Wednesday, February 04, 2009

OrbLive




Sample video recorded with a hauppauge pvr-250 in mpeg2 format transcoded on the fly and streamed in real time to an iPhone using OrbLive. Quality setting is set to maximum over wifi:


Sample video recorded with a hauppauge pvr-250 in mpeg2 format transcoded on the fly and streamed in real time to an iPhone using OrbLive. Quality setting is set to medium over 3G:


- I picked up OrbLive for $10.
- there is a free lite version available but it only lets you try 3 random pieces of media from each folder.
http://www.orb.com/
http://revision3.com/systm/mediastreaming/
- I've been testing it quite a bit for the last couple of days. I installed orb about a year and a half ago and tried it with my wife's att 8525 which worked ok. Since then I've built a new quad core server so I decided to reinstall it and give the dedicated iphone app orblive a try. It's like simplify media but on steroids because it streams video (with transcoding if needed), livetv (with compatible tuner), photos, live camera, and other Internet content too. You can stream all of it over 3G too.

Orb service revisited
- First, not a whole lot seems to have changed on the pc side of things in the past year and a half. For streaming to consoles or other PC's orb is still pretty bad with pretty awful video quality with interlace artifacts. It's fine for music I guess. I still find the web portal pretty unwieldy and slow.
- The orb service that is installed can still eat up quite a bit of resources especially if you add a lot of media folders with thousands of files. HDD activity is pretty brutal not in just generating the database file but also the logs it keeps which can grow quite large. On my q6600 oc to 2.9ghz cpu would spike sometimes to 25% during initial transcoding/buffering. Memory usage is around 70 MB for me though this can grow much larger if you have a lot of files.
- Don't rapidly add/remove media directories or you can end up corrupting your orbmedia.db file. I did this and ended up uninstalling, running orbcleanuptool, and reinstalling. Then I added one media folder at a time and let it database it all before adding another one. I'd watch the orbmedia.db file until it stopped growing. It seems to be working much better now. You can check by looking in C:\ProgramData\OrbNetworks\OrbMediaV2\OrbMedia.db (at least in vista). When the file stops grown and no more OrbMedia.db-journal are created, it should be done updating the database.
- Once all your media is properly databased, stop the orb service, and backup the database file. The media database file can easily get corrupted and this will save you the trouble of having to completely uninstall orb and reinstall it. You should do this anytime a significant amount of media has changed.
- If you've added network paths MAKE SURE you stop orb before you shut down or reboot any of those remote machines. If the network path just disappears while the orb service is still running you will very likely corrupt your orb media database. If that does happen then just stop orb, delete the database file, and copy over your last back so at least you don't have to start from scratch, and restart the orb service. Orb service will update the media database on its own during pc inactivity.
- It says it will support any formats that you have codecs installed that will allow it to play in windows media player. I didn't find this entirely true since I can play MKV's just fine in wmp yet they don't show up in orb. UPDATE: looks like you can add additional file extensions that it scans for.

Orb on the iPhone
- Quality is highly dependent on your isp upstream bandwidth. I only get around 500kbps up on my dsl. If you are using that upstream bandwidth for other applications, you better hope you have a good QoS router like dd-wrt.
- Streaming audio works quite well. It's nice having your entire music library available. Sound quality isn't bad. Buffering happens at a minimum. There are short pauses (say < style="font-weight: bold;">Satellite Radio and Orb
- There are add ons to stream xm or sirius:
http://www.millardsoftware.com/uxm
- I more or less followed these instructions.
- A few tips: make sure you click the delete cache button after you first install. Also, I highly recommend you reboot the pc after install.
- Make sure you pick the high bandwidth url (64kbps) vs the low (32kbps).

Recommended. Having the massive amounts of media off your home pc hard drives available on your iPhone almost anywhere is all kinds of awesome. Just make sure you have a pretty beefy machine that you don't mind leaving on all the time. Overall it does quite a lot for $10 and you can get quite a bit of functionality for free with just installing orb on your pc and using the safari browser on the iphone (or really any mobile phone browser). For me the $10 was worth the added convenience and video transcoding abilities. If they just polish it up a bit, add the ability to sort songs in track order, and resume, then they would truly have an iPhone killer app on their hands.

UPDATE: 5/5/09
- If all you want to do is stream your music collection I highly recommend you also check out Simplify.

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