As many of you may know, I’ve been partial to Orb for years. My main reason is that a Slingbox should be wasteful in the era of Windows Media Center… there’s no reason for it when you can have a computer with a cheap TV tuner card handle the payload.
Emphasis on should, however.
The reason why I am dumping Orb is, essentially, that they haven’t improved the product in a single aspect that I have been telling them to for years. Oh, sure, they’ve updated their interface, added AJAX, and monetized the platform. But, none of that is worth a thing if the platform is stuck in 2004.
Orb does not have any dynamic bandwidth support. Meaning, when you start the TV/video stream playback… it runs a single speed test. If your bandwidth changes, you have to stop the stream and start a new player window. One can quickly see the problems with this, especially with mobile connections.
Now, in fairness to Orb, they have told me why they haven’t changed this. Orb relies on third-party players to stream video. In other words, it’s not Orb’s fault (in their view), but that it should be up to Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, and QuickTime to fix things. Couple of problems with that. One, the streaming commands Orb serves up don’t permit these players to do that. And, two, there are several workarounds to the problem that Orb is ignoring.
My main suggestion to Orb was to keep the main Orb client/server system free, but sell commercial players for mobile devices (much as Sling Media does with their SlingPlayer Mobile apps). These wouldn’t be hard at all to write in most cases, and could take advantage of the optimization and playback DLLs that each respective platform adds.
Commericalizing these mobile players would give Orb the finacial backing to do what they really need to do… advertise! If you build it, they won’t come until you let them know about it. Unfortunately, Orb is still stuck in the la la land that they simply need to build Orb for folks to instantly want to get it. That may have worked to get the early adopters… but that was four years ago.
I do hope some day I can retire my Slingbox, but I doubt it. I suspect Orb will go on deathwatch as the hold-outs like me make the switch.
But, Slingbox on the other hand is on the way up. Setup is painless, and performance is excellent. The only thing I would like to see is default window sizes that match resolutions (so I can chose 480i, 720p, etc depending on window size). Being the cheapskate I am, I went for the Slingbox AV however (got it on clearance for $74.99). Knowing how well it works now, I would pay a lot more…