I like new toys, new things to play with and enjoy – especially when they’re shiny. And they don’t come much shinier than 720p 3mb+ video streaming over the internet.
OK so it isn’t as good as the 16mb+ and 384k audio you get with BBC HD over satellite – but it is still impressive for the web.
Unfortunately I live in Jersey where the maximum broadband speed is still 2mb – I pay for business broadband at home so I get no caps, 512kb up (instead of 256kb) and a 20:1 contention ratio – but that doesn’t help me with BBC iPlayer HD streaming.
To effectively stream the HD content from the iPlayer I would need a connection that regularly ran in at 3.5mb/s – not the 1.7mb/s I currently get.
It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the HD content though, I can still download it all through the iPlayer Desktop Adobe Air app and it looks seriously impressive.
Here are a couple of screen shots for you to enjoy and then underneath it one with a disolve. The first is Tonight’s The Night (what can I say – I like John Barrowman and dodgy TV talent shows) with John Barrowman in SD – this is from the download so will be the highest resolution SD version (came in at 660mb).
[ COMING SOON ]
And now for the HD version (came in at 1.2gb) of the same show – also from the download version.
As you can see there is a very clear difference between the two versions. Now the streaming versions – first you’ll see the low end 512kbs version, then the high 1500kbs version and then the high def 3500kbs version.
The mid range video stream, just below high def is encoded at 1500kbps and is sized 832×468 – High Def on other video websites.
On top of that the standard video quality has been pushed up as well – now coming in at 800kbps – all encoded in H.264.
However, for those of us on much lower speed connections the new adaptive bitrate technology will automatically reduce the quality of the stream to whatever you can cope with.
Anthony Rose said on the BBC Internet Blog they are: “Using H.264 and an encoding bitrate of 3Mbps or greater (we actually settled on 3.2Mbps as our preferred HD bitrate). However, since many people won’t have an internet connection that can stream 3.2Mbps reliably, we wanted to make HD available for download as well.
“Trouble is, a year ago our download manager was Windows-only, and we were determined to only release HD when we had a solution that allowed our Mac and Linux users to download them as well. ”
The HD version of iPlayer has been a year in the making, mainly because they wanted to wait until they could offer it to Mac and Linux users and wouldn’t require a flash upgrade from most users.
Anthony Rose explained thaT: “The good news is that as of today the various pieces are in place for going live with HD: Our new cross-platform download manager allows Windows, Mac and Linux users to download HD, everyone has a version of Flash that can stream HD, and our HD channel now has more content available.”
But there is another major development associated with this release of the iPlayer and that is that it is the release marking the end of the iPlayer P2P relationship – it’s going all AIR.
There is also a new diagnostics page that basically runs a stream and download speed test on your connection then lets you know which of the iPlayer streams/services you’ll be able to comfortably run – remembering download will work regardless – it will just take longer on a slow connection.
Anthony Rose said: “Our new diagnostics page – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/diagnostics – looks at first glance similar to others you may have seen at speedtest.net and elsewhere, but it’s significantly more sophisticated than other speed test sites we’ve seen.”
This is because it needs to test streaming, whereas most speed tests look at download speeds – a big difference between the two.
Anthony Rose said: “our diagnostics page performs a total of four tests: The first tests the download speed from our BBC web site servers, the next three tests measure the Flash RTMP streaming speed from each of three major content distribution networks (Akamai, Level3, Limelight), giving us excellent visibility into overall network throughput and allowing us to shape future design decisions accordingly.”
Related articles by Zemanta
- F1 on BBC: Return of the Chain and more (upyourego.com)
- The weekend’s TV (guardian.co.uk)
- BBC HD: All new website and idents (bbc.co.uk)
- Interesting Stuff 2009-01-12 (bbc.co.uk)
- BBC iPlayer Finally Goes HD – ITProPortal (itproportal.com)
- BBC reintroduces test card after 10 years (telegraph.co.uk)
- RTMP: Flash video streaming protocol (captsolo.net)
- iPlayer Pick: 20 January (upyourego.com)
- YouTube and iPlayer heading for Freeview mark two (telegraph.co.uk)
- BBC HD: Nyquist Limit (bbc.co.uk)
- BBC ITV and BT plan to bring iPlayerstyle services to TVs (telegraph.co.uk)