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What are the limitations of using Wi-Fi to stream video?

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Export Strength, May 7, 2005.

  1. Export Strength

    Export Strength
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    OK all you computer boffs I need some help.

    Clearly Wi-Fi is capable of streaming video. What I need to know are the limitations.

    For clarity I am referring to video accessed from DVD or TV in it's original state, i.e without any additional compression. Assume this will be sent to a large screen (read LCD or Plasma screen 37 inchs or bigger) so quality is of vital importance.

    Q1. What is the best video format that wi-fi can handle smoothly? 576i, 576p, 720p? ect...

    Q2. Is it possible to stream live video. For example if I connected a sky box to a wi-fi unit of some kind, could this be streamed to another in real time? i.e without the need for buffering.

    Q3. Assuming the above can be done. What hardware is required.

    Q4. Basically what quality of video can be sourced in one room and effectively streamed 'real time' to another room without any loss in quality?

    Thanks for any assistance in advance.

    Export.
     
  2. Gregory

    Gregory
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    Depends on how good your wi-fi connection is (i.e. what the realbandwidth is, not the theoretical maximum which is new achievable in real life). However, for many people the answer is going to be 'not good enough' quality. I haven't tried it personally since friends have had a poor time trying and I've seen the impact it has on web browsing etc. when I use wi-fi. Any chance of using good old fashioned wired connections? They can easily take video at pretty high resolutions.

    Cheers

    Greg
     
  3. Endeavour

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    I have recently been experimenting with playing DVD images stored on my main PC on my daughter's PC upstairs over a 54Mbps link. That appears to work OK. I only got a couple of dropped frames (no worse than watching freeview). However, I haven't tried this yet when other things have been going on, like music streaming from other PC's or internet downloads.

    Not sure of the best way to test higher definitions. I suppose I could put some wmv hd's on the share and see what happens.
     
  4. Skunkpipe

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    12Mb/s is the max bitrate for DVD.
    Assuming you have enough constant bandwidth to carry that you will be fine.
    I stream DVD over 54g with no issue (signal strength 'good' @ ~36Mb/s)
     
  5. MikeFish

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    I stream uncompressed DVDs with DTS over my wifi with no problems at all.
    I have Belkin pre-n apccess point and pcmcia card (108Mbps) with "very good" to "excellent" signal strength, but never achieve more than 18% usage copying files!?!
    Streaming DVD (even Superbit with DTS) never goes above 10%.
     
  6. Gregory

    Gregory
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    Hmm. Clearly the world has moved on and my note earlier in the thread should be disregarded. I must play with it :cool:

    Cheers

    Greg
     
  7. MikeFish

    MikeFish
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    Greg
    What you said is correct. It is all to do with the 'real bandwidth' not the 'theoretical bandwidth' eg you only need about 10Mbps for DVD but you'd have no chance using an 802.11b system (theoretical bandwidth 11Mbps). I did try this, but I could never get it to go any faster than 5Mbps. As stated earlier, my 108Mbps system never goes above 18% (don't know why it's so low), but it's enough for streaming video.
     
  8. Gregory

    Gregory
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    The friends tests I described earlier were with 802.11g. However, it would appear that the actual bandwidth can be far lower than the 54Mbps theoretical, and not, in fact, enough for the video. I haven't tried video at home, but know that the wi-fi g set-up I have struggles to make it robustly to a high speed at any range (to be fair I have thickish walls and a fair distance from, for example, the kitchen to the router in the study). The bandwidth might be just high enough (not sure, haven't checked), but the drop-outs and reconnects would be a pain for video. I get much better performance if I'm closer (like in the study).

    One element I know that can make a big difference, and is not right for me, is that if the various bits come from the same supplier then they can work better together. However, I only use wi-fi between my work laptop and the router, and for that it's fine. Video would just be a theoretical test since I have wired network to the lounge etc.

    I guess it sounds like the technology can work, and if it works then there is no reason for it not to go on working, so people can have solutions that work just great for them. If they have the kit and the inclination then it is well worth playing. However, they might have some challenges depending on situation, so garaunteeing that it can be made to work (with 'g') is possibly a step to far. Maybe 108Mbps is the step that changes this. I must admit that the discussion makes me very tempted to go and try & see how robust it can be made to be, even if I don't actually need or want it!

    Cheers

    Greg
     
  9. MikeFish

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    I haven't tried 802.11g yet. I have a Pre-n router (108Mbps) and first used this with the 'b' adapter built into my laptop. With this set-up I achieved 5Mbps (not enough for video). I then bought a Pre-n pcmcia card for the laptop (not that I would really ever stream video to the laptop, I have a wired network too. I just wanted, like you, to see if it was possible). With this 108Mbps network I get about 20Mbps. My signal strength is very good to excellent. I have thick brick walls but router is centrally placed. I have a microwave, baby alarm & wireless telephones but Pre-n having 11 available channels should not have a problem with this.
    So with 'g' cards it might be a bit hit n miss. If you get 50% usage it should be ok. If you only get 20% it will be stuttering with dropped frames.
     
  10. Export Strength

    Export Strength
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    Thanks for all the info.

    It seems that with the correct hardware DVD quality can be maintained.

    One of my other questions focused on the ability to stream live TV sourced via a set-top-box; such as Sky, to another room. Assuming this can also be done, would the wi-fi connection allow for some form of remote control over the sky box?

    Thanks again.
     

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