I have 2 SlingBoxes – one in Europe and one in Dubai, which lets me watch news and other “local” stuff wherever I am – as long as I got a reasonable internet connection. I have ORB and Media Center as well, but for watching live TV, SlingBox can’t be beaten. Of course there are some issues, but they are small.
But I started wondering why I like the Live TV on my SlingBox. And one of the things that clearly set SlingBox apart from competition – is that a channel change happens very quickly.
If you try to change channels in ORB, it takes quite a long time before you have a reaction – but on a SlingBox it is close to instant. And as most men.. I’m a zapper – moving from Channel to Channel. So I don’t really like waiting 10 seconds for the stream change to reach me, which is what happens in ORB.
So I was thinking a bit about how SlingBox makes it so instant. And their solution is very smart.
When you start watching a channel – SlingPlayer actually builds up a buffer of 7 seconds video (default), and until the buffer is full, the SlingPlayer actually slow down the program you are watching. Not so much that you notice it – but enough for the buffer to fill up to full 7 seconds. When it reaches 7 Seconds – play speed is set to 100%. Until buffer is full – it floats between 90-93% of normal speed.
Then when you change a channel – the buffer is instantly cleared – and the SlingBox sends you the new stream, first in quite bad quality – and then as the buffer fills towards 7 seconds – the quality slowly increases – and when you reach 100% buffer – your video quality is back at “best possible”
This gives you the almost instant channel changes on SlingBox. Just try it at home if you are using a cable box. Try to change channels on the remote for the box. The channel change will take 7 seconds to show. But if you use SlingPlayer to do the channel change – it takes less than 1 sec.
This is very smart – and makes the Zapping Experience a lot more smooth – and user friendly.
So in my book – this is the reason I use SlingPlayer and not ORB for live TV.
Now we just wait for SlingPlayer 2.0, Sling Catcher and a SlingPlayer mobile client that supports my Nokia E90.