup: one main core and one diskless media director (most likely the Fiire station and Fiire engine). What I'd like to do is set up the core upstairs, in a closet, and have the media director downstairs, near the TV, connecting wirelessly to the core.

Now I realize that you can't really watch HD content reliably over a wireless network. That's perfectly fine. What I'd like to know is if the director can start building a local cache with a buffer large enough so that I can watch the HD content reliably. In other words, here is my user story:

I want to watch my 1 hour of Heroes on HDTV. I tell my fiire station that I want to watch Heroes. It starts downloading content over the wireless network from the fiire station upstairs. I go make myself a cup of coffe. Five minutes later, the fiire station has downloaded enough content to buffer the first 10 minutes of the show. I sit down and start watching. The fiire station has a couple of gigs of flash memory, so I can still rewind and skip commericals. I'm watching the show, and the buffer is building up as I watch it, so that my media experience is seamless.

Will this work?

I tried asking this question on fiire.com's chat support page, but the technician didn't seem to understand my question. He gives two contradicting answers. At first he says no and then he says yes. When I asked if I could escalate the question since it was a big decision for me, his answer was "I am a tech support engineer"  :-\

   Julien:    
Question
I would like to know if the fiire station can connect through a wireless network to the fiire engine. I would like to install the engine upstairs in a server closet, and then connect the station to my TV without having to run wires
   adrian:    
How May I help You?
   Julien:    
Hi
   adrian:    
hello
   Julien:    
Were you able to read my question?
   adrian:    
yes, you can but the main prob is that the wireless network is not good for streaming
   adrian:    
if you watch dvd's for example
   adrian:    
so, we recommend a wired network
   Julien:    
does the fiire engine have a local cache? So that it can start pre streaming a couple of hours of video?
   Julien:    
I'm thinking if the engine has a few gigs of flash memory I could tell it that I want to watch a tv show, and then it could stream that and cache it?
   adrian:    
it can record it if you want
   adrian:    
just schedule it
   adrian:    
from mythtv
   Julien:    
Right, I understand that it can schedule from mythtv. My question is, will the engine have to stream everything from the server in real time, or can the engine do any local caching so that it doesn't have to steam in real time?
   Julien:    
If it can do local caching, then it could look good over a wireless network as long as I give it a few minutes to start streaming and build up its cache
   Julien:    
does my question make sense?
   adrian:    
i only know that mythtv can do that scheduled recording
   Julien:    
Would it be possible to escalate the question to someone that knows? I'm considering the purchase but it's a big decision so I want to make sure it works
   adrian:    
i am a tech support engineer
   Julien:    
I see. So do you know if watching a scheduled recording on a fiire engine over wireless will work well?
   adrian:    
becausemany users who are using mythtv reported that works
   Julien:    
ok, thanks
   adrian:    
you're welcome
   adrian:    
anyway, we done that too at Fiire
« Last Edit: October 05, 2007, 06:46:22 pm by thordain »

colinjones

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I can't answer the question for you for certain, but I'm pretty sure that it won't do this - this would require 1) specific extra coding to either ask you how much you wanted to cache or some way of determining how much it needs to cache to ensure it gets to the end of the stream without a break - nothing I have read suggests that this code exists, I imagine there is a fixed small cache to deal with small variations in the stream rate, but fundamentally the average stream rate must still be much less than the average data-link layer's bit rate capability .. you are talking about a different type of caching ... it could be added but I don't think it would be a scalable solution because the cache size would not be fixed but depend on variable factors like size/duration of the file and link speed ... thus some files would work and others would not, which is undesireable in a consumer device; and 2) would require large amounts of flash/RAM memory in the Fiire device which costs money and is unnecessary for the vast majority of applications .... economics take over, they want to keep the costs down, and this feature is not something that would have wide application.

The engineer is not answering the question you asked - he has misunderstood your question and is talking about scheduled recordings of TV programs which has nothing to do with what you are asking.

totallymaxed

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I'm considering getting a two part setup: one main core and one diskless media director (most likely the Fiire station and Fiire engine). What I'd like to do is set up the core upstairs, in a closet, and have the media director downstairs, near the TV, connecting wirelessly to the core.

Now I realize that you can't really watch HD content reliably over a wireless network. That's perfectly fine. What I'd like to know is if the director can start building a local cache with a buffer large enough so that I can watch the HD content reliably. In other words, here is my user story:

I want to watch my 1 hour of Heroes on HDTV. I tell my fiire station that I want to watch Heroes. It starts downloading content over the wireless network from the fiire station upstairs. I go make myself a cup of coffe. Five minutes later, the fiire station has downloaded enough content to buffer the first 10 minutes of the show. I sit down and start watching. The fiire station has a couple of gigs of flash memory, so I can still rewind and skip commericals. I'm watching the show, and the buffer is building up as I watch it, so that my media experience is seamless.

Will this work?

I tried asking this question on fiire.com's chat support page, but the technician didn't seem to understand my question. He gives two contradicting answers. At first he says no and then he says yes. When I asked if I could escalate the question since it was a big decision for me, his answer was "I am a tech support engineer"  :-\

   Julien:    
Question
I would like to know if the fiire station can connect through a wireless network to the fiire engine. I would like to install the engine upstairs in a server closet, and then connect the station to my TV without having to run wires
   adrian:    
How May I help You?
   Julien:    
Hi
   adrian:    
hello
   Julien:    
Were you able to read my question?
   adrian:    
yes, you can but the main prob is that the wireless network is not good for streaming
   adrian:    
if you watch dvd's for example
   adrian:    
so, we recommend a wired network
   Julien:    
does the fiire engine have a local cache? So that it can start pre streaming a couple of hours of video?
   Julien:    
I'm thinking if the engine has a few gigs of flash memory I could tell it that I want to watch a tv show, and then it could stream that and cache it?
   adrian:    
it can record it if you want
   adrian:    
just schedule it
   adrian:    
from mythtv
   Julien:    
Right, I understand that it can schedule from mythtv. My question is, will the engine have to stream everything from the server in real time, or can the engine do any local caching so that it doesn't have to steam in real time?
   Julien:    
If it can do local caching, then it could look good over a wireless network as long as I give it a few minutes to start streaming and build up its cache
   Julien:    
does my question make sense?
   adrian:    
i only know that mythtv can do that scheduled recording
   Julien:    
Would it be possible to escalate the question to someone that knows? I'm considering the purchase but it's a big decision so I want to make sure it works
   adrian:    
i am a tech support engineer
   Julien:    
I see. So do you know if watching a scheduled recording on a fiire engine over wireless will work well?
   adrian:    
becausemany users who are using mythtv reported that works
   Julien:    
ok, thanks
   adrian:    
you're welcome
   adrian:    
anyway, we done that too at Fiire


The simple answer is - the current lmce-0704 will not do what you are describing as that functionality was not part of the design. But a simple CAT5 network between your two machines will give you the bandwidth to watch live/recorded TV on your lounge MD. So I would suggest you look at that simple 'work around' as it does not rely on any new features being added to lmce-0704 but just a relatively small change in your physical installation :-)
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thordain

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Thanks for the replies!

thordain

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I've done some more research into this issue, and I found newbielink:http://www.tversity.com [nonactive]

This does exactly what I'm asking.. it streams HD content over wireless. I can set this up with my PC and my xbox360. Can linuxMCE have this functionality as well?