After not being able to access the site yesterday due to apparent DNS issues, I was able to over lunch today, and since I’m caught up on everything else I’m watching decided to go back and start catching up on Highschool of the Dead using my iPhone and the newly re-encoded mobile streams.
I had a lot less smooth of an experience this time around than before- both the ending and the opening sequences had to stop and buffer several times, and the episode itself stopped a few times to buffer as well- unsurprisingly usually involving the higher-motion action sequences (I was kind of surprised that the sequence toward the end with the bus and flames didn’t bog it down).
Thinking about it though, this actually doesn’t surprise me a whole lot. My initial testing was done with probably my favorite of the shows available, Hidamari Sketch. For better or worse though, by and large Hidamari should encode to a lot lower bitrate in most scenes due to SHAFT’s fairly minimalistic animation approach to it- it’s very high-quality, but they tend to very heavily simplify things not the primary focus of the scene, and it also involves very few really fast-moving sequences that would knock the bitrate up higher.
HotD though is a good bit newer AND has both a lot more detailed animation (and especially backgrounds) and a lot of fast-moving action sequences that are probably pushing the bitrate of the stream up toward the top limits that were set for it- at which point I’m guessing that my 3G connection just didn’t have the capability of keeping up real-time. It still did pretty good I’d say- it was definitely an annoyance that it stopped and buffered- but it rarely took more than a few seconds to catch up and continue on.
When the episode finished, I pulled up a speed test app to get a bead on my connection’s speed- here’s the results of it:
Download: AVG 1931 Kb/s
Upload: AVG 225 Kb/s
Though that’s definitely not a bad speed for a cell connection, it’s questionable whether the numbers are really applicable to this situation since I know that the speed tests usually pick the closest of their servers to the device doing the test and as such there might be more of a slowdown from the TAN servers (which I believe are in Texas) to my device than from a much closer server.
It looks like though for at least some of the streams, the bitrate they’re encoded at is above that which 3G will handle smoothly. It’s here that having adaptive bitrates would be useful- being able to switch to a lower-bitrate stream that slower connections handle better would obviously make playback smoother, at a slight sacrifice of quality.
Still though- simply being able to so easily watch things is quite nice, and given things are still in beta all told I’d say things look to be working rather well.